For a power conference, the Big 12 certainly doesn't know how to wield it. Either the conference doesn't have nearly the national sway it would like to believe besides hosting a couple of nationally recognized schools, or else it doesn't have the knowledge to use that power. How else can you possibly explain the farm system lens that other top conferences seem to view the Big 12 through?
Think about it. A Triple-A team like the Omaha Royals might compete on its own for its own minor league titles and division crowns. They hold All-Star games, have batting champions and the like as well. But in the end, that team exists for one reason: to feed the Kansas City Royals. Everything else bows to the one goal to make the main organization look better.
Of course, that's a bit of a stretch, but the fact that the analogy can hold true at any level reveals just how poor the Big 12 looks at this point in the national picture. Other conferences have moved in on the Big 12 and plucked away some of their schools, leaving the conference with a current 10 schools that will likely grow smaller in the coming days, weeks and months. Missouri has been rumored to go. Texas A&M seems a given at this point, albeit on a slower timeline than perhaps expected. Either way, the Big 12 will be the Big 9 and falling soon enough.
A power conference should not be mercurial with its membership, rising and falling like a thermometer in the MIdwest. But until now, the Big 12 has played like a roadside carcass while the vultures of other conferences circle overhead, taking what they will. The Pac-12 took Colorado. Nebraska now resides in the Big Ten. The SEC will soon claim Texas A&M. And along the way, the Big 12 has yet to say what its own plans are for the future. Instead, they're issues statements of "please don't go" and sounding like a second-rate conference in the process.
The tides are hopefully turning in regards to the conference's stability and attitude with a release of the following statement from Texas Tech President Guy Bailey, "If A&M leaves, we're going to use this opportunity to build one of the strongest conferences in the United States. What we'll do, we're going to be very aggressive in recruiting schools and I don't know how many we're eventually going to recruit."
That's a good start -- to at least mention that replacements will come -- and the conference still holds its share of elite members in the big sports of football and basketball. But if Missouri leaves, that will signal a death toll of sorts in regards to how the conference looks within the national picture. Nebraska was already a tough loss, and the conference cannot afford another.
If the conference is going to lose Texas A&M, the Big 12 needs a public plan available pretty quickly to avoid any more perception that it's a losing stock. At this point, that's the only way to look at it given the pleas for help and the lack of a plan. Here's hoping the ship isn't sinking, but rather simply needs time to right itself.