History of the Big 12 Conference 

purple and white text spelling out history of the big 12

Background and Re-Structuring of the Big 12

The Big 12 conference was formed in 1994 after the Big Eight and part of the Southwest Conference merged. Kansas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, Iowa State, and the University of Colorado were the teams in the Big 8. The schools who left Southwest Conference were Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor. At the time the rest of the schools in the SW Conference, TCU, SMU, Rice, and Houston were left to find new homes.

Big 8 Conference

The Big 8 was actually originally called the Big 6, with schools made up of Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. These schools split from the Missouri Valley conference, which is the third-oldest conference in the U.S.. The Big 8 came to be when the University of Colorado joined in 1948 and Oklahoma State in 1959.

Southwest Conference

The Big 12 intended to combine the powerhouses of Texas and the surrounding states. Before 1994, the Southwest Conference was arguably the most dominant in all college football. The conference gained national respect when TCU and SMU played in the 1935 football national championship. However, at the time of the move, Texas and Texas A&M were the headliners of the SW Conference. When professional football teams arrived in Dallas and Houston, attendance at college games within Texas declined, causing the Southwest Conference to crumble.

Big 12 Conference

In 1996 the Big 12 began to play with its new 12 team conference. For football the conference has won a total of three national championships. Nebraska in 1997, Oklahoma in 2000, and Texas in 2005. Although most of conference realignment talk revolves around football, the Big 12 is plenty successful in other sports. Most recently, Baylor has won the men’s basketball national championship, with only Kansas in 2008 claiming the title as well.

Big 12 Mix-Up

For 14 years, the conference would remain the same until 2010, when the Big 12 realignment came about. Nebraska was the first to announce that it would be leaving the Big 12; they would be heading to the Big 10. The following year Colorado announced it would be heading to the Pac-10 Conference. In 2011 Texas A&M announced it would be joining the SEC after years of discussion. Missouri would follow Texas A&M to the SEC, leaving the Big 12 with many questions. This left the Big 12 with eight teams and a lot of questions surrounding the conference’s future.

Big 12 Additions

Following the departure of the four schools in 2012, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe announced that TCU would be leaving the Mountain West Conference for the Big 12. Beebe also said that West Virginia, a member of the Big East, would be joining the Big 12 to replace A&M and Missouri.

Since then, the Big 12 sits at ten teams in the conference. However, Texas and Oklahoma have announced they are heading to the SEC at the beginning of the 2025 season. News of this leaves the Big 12 with many questions to be answered and a lot of decisions to be made. Could this be the end of the Big 12?

Story by Campus Live Intern Jack Damon

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