Don't poke the bear. That's what should have been going through the minds of the selection committee while excluding the Big XII from the National Championship Playoffs. Now there is serious talk of conference expansion.
The only problem is that we love and find solace in the love affair our ten team round robin effects.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in Big XII conference expansion is what to do about rivalry games. Oklahoma must play both Oklahoma State and Texas every year. Texas must play Oklahoma and Texas Tech every year. Kansas State must play Kansas every year. Kansas State vs. Iowa State dates back to 1917. The Baylor and TCU rivivalry should have never had a hiatus. Baylor and West Virginia are quickly developing a rivalry with neither team having lost at home. Baylor vs. Texas Tech is now in a neutral location every year and sponsored by the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Corporation in a rivalry game titled The Texas Shootout. Baylor vs. Texas dates back to 1901. Baylor vs TCU dates back to 1899. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State (once known as Oklahoma A&M), Texas and Baylor were each founding members of the the Southwest Conference in 1915, 100 years ago this year.A large part of the pain in getting snubbed in the inaugural national playoff was in the fact that the selection committee poked a salty finger into the wound that was inflicted when Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri bailed out of the Big XII severing rivalry ties over a hundred years old.
How do you rebuild a family when your loved (albeit sometimes hated) ones spurn and abandon you?
First there is a grieving period, but then you move on. But the pain never really goes away. Just ask TCU, twice now the jilted lover. First snubbed in 1915, TCU was not invited to be a founding member of the Southwest Conference. It wasn't until 1923 that they joined. The second snub came at the creation of the Big XII but TCU went on to be ranked no. 2 in the nation and now carries with them the baggage of being conference champions in every conference they have ever played in, including the Big XII (61-58). A more resolute fighting spirit is difficult to find.
Well, lets have both conference expansion and keep our remaining rivalries. We need not worry about how much we will be watering down the Big XII. At present, the Big XII remains very potent. Sure, the Big XII was snubbed by the playoff committee, but it does still have the University of Texas. UT t-shirts are worn regularly in all 50 states. Lets face it, the Longhorns run neck and neck with the Dallas Cowboys in being America's football team. The two kinda go hand in hand doing the fan memorabilia do si do and marketing two step.
Lets be bold, strut our stuff, and remember the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi,
"These are not the droids you're looking for?"
No not that line, this one:
"If you strike me down you cannot imagine how powerful I will become."
Not allowed to wallow securely in our grief, it is now time to rebuild (or reload, take your pick). It is time to show those that would interfere in our love affairs what it means to mess with the Big XII. First we were raided by the PAC 10 and the Big 10. We turned our other cheek and were next raided by the SEC with a near crippling blow. Its now clobbering time. But not like you'd think. Lets think of our losses as the chaff having been blown away from the wheat and in our selection of new members let us rebuild our conference from the rocks of the field.
First, lets turn our vengence upon the PAC XII. The first and last offender, they first seduced Colorado and then returned to strike the Big XII's death knell with advances toward Texas. Lets strike into the heart of their recruiting and fan base by offering San Jose State and San Diego State membership into the Big XII.
Second, lets offer Colorado State for it's proximity to both Colorado and Nebraska.
Third, lets turn our attention to the Big Ten. Lets raise a giant out of Western Michigan and for good measure lets snag an Ohio school as well by inviting Cincinnati.
Last but certainly not least, lets place the Big XII footprint right smack dab into the heart of the SEC. Lets invite UAB.
The New Big XII could look like this:
Cincinatti, Colorado State, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, San Jose State, Western Michigan, and West Virginia
Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, and UAB
This does indeed satisfy the revenge factor while preserving the integrity of most of the ancient rivalries and the State Fair of Texas but with seven divisional football games to play it effectively limits cross division rivalries to once every four or eight years. It also adds lots of travel expense which in fairness should be made the responsibility of the conference shared equally for all conference games.
In support of the suggested new members is offered the following information.
Cincinnati Bearcats: The Cincinnati Metropolitan Area (2,214,954), the largest centered in Ohio, is fast growing and is projected to soon include the Dayton Statistical Area (1,080,044). The Bearcats are 3-16-1 all time against West Virginia in football with the first game between the two in 1921. The Big Ten didn't dare encroach in Ohio against their own Ohio State while expanding so it is time they realized their mistake and say hello to their worst nightmare. The Bearcats, with 41,694 students, are currently in the American Athletic Conference.
Colorado State Rams: With 31,000 students located only 65 miles north of Denver, Colorado State University is the flagship of the Colorado State University System. It was founded five and one half years before the University of Colorado and six years before Colorado became a state. One of the Rams' main football rivals is the University of Colorado (located only 25 miles northwest of Denver) and they often play each other at Mile High Stadium in Denver in a game called "The Rocky Mountain Showdown". Returning a Big XII team to The Centennial State puts expansion in the plus column. The Rams play in the Mountain West Conference.
San Diego State Aztecs: The Aztecs play football in Qualcomm Stadium which many remember as the place where The Great Coach Art Briles spoke the famous phrase "Baylor Nation is alive and well in California." The 3,085,313 people living in the San Diego Metro area might just like having a power conference college football team in the area. San Diego State University generates 2.4 billion dollars annually for the local economy. Since 2005, SDSU has produced 65 Fulbright student scholars. San Diego State has a student body more than 35,000 and an alumni base of more than 280,000. The Aztecs play in the Mountain West Conference.
San Jose State Spartans: With 32,000 students, San Jose State is the founding school of the 23 campus California State University system and holds the distinction of being the oldest public institution of higher education on the West Coast of the United States. San Jose State claims to provide Silicon Valley firms with more engineering, computer science and business graduates than any other college or university. The City of San Jose is located on the southern coast of the San Francisco Bay and has earned the nickname "The Capital of Silicon Valley." San Jose is the largest city in the Bay area as well as the largest in Northern California. The San Jose combined statistical area has a population of 8,469,854. If for no other reason, the Big XII should invite the Spartans so that Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News can be re-united with his beloved Becka. The Spartans play in the Mountain West Conference.
Western Michigan Broncos: Located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Western Michigan University has a student body of 24,000. The Broncos are in the Mid America Conference and play in Waldo stadium. Funny thing about the decline of the City of Detroit is that the cities in the western half of the State of Michigan are experiencing the largest growth and with that the largest commitments to their local universities as evidenced by the recent $100,000,000 cash donation to Western Michigan for a medical school. (This was the largest cash gift ever to any college or university in the State of Michigan and the 15th largest ever to any public university in the nation.) The combined statistical areas of Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan have a total population nearing 2,000,000.
UAB Blazers: Appropriately named as they have definitely been through the fire. Offering membership in the Big XII to the University of Alabama at Birmingham sends a message to the SEC that most would consider to be profane beyond belief but we'll just call it an act of Christian faith and charity for a forlorn and abandoned soul, yet with this single act we'll wound the SEC deep by establishing an unbreakable bond between the Big XII and the heart and soul of Alabama and all Americans and citizens of the world who root for the underdog and cry out for justice and relief of the oppressed. The City of Birmingham has a metro population more than 1,100,000. UAB has a student population of 18,568. UAB is approximately less than 60 miles from the University of Alabama, yet Blazers fans and UAB alumni raised $27 million when it was announced that the football program was being cancelled. The University's annual economic input to the economy is estimated to be more than $4 billion. The Blazers may resume football play in Conference USA as early as 2016 but more likely won't until 2017.
In conclusion (finally), I'm reminded of the alleged famous phrase attributed to Japanese Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."