Daniels: Big changes in the Big 12

Daniels: Big changes in the Big 12

Sayonara, Decatur MacArthur and Decatur Eisenhower. Once the Big 12 Conference starts play in the 2014-15 school year, those two longstanding members will not find themselves in the league anymore. Both Decatur schools were accepted into the Central State Eight Conference on Wednesday. The Big 12 athletic directors met Friday morning in Peoria. Staff writer MATT DANIELS was not privy to the highly classified information they bandied about, but he throws in possible candidates (some serious, some not) on who could join forces with Bloomington, Centennial, Central, Danville, Normal Community, Normal West and Urbana. Best of luck to the ADs making this decision. It’s not like high schools with more than 1,000 students and solid athletic backgrounds are right in the Big 12’s backyard.

Chicago Simeon
We had to get your attention right away. The Wolverines are a national powerhouse in boys’ basketball. Illinois signees Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate have played in Las Vegas, Springfield, Mass., West Virginia and Memphis, Tenn., among other places this season. A move to the Big 12 certainly would reduce travel expenses and make it easier for John Groce’s recruiting efforts.

Illinois Math and Science Academy
The Aurora private school is full of students from throughout Illinois. Spread the knowledge down to these parts and stop by for a free tour at Illinois whenever they’re playing Centennial, Central or Urbana.

Urbana Uni High
They don’t have a football team. So what? The Illineks’ boys’ soccer team placed second in state last year in 1A. And there’s no stopping the chess or journalism dynasties Uni has a firm grip on at the state level.

Terre Haute’s South Vigo or North Vigo
The two high schools where Larry Bird once called home were just recently accepted into a football-only conference in Indiana after they were dropped from their existing conference. Yes, the drive is long (nearly two-plus hours) for most Big 12 schools. Desperate times, however, call for desperate measures.

The IHSA already makes the Blue Devils travel ridiculously long ways in the postseason. Extend the same courtesy to the regular season. Quincy boys’ basketball coach Sean Taylor grew up in Champaign County. Plus, a trip to Blue Devil Gym is well worth the three-hour ride from Champaign.

Boilermakers would bring enrollment of more than 2,000 — along with water polo and badminton. Football program is steady with eight Class 7A playoff appearances in the last decade even going against Southwest Suburban Conference foes like Harvey Thornton, Lincoln-Way West and Tinley Park Andrew.

Normal East
It’s fictitious. For now. The Normal area is expanding, so don’t rule out the possibility of a third high school suddenly popping up in Doug Collins’ old stomping grounds.   

Longtime Eagles fans would certainly like to renew rivalries with the likes of Centennial and Central. But with the school’s upcoming move to the revamped Okaw Valley Conference, we don’t see a move back to the Big 12.  

The Bulldogs are a logical choice. Geographically speaking. They’re 15 to 20 minutes from Centennial, Central and Urbana, and about 40 minutes from Bloomington, Normal Community, Normal West and Danville. With the addition of Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central to the Corn Belt Conference, the Bulldogs’ bus rides just became longer. It’s a chance for new rivalries to take shape while not using every dollar in the travel budget.  

The Kays are in a six-team conference that has a presence on TNT (Southland) but deals primarily with Chicago suburban schools. It’s a bit of a haul up Interstate 57 to reach George Ryan’s hometown, but where else is there a school of 1,000-plus students within an hour’s drive of Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal?