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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

The Big 12 Erupts With… Actual News!

After months of anticipation, the Big 12 entered the offseason with a flurry. Step one: West Virginia, in the fold. The Mountaineers were able to file official separation papers from the Big East, with the two parties agreeing on a $20 million exit fee, though neither could get on the same page when it comes to the fashion with which the program alters its conference affiliation – the Mountaineers say they’re leaping to the Big 12, while the Big East says it voted to “terminate” West Virginia’s membership in the league. Semantics, and where you stand at the bargaining table dictates where you lie on the topic.

Step two: West Virginia’s in, so it’s time to unveil the 2012 schedule. It was suggested late last week, by Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, that the Big 12 was ready to lift the curtain on its upcoming conference schedule. The league pumped the brakes until yesterday, based solely on the fact that West Virginia had not yet officially made the jump.

It’s a great way to build excitement. The Big 12 will have a pair of new teams, T.C.U. and the Mountaineers, replacing the two outgoing programs, Texas A&M and Missouri. Those two incoming schools are chomping at the bit, as you’d expect; in addition, the rest of the league has a pair of future rivals to welcome to the league in September.

For the second straight year, the Big 12 will feature a nine-game, round-robin conference season without a conference championship game. The latter will become available should the league expand back to 12 teams, with B.Y.U. and Louisville two programs the conference will consider if it looks to return to its original size.

The schedule that the Big 12 released yesterday is not set in stone, as broadcast rights could push a Saturday game into a midweek date – Oklahoma State’s trip to Kansas State on Nov. 3, for example, could be moved up to that Thursday to give the Big 12 a prime time slot.

The conference season kicks off on Oct. 15, when Kansas hosts T.C.U. in Lawrence. That’s a nice way for the Horned Frogs to break into the league; while the Jayhawks will be improved under Charlie Weis, T.C.U. should start Big 12 play on a solid note. West Virginia’s conference debut comes two weeks later, when Baylor visits Morgantown.

While T.C.U. may start strong, it has the toughest final month of any team in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs travel to Morgantown on Nov. 3 and host Kansas State a week later. After a bye, T.C.U. goes to Texas before hosting Oklahoma to end the regular season. That quartet combined to win 38 games last fall. On the plus side, there’s little doubt that, like always, the Horned Frogs will be playing their best football by the season’s final month.

Baylor has the good fortune to end the regular season with three non-road games: Kansas State and Oklahoma State come to Waco, while a Nov. 24 date with Texas Tech will be played at the Cotton Bowl. On the other hand, the Bears take on West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma away from home – that’s not a great way for Baylor to take on life without Robert Griffin III.

Three teams will play five games on the road and four at home: Kansas, T.C.U. and Kansas State. Another four teams play four games at home, four games on the road and one game at a neutral site: Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. That means three teams have the added benefit of playing five games at home and four on the road: Iowa State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

So here’s each team’s conference schedule, thanks to the Big 12. Home games are listed first, followed by road games, with neutral site dates listed when applicable:

Baylor vs. T.C.U., Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State; at West Virginia, Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma; vs. Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia; at T.C.U., Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas

Kansas vs. T.C.U., Oklahoma State, Texas and Iowa State; at Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia

Kansas State vs. Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas; at Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, T.C.U. and Baylor

Oklahoma vs. Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma State; at Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia and T.C.U.; vs. Texas at Cowboys Stadium

Oklahoma State vs. Texas, Iowa State, T.C.U., West Virginia and Texas Tech; at Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Baylor

T.C.U. vs. Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Oklahoma; at Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas

Texas vs. West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State and T.C.U.; at Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State; vs. Oklahoma at Cowboys Stadium

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas; at Iowa State, T.C.U., Kansas State and Oklahoma State; vs. Baylor at the Cotton Bowl

West Virginia vs. Baylor, Kansas State, T.C.U., Oklahoma and Kansas; at Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State

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Comments

  1. Matt Rob says:

    Finally.

  2. Burnt Orange says:

    A nice addition. Expect them to compete for the championship next year.

  3. Dave says:

    This is a strong, strong conference – clearly the 2nd best in the land, with at least a realistic shot at challenging the SEC.

    If they look to keep pace with the latter and go to 14, who else is in play besides Louisville and BYU? Houston? SMU? Boise?

  4. Matt Rob says:

    Dave,

    I hope they can go for Louisville and Cincinnati so WVU isn’t as geographically isolated. I read somewhere on ESPN (David Ubben?) that Notre Dame is a primary target, especially for Texas’ AD.

  5. GTWrek says:

    From a stability standpoint:

    The Big 12 is still just a notch above the Big East aka CUSA 2.0.

    They are one Pac12 swipe away from becoming CUSA 3.0.

    From a football standpoint, they are not even *remotely* close to the 2nd strongest conference.

    They have 1 power. Oklahoma. Baylor and Okie state return to being nobodies this year. TCU is decimated. West Virginia loses at least 4 games every year since RichRod left. Texas is even worse.

    I swear the ability to objectively analyze is non-existant. I think average Big 12 fan looks at each school, takes the best team each school had in the past 10 years, and that’s the image they have for that school when they look at the new conference. They think 2012 Big 12 will consist of 2011 Okie State, 2011 Baylor, 2005 Texas, 2010 TCU, 2004 West Virginia, and 2008 Texas Tech.

    It doesn’t work that way. I think 2012 Big 12 top to bottom looks to be better than the Big East and that’s about it.

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