SURE, THE BIG 12 IS A SLIMMER FOOTBALL CONFERENCE THIS YEAR, BUT WHETHER your team has had it rough (Iowa State fan to Texas fan: "Quit your whining") or is in clover (the teams from Oklahoma), most of the conference's endearments remain, and every school has them. Here are some reasons why you've just got to love the Big 12.
YOU CAN BREATHE EASIER No more road trips to Boulder. Nice mountains and all, but that thin air. ...
YOU CAN SEE A GAME IN MANHATTAN No, not Big 12 football in New York City, but for the 116th season the Wildcats will host college games. That's good news for folks in the Little Apple: K-State has had just one sub-.500 season at home since 1990.
LIVE ONES IN LUBBOCK Think there's nothing to see there but the Buddy Holly statue? Think again. While you might get beaned by a flying tortilla, you're sure to find a lot of offense—from both teams. Tech's passing attack has averaged a No. 3 national ranking the past five years. Its total defense? Sixty-ninth.
HOMECOMING HAPPENS EVERY YEAR This is a particularly big deal at Mizzou, which claims to have invented the event in 1911. Baylor also claims to have invented it, in 1909. It doesn't matter much, so long as there's a cupcake school to schedule for the occasion.
RG3 For those who don't live near the Brazos River, that's Robert Griffin III. The playmaker has made Baylor football-relevant again (i.e., better not schedule the Bears for your homecoming game).
THAT BURNT-ORANGE GLOW For every big win by a Longhorns team or academic achievement by students and faculty, the tower on the Main Building in Austin turns orange. It's especially orange for football wins, championship wins and, of course, any kind of wins over A&M.
PREGAME AT THE WAGON WHEEL Even if munching pizza and gazing at photos of Kansas greats such as Gale Sayers are your idea of a perfect date, this joint in Lawrence is no place to take your honey for a quiet Friday-night bite. The KU band comes clanging in: Game-day weekend has begun.
THE PRIDE OF THE PRIDE OF OKLAHOMA He wears that odd hat, and how does the Sooners' drum major walk in a straight line while practically bending over backward?
HIGH KICKS ARE STILL IN VOGUE The Cotton Bowl has Big 12 ties, so you may have a shot to see the Kilgore College Rangerettes in person. Timeless and classy.