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Will Big 12 Conference Look To Include BYU In Their Next Realignment Move?

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 07, 2019 - Detail view of Big 12 logo as the Baylor Bears band plays on the field before Baylor plays the Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 7, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – With Texas and Oklahoma informing the Big 12 Conference they won’t be renewing their Grant of Rights after 2025, conference realignment chatter is full steam ahead.

Texas and Oklahoma still need to request membership into the SEC formally, and then there needs to be a vote. But it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

What’s next for the Big 12 Conference is the big question now. Is this finally the time the Big 12 Conference turns to BYU?

Independence has been a success for BYU. But the goal for BYU has always been to launch themselves into a power conference.

BYU needs the remaining eight Big 12 teams to stick together

The first thing that BYU fans need to hope for is that the remaining eight programs stick together. Reports are out there that Kansas has made calls to the Big Ten Conference. Does that mean anything? Not really. Any school can make calls to a conference.

Does the Big Ten really need Kansas and Iowa State at this point? If Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren wants to make a real splash, he should look to the likes of USC and UCLA to try and form another superconference that contends with the potential SEC juggernaut. This brings me to my next point.

The Pac-12 Conference is interesting in all of this. New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said to ESPN he wouldn’t poach teams from other conferences, but he also noted he’d be foolish not to listen if the schools call him.

If the Pac-12 extends their reach into the plains and adds Big 12 leftovers such as TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, the Big 12 would be over. Simple as that.

Honestly, it still might be over for the Big 12 as Texas and Oklahoma have their eyes set on the SEC. And each program in that conference is looking for stability.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued a statement on Monday after Texas, Oklahoma announced their intention not to renew their Grant of Rights.

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” stated Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships.   Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond.  The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

It always comes down to the money

That’s a nice, wordy statement, but ultimately it comes down to money. So if the remaining eight Big 12 programs can maintain their Autonomous Conference status while also pulling down a lot more money than Group of 5 leagues, they should try and stay together.

The American Athletic Conference is ready to pounce and pursue the remaining Big 12 programs. That’s a nice aggressive approach for the AAC, and they should try to make that play. But how realistic is that?

Right now, the AAC is making $7 million per school each year with their new 12-year TV deal. The Big 12 schools in 2019 were pulling in anywhere from $38 to $42 million per year. So yeah, there’s no interest to suddenly drop down to the AAC if they don’t have to.

Remember back in 2010 when they were talks about the Mountain West Conference picking up Kansas? Yeah, the Jayhawks and the Big 12 weren’t considering that at all.

When the next Big 12 TV deal comes up in 2025, the remaining eight members won’t likely see the windfall of cash they’ve been experiencing. But could they still make a lot more money than the Group of 5 leagues? BYU might be the answer that could help.

Can BYU add value in the digital space to an Autonomous Conference?

Streaming and premium subscription services are the future of college TV packages. Straight to consumer content has been a big push for BYU and their BYU Broadcasting services with an app and on-demand viewing options. Could BYU help the Big 12 with their straight-to-consumer content in the digital space? Cougar fans are digitally savvy and willing to watch their teams however they can, especially if they are playing at the highest levels of college football.

If BYU can prove they provide a positive financial impact to the Big 12, why wouldn’t the one power league that doesn’t feature a flagship school look at adding BYU this time around? Because honestly, what other options does the Big 12 have at this point?

Add BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston. Then, go back to your namesake at 12 teams and give the power label to programs committed to winning at the highest levels. It could prove to provide a lot more value than people would think. But it takes a vision and patience.

Sadly, the Big 12 Conference hasn’t shown to have much of that over the past decade. That’s why they find themselves in the predicament they are currently in today.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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