I am bringing this back into this thread because I don't want to hijack the other thread.
Big 12 is a top conference. Its about as good as you are going to find academically and athletically in the country. Texas is the top dog in the conference, I don't know where you keep getting at leaving at or booting members or forming a new conference.
It is a solid conference. IMO, it is clearly the #5 Div I conference in the nation at this point. You can argue it, but I don't think that is inaccurate.
1/1A) Big 10/Pac 10 - best combo of money, large schools, top academics, top athletics, and research institutions.
3) ACC - a number of VERY good acedemic schools, excellent football and basketball and domination of the eastern seaboard. Shared research between members and by individual member schools doesn't sound like it is at the Pac 10/Big 10 level.
4) SEC - top level sports, the best money, second tier acedemics.
5) Big XII - You can argue that the only edge the SEC has over the Big XII is financial. I don't think that is true, but even if it is, that is enough.
6) Big East - The big east is ahead by miles in basketball and market share, but that was a huge hit in football.
7) MWC - you could argue they are #6 because they are much better in football. Certainly if the split happens, yeah.
8) CUSA - Has a chance to move up one spot.
9) WAC - The WAC at then end of the day is better than the sunbelt. But they lack the legs to be anything more than a regional conference. La Tech is cutting their throat playing out of region and UNT wisely realized they would be too.
10) Sunbelt - really what most conferences used to be, in a way.
UT wants to be in a Big 10/Pac 10 level conference in terms of acedemics and esteem. They won't be allowed to just go to one of those two conferences leaving the other Texas schools behind. I question whether the Big XII as currently constituted has the motivation as a conference to ever reach that level of acedemic excellence. I think that is the perception at UT as well, but acknowledge that is speculation. (In my defense, I did go to UT when the SWC was failing and I have lived in Texas for 21 years).
That only leaves one option if they are going to pursue that goal. That is why I think in the next 5-15 years UT will have created their own conference with A&M and OU and some others.
I do think I made mistakes in my suggestions of schools that might be invited earlier in this thread, trying to get to 12 schools. The realities of the region suggest that if they will make their own conference it will be a small conference. Likely 8 schools, possibly 9 schools at most. I am thinking along the lines of the MWC model--- bailing on smaller market and difficult schools. The MWC went with 8 schools because that was the fewest number of schools they could go with. That allowed the biggest possible TV share from the top markets in the former WAC. The money UT & A&M's TVs bring in would be larger for each school the fewer schools who share it. If things were to fall right, the new conference might be able to bring in just under the number of TVs that the Big 12 has with 8-9 schools.
I think they will in this one manner follow the PAC 10 example. The Pac 10 has the best schools in their footprint and has the freedom to pick and choose who they want to invite when those schools "mature" and can add to their conference. It makes a LOT more sense for UT and the others to follow that model and try to leave 3-4 spots open for the right schools when they mature.
So that is where I am coming from.