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College Football: The History of Big 12 Realignment


College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

So just in case you don’t remember the days of Georgia Tech winning SEC titles or Grinnell College's one-year stint in the Big 8, Athlon is here to show you conference realignment isn’t a new phenomenon.

The History of Big East Conference Realignment
The History of SEC Realingment
The History of Big 12 Realignment

The Big 12 Conference Commissioners:

Charles Martin Dobbs, 1994-15 (development)
Steven J. Hatchell, 1995-98
Dave Martin (interim), 1998
Kevin Weiberg, 1998-2007
Dan Beebe, 2007-11
Chuck Neinas, 2011-12
Bob Bowlsby, Present

The Big 12 Conference Timeline:

In order to track the development and creation of the Big 12, one must understand how it was birthed in 1996. The best of the Southwest Conference (SWC) and Big 8 were essentially combined into the Big 12. That is where the story begins (try to keep up):

1907: The Big 8 is originally created using the name Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MVIAA). The founding members were Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Washington-St. Louis and Iowa.

1908: Iowa State and Drake were both added to the MVIAA.

1911: Iowa departed as it had been a joint member of both the Big Ten and MVIAA.

1913: Kansas State is invited and accepts an invitation to the MVIAA.

1915: The Southwest Conference is founded by Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M, Texas, Texas A&M, Rice and Southwestern.

1916: Southwestern drops out of the SWC after only one year.

1918: Nebraska departs the MVIAA and plays two seasons as an independent. Meanwhile, SMU joins the SWC.

1919: Oklahoma and Saint Louis University both apply for membership in the league but are denied admission “due to deficient management of their athletic programs.” Instead, Grinnell College is used to replace the Cornhuskers.

1920: After one year, the MVIAA decides that maybe Oklahoma is a good fit and allows the Sooners to join the conference, leaving the Southwest Conference behind. Phillips University decides to join the Southwestern Conference — which lasted only one year.

1921: Nebraska comes back to the league after a two-year hiatus.

1923: TCU joins the SWC.

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1925: Oklahoma State, then called Oklahoma A&M, switches from the SWC to the MVIAA

1928: A pivotal break amongst the bigger and smaller schools leads to the origins of the Big 8. Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa State depart the MVIAA to form what was then commonly referred to as the Big 6 Conference. Meanwhile, Drake, Grinnell, Oklahoma A&M and Washington (STL) left to form the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).

1947: After 20 years of relative stability (and arguing with the MVC), Colorado is added to the Big 6 Conference — which informally becomes the Big 7 Conference.

1957: Oklahoma A&M, now named the more recognizable Oklahoma State, rejoins its larger brethren and the MVIAA becomes known as the Big Eight.

1958: Texas Technological College, better know today as Texas Tech University, officially starts competing in SWC athletics having been admitted to the league two years earlier.

1964: The Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association officially changes its name to the Big Eight Confernece. Four years later it will enter into an agreement with the Orange Bowl.

1976: The Houston Couagars football team, having being admitted to the league in 1971, begins competition in the Southwestern Conference. It wins the SWC championship in its first year.

1991: Arkansas leaves for the SEC after seeing the writing on the wall concerning the creation of a Texas-centered power conference in which the Razorbacks might have been left out (a la TCU, SMU, Houston, Rice, etc).

1996: The Big 12 is formed when the best of the SWC (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor) and is joined with the Big 8. The nation’s second power conference championship game is formed four years after the SEC’s experiment was a huge success.

2011: Nebraska leaves for the Big Ten while Colorado leaves for the Pac-12 as all parties in the Big 12 (minus Texas and Oklahoma) are upset with the revenue sharing model.

2012: Missouri and Texas A&M leave for the SEC while TCU and West Virginia leave the Big East for the Big 12.

Big 12 Conference BCS Bowl History

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Sugar: (4) Ohio State 24, (6) Texas A&M 14
1999 Fiesta: (3) Nebraska 31, (5) Tennessee 21
2000 Orange (NCG): (1) Oklahoma 13, (2) Florida State 2
2001 Fiesta: (4) Oregon 38, (3) Colorado 16
2001 Rose (NCG): (1) Miami 37, (2) Nebraska 14
2002 Rose: (7) Oklahoma 34, (6) Washington State 14
2003 Sugar (NCG): (2) LSU 21, (1) Oklahoma 14
2003 Fiesta: (5) Ohio State 35, (10) Kansas State 28
2004 Orange (NCG): (1) USC 55, (2) Oklahoma 19
2004 Rose: (4) Texas 38, (13) Michigan 37
2005 Rose (NCG): (2) Texas 41, (1) USC 38
2006 Fiesta: (8) Boise State 43, (10) Oklahoma 42 (OT)
2007 Fiesta: (9) West Virginia 48, (4) Oklahoma 28
2007 Orange: (8) Kansas 24, (3) Virginia Tech 21
2008 Fiesta: (3) Texas 24, (10) Ohio State 21
2008 NCG: (2) Florida 24, (1) Oklahoma 14
2009 NCG: (1) Alabama 37, (2) Texas 21
2010 Fiesta: (7) Oklahoma 48, (UR) UConn 20
2011 Fiesta: (3) Oklahoma State 41, (4) Stanford 38 (OT)

Overall Record: 9-10
National Championships: 2-5

-by Braden Gall

Follow @bradengall

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