What Would Adding Gonzaga Mean for the Big 12 Conference?
Pete Thamel casually dropped a bombshell this afternoon when he published his latest on ESPN.com. Is Gonzaga on its way to the Big 12? They've at least had the discussions according to Thamel.
Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor, and Gonzaga have been among the best college basketball programs in the country over the last five seasons. Texas Tech is fourth out of the four, but they are on par with Gonzaga and have beaten the Bulldogs heads up in the NCAA tournament.
The conference also has programs that have punched up into the tournament over the last decade like TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Iowa State. West Virginia has had basketball success as well, even if they are currently in a dip. Even Texas, who won their first tournament games in the last decade in 2022's tourney, has at least been to multiple NCAA Tournaments.
That's not even mentioning the recent success of Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, or UCF or those programs' inevitable entrance into the Big 12 conference.
Texas Tech was an OT away from a National Championship in 2019. Baylor and Kansas have won back-to-back National Championships. Houston has set up camp in the final fours and Elite 8's lately. There's no question that the current and new Big 12 Conference is the best basketball league from top to bottom.
Adding Gonzaga? It would be insane.
I think that Gonzaga would take quickly to the new conference and could potentially finally win that National Championship that has alluded Mark Few for so long if they were legitimately battle-tested in conference play instead of playing cupcakes the entire slate.
Gonzaga could provide a solid baseball program along with their Men's basketball team, but I'm not sure what a conference affiliation looks like in Brett Yormark's brain. In some respects, if you're value hunting, the Men's basketball program is the only Gonzaga team worth a look at. No disrespect to the aforementioned baseball program or any of the women's sports teams, I'm sure they have a fine tennis squad at Gonzaga, but Tennis doesn't create massive revenue.
18-20 Gonzaga games against current Big 12 games would be a nice bonus for the conference. I don't think it changes anything too much from the conference perspective, but for Gonzaga, I bet Brett Yormark has a better offer than the Pac-12 or Big East who have also been in discussions with Gonzaga.
If the Big 12 is truly an option and the reported meeting is more than just a couple of pals catching up, I'm even more all-in on Brett Yormark and his plan for the future. At the very least he's planning, unlike his predecessor who was reactionary every step of the way.
Bottom line, Gonzaga's interest in joining the Big 12 Conference, to the point that the Athletic Director is meeting with the Big 12 commissioner, is intriguing. It's also intriguing that the Big 12 has an interest in expanding beyond just the Pac 12 schools that have been mentioned. I know Brett Yormark has talked about going West, but could he also fill out the Eastern portion of the conference with Memphis?
Talk about creating a powerhouse in NCAA Basketball.