OU and Texas are leaving the Big 12. That much has become clear over the last 72 hours. It seems likely they’ll join the SEC. But what about the rest of the Big 12? What happens to OSU? Does the league add more members or dissolve entirely?
The way I see it, there are three paths OSU could take here in this quickly shifting landscape. I’ve listed each scenario and ranked the likelihood of each outcome on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most likely and 1 being the least likely.
1. Find a power conference program
OSU isn’t OU or Texas. However, it does have a lot to offer academically, and athletically it has been highly competitive in basketball, football, softball, wrestling … the list goes on. It competes at a level commensurate of a power program. It’s not impossible to think a power conference would rope the Pokes in.
The Pac-12 is the conference I keep coming back to, though geographically it makes little sense. The ACC seems like a fine suitor, and potentially a fine bounceback after missing on OU and Texas. Then there’s the Big Ten, which would be the best of all the options, though it’s unclear if the league is interested or if OSU would have the academic goods to warrant inclusion. Three solid options. Three options that right now look way stronger than the Big 12.
2. Stay in the sinking ship of the Big 12
This is possible! Stick around, see what happens in an eight-member Big 12. It also seems like a very, very bad idea! That TV contract with the Big 12 and its partners, up in 2025, would hang over the league like a rain cloud. And there’s no way it’d get a new deal worth anything close to what other power conferences are netting without OU and Texas. Bringing back the old Big Eight is fun in theory but a death sentence in practice. More likely, the league dissolves to dust.
This might be OSU’s best option if the Pac-12, ACC or Big Ten don’t welcome its advances. It’s not a great option. It’s a terrible one, actually. But landing in C-USA or the American Athletic Conference at this point could be realistic. Finding any security seems like a better option than staying in none. Maybe some other Big 12 teams move as well to strengthen those leagues’ appearance overall. But doing so would be a significant blow to the athletic programs, to recruiting, and most importantly, financially.
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