I’ve been a staunch supporter of the Big 12 bringing on schools and brands that fit the conference. Schools like Arizona State and Colorado don’t make as much sense to me as others mostly due to their recent ineptitude in Football and Men’s Basketball.
Gonzaga is a different animal. They haven’t had a football program since the early 1940s and have since blown up as a basketball powerhouse, advancing to multiple Final Fours. It’s been 11 years since Head Coach Mark Few has not won the West Coast Conference title. The program has never lost more than three conference games in a season since Few took over in 1999. Gonzaga has also not missed an NCAA Tournament since Few’s debut in 1999.
However, Gonzaga is missing one thing from its’ resume, a National Championship.
The West Coast Conference boasts teams such as St. Mary’s, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, and BYU (until July 1st). None are basketball powers by any stretch of the imagination, while some of them have had great runs recently (St. Mary’s has been to multiple NCAA Tourneys).
The Bulldogs need a conference such as the Big 12 just as much as the Conference wants them to be a part. The drop-off in competition when Gonzaga is in conference season hurts them more than most of their fans care to admit. One of the reasons the Big 12 has so many teams play deep into the NCAA Tournament is due to the tough conference schedule.
The NCAA Tournament is a buzzsaw of good and great teams. Outside of one or two teams per year, the WCC does not have good teams. This has tended to hurt Gonzaga over the years in the NCAA Tournament. Consistently playing great competition in conference play has prepared Big 12 teams for the NCAA Tournament. Since 2016, the Big 12 has not put a team in the Final Four just once.
Playing 5-6 great teams in a row is what prepares teams for the NCAA Tournament, and is something that Gonzaga could greatly benefit from during the conference season.
Gonzaga would also benefit from a large pay raise for playing in a superior conference. This could go towards upgrading some of their facilities or giving the coaching staffs a pay raise.
As of now, the Big 12 is rumored to only be talking about Gonzaga in terms of basketball only. However, Gonzaga has a solid baseball program that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season. I don’t anticipate Gonzaga moving baseball and softball to the Big 12, but nonetheless, it is something to note.
Do you think Gonzaga would be a good addition to the Big 12? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!