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Big 12 Realignment: With West Virginia Officially In, Could The Big 12 Be The Best In College Football?

The Big East and West Virginia were able to reach a settlement on Thursday night that would allow the Mountaineers be able to compete athletically in all sports in the Big 12 next season. With the departure of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, the additions of TCU and West Virginia will bring the Big "12" back to 10 teams for 2012. While Missouri and Texas A&M have only been to one BCS bowl game since 1998, TCU and West Virginia have been to five, going 4-1 in said games.

So the obvious question is the following, how good will the Big 12 conference be in 2012?

We all know about the perennial Big 12 superpowers that are the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns, two programs that had "down years" compared to their usual standards. We witnessed the emergence of two programs in Baylor and Oklahoma State, who achieved more in this season than anything fans had ever seen since the formation of the Big 12 conference. Kansas State has rounded back into form under Bill Snyder, Paul Rhoads has things turning around at Iowa State, and then there's Kansas and Texas Tech. So there's that.

TCU and West Virginia combined for a 21-5 record last season and look to be even better with the return of Geno Smith and Casey Pachall at their respective quarterback positions. Could the newest members of the conference take home a Big 12 title in 2012? We'll begin to see on the first weekend of September.

For more on West Virginia, check out The Smoking Musket. For more on TCU, check out Frogs O'War. To follow all the realignment madness, stop by SB Nation's college football news hub.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.