Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pitt to the Big 12?

No way, you say? It could be yes way.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes there is at least one report indicating that the University of Pittsburgh is a legitimate candidate to join the Big 12.
According to the Texas-based Rivals web-site Orangebloods.com, Pitt has quickly become the top target of the Big 12 conference, which is looking to add teams to replace Colorado, Nebraska and now, Texas A&M.
The site said Pitt and BYU are the two teams the conference is most interested in adding.
A Pitt spokesperson didn't exactly slam the door on the Panthers jumping from the Big East to the Big 12, but if the athletic department leadership is considering a conference move, then wouldn't it make sense to determine first if the nearby Big 10 has any interest? Or, perhaps the geographically logical ACC should be offered an opportunity to have the conversation?

Then again, perhaps the university has sent out such feelers and didn't like the reply.

The University of Kansas is a member of the Big 12, and the newspaper that most closely covers the Jayhawks' athletic teams is the Lawrence Journal World. It argues that the Big 12 ought to not only snag Pitt but also multiple members of the Big East.
So far, the Big 12 has been raided three times, losing Colorado, Nebraska and soon Texas A&M and hasn’t raided any other conference.

Time to assess the national landscape, identify a vulnerable football conference and raid away. Before any Big 12 institutions seriously consider how they might fit into the Big East, first look at how a few Big East schools might look in the Big 12. Figure out a way to bring Pittsburgh, Rutgers and West Virginia to the Big 12 before the Big Ten decides to expand again and does the same, or adds Syracuse instead of West Virginia.
Why not explore adding Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia before taking the less aggressive step of simply adding Houston and moving ahead with a 10-team conference?
Remember if the Big 12 adds the three schools then those programs would enjoy the financial windfall that a conference football championship game brings. In the eight-team Big East that cannot happen. Moreover, the quality of football top to bottom in the Big 12 is superior to that in the Big East and such an affiliation could aid Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia in recruiting.

Let's imagine the Big 12 having a two divisions in football that shaped up like this:

NORTH
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Pitt
Rutgers
West Virginia

SOUTH
Baylor
Missouri
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Texas
Texas Tech

Sure, top to bottom the league is weaker in football when compared to its original 12-team alignment (which included Colorado, Nebraska and Texas A&M, presuming of course that the Aggies do work out a financial arrangement to leave), but it does improve its overall men's basketball picture.

In the past, the league has used Dallas and Kansas City as the sites of its football and basketball championships. Perhaps Pittsburgh can become one of the rotating sites to assist the eastern-based schools in generating fan interest, but I cannot see that being a divisive issue.

So, perhaps Pitt in the Big 12 isn't as farfetched as you might think.

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