What happened to the Big 12? They were once a dominant force in the college football world. They were feared by their opponents, loved by fans, hated by others, and everything a college football conference should be. Now, with Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference for greener pastures, the Big 12 is a shadow of what it used to be.
The Big 12 today announced the four teams currently at the forefront of conference expansion plans: BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston.
These don’t sound too terrible, do they? BYU had a great season last year. Sure, they lost Zach Wilson, but they can capitalize on their success in 2020 and maybe shock some people this season. Cincinnati was amazing, and even gave Georgia a run for their money in the Fishing bowl. UCF has been a winning program for years now, and Houston hasn’t been that great, but has the history and location to make a decent addition to the Big 12.
Here is the thing. Cincinnati may already be the best school in the conference. Baylor was atrocious in 2020. Oklahoma State was fine, but not special. The state of Iowa was great, but they haven’t been as long as Cincinnati. Cincinnati were the best team in that group in 2020, and on that basis NCAA ranking from August 17, only the Cyclones do better in 2021, and it’s close.
This is just another point of emphasis showing how far the Big 12 has fallen. Between 1985 and 2005, the Big 12 won (or shared) seven national titles – nearly twice as many as any other Power 5 conference. Since 2006, however, the conference has had zero, putting them on par with the Pac-12, and we all know how pathetic they have been in football. university lately.
Of course they had some Heisman winners and a few playoff appearances, but those were worn by Oklahoma. The Baylor of RG3 is long gone now, and this program is not what it once was in the first half of the 2010s. With the departure of Oklahoma, no remaining school in the Big 12 has experienced. a serious success recently worth celebrating.
If the Big 12 soon introduced BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston, maybe they could regain some of the dignity they once had. However, the conference would still be far from the serious threat it was decades ago to college football. I know Iowa State looked really good at the end of last season, especially after win the Fiesta Bowl, but even with the Return from head coach Matt Campbell, quarterback Brock Purdy, tight end Charlie Kolar and many other 2020 starters, I still find it hard to believe this team could become a legitimate threat to Georgia , Clemson, Alabama or Oklahoma.
In terms of Power 5 rankings, I would still place the Big 12 above the Pac-12, but it seems like the line is getting thinner every day. I miss the days when the Big 8/12 was a conference to be feared, not just curled up in the shadow of the SEC. I hope to see improvement in 2021, but I’m not holding my breath.