2010 Spring Preview - The Big 12's Last Stand
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson
Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson
Posted Mar 17, 2010

The 20 Big Questions Going Into 2010 - No. 19. Is this the Big 12's last stand? With all the talk of Big Ten and Pac 10 expansion, is this the end of the conference as we know it? What players need to have the best spring sessions? This and more in the Big 12 pre-spring overview.

2010 Spring Preview - No. 19
Big 12 - Is this it for the league?

2010 Spring Preview
- 2010 Big 12 Spring Preview 
- 2010 Big 12 Player You Must Know - Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas 

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  
By Pete Fiutak

The hot topic surrounding the Big 12 isn't about how Texas and Oklahoma are going to reload, the hiring of Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech and Turner Gill at Kansas, or the expected reemergence of Nebraska as a superpower once again. No, it's all about the league's survival in its current form.

The Big 12 was the big story of 2008 with offensive showcase after offensive showcase, and 2009, while it was a down season by comparison, was still entertaining with Texas able to get into the BCS Championship game. It seems like the conference is strong, and it could be argued that it's the No. 2 football league behind the SEC, but it's about to be raided like it was Conference USA when the Big East needed to fill out the roster.

That the Big Ten could even float the idea that it was talking about talking about talking to Texas, without any real communication being made between the two sides, shows just how vulnerable the Big 12 is perceived to be. The Big Ten bigwigs would never, ever, ever let something like the Texas talk haphazardly slip out into the open without having a reason, and for the most part, that reason was to show that the idea of Texas joining the Big Ten, which will never happen even if there's a way to create a 25-minute flight between Austin and Ann Arbor, doesn't sound all that crazy. If anything, Texas would go out on its own, form its own network for UT athletics, and make gobs and gobs of money as an independent, but that's just idle chit-chat.

More realistically, the Big 12 could be henpecked by other conferences that have either better TV exposure, better academic institutions, or a mixture of both. Colorado would pack its bags for the Pac 10 tomorrow if asked nicely. Iowa State could only dream about being asked to join the Big Ten, creating a natural fit with Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, and Wisconsin in the region, but the program isn't big enough. Nebraska would also jump ship in a heartbeat, and fans would love it, but the TV market might not be enticing enough for the Big Ten to make a move. Missouri already has a rivalry with Illinois and could switch sides, but that still might not be splashy enough for the Big Ten. But again, the point isn't that the Big 12 could potentially lose teams; the point is that other conferences could probably go and grab anyone but Oklahoma or Texas just for the asking.

If it loses any of its members, the Big 12 would simply do what the Big East did and grab the top non-BCS programs available. TCU would be a natural fit, Houston makes geographic sense, and taking BYU and Utah before the Pac 10 does might make things interesting, but the league doesn't want to do that. For now, it'll be enough just to keep everyone around for another few years, but watch and see how things progress before spring practices kick in next year at this time. This could be the biggest college sports story of the last few years, and for Big 12 fans, this could be one of the last seasons to enjoy the conference as is.

The Top Five Big 12 Players Who Need A Big Spring
1. Garrett Gilbert, QB Texas
2. Zac Lee, QB Nebraska
3. Brandon Weeden, QB Oklahoma State
4. Donald Stephenson, OT Oklahoma
5. A.J. Klein, LB Iowa State

The Top 5 Position Concerns/Battles
1. Texas Tech quarterback
2. Oklahoma quarterback
3. Oklahoma cornerback
4. Texas running backs
5. Colorado quarterback

The 5 Biggest Big 12 Spring Storylines
1. This is the year to catch Texas. The Longhorns have come up with such amazing recruiting classes that they can fill holes quickly, but this appears to be the season when there's a crack in the window. Next year, Texas will be loaded with experience and this year's tremendous haul of new talent might be ready for primetime.
2. Will Nebraska have an offense to match the defense? It wasn't just that the Nebraska offense failed in the Big 12 Championship and in strange games like the turnover-fest loss to Iowa State; it was that the gameplan had to be for the offense to not screw up, let the defense be amazing, and then take advantage of opportunities. It worked in a win over Missouri and almost worked against Texas in the title game, but if the Huskers are going to contend for the BCS title, they need more consistency on offense.
3. Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech. He needs to win and win big and win a lot. Otherwise, the segment of Red Raider fans who think Mike Leach got a raw deal will be howling.
4. Is the Big 12 North any good? Kansas State will be feisty, Iowa State will have its moments, and Kansas has upside with Turner Gill at the helm, but it appears to be down to Nebraska and Missouri again. The South might not be the monster it was a few years ago, but it's a lot better than the North.
5. Robert Griffin's knee. With a healthy Griffin, Baylor is a dangerous team that every coach fears. Griffin is one of the league's only players who can win a game by himself, and it's still tough to get teams to take Baylor seriously. It's Baylor; that's an assumed win on everyone's slate.

The Spring Big 12 Team Rankings
1. Texas
2. Nebraska
3. Oklahoma
4. Missouri
5. Texas Tech
6. Texas A&M
7. Oklahoma State
8. Iowa State
9. Kansas
10. Kansas State
11. Colorado
12. Baylor

The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of the Year
1. Jerrod Johnson, QB Texas A&M
2. Daniel Thomas, RB Kansas State
3. Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
4. Von Miller, DE Texas A&M
5. Kendall Hunter, RB Oklahoma State