As Texas and Oklahoma get set to leave the Big 12 and head to the SEC, a lot of fans are wondering: what’s going to happen to the college football scene? How will this affect the Utah Utes?
The Big 12 May Dissolve
Simply put, without Texas and Oklahoma the Big 12 cannot survive financially. Both Texas and Oklahoma were the biggest programs in the Big 12 and they brought in the most money, views and fans. Without them the Big 12 really doesn’t really have any other “big” name programs to keep them afloat like those two have.
Now that they’re heading to the SEC, the rest of the teams in the conference will need to start looking for new homes in other conferences or look to add other teams in hopes of a Big 12 expansion.
What if the Big 12 Decides to Add More Teams?
Although highly unlikely, there is a slim possibility that the Big 12 could stay alive by adding other programs to their conference. There has been speculation that schools such as BYU, Boise State and many other programs could join the Big 12 to keep them afloat.
However, this still would not help to cover the losses of Texas and Oklahoma leaving. In addition to that, many of the other Big 12 programs have already begun talking to the other Power 5 conferences in hopes of an expansion with them. So, even if the Big 12 decides to add other programs, they will have lost some of their other big name programs, and will need to bring in even more programs to help make up for those losses.
That’s why adding teams and keeping the Big 12 alive is highly unlikely. Plus, if the Big 12 wanted to expand and add programs like BYU and Boise State to their conference, they would’ve already done so, but now (when they are most likely to die) it just doesn’t make sense. If they do add more teams to the conference, this is what it would look like.
“Power 4” Expansions
Out of all the most likely scenarios, the “Power 4” expansion seems the most feasible. More likely than not, there will be no such thing as the Power 5 anymore. Even if the Big 12 stays afloat somehow (by adding other programs), the shift to a 4-conference structure is inevitable. A renewed Big 12 will be considered too weak by today’s college football standards to be a member of the Power 5, so a transition to the Power 4 will happen.
This also means that teams in the Big 12 could potentially be joining the Pac-12 and Big 10 in the future. Although still on the fence, it’s highly unlikely that the ACC will consider an expansion to add in any of the Big 12 teams, so these teams will end up in the Pac 12 or Big 10, or even a smaller conference.
Pac-12 Expansion and Big 10 Expansion
Any other big name programs from the Big 12 would most likely join the Pac 12 or Big 10. There have been rumors that many schools have already reached out to other Power 5 conferences in hopes of joining. It’s been said that both Iowa State and Kansas have been in talks with the Big 10 in hopes of joining the conference.
In addition to that, there have been rumors that TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech have expressed interest in joining the Pac-12. There have even been rumors that Oklahoma State could join either of these two conferences.
Now the question that arises is, will these conferences be open to the idea of an expansion? Although all these programs have some sort of charm to them, is it enough to sway the commissioners of these conferences for an expansion? Once again, this is a hard question to answer, but more likely than not, some of these programs could end up joining these conferences.
For the Big 12 teams that don’t make it to a Power 5 conference, they will more likely than not join a smaller conference like the AAC or Mountain West Conference or even go as far as going independent. And who knows, maybe those teams decide to stay in hopes that the Big 12 expands; only time will tell at this point.
Utah’s Role in This Situation
Utah’s role in this situation is virtually nothing, as of now. However, as time goes on and we start to figure out more about this whole situation, there’s a big chance that the Pac-12 will expand and add more teams to the conference. This would mean Utah would have a vastly different schedule than before and a more potentially difficult one as well. It could also mean that teams could leave the Pac-12 as well.
Once again, very unlikely, but there have been rumors that some of the other Power 5 conferences could pursue the bigger Pac 12 programs like Oregon and USC during the expansion process. If for some reason this does happen, this would drastically affect the course of Utah’s program.
This could put Utah in a situation where they need to decide if they want to leave the Pac-12. Or the opposite could even happen: maybe Utah gets asked to join the Big 12 or some other conference. Really, all of this is speculation and rumors as of now.
Ultimately, the most realistic scenario is that Utah will most likely have new opponents in conference play and have a harder schedule as a result of Texas and Oklahoma leaving.
One thing to be noted is that Texas and Oklahoma will not leave the Big 12 until July 2025, so the talk of expansions and the realigning of conferences will happen within the next few years and really, anything could happen. Who knows, with the Big 12 in a supposed “feud” with Oklahoma and Texas, this situation could get even messier than expected and might fall through.
It’s hard to say what will happen in the future, but as of now, expect some big changes to the college football scene scene within these next few years.