Whew! That was close.  The Big-12 collegiate sports conference almost imploded in recent days as Big TV wags money in front of university presidents and athletic directors.

This Iowa State University ’68 graduate was reading stories that it might become an orphan in search of some other sports league to join. Would the Cyclones  have to join a league like the Missouri Valley Conference or the Iowa Athletic Conference with teams like Simpson College or Wartburg College?

Thank you, Texas and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M and Texas Tech  that you would stick with what was the Big 12 and remain with Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and presumably Missouri.  Ten teams work.   How weird to have schools like Oklahoma State being in what is now the Pac-10.  As it is, the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers,  storied program from the Great Plains, are bound for what is the Big 10 (although it really has had 11 teams since Penn State University joined it in 1990.)  The University of Colorado Buffaloes are headed to the Pac-1o.

Some scenarios had Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M, along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State joining Colorado with the Pac-10 for a mighty 16-pack conference — seemingly unwieldy and unsettling  traditions and rivalry.   Now if the 10 remaining teams from the Big 12 don’t get wooed to other leagues, we have a reasonable argument to call it the New Big 10, and let the “Big 10” find a new name.   Lots of possibilities for other league-jumping  are out there.

When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, it was just the Big 7 Conference — Iowa State, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado.  It was formed in 1948.  In 1958, Oklahoma State joined to form the Big 8, which is how it was known for 38 years  before the Big 12 was formed with four Texas teams from the old Southwest Conference in 1996.

For seven years, we lived about 20 miles from Ames — home of Iowa State.   Our TV station was WOI-TV from Ames with the school’s Campanile as the station’s symbol. How my parents enjoyed the play of Gary Thompson, the Roland Rocket.  He hailed from tiny Roland, Iowa, and is still recalled as Iowa State’s first real basketball star.

He was the first Cyclone to score more than 1,000 points. At only 5-foot-10, he zipped around the basketball court and was the first from the school to score 40 points in a game.   While a senior in 1956-57, Bobby was chosen for the “consensus team All-American” and was the Big Seven Conference Player of the Year.  He beat out the legendary  Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain of the Kansas Jayhawks for that honor. Gary played shortstop for the ISU baseball team, leading the Cyclones to the College World Series in 1957. He was a fifth-round choice in the 1957 N BA basketball draft, but played on a semi-pro team with the Amateur Athletic Union — the Phillips 66’ers.

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