Big 12 ride high wave of success; Pac-12 sinks


PAC-12 conference with only 4 teams Image: Sun Devil Stadium, Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Big 12 (US) will look very different in 2024 with Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah joining from the Pac-12 (along with Brigham Young University [BYU], University of Central Florida [UCF], University of Houston, and the University of Cincinnati joining in 2023).

‘azcentral’ stated that with so much change in the Conference, there is a lot to familiarize yourself with before the newly constituted Big 12 Conference takes the athletic field for competition.

The Big 12 Conference is a college athletic Conference headquartered in Irving, Texas (US). It consists of 14 full-member universities. It is a member of Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for all sports.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and helps over 500,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

The NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which accepts players globally. The D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with large budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

Birmingham (US)-based the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is an American college athletic Conference whose member-institutions are located primarily in the South Central and Southeastern United States.

San Francisco (US)-based the Pac-12 Conference is a collegiate athletic Conference that operates in the Western United States, participating in 24 sports at the NCAA Division I level. Its football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest level of college football in the United States.

Team Mascots

‘azcentral’ further stated that one such area is the team mascots. Who are the mascots of the Big 12 teams? Which mascot is the best? Why?

Take a look at the 16 Big 12 college mascots for the Conference in 2024, ranked from No. 16 to No. 1.

Yes, these are subjective, but don’t think there should be much debate over who deserves to be in the top spot of these Big 12 mascot rankings.

  • 16. Willie the Wildcat – Kansas State

One look at this mascot can give you nightmares.

  • 15. Bearcat – Cincinnati

Just Bearcat? Not some alliteration like Benny the Bearcat? We have to knock it for that.

  • 14. Mountaineer – West Virginia

We have to give this school props for having a human mascot and not some cartoonish one. But, ‘Mountaineer’ is so plain.

  • 13. Shasta – Houston

The Cougar mascot just doesn’t do much for us, maybe because there are so many Cougar mascots out there and this one doesn’t have many distinguishing features.

  • 12. Pistol Pete – Oklahoma State

We have to give the Cowboys credit for being different, and Pistol Pete is definitely different among the Big 12 mascots.

  • 11. Bruiser & Marigold – Baylor

In 2017, Baylor introduced Marigold as Bruiser’s partner. Two mascots are definitely better than one.

  • 10. Raider Red – Texas Tech

Are we too high on Raider Red? Maybe? But his name seems to go perfectly with his appearance.

  • 9. Wilbur & Wilma Wildcat – Arizona

Like the Baylor mascots, the Wildcats have two mascots, and they have had two for much longer, with Wilma being created in 1986. Bonus points for them even being married.

  • 8. Cy the Cardinal – Iowa State

Evidently making Cy a Cyclone was just too difficult, so the Iowa State made him a Cardinal. Did you know he was the national mascot of the year in 2008?

  • 7. SuperFrog – TCU

If you like unique mascots, you probably like SuperFrog, because he is definitely unique.

  • 6. Chip – Colorado

Chip is no Ralphie, but he’s pretty cool in his own right and he really gets the crowd going at the Colorado games.

  • 5. Big Jay – Kansas

Big Jay has become synonymous with the Kansas Jayhawks over the years.

  • 4. Swoop – Utah

Yes, Swoop is a hawk, and there are a lot of hawk mascots, but Swoop has style.

  • 3. Sparky – Arizona State

Sparky the Sun Devil is unique and he is synonymous with the Arizona State University. He also stomps on buses, which is pretty cool.

  • 2. Knightro – UCF

Knightro is just a cool name for a Knight mascot. He occasionally uses a go-kart. You can’t get much cooler than that.

  • Cosmo the Cougar – BYU

Cosmo may be a Cougar, but his athletic feats and dances easily set him above the rest of the mascots in the Big 12, and make him one of the elite mascots in the country. What other mascots can do this?

