The Big 12 hasn't been a true "12" for a while now, though there's been plenty of recent talk about the conference expanding in hopes of better positioning itself to compete within the Power Five.
We don't know which schools the Big 12 will be adding, or if it will add any at all. What we do know, though, is that no matter what happens, things won't be nearly as hectic as they were in the Big 12 back at the beginning of the decade when conference realignment felt more like conference armageddon.
The Big 12 lost both Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC a year after losing Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to what then was still the Pac-10.
At the time, there were reports that Oklahoma (as well as Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech) could be leaving to join Colorado in the Pac-10 to help form the first "super conference" of 16 teams. Obviously, it didn't happen, but the possibility may have been closer than you think.
In his latest story on internal strife at Oklahoma about the possibility of Big 12 expansion, CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd unearthed this little nugget that caught my eye.
The Big 12’s dysfunction is no secret. An Oklahoma source told CBS Sports that the school was “within 30 minutes” of leaving for the Pac-10 in 2010. That’s a reference to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s reported interest in raiding of six Big 12 teams in June of that year to form a Pac-16.
According to Dodd, both Texas and Oklahoma -- the Big 12's most valued properties -- were close to leaving in 2010 and 2011. Ultimately, the Pac-10 would not allow Texas to move the Longhorn Network west. The rightsholders -- ESPN and Fox -- also promised the Big 12 the same money for 10 teams as they were paying for 12. That hammered home the point that any conference with Texas and Oklahoma in it was worth saving. That's basically why the Big 12 still exists today, surviving through two rounds of conference realignment earlier this decade.
That's how close we came to the Big 12 no longer existing at all. Had Oklahoma and Texas left, it wouldn't have mattered who else went with them; the conference would have ceased to exist. The other Power Fives would have picked off what they wanted from the conference's remnants, and if anything remained after that, they'd have been relegated to life in what's now the Group of Five.
This is why, in last week's Friday Five, I decided to write about which Big 12 schools would be most attractive to other Power Five conferences rather than which schools the Big 12 should be looking at to expand. While the conference may believe that adding two new teams will stabilize life for all of its members and improve the Big 12's chances of College Football Playoff glory, I'm not nearly as convinced.
Oklahoma was "within 30 minutes" of leaving five years ago, and honestly, what about the Big 12 has really changed other than a few new names?