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A look at Arizona State in the Big 12 if conference alignment occurred in 2021

Anthony Totri Avatar
July 12, 2022

The talk of collegiate sports the last handful of weeks has been conference realignment and which teams could be making the next moves. With several universities and conferences reportedly eyeing a change of scenery, Arizona State remains in the Pac-12 — for now. 

Yet, much has been made about a potential move to the Big 12. The conference provides more stability as it stands in 2022, not to mention it’s a conference that at first glance appears to care more about athletics as a whole. 

There is certainly a higher level of competition, with several of the Big 12 teams competing late in postseasons and some winning national titles. So if the Sun Devils were to make the switch, where would they fit in among the conference’s revenue sports?


It’s no secret that ASU has been known as a baseball school for some time now. However, the high-caliber of play that usually comes along with a “baseball school” has gone missing for years now. 

While the Big 12 isn’t necessarily known for its success in baseball, the conference was represented by five teams in this year’s NCAA baseball tournament.

Considering the conference only has nine baseball teams, it’s worth noting half the Big 12 advanced to the postseason. TCU finished the regular season with the best conference record (16-8). Even so, it was Texas that finished with the best overall record (47-22).

So where would the Sun Devils have sat among the nine Big 12 opponents? Strictly given ASU’s record and 2022 schedule, the Sun Devils conference record (13-17) would have them at No. 7 in the standings. However ASU’s overall record (26-32) is good enough for No. 9 out of 10. 

That’s evidently not great, considering the only team worse was Kansas, who went 4-20 in conference play. While the Big 12 certainly isn’t a baseball conference, it’s clear the teams keep it competitive on the mound.

Similar to the Pac-12, it’s a conference that ravages itself throughout the year, but in the Big 12’s case, it looks like teams struggle to get ahead of the pack. 


This is where the Big 12 thrives. Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech are the Big 12 teams that are accustomed to running the conference on the hardwood. The last two national champions reside in the Big 12 (Baylor and Kansas).

ASU men’s basketball, on the other hand, is usually a mid-tier program in relation to the Pac-12. ASU fans have seen some massive upsets throughout coach Bobby Hurley’s tenure in Tempe. The most notable wins have certainly been the victories over Kansas. 

If conference realignment pinned the Sun Devils to the Big 12, basketball would likely be the most interesting of the revenue sports to watch in terms of matchups. That’s because baseball usually falls to No. 3 among the revenue sports, while Sun Devil football usually leaves much to be desired. Despite little postseason success, Hurley’s teams find a way to pack a punch against college basketball giants. 

Mar 5, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley reacts against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half at Desert Financial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With that being said, last season wouldn’t have been a good one for the Sun Devils in the Big 12. The team’s 10-10 conference record would have put them just below Texas at No. 5 out of the 11 Big 12 teams with basketball programs. 

If conference record was all that was being looked at, then No. 5 wouldn’t be a bad spot to sit in a conference with a couple national champions. Nevertheless, ASU’s 14-17 overall record would have them tied with Kansas State for the worst record in the Big 12. 


The Big 12 is going to look vastly different on the football field over the next few seasons with the departures of Oklahoma and Texas. Not to mention, the conference adds Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in 2023. 

With college football taking center stage in the conference realignment discussions, this is a sport that the Sun Devils would need to make an immediate impact in. 

This past season, though, would have been surprisingly successful for ASU. Despite the Big 12 featuring three teams with more than 10 wins, the Sun Devils’ conference record (6-3) would have placed them at No. 4, just below Oklahoma. 

The Sun Devils’ 8-5 overall record is good enough for No. 5 in this hypothetical scenario. 

ASU football kicked off its first day of spring practices
Nov 27, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards against the Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Again, these numbers are based on ASU’s 2021 record, not accounting for Big 12 opponents. It’s hard to get a good impression as to the future of ASU football given the turnover in the offseason.

Unlike the baseball and basketball programs, the future of ASU football is far more challenging to gauge. Baseball is gaining ground with various incoming transfers and coach Willie Bloomquist at the helm.

Hurley’s basketball team brought in several transfers who figure to play a major role in what’s looking like a promising season. Football, on the other hand, is a total question mark this season and for the foreseeable future.

If the Sun Devils were to move into the Big 12, ASU fans would likely see the baseball and basketball teams climb the standings. It would be some sign of progress and growth, whereas football games in the Big 12 may get embarrassing for the Sun Devils given the state of the program. 

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