The Big 12 Conference needs more bodies. Between its current lack of a conference title game and its loss of several prominent members the past few years, the conference's finest product -- football -- has suffered greatly.
In last year's inaugural College Football Playoff, the Big 12 was home to two one-loss programs that had great qualifications to make the four-team field. In the end, neither of them made it.
The Big 12 watched for the sideline as the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and even the comparatively weak ACC were represented in the playoff bracket.
Getting shut out of the championship field was as clear a message as any that the Big 12, in its present state, is not a finished product. A conference title game is needed, but what may be more essential is the expansion from its present membership.
Right now, the Big 12 fields 10. The Big Ten? It's home to a whopping 14 schools. And at the center of that powershift is Nebraska, the first school to defect from the Big 12.
It was a shrewd move by the Huskers that captured a much larger league-revenue share while spurning the Texas-favoring Big 12 and protecting its interests ahead of a massive restructuring of the college football landscape.
Now, the Big 12 is looking for bodies. Speaking at Big 12 Media Days, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder offered a solution.
"Let's bring Nebraska back and a few others, one other maybe," Snyder said.
An interesting thought, and one the Big 12 would probably be eager to jump on. After all, Nebraska currently ranks as the 10th most valuable football program in the country, with an estimated worth of $536 million. Those types of programs are hard to come by -- the teams currently hoping to wiggle their way into the Big 12 don't have nearly that kind of financial clout.
And that's a prime reason why Nebraska shouldn't -- and won't -- go back to the Big 12. When it jumped to the Big Ten, it joined a more progressive conference that offered greater stability, an elevated academic reputation and much better league revenues. Nebraska's annual share rose from around $7 million per year to more than $22 million.
Of perhaps even greater value -- at least to the minds of administrators and fans -- is the comfort Nebraska enjoys in the Big Ten, where the future of the conference has never been in doubt.
It aligned its own fate with that of Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, two of which trump Nebraska's own considerable value.
The Big 12 can't even begin to offer such stability -- it nearly fell apart during the college football realignment years ago, and with an uncertain future and a current image problem, the conference remains a work-in-progress.
Nebraska has no incentive to take on such a risk. If it left the Big Ten now, it likely wouldn't have an offer to return should the Big 12 go south. Nebraska has yet to realize on-field success in the Big Ten, but that's not something that a conference move would solve.
The rivalries in the Big 12 Conference are memorable, sure. Oklahoma and Kansas State represent thrilling chapters in Nebraska's football history.
But so does Colorado, which is now in the Pac 12. Gone, too, are Texas A&M and Missouri, replaced by TCU and West Virginia.
That's a lot of unfamiliarity for a football program that used to call the Big 12 home. But that's the thing about leaving home: It keeps changing, even when you aren't there.
But that's not why the Huskers would turn down any offer from the Big 12. The rationale is much simpler: The Big Ten hasn't given them any reason to leave.