The University of Texas and OU are moving to top-tier football country, the SEC, and leaving behind the basketball powerhouse, the Big 12.
“The Big 12 has historically been the best, if not one of the best, conferences in the country,” Dave Hunziker, Oklahoma State broadcaster, said.
The Big 12 has an extensive basketball history.
“You think about all the incredible stars in the last quarter-century that have come through the Big 12: Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Michael Beasley, Joel Embiid, Frank Mason, Andrew Wiggins,” KU broadcaster Brian Hanni said. “The list goes on and on.”
This past season alone, the Big 12 had six teams finish in the top 25. That’s more than any other conference. One of its schools had the NBA’s first overall draft pick (Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State).
Let’s not forget, Baylor’s NCAA Tournament win earned the Big 12 $8.4 million. Even for years before, the Big 12 reigned a top conference. So what happens if Texas and OU’s move causes the conference to crumble?
“This was a football-driven move,” Hunziker said. “Everybody knows that.”
The SEC only had two schools finish in the top 25.
“I just don’t think the SEC is as strong, top to bottom,” Hunziker said. “The proof, to some extent, is sort of in the results.”
This move can impact recruiting for both sides. The Big 12 is a bucket list destination for many recruits, so Texas and OU no longer being in the conference hurts them in the long run. If the eight remaining schools go to other conferences, it could have the same effect.
“That’s a hard one to swallow because there’s so much history, and so much for all of us who grew up in it,” Hunziker said. “To think that that would be gone, to be honest, I try not to think about it.”
Some of college basketball’s best moments have been produced by these schools.
“Kevin Durant and the epic first half he had here in Lawrence,” Hanni said. “I think about the amazing Frank Mason/Buddy Hield Kansas/Oklahoma game that went into three overtimes. I mean, there are so many great moments that those rivalries have produced. They will be sorely missed if we don’t get that anymore.”
College basketball fans will be anxiously reminiscing the romance of Big 12 basketball, as we wait to see what exactly happens with the Longhorns, Sooners and the rest of the conference.