By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — The Big 12 Conference released its 2012 football schedule Tuesday and while the focus is supposed to be on the additions, it’s hard not to zero in on what’s missing.

For the first time since the league’s inception, Texas A&M is longer part of the Big 12. The Aggies have taken their talents and considerable following to the SEC along with Missouri.

In their place are Big 12 newcomers TCU and West Virginia. The Mountaineers were a last-minute addition to this upcoming season’s schedule after a deal was reached with the Big East for an earlier-than-expected departure.

The schedule offers plenty of intrigue with West Virginia entering into a much more daunting football conference than it faced in the Big East where the Mountaineers were dominant. Two games that jump out immediately are the Oct. 6 matchup between West Virginia and Texas in Austin and then the Mike Leach Bowl that will pit the Mountaineers against Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.  Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen, a disciple of Leach, was the Cowboys offensive coordinator prior to coming to West Virginia and his influence is strong at both schools which means expect an offensive explosion when the Mountaineers and Cowboys get together.

Also keep a look out for TCU’s return to the big time and a renewed rivalry with many of its Southwest Conference foes. The Nov. 24th game against Texas in Austin should be pretty special.

And also not be overlooked is the Red River Showdown between the Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners on Oct. 13.

But it’s not to notice a few glaring weaknesses in the now watered down Big 12, starting with the absence of the Thanksgiving Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M. You figure at some point cooler heads will prevail and this game will again be played even if the two flagship schools do not share a conference affiliation.

Another thing the league may want to do is beef up the final week of the schedule with no conference championship game to showcase. The league needs to create some rivalry excitement in the final week to hold its own that weekend against the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and ACC championship games.

The only mildly interesting game on Dec. 1 this upcoming season will be TCU against Oklahoma. Perhaps a chance was missed to pit West Virginia against Texas. As of now, The Longhorns are playing Kansas State and the Mountaineers are facing Kansas in the final week.

Surely the Longhorns may not be thrilled about the prospect of playing a cold December game in West Virginia every other year but it would add to the excitement of the league.

Contact Terrance Harris at or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris


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