It seems crazy right? Arkansas to the Big 12. ‘No way, no how. That’s not happening. The Razorbacks would never bolt the almighty SEC for the hapless Big 12.’
Maybe they should though.
After you pick yourself up from the floor, hear me out.
But that got me thinking though, Arkansas should try to join the Big 12 while they still can. For their sake, not the Big 12’s.
At The Very Least To Escape Obscurity
The SEC has started to lose its stranglehold on the college football world, but no one is arguing the strength of the SEC West. It’s the best division in any conference. That’s great if Arkansas fans are more interested in touting S-E-C than they are their own colors.
As CRFF pointed out though, Arkansas would have a more balanced road to the College Football Playoff in the Big 12, and last I checked, that was the goal for pretty much every power five school. They’d also get to play a little closer to home. Five Big 12 schools are closer to Fayetteville than the closest SEC West member. Geography doesn’t mean as much as it once did, but making it easier on your fans to travel doesn’t hurt.
There’s also the rivalries. Oh the rivalries! Before Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference, they were a part of the Southwestern Conference along with Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas. We’ve all seen what’s happened with Baylor and TCU getting back together, and Arkansas/Texas could fill void left by A&M. It could instantly become one of the premier rivalries in all of college football.
It’s not that the Razorbacks wouldn’t be interested either. They’re a little bit tired of being the whipping post.
“Arkansas has put out feelers about a possible move to the Big 12 to reconnect with former Southwest Conference rivals.” multiple sources told Orangebloods.com in 2010.
There were those that weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of adding the Razorbacks though, and the Big 12 was scrambling to stay viable in their own right. Things didn’t work out then, but five years later a lot has changed.
For All The Money
‘Why would Arkansas ever join the Big 12? They’ve got that SEC money.’ If you’ve clicked on over to CRFF’s post, then you may have noticed that’s pretty much the mantra of the Razorback fans.
That’s not exactly true though.
The Big 12 paid out $27 million to each school. That’s well short of the SEC’s $31.2 million per member, so it’s over right? Not so fast, schools in the Big 12 enjoy third-tier rights; something the SEC doesn’t have because they share the SEC Network. Basically, it’s already factored into their total amount paid. The Big 12 conference separates it out. So, put more time on the clock, let’s look at what a couple of the Big 12 schools brought in this year.
Texas brought in $15 million this year in third-tier money, pushing their total to $42 million. Not everyone has the Longhorn Network though, so let’s look at the Sooners. They reportedly brought in at least $6.5 million which would push their total to $33.5 million.
All of a sudden the Big 12 isn’t looking so bad.
Heck, even West Virginia made over $6.6 million in third tier rights. Which means, even though they didn’t even receive a full Big 12 share at $23 million, they still made nearly as much as Arkansas did in the SEC.
The Big 12 is also expecting another big jump in revenue next year, and members are expected to make nearly $44 million by 2024-25. Again, that’s before third-tier rights are counted.
So please, let’s hear more about that SEC money.
There’s Only A Small Window Of Opportunity Though
‘The Big 12 is doomed! Why would they leave the stability of the SEC for a conference that’s about to die?’
Again, contrary to popular believe, that’s just not true. Those TV contracts, those are good for the next decade. You can ignore everything you’ve heard about needing to expand too. Super conferences aren’t happening, so the college football landscape is pretty much set. The only conference that could potentially be talked into taking the right members is the Big 12. Eventually though, everyone is going to realize just how strong the Big 12 is by staying at 10 teams, and then it will be too late for the Razorbacks.
Tom Osborne said is that the 13th game, or conference championship game, factors into the playoff committee’s decision when looking at strength of schedule. Well, duh! But, before we get carried away, that’s not saying it’s the only factor that matters. In fact, the Big 12’s round-robin schedule is a much, much bigger factor. For example, Florida State won the ACC, and made the playoff. So the conference championship mattered right? Wrong. The ‘Noles made the playoff because they were the undefeated defending National Champion. Every single Big 12 team ranked higher than FSU in strength of schedule following the ACC championship game. Every single one.
The Big 12 isn’t nearly as weak as people want you to think with just ten teams either. The conference almost put two teams into the playoff last year, and it was a perfect storm that kept them out. If anything, it gave a peak at just how strong the conference is. We just don’t recognize it yet because we like to over-react to the here and now.
Let’s remember that before Wisconsin gutted themselves and bled out at the altar of Urban Meyer, the narrative was all about if the Big Ten could even stay competitive in today’s college football landscape. Don’t be surprised if we’re reminded of that real quick this year. Just like a year ago, we were talking about OU winning a national title after they manhandled Alabama. How did that work out?
We have to learn to stop over-reacting, and start looking at the long-term. The truth of the matter is, the Big 12 is better positioned that any conference out there, including the SEC. So even though the Big 12 doesn’t need Arkansas, is the Big 12 the best option for the Razorbacks?