One may suspect that the Big XII Conference has some bigger concerns than simply changing the appearance of its logo.
The league is currently comprised of 10 teams and not the 12 that its title indicates. Not to mention, questions remain surrounding further expansion between the money-hungry PAC 12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC conferences.
But that is why something as minimal as a logo modernization does serve as an upgrade, albeit basic at that.
WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck recently met with other Big XII Conference officials for a league summit of sorts, discussing improvements that can be made and its plans for the future.
Luck believes the conference is as strong as ever.
“The Big XII, I think, is one of the strongest conferences out there. Just think in baseball. In baseball, we had five teams go to the regional tournament. We [WVU] were number six, sadly. But four of those five [teams] advanced to the super regional. The SEC, by comparison, had 10 teams go into the regional and only two advanced. The ACC had seven teams go into the regional and only two advanced to the supers. The Big XII is a great conference. There are no slouches in this conference,” Luck said.
In all honesty, the baseball comparison is a good one. The Big XII had a strong showing in the 2014 college baseball tournament. But it has not been just baseball this year – the conference has been solid in every money-making sport.
In college football, the Big XII had six of its 10 programs reach bowl games, finishing with a .500 record in the process. Although the rest of the power conferences had more teams earn bowl appearances, it did not necessarily equate to a successful bowl season. Only the SEC and PAC 12 finished with a better win percentage than the Big XII.
Things seemed to be much better in men’s college basketball. The Big XII was regarded as the most competitive from top to bottom during the regular season, and it showed in the NCAA Tournament. No other conference earned more bids to the big dance than the Big XII. The conference collected seven bids, but ultimately had zero teams advance past the Sweet 16.
Luck believes the competitiveness within the Big XII is one of the league’s strongest selling points.
“You hear our coaches say – when people ask Nikki Izzo-Brown, ‘Hey Nikki, what’s the biggest difference between the old Big East women’s soccer and Big XII women’s soccer?’ She says, ‘There are no easy opponents.’ We have to bring our A-game every week and that’s something that we have to learn. Our coaches have to learn it and our student-athletes have to learn it.”
Competitiveness is one thing, but having marquee programs within a conference is another. It’s an absolute necessity to feature national powerhouses in order for any conference to receive its praise. Whether it’s Oklahoma in football or Kansas in basketball, the Big XII has star power mixed with a competitive edge, which in turn helps make it a power conference.
“The Big XII is strong. It’s solid,” Luck added. “I think it’s some of the best athletic programs in the country when you’re talking about Texas or Oklahoma, or OklahomaState; even Kansas in basketball or some of the other sports where they really excel. So it’s great for us to be in that conference. It’s forcing us to raise our bar and raise what we do, and get better.”
A couple years have passed since the headlines of conference realignment, as leagues searched wide and far for their next big move. If realignment were to strike the Big XII Conference again, then it would be immensely difficult for it to remain as viable as it currently is.
The Big XII is at a disadvantage in contrast to the PAC 12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC. Every other power conference across the country has more member institutions, resulting in a higher mathematical likelihood of its programs reaching the top of the food chain.
Rumors have surfaced of BYU and San DiegoState being interested in Big XII membership, but the league has held true to its word after adding West Virginia and TCU on July 1, 2012: No more expansion is in the near future.
If you’re a fan of the Big XII, then you fully understand that the league may need to expand at some point in order to remain as a power conference. The fact is that other conferences will continue to build their product, and the Big XII needs to remain open to all inquiries down the road.
A new logo does nothing to change the style of play or the amount of member institutions – but it does provide a sense of unity and cohesiveness among the Big XII’s 10 schools. It implements a new initiative for a better future, a future that West VirginiaUniversity is certainly proud to be a part of.