Stripped Bare

‘’ stated that after stripping the Pac-12 of four teams and leaving the historic Conference with a wildly uncertain future, the Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark says his expansion has come to an end.

Commented Yormark, “We’re done,” after adding Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah this Summer.

‘’ further stated that however, while the Big 12 may be set with 16 teams for now, its most recent moves have left the Pac-12 stripped bare.

The Colorado Buffaloes football kicked off the great escape from the Conference when the Buffaloes announced its return to the Big 12 on July 27th. The Arizona Wildcats football, the Arizona State Sun Devils football and the Utah Utes football followed one week later, with the Oregon Ducks football and the Washington Huskies football joining the UCLA Bruins football and the USC Trojans football for the Big Ten.

The Big Ten Conference is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic Conference in the United States. Founded as the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives in 1896, it predates the founding of its regulating organization, the NCAA. It is based in the Chicago area in Rosemont, Illinois.

Yormark revealed what he said to the Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff after the Conference realignment, adding that he never hid his desire to expand the Big 12 Conference.

Added Yormark, “On the heels of not Colorado, but all four corner schools coming, I texted George. Reached out to him. Obviously, he was busy. He and I spoke last week. And effectively I said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry it came down to this, and I’m sorry I put you in a tough position, but this was something that we had to do. This was something that the Board and our key stakeholders encouraged. And I’m sorry that my gain is your loss.’ And we had a very collegial conversation. George was fantastic.”

He continued, “I am not the one to hide. And again, I’ve been very intentional about expansion. And I did that in an effort to make sure that expansion didn’t happen in someone’s shadow, it didn’t happen at night, it wasn’t a shock and awe moment. Everyone knew the Big 12 had an appetite to expand. And maybe some people in the industry didn’t like that, that I was so intentional about it. But I’m very transparent. In fact, I telegraphed it.”

Prior to taking over as the Big 12 Commissioner on August 1st, 2022, Yormark told newsmen that the Conference was “open for business”.

Yormark said at the 2022 Big 12 Media Days, “As I said in my opening comments, we’re exploring all options. And we’re open for business. And optionality is good, and we’re vetting all of them. I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest. We’re exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent.”

The Pac-12 is now left with four schools – the Washington State University, the Oregon State University, UC Berkeley, and the Stanford University – after the 2023-2024 seasons as the Conference attempts to figure out the next steps.

The Big Ten has reportedly discussed the possibility of adding Stanford and California, though those additions “hit significant roadblocks” recently, as per sources.

Verge of Extinction

‘USA TODAY’ stated that with most members leaving the Pac-12, it is suddenly on the verge of extinction.

The Pac-12 has existed in some form since 1915, when it was formed as the Pacific Coast Conference. The league became known as the Pac-8 in 1968 and then the Pac-10 in 1978 with the addition of the two Arizona schools. Utah and Colorado followed in 2011, amid the most recent round of major Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) realignment.

‘USA TODAY’ further stated that but there is no road for survivability as an FBS conference with just four schools set to remain in the league past this season. With the losses this Summer joining the announced exits of UCLA and Southern California for the Big Ten next year, the Pac-12 is now composed of California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.

The Pac-12 said in an uncredited statement, “The above development is incredibly disappointing for student-athletes, fans, alumni, and staff of the Pac-12 who cherish the over 100-year history, traditions and rivalries of the Conference of Champions. We remain focused on securing the best possible future for each of our member universities.”

Given the uncertainty over the league’s immediate future and ability to garner a meaningful rights deal from the broadcast partners, it’s very likely that the other Pac-12 members evaluate additional realignment options.

Adding the three Pac-12 schools brings the Big 12, currently at 14 teams, to a group of 16 teams after next Summer’s departures of Oklahoma and Texas for the SEC.

In contrast to the Pac-12, the Big 12 has emerged from the past year-plus of realignment having replaced those national brands with a deeper and more geographically diverse roster.

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