How the Big XII Could Take Advantage of Rivalry Weekend
The Big XII may not have the biggest marquee college football rivalries, but if scheduled right, the conference could be a major player during rivalry weekend.
In today's landscape of college football, rivalries seem to be becoming less and less important. Rivalries such as the 'Civil War' (Oregon vs Oregon State), 'Bedlam' (Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State), 'The Apple Cup' (Washington vs Washington State), and the 'Backyard Brawl' (Pitt vs West Virginia) have gone from being some of the most important rivalries to not even being played anymore on an annual basis.
While most conferences are chasing the dollar and leaving rivalries in the dust, the Big XII seems to be taking the opposite approach. When Arizona appeared to be the clear 14th team to join the league, a conference focusing on markets and footprint would have likely looked to San Diego State, UConn, or waited for the ACC to fall apart. However, Brett Yormark saw the importance of rivalries. Why else would he go after Arizona State and Utah? Both leagues were reluctant (understatement) to join, and the footprint was already in Arizona and Utah, so the only reason to go that direction was rivalries.
The Big XII is unlikely to stop expanding, but given there current 16 members, here are the four biggest rivalries that should be played on rivalry weekend every year.
1. The Holy War (BYU vs Utah)
There is no doubt that the biggest rivalry in the Big 12 is the Holy War. Even before it was a P5 rivalry the Holy War was widely viewed as a Top 15 rivalry. Now with potential playoff implications, plus a TV window that could potentially find itself played on ESPN, Fox, or ABC every year, this rivalry has the potential to become a Top 5 rivalry in college football.
2. Territorial Cup (Arizona vs Arizona State)
Did you know that the Territorial Cup is the oldest trophy in college football? The trophy dates back to 1899, making it the only NCAA recognized trophy that is played for from the 19th century. This rivalry has the potential to gain many viewers as it can become another late-night window option for the major networks as there just aren't a ton of options left in the MST/PST time zones.
3. Farmegeddon (Kansas State vs Iowa State)
From a national perspective, this isn't a huge game, but it is the longest continuous rivalry in all of college sports, having been played for 106 straight years. In fact, only this game and the UCLA vs California game are the only games to have never been interrupted. Given UCLA's move to the Big 10, Farmegeddon may very soon be the last rivalry standing.
The biggest problem this rivalry faces is when it will likely be played. The central time zone makes it likely to be played in the same time slots as the SEC and Big 10. It may be best to play this game on a week outside of rivalry week, otherwise, it may find itself on a channel like FS2 or ESPNU.
4. Revivalry (Baylor vs TCU)
The 'Revivalry' is one of the best up-and-coming rivalries not only in the conference but in college football. With the recent success of both programs and without Texas no longer in the league, these two programs could easily become the second biggest game in the state behind Texas vs Texas A&M. In a state that loves its college football, it isn't hard to see that this rivalry could become another must-see rivalry for the Big 12.
Even though this game would be played in the central time zone similar to Farmegeddon, the name brands are larger in Texas, so even on a rivalry week, this game could potentially be played on a FS1 or ESPN2 if played during rivalry weekend.
Thoughts on Rivalry Weekend
The Big XII has a big decision when it comes to rivalries and when to play them. Outside of the Holy War, it is unlikely that any Big 12 rivalry game will be the "must-watch" national game, but if Brett Yormark and the conference play their cards right, they certainly could set up a nice list of games that would make it on the major channels even while competing with the NFL, NBA, and games like Ohio State/Michigan and Alabama/Auburn.
Farmeggedon (ISU vs KSU) - Competing with 'Egg Bowl' - Ole Miss vs Miss State
Late Night - Territorial Cup (Arizona vs ASU) - Competing with 'Florida vs Florida State'
Mid Day - Revivalry (TCU vs Baylor) - Competing with 'Iron Bowl' - Alabama vs Auburn
Late Night - Holy War (BYU vs Utah) - Without the Apple Cup (UW vs WSU) or Civil War (Oregon vs OSU), the Holy War may stand alone.