Trust me, I'm not worried about the A&M/SEC hype, check out my avatar <<< I made that when I thought A&M was going to the PAC16 with us. The only thing that might worry me is A&M's hype as it's affecting UT's recruiting but even that isn't a big deal. If you win, they will come.
Let's do an exercise...name the top 6 fb schools in each conference (yes I know it's not exactly fair 10 v 14 but play along)
PAC12 - USC, UCLA, Ore, Wash, Stan, ASU
B1G - tOSU, Michigan, PSU, Neb, Wisc, MSU
SEC - Bama, LSU, UF, UGA, Aub, SC
ACC - FSU, Clem, VPI, UNC, Miami, Pitt
B12 - UT, OU, OSU, KSU, TT, WVU
Scratch the first two off the list and tell me which conference gets the benefit of the doubt in playoff selection and future TV contracts.
The B12 and ACC are close to even but the ACC obviously has more potential and they have a few more mentionables in GT, Lville, and NCSU, but they get quickly left behind if ND joins up and if they eventually steal WVU from us for 16, and even if they lose some combo of 3-4 of UNC, UVA, NCSU, VPI, GT, Duke they'll still be better than whatever is left of the Big12.
The lack of a CCG doesn't hurt us IMO but round robin play does. It's been statistically proven that playing everyone in your conference artificially lowers your records/ranking. That's going to be thing that will hurt us. That's the only reason I'm some what in favor of expanding (though I don't like the candidates) with Cincy and UConn. That would segregate the weaker Northern schools from the stronger football schools thus helping the South's SOS (which directly impacts the playoff selection committee) and the record/ranking of the North (as they only have to play UT/OU once a year).
The SEC is a good conference, right now they are really good, pre 2006 they were about average. These things have hills and valleys. A few years ago the PAC10 was a bad conference with the exception of USC, now it's clearly number 2, and it has nothing to do with them adding CU/Utah, it's just the mere fact that they added 2 schools and formed divisions.
The Big12 did the opposite, and it will hurt them. The Big12 is lucky that Oklahoma State and Baylor are both surging, and people still have recent memories of BCS winning seasons by TCU and WVU. But if Texas gets back on track with OU you'll be lucky to see 4 in the top 25.
I get your optimism about the Big12, many posters on ShaggyBevo.com agree with you too. And I agree that in the short term the Big12 will be fine (though I'm not as high on Baylor as you), the Big12 will be represented for a few years but if we keep putting out BCS level displays like Baylor/UCF, or KSU/Ore then that will change real quick for teams not named UT/OU. This won't turn overnight but by 2025, I'm pretty positive that UT/OU will be looking for a way out.
And trust me Baylor, TCU, ISU, KSU, KU, WVU which make up 3 of UT's home games aren't really driving ticket sales, add in the preseason cupcake Go5 game and your lucky to get 1 quality game out of those 4. The only consistent games that are sought after are the OSU/TT games (keep in mind OU is not included in season tickets). This will also be one of the main reasons driving UT to another conference, swap those 3 home games with 2 mediocre P12 teams (Cal, OrSU, WSU, Utah, CU, AZ) and a power school like USC, UCLA, Stan, Wash, Ore, ASU and you'll get more fan coming to games and be able to charge more for tickets than the current B12 allows. Texas would play 2 big time P12 opponents each year not including OU. I don't see how the B12 can compete with that, even if Baylor goes on a 10 year streak (which is unlikely).
The PAC16 even w/o pods is also better, AZ/ASU basically are about even with KU/KSU (slight edge to Kansas schools), Utah/TCU are about even (short term edge to TCU/long term to Utah), Colorado is better than ISU. So we're basically swapping Baylor/WVU for the old PAC8, and I'm totally good with that, BUT the PAC16 won't let Texas/USC or OU/UO go 6 years between non-CCG match ups as the TV money would obviously go up if you set those match ups 2 years on 2 years off and the PAC16 won't let their "tradition" stand in the way of $$$ assuming the 4 Cali schools and instate rivals stay intact.
Fan of the Big 12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference and...