By now, college football has had time to absorb and react to the news Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12 and joining the SEC for the 2025 college football season. Losing these two stalwarts leaves the Big 12 in a bit of a bind and on the hunt for some new members to fill their shoes. This week, the conference announced they extended invitations to four schools - UCF, BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati - to join up. These invitations are all fine and well, but I'd like to see the Big 12 go a step further and recreate some of the old Southwest Conference rivalries.
First, a little history...Before the SEC dominated, the college football landscape revolved around primarily Texas-based schools (and Arkansas), called the Southwest Conference. From 1915-1996, the Southwest Conference claimed 64 national titles across all college sports. It also served as the home of legends such as Paul "Bear" Bryant, John Heisman (yes, that Heisman), Hayden Fry, Lou Holtz, Davey O'Brien (namesake for the award given to college football's best QB), "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh, Doak Walker (namesake for the award given to college football's best RB), Tom Landy, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, and numerous others.
Photo cred: Dallas Morning News
The conference broke apart in 1996 when league heavyweights like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, and others left to join the Big 12 and SEC. But, now that Oklahoma and Texas decided once again to change conferences, the Big 12 has a chance to revive some of the classic Southwest Conference rivalries. Granted, it cannot be completely the same since Texas is not part of the group, but they can get pretty close! So, to Bob Bowlsby, I say do not stop at UCF, BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati. Instead, keep going and get the Southwest Conference back together and make them a division within the Big 12 of the future!
Here's how I'd expand the Big 12 and realign the divisions:
Big 12 Future Division:
Big 12 History (a/k/a Southwest Conference) Division:
Oklahoma State (member from 1915-1925)
Texas Tech (member from 1956-1996)
Houston (member 1972-1996)
Rice (member 1915-1996)
Texas Christian (member 1923-1996)
Southern Methodist (member 1918-1996)
Baylor (member 1915-1996)