Quick—name the biggest off-season moves of recent memory. Two summers ago the Miami Heat added LeBron James and Chris Bosh in one of the biggest off-seasons of any organization ever. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim thought they struck gold with the Albert Pujols signing this past baseball off-season. And the Denver Broncos made one of the biggest free agent signings in professional sports history when they signed Peyton Manning this spring. Can you officially throw the Big 12 Conference into that discussion with the events that have transpired this college football off-season? I think so. Here are the 5 big things that have transpired in the Big 12 the last few months:
1. SEC/Big 12 Title Game–On Friday, the Big 12 and the SEC conferences announced an agreement that would pair each other up in a New Year’s Day bowl game beginning in 2014. We’re now partners with the most prestigious college football conference in America. That can’t be a bad thing, can it? For the stability of the conference, no. Big-time “no.” But like every other conference in the nation, the Big 12 is going to have to figure out how to actually beat the SEC. We’ll take our chances—this is going to be fun.
2. The hiring of Bob Bowlsby—The most important development in the history of the Big 12; maybe in the history of any current conference. Bowlsby’s experience and steady hand will keep the conference from ever teetering on the brink of elimination ever again.
3. Conference additions/continuing talks of expansion—West Virginia and TCU join; Florida State and Clemson on the verge. Any college football fan worth his weight in salt knows those are some pretty good football programs.
4. Charlie Weis joins the league—A big name gives a no-name college football program relevance. That’s always a good thing for a conference. For once, people around the country will tune in to what the Jayhawks are doing on the gridiron, which just gives more stability and media coverage to the Big 12.
5. It’s not just about Texas anymore—6 months ago, that wasn’t the case. This was known around the nation as the “Texas Conference.” And rightly so. But I don’t think that can be said anymore. The hiring of Bowlsby, who will not be bullied by the Longhorns, the agreement with the SEC, and the rumors of the addition of Florida State hardly make the Big 12 the puppets of the Texas Longhorns.