Nearly a week has passed since the Tampa Bay Rays grabbed everybody’s attention with a proposal — one that has been approved by Major League Baseball — that is no more desperate than it is impractical: The proposal of splitting home games between St. Petersburg, Fla., and Montreal, Canada.
Look no further than attendance as the driving force behind Tampa Bay’s plea to create a second home in a city where Major League Baseball already failed once. The Rays are averaging an AL-worst average of 14,545 fans per game, and while it’s not nearly as bad as things are several hours south in Miami, the mark is fairly inexcusable for a team sitting 11 games over .500 while playing in a competitive AL East Division.
Regardless of what you may think about the proposal, it inevitably sparked our curiosity once again: What if the concept of splitting time in two cities was applied to Big 12 football programs?
While we desperately hope and pray that the game we love will never stoop to this level, it didn’t stop us from giving it a go at determining which second homes would make the most sense for each school, based on a variety of factors (you should also remind yourself right now that this is a TCU blog).
So buckle up. It’s about to get weird. Really, really weird.
Baylor - Death Valley, Calif.
Venue: Death Valley Academy
Look on the positive side, Bears fans. The growing wave of Californians at Baylor makes this a somewhat practical idea for your West Coast supporters who wish that McLane Stadium wasn’t so far away. Plus, bragging rights over LSU and Clemson are eternally yours when you have the audacity to play in the REAL Death Valley. Who cares about the extreme climate and the ever-so-desolate location when you have that going for you? Cheers!
Iowa State - New Orleans, La.
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
We already saw Cyclones nearly run the entire city of Memphis dry of its Busch Light supply. There was nearly a repeat in San Antonio this past December. Could you imagine the scene on Bourbon Street if Cyclones fans were given the opportunity? And let’s not lie to ourselves: Iowa State’s fan base is elite when it comes to traveling across the country. There’s no doubt that Cyclone Nation would not only pack out the Superdome, but also take the weekend festivities in the Big Easy to the next level — all the while letting fans escape the chilly late-season weather back up in Ames.
Kansas - St. Louis, Mo.
Venue: The Dome at America’s Center
Here’s the deal. Kansas football really isn’t going to draw a crowd anywhere outside of the Midwest, unless folks are looking to watch a comedy of errors. Heck, even the attendance at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence is a beating. Considering St. Louis has lost an NFL team twice and sits just a few hours drive away from KU, let’s give the Jayhawks a chance at reviving football in the Gateway City. Maybe the third time is the charm? Maybe. Who knows. Probably not, actually.
Kansas State - Frisco, Texas
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Chris Klieman has seen his team capture a national championship at Toyota Stadium four times dating back to 2014. Give me a reason why Kansas State shouldn’t opt to play half of its home games at a place where the Wildcats’ new head coach has regularly experienced ultimate FCS glory. Also, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is a pretty great place, if I don’t say so myself. I’ll leave it at that.
Oklahoma - New York, N.Y.
Venue: MetLife Stadium (yes, this is technically New Jersey)
Each of the last two Heisman Trophy winners have come out of Oklahoma, and it could very well become three straight this December with Jalen Hurts now at the center of Lincoln Riley’s offense. With the Norman-NYC pipeline already flowing, why not give the Sooners a head start in getting out to Manhattan? Like it or not, OU is where stardom happens in the Big 12 these days, and it’s only appropriate that we let the team play under the bright lights of the Big Apple.
Oklahoma State - Anchorage, Alaska
Venue: Anchorage Football Stadium
Mike Gundy loves to hunt, which you can do plenty of in Alaska. There’s a restaurant off campus literally named Eskimo Joe’s — one of the finest food and drink institutions in the Big 12, for that matter. Let’s not deny that there isn’t exactly that much immediately around Stillwater either. This is quite frankly the perfect place for the Pokes to venture for half of the season, not to mention the considerable upgrade in natural beauty. Just be prepared for frigid temperatures and minimal daylight once you arrive.
TCU - Los Angeles, Calif.
Venue: Rose Bowl Stadium
Before you accuse us of giving the Horned Frogs the prime real-estate here, let me say this: Anybody who has attended TCU or spent any considerable time on campus since 2011 knows that Californians have taken over the student population (raises my hand). Ever heard the phrase “Texas California University” before? Logistically, Gary Patterson and Co. playing half the season in sunny Southern California is a no-brainer. Not only will the SoCal locals finally have a chance to conveniently watch TCU play in person, but who in Texas wouldn’t jump all over the excuse for West Coast vacation or two each fall? And don’t tell me this isn’t a better use of the Rose Bowl, considering UCLA is borderline irrelevant come October/November these days.
Texas Tech - Honolulu, Hi.
Venue: Aloha Stadium
Alright, so maybe the 8.5 hour flight from Lubbock to the Hawaiian islands is a bit of a stretch. But I’ll tell you what: When you’re willing to spend the bulk of your year in West Texas, you’ve earned the right to play a few home games each season in paradise. Fittingly, the Red Raiders will remain the westernmost team in the Big 12 with this second home. And considering that the sports scene in Honolulu is pretty low-key, save the Rainbow Warriors and the Hawaii Bowl, why not treat locals to what is routinely one of the most exciting offenses in college football? Related: If I’m a beat writer for an opposing Big 12 school, I can only hope and pray the away games at Tech take me to the South Pacific rather than Lubbock.
Texas - Portland, Ore.
Venue: Providence Park
A match made in heaven. Both cities pride themselves on weirdness, so there’s really no other option for the Longhorns. Take a walk around Portland and you probably won’t even realize that you left the Capital of the Lone Star State, aside from the fact that you’re now in a Pacific Northwest climate. Sure, an MLS stadium with a capacity of just more than 25,000 will make things a bit cramped for a fan-base of UT’s size, but who doesn’t love for an extra-intimate college football experience? Maybe Tom Herman can even steal some Oregon and Washington recruits along the way.
West Virginia - London, U.K.
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Sorry, West Virginia. Somebody in this conference has to pay tribute to the NFL’s PR stunt. Since you’re already in the Eastern Time Zone, we’ll volunteer y’all to cross the pond throughout the season. Hey, on the bright side, you’ll have a significant edge over those who aren’t as adjusted to the time difference — which is all fun and games until Kansas athletic director Jeff Long attempts to nullify the West Virginia-Kansas results due to body clocks. If you’re still not amused, try and picture the sound of 90,000 strong at Wembley singing along to Country Roads. Have fun.