Somebody asked me last week if Kansas would begin playing football in the Big 12 Conference this fall.
The answer was no, of course, but I certainly can't blame anyone for being confused. We've seen probably as many stories about Big 12 football this summer as we have about the Big Eight's lame-duck season.
Clearly, everyone would have loved to jump right into Big 12 football competition this fall, but it just doesn't work that way. Schedule-making is too complicated, too time-consuming.
In fact, after months of work, the first Big 12 football schedules were sent to the dozen conference members just days ago.
Kansas now knows, for example, that it will have home games in 1996 with Texas and Texas Tech, and that the Missouri game, traditionally played on the last weekend, will return to that status after an unusual early-November KU-MU game this fall.
Here's Kansas' 1996 schedule:
Sept. 7 -- TBA
Sept. 14 -- at Texas Christian
Sept. 28 -- at Utah.
Oct. 5 -- at Oklahoma.
Oct. 12 -- Texas Tech.
Oct. 19 -- Colorado.
Oct. 26 -- at Nebraska.
Nov. 2 -- at Iowa State.
Nov. 9 -- Kansas State.
Nov. 16 -- Texas.
Nov. 23 -- at Missouri.
TBA isn't Texas Bible Academy. Kansas still has to schedule a home game on Sept. 7 because Northern Illinois pulled out in order to join the Mid-America Conference. Regardless, though, KU will probably have just five home games in '96.
"That's happened a couple of times before," KU assistant athletic director Richard Konzem told me. "Obviously, we'd prefer to have six."
Curiously, Kansas has the opposite problem in 1997. It has four non-conference games, and will have to drop one ... unless the NCAA allows 12-game schedules by then, which isn't likely.
Here's KU's 1997 football schedule as it now stands:
Sept. 6 -- Nevada-Las Vegas.
Sept. 13 -- TCU.
Sept. 20 -- at Cincinnati.
Sept. 27 -- Utah.
Oct. 4 -- Oklahoma.
Oct. 11 -- at Texas Tech.
Oct. 18 -- at Colorado.
Oct. 25 -- Nebraska.
Nov. 1 -- Iowa State.
Nov. 8 -- at Kansas State.
Nov. 15 -- at Texas.
Nov. 22 -- Missouri.
"Ideally, the solution would be to have UNLV come a year earlier," Konzem said. "I don't know if that will happen, but something will have to happen, and that's what I'll be working on starting next week."
As you probably know, in 1998 and 1999, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech will be replaced by Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas A&M.; Then the schedule will shift back to the Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech cycle during the following two seasons, and so forth.
Meanwhile, Kansas will play the other five members of the northern division -- you know who they are -- annually on a rotating home-and-home basis.
From a coaching standpoint, Kansas' 1996 and 1997 schedules don't provide any impetus to run to the top of Fraser Hall and shout "Hallelujah" because, when you cut to the bone, Kansas will be trading games against downtrodden Oklahoma State and a quasi-prime time non-conference opponent for Texas and Texas Tech.
Anyone who thinks that's a square deal, call Glen Mason and be prepared for a long conversation.