With the college sports environment going crazy, the sad truth is that one of the oldest athletic conferences in history may be coming to an end.
The Big 12 Conference, founded all the way back in 1907 as the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, has for over a century provided exciting college sports to the Central Plains.
The initial members were Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Washington University in St. Louis. Iowa was also a member of what became the Big Ten, and decided to stick solely with them starting in 1911.
Despite the loss of Iowa, the conference grew to 10 schools (albeit with Nebraska leaving for a three-year period), with the additions of Drake University and the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later to be known as Iowa State University) in 1908, Kansas State Agricultural College (later Kansas State University) in 1913, Grinnell College in 1918, the University of Oklahoma in 1919, and the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Oklahoma State University) in 1925.
It soon emerged that there was growing disparity between the state-supported schools and the private schools. So, in 1928, the privates and Oklahoma A&M split and joined with Creighton College (now University) in Omaha to form the similarly named Missouri Valley Conference (although it claims 1907 as its founding date).
The remaining six went by the nickname "Big Six" to distance itself from its past. All in all, for nearly seven decades, no private institution would dare to join the conference. The membership stayed put until 1947, when the University of Colorado in Boulder (a mining city which soon became a Denver suburb) left the Mountain States Conference for the MVIAA, which now became the "Big Seven" in nickname.
In 1960, Oklahoma State patched things up with the old "Big Six" and rejoined, and four years later, the conference formally adopted "Big Eight" as its name. For over three decades, this membership remained constant.
Finally, in 1996, four schools from Texas joined the Big Eight: Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, and moved its HQ to the Dallas area, and changed its name to the Big 12 Conference. Baylor was also the first private school to become a member of the conference since the 1928 split.
Despite all of this, the Big 12 did not claim the Big Eight's history as its own, however, it was obvious that the two conferences were one and the same.
The Big 12 remained stable for over a decade.
Then come June 2010.
Colorado, a member since 1947, announced that they would join the Pac-10 in 2012. The same day, their biggest conference rival in football, Nebraska, a charter member from 1907, announced they would become a Big Ten member a year before Colorado's move.
And now, the dominoes are beginning to fall.
Who knows what moves are going to be next, but all indications are that the Big 12, after over 100 years of operation, may soon be no more.
Where will we go from here? What lessons are there to be learned? Is there ever any true stability in college sports (outside of the Ivy League, as always)?
BTW, as you read this, please listen to "100 Years" by Five for Fighting. The song means a lot here.