If the Big 12 fades away and doesn’t revive itself under a new name, Kansas University must find a new conference home. Assuming the Big Ten has no interest in extending an invitation, it feels as if the ACC might be the school’s preferred destination.
Chancellor Bernadette-Gray Little is well-connected there, having worked for the University of North Carolina for 38 years. But it’s too difficult at the moment to know just how that conference would set up.
Twelve teams? Probably more like 16. Would it include Maryland and Georgia Tech? Not if the Big Ten invited them. Virginia Tech? Unless the Hokies bolt to the SEC. Texas? Maybe.
With too much uncertainty, let’s look at the Big East again, this time focusing on football. If Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri became Big East schools, Cincinnati, Louisville and TCU would join them in the West division.
At least in football games within its own division, Kansas would have reasonable road trips, longer than the trips when the Big 12 had 12 teams, but not ridiculously so. Mapquest shows that driving from Lawrence to the University of Louisville campus takes eight hours, 48 minutes, or one minute less than the trip to Colorado.
The trip to Nebraska is shown as three hours and 27 minutes, compared to 10 hours and one minute to Cincinnati’s campus. Iowa State is a four-hour, 16-minute drive, compared to eight hours and one minute to TCU’s campus.
It’s a nice division for Kansas in several ways. First, it guarantees a game against its two chief rivals every year. Kansas fans routinely make it there and back in the same day for games in Manhattan and Kansas City, Mo., or Columbia, Mo. It also ensures a game every other year in the Dallas Metroplex area.
A 12-team league means a return to a schedule that includes four nonconference games instead of the current three. Always be in the midst of a home-and-home series with a Dallas-area school — North Texas and SMU, for example — and schedule it so that this game is played in the Metroplex on the year the TCU game is played in Lawrence. This ensures Metroplex recruits can drive to a KU game ever year, and with any luck it won’t be a car a cheating program has given the student-athletes because KU isn’t going to land those recruits anyway.
Kansas would make visits to each of the six East Division teams — Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse and West Virginia — once every four years.
It’s a little early in the season to put much stock in the Sagarin ratings, especially when they rank TCU (1-1, lost to Baylor) well ahead of Baylor (1-0), but just for the heck of it, take a look at what the Big East West standings, based on Sagarin rating, would look like now: 1. TCU (10), 2. Missouri (34), 3. Kansas (58), 4. Cincinnati (59), 5. Kansas State (64), 6. Louisville (80).
A recruiting pitch of “Come play for Kansas, win a conference title and earn the automatic BCS bid,” would have a truer ring to it in the Big East than the old Big 12. It wouldn’t have near the appeal of Big 12 football, but look at the bright side. Chasing TCU isn’t as daunting as chasing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas A&M.