A couple things have merged together to form this post for me. One, I just had surgery so I'm laid up at home with nothing to do ... so I've been really studying this college conference shuffling that went on last summer.
The second is this article from ESPN. It talks about why it could be smart for Texas to go independent.
Maybe not right now. Texas has a great opportunity laid out in front of them. They have a very favorable deal with the Big XII that allows them to build their own television network and a bigger share of the pie. The know they hold all the cards for the future of that conference (if Texas moved to the Pac-10 ... 12 ... 16 ... during the summer, the Big XII would've probably collapsed. They can milk this thing.
They also can look at the BYU experiment. BYU, as you may know, dropped out of the Mountain West Conference in all sports and becoming an Independent in football (they are joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports). BYU has their own network. While Texas' earnings should be much greater than BYU's, seeing whatever struggles the Cougars go through as they get their Independent status up and running will help them down the road.
It isn't like the Longhorns need to do this. Like I said, Texas runs the Big XII right now and gets to build their own network and have built in rivalries and games and all of that. They also rid themselves of that pesky conference championship game now that Nebraska and Colorado left the league with 10 members.
But there could be the issue. Due to the 10-team conference set up, each Big XII team must play 9 conference games. That means Texas only gets to have three non-conference foes. Follow me on this.
The BCS Championship has been won by the SEC the last, what, five times? Why? Because they play one hell of a schedule. SEC schools have 8 games in league ... with about 6 of them really tough contests. Most SEC schools also have a built in rivalry with another BCS school (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, etc). Auburn's non-con schedule featured Chattanooga, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe (they also played Clemson). No matter, since they had to play Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina (twice), Kentucky and Georgia.
Texas will have to play Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State every year. Sure, the Oklahoma game is always a national eye-opener, there isn't as much there year-in-year-out to scare anyone. Sure, Oklahoma State or Missouri or A&M could have a big year ... but it isn't like the elite schools that the SEC runs through.
If Texas went independent, they could schedule whom they want. They can keep their rivalries with Oklahoma, A&M and Texas Tech. They could also go across the country to create new ones. They could go and play all kinds of top teams. Maybe have something with USC (probably not now that USC is locked in to nine Pac-12 games and Notre Dame). Maybe Ohio State? Maybe the soon-to-be-Big East's TCU? Maybe BYU and Notre Dame?
People didn't really understand why Notre Dame refuses to join a conference in the current climate. Why would they? They have a TV contract, a BCS invite and all the flexibility in their scheduling. Sure, they haven't won a title since 1988 and have fallen on some hard times ... but that isn't because they are Independent. You can't tell me that Texas couldn't bring in the same types of recruits if it wasn't bound to a conference. You can't tell me that Texas ... and college football as a whole ... wouldn't benefit from setting up big games during the season.
If Texas did do that, it could lead to a very interesting reversal of the conference shifting that's been going on. Especially if a playoff comes in to play. Sure, I can't see an SEC team bolting that lifestyle or even a Big Ten team (though Ohio State could be tempted). But could Miami? Florida State? USC? West Virginia?
Something to think about.