Amid a certain school and conference semi-officially getting hitched, lawsuits and super-conference rumors, we have little clarity as what will happen to the Big 12.
But Oklahoma and Texas haven’t bolted to the coast just yet so let’s take a look at another possible addition to the conference, should it be saved.
Southern Methodist University has made it well-known they have a crush on the Big 12. Whether the Big 12 feels the same way could be a very different story.
Like Houston, SMU can boast a presence in a major market (Dallas), but unlike Houston they have no basketball history at all. The Mustangs haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1993, when they won the now-defunct Southwestern Conference.
(Side note: The major market argument doesn’t really carry each school very far because as long as the conference has Texas they’ll have every major market in that state.)
The 50’s and 60’s seem to have been the high-water mark for the program, as they won at least a share of the SWC title eight times between 1955-1967. This era culminated with a Final Four appearance in 1956, but I believe that was during the period when the NIT was the premier tournament (correct me if I’m wrong).
SMU has a somewhat notable coach in former North Carolina headman Matt Doherty, who has been in Dallas since 2006. His SMU teams posted sub-.500 records in each of Doherty’s seasons until this past one, in which the Mustangs won 20 games. This was inflated by a run in the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.
A lack of history and recent success in a weaker conference, combined with what would be the smallest arena in the Big 12 (Moody Coliseum, holding just under 9,000) adds up to an unattractive basketball profile.
The optimistic take would be that the Mustangs’ recruiting could improve if they were to join a bigger conference and there is talent to be had in any major metropolitan area. Some recent NBA players from Dallas include Grant Hill, Chris Bosh and Acie Law. However youhave to squint pretty hard to see a half-full glass here.
Basketball won’t matter at all to the Big 12 administration as realignment is football driven. But even if the Big 12 pulls itself off life support and begins expanding, I doubt SMU will be a target .