Conference reputation improved by Horned Frogs, Mountaineers


Tomorrow, Texas Christian and West Virginia officially join the Big 12 conference. This marks another chapter in the Big 12’s relatively short history, and hopefully a better one.

The conference has been a two-team race for a long time. Oklahoma and Texas have been the dominate powers, and not too many teams have really challenged them. The Sooners were champs practically every other year, and other than two trips by Texas A&M in 1997 and 1998, OU and Texas have always represented the South in the currently non-existent Big 12 title game.

Last season, Oklahoma State became the first team not named Oklahoma or Texas since Kansas State in 2003 to win the conference championship. However, since 2000, Oklahoma has never gone consecutive years without winning the Big 12 crown.

This could all change with the arrival of Texas Christian and West Virginia. Forget about rivalries, forget about tradition, TCU and Morgantown make the Big 12 a more respectable conference.

Not to bad mouth the teams on their way out, but the Aggies rarely competed at a high level. They upset Texas and Oklahoma few times, but if you’re main goal is to beat a conference rival, then you really don’t provide anything to the league.

Missouri was a bit more respectable than A&M. They produced some quality quarterbacks, and had a few runs at the conference title. However, Oklahoma shut down them down in 2007 and 2008. Though, the Tigers did benefit from playing in the defunct Big 12 North, who did have Nebraska, but were nowhere near the Cornhuskers of the past.

Ultimately, the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers are step in the right direction for the Big 12. TCU has a bit to prove, because of all the mediocre conferences they have played in after the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1996.

The Horned Frogs did validate themselves by beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl a year ago and winning the Mountain West Conference title in their last three years as a member.

West Virginia doesn’t have much to prove. We all know the Mountaineers are going to compete. Even though they played in a weak Big East, West Virginia is no joke. They’ve been a dominant figure in the Big East, and have won their past three BCS bowl games against the likes of Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson.

Essentially, TCU and West Virginia are a step in the right direction for the conference. How long they can stay competitive going up against Oklahoma and Texas on a regular basis remains to be seen, but I’d like to think they are a better fight than the Aggies or Tigers.

However, Texas A&M and Mizzou did leave for a better conference. The Big 12 is not on the SEC’s level, but who is truly jealous of Texas A&M and Missouri’s departure? Unless I see otherwise, they will be punching bags for years to come, and the SEC basically took them as consolation prizes to the Sooners and Longhorns, who wisely chose to stay put in a conference that provides an easier road to the National Championship.

That road has a few more obstacles with West Va. and TCU in the picture, but they do help the Big 12’s national perception. They definitely join a wide range of Big 12 schools that could potentially win the conference this year, and I can’t wait to see who comes out on top.