Big 12 Conference History

typographic graphic that reads history of the big 12
Graphic by Campus Live Graphic Designer Adrian Gutierrez

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The Beginning

The Big 12 Conference has a long and rich history and was formed in 1994 after the Big Eight and Southwest Conference merged. The Big 12 was established to combine the powerhouses of Texas and the surrounding states. Before 1994, the Southwest Conference was arguably the most dominant in all of college football; Texas and Texas A&M were the headliners of the SW Conference. However, when professional teams arrived in Dallas and Houston, attendance at college games within Texas declined, causing the Southwest Conference to crumble.

Big 12 Conference History Realignment

In 1996 the Big 12 began to play with its new 12 team conference, including teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, and many more. For 14 years, the conference would remain the same until 2010, when the realignment came about. Nebraska was the first to announce that it would be leaving the conference and that 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 conference with eight teams and a lot of questions surrounding the conference’s future.

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.

What’s Next?

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. This leaves many questions to be answered and a lot of decisions to be made. Could this be the end of the Big 12?

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Story by Campus Live Intern Jack Damon

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