Big 12 ship-jumpers Colorado and Nebraska will be erased from Kansas University’s basketball schedule starting in 2011-12.
Instead of playing 16 conference games total — four against teams that KU has dominated in recent history — the Jayhawks will play 18 games, including home-and-homes against teams in the former South Division.
Since the inception of the Big 12, KU has played three South teams at home and three on the road on a yearly basis. That meant just one game against Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“Yeah,” KU coach Bill Self said, asked if he liked the fact the schedule becomes more difficult.
He broke into a smile as he expounded on the subject.
“Well, uh, uh, uh, uh ...you guys get on me for stuttering and stammering all the time. I guess that’s a legitimate reason why,” he cracked, feigning nervousness.
“I do like it, because it’ll make us better and more hardened and that kind of stuff. I think our basketball league ... we were the No. 1 ranked RPI league in the country last year. I looked it up. We had five teams in the top 19 RPI, seven in the top 39.
“Our conference RPI just immediately went up even higher. Going from 16 to 18 impacts your schedule. Adding the six games that we’ll add will obviously be highly competitive games.”
Self said he’s in no hurry for Big 12 leaders to find teams to replace NU and CU.
“I personally think ‘less is more’ in this particular situation,” Self said. “We had six teams make the tournament one year when we were in the Big Eight. The most we had in the Big 12 is seven and that was just one time — this past year. I do believe the league can be even more competitive and certainly much easier to have serious rivalries from teams outside the Big Eight area or the Southwest Conference area that will become much more intense over the next several years.”
He points out that it’s rare all teams in the same conference play each other twice.
“We are a true league now. How many leagues in the country get a chance to play for a true championship in the BCS? The Pac-10 would be the only one,” Self said. “From my vantage point, this is the old Big Eight, the old ACC, the old Big Ten before they went to 11.”
Self said his recruiting figures to benefit from playing the South teams more.
“From my standpoint, I get to sell every kid in Texas he’s going home four times a year,” Self said. “We’ll have more of a presence down there without question now.”
Self expressed a bit of relief.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that we obviously have a home, a long-term home,” he said. “It’s great to win a game when you lead from start to finish, but the ones you take the most pride in is when you are down 10 in the second half and find some way to come back. This is one of those games. There’s an extra sense of pride knowing it didn’t look very good, but they were able to somehow pull it off.”
Self, who applauded commissioner Dan Beebe and school presidents and athletic directors, added: “This is a positive time for KU. What happened here is the most positive news that our league could have possibly got, but even more so from a selfish standpoint, the most positive news the University of Kansas could have had. This could have changed the landscape of our athletic program for the rest of time. Who knows? We do have things we have to address (at KU), but I really believe this is a big momentum boost for us and the other teams in the league moving forward.”
Self said he didn’t think anybody should be upset with Texas, which figures to gain the most TV money in the new alignment.
“If your contract is up, if you have an opportunity to possibly go to another job and somebody makes a strong offer and it’s enticing, why wouldn’t you listen?” Self said. “The contract’s up, there’s a window now and those people chose to remain loyal with the remaining members of the Big 12.
“To me, the end result speaks volumes compared to the initial thing of, ‘Let’s listen.’ I think there will be a mutual respect that exists and you will find out this wasn’t a one-school decision, it was a compilation of everybody putting their minds together to come up with a format that really works.”
Self issued his theory on how the Big 12 (10) tourney will work: “That has not all been talked about. I’d say 7 (seed) would play 10; 8 play 9 and then they play like we did from that point forward. Probably two play-in games as opposed to four, but I don’t know.”