I guess the more appropriate question would be: what happened to the Big XII North division? Since the '96 season and the merge of the Big Eight with the SWC, the North division has slowly but surely disappeared from the national spotlight. Entering into the '96 season Nebraska was on a 25 game winning streak, won 36 of 37 games in 3 years, and was the returning back to back champions. Even after an early season loss to Arizona State, the Cornhuskers looked poised to make a shot at playing again for the national title, when they went rolling into the Big XII championship game against a 7-4 Texas team that was anything but special. Texas won, but the Cornhuskers seemed to learn from that splitting the national title in '97 with Michigan.
In 1998, Kansas State, who longed lived in the shadow of Nebraska, ended a 29 year losing streak to the Huskers, and appeared ready to compete with the best in the land. Then, came the 3rd Big XII championship game with yet another school from Texas, Texas A&M. A&M was making their second appearance in the championship game; their first was a blowout loss 54-15 at the hands of Nebraska only a year before. The game seemed to favor Kansas State early, and a national title trip appeared to be in the cards as well, since all the teams ranked ahead of K-State had lost. All Kansas State had to do was hold a 15 point lead for ten minutes, and they failed.
Since 1998, only once, has a Big XII North been ranked above the best Big XII South team in the final poll, and that was in '99 when Nebraska and K-State both finished ranked higher than A&M. Also since then, the Big XII has competed in 5 national title games: three by Oklahoma ('00 champs), one by Texas ('05 champs), and 1 by Nebraska.
This is a conference that has been very dominant in football for many years, but for the last few has relied on Oklahoma and Texas to carry the load. Since 2000, when OU made their run to a national title with an undefeated season, the Big XII South has had a team finish in the top-5, with the exception being last year. Even still, last year the Sooners were still the highest ranked Big XII team, while the North did not even have anyone finish in the top-25 for the second time in three years.
I am not sure what it is exactly the conference as a whole needs to do, but it is time for these teams to return to the dominant form they had just 7 years ago. In 2000 five teams finish in the top-25, three of them in the top-10, OU won the title. 2001, 4 top-25 teams all ranked in the top-10. 2002, four top-25 teams, three in the top-10. From there the top-10 dominance stops with one team in '03, two in '04, one in '05 (champs), and finally to none in 2006.
Yesterdays games did little to help show any kind of dominance for the Big XII, as Nebraska gets thumped by a ranked opponent at home, and a ranked Texas team ekes out a win over Central Florida.