Fifteen years after its creation, the Big 12 stands on the brink of fulfilling all the great expectations predicted at its birth.
Back in February 1994, the combination of the Big Eight and many of the top programs from the Southwest Conference seemed like solid football synergy.
Texas. Oklahoma. Nebraska. Texas A&M. Colorado. While the conference has been more than competitive since its inception – producing three outright or shared national champions since it began play in 1996 – its best may be directly ahead.
There’s just one obstacle: the Southeastern Conference.
Doom doom doom doom.
Mack Brown explains why.
“The difference is that the entire league is better,” Brown said. “Everybody talks about the SEC. You can actually lose to anybody in this league. That wasn’t the case 12 years or probably not even four years ago.”
*** Cough *** Iowa State *** cough ***. Does Chizik’s departure swing the balance that much?
Just kidding. Here’s the real skinny.
• Three teams – Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State – will probably open next season in the top 10. And excellence hasn’t been limited to a few. Since the conference’s formation, eight of the 12 teams have been ranked in the Associated Press poll’s top five during November.
• The conference featured four of the five vote-getters for the 2008 Heisman Trophy, including winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and runner-up Colt McCoy. Both return this season.
“The offensive firepower and the quarterback capability in the last three years have been tremendous,” Osborne said. “It seemed like every team had a great quarterback and really moved the ball.”
• Seven Big 12 players were selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, a high-water mark. That total might just be the beginning.
There are more graphs and charts allegedly supporting this at the article’s end.
Of course, it would make for a stronger argument if Big XII schools would actually, you know, beat SEC schools in head’s up play.
Florida’s 24-14 win gave a factual basis to the perception that the Big 12 wasn’t ready to leapfrog the SEC. Ole Miss’ 47-34 win over Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic also didn’t help the Big 12’s case.
And it’s a shame this pesky little fact gets in the way.
For now, the SEC holds the bragging rights with wins in the last three BCS title games…
But there is Baylor… and Eric Crouch’s 2001 Heisman Trophy.
Look for a lot more of this kind of deep thinking amidst all the hype leading up to Georgia’s opener with Oklahoma State.