The Big XII seems more and more likely to dissolve each day now. The latest popular scenario has the Pac-10 absorbing 6 teams (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and either Baylor or Colorado) and the Big Ten taking 2 (Nebraska and Missouri). That would leave Iowa State outside a BCS Conference and left scrambling.

I've always been in the "playing Iowa State is good" boat. As an out of conference opponent they are a good fit: a BCS team and an instate rival. Plus there is a good deal of tradition between the two teams (even if the trophy is bad). The game also fits perfectly into Iowa's non-conference scheduling of 2 cream-puffs and 2 BCS opponents. What happens though, if Iowa State is no longer in a BCS conference and ends up in a conference like the MAC (or Mountain West or any other non-major conference)?

First off, it seems almost laughable to have a trophy game with a MAC opponent. That would be like Michigan having a rivalry with Eastern Michigan or Ohio State with Toledo. It would also mess up the formula of 2 warm-up games and 2 BCS games since ISU could no longer fit in the BCS bucket. If you think the assumption that Iowa should always beat Iowa State is prevalent now, it would only grow exponentially if Iowa State was a MAC opponent. And, the game would be wrongly labeled a cupcake game for Iowa (I believe Iowa State will always be a tough opponent).

Take a look at the non-conference schedule for 2012:
  • Northern Illinois
  • Iowa State
  • Northern Iowa
  • Central Michigan
As it is, that is already a pretty soft schedule and will probably be subject to some of those annoying "look how easy that schedule is" type of comments. If by 2012 conference expansion is complete and ISU is in the MAC, then the schedule looks even worse. That would be 3 MAC opponents and 1 FCS opponent. That's not too good if you ask me.

Some other problems...generally any non-BCS opponent for Iowa agrees to play in Iowa City without a return trip. I don't see any possible way that Iowa State would agree to an arrangement like that. So, if Iowa wants to keep ISU on the schedule and keep a non-conference schedule with 2 BCS teams, then that would mean 3 home and away series to manage and just 1 guaranteed home game. That could leave Iowa taking a significant dip in revenue with less home games on the schedule. The other option would be to only have one BCS opponent scheduled each year.

Personally, I'd hate to see the rivalry end, but I just don't see how Iowa can afford to keep playing it if/when Iowa State isn't in a major conference. What do you think? Should Iowa keep playing Iowa State no matter what conference it's in?