Opinion: Leaving Big 12 doesn’t make sense for KU now

November 22, 2012


So here we are, the conference realignment waters stirring again and fans of Kansas University athletics wondering if any or perhaps every rumor they read should be taken seriously or ignored altogether.

The answer is yes.

With Maryland and Rutgers leaving the ACC and Big East to join the Big Ten earlier this week, administrators, coaches and, yes, even fan bases at schools across the country have tuned their realignment meters to the high-alert setting. With good reason. As we’ve seen before, movement from one conference to another does not always come with a lot of build-up before the bomb drops.

Although this week’s action has taken place on the East Coast and has yet to impact the Big 12 Conference or KU, plenty of advice has been handed out regarding what the Big 12 will — or is it should? — do and what options the Big 12’s members might have if and when the next round of nonsense hits.

One report even went as far as to peg KU as one of the latest Big Ten targets should the now-14-team league look to become the first 16-team superconference.

At this point, it’s much more likely that the Big 12 would expand before one of its members would leave. And even expansion seems like a long shot.

If this kind of KU-to-the-Big-Ten option presented itself five years ago, heck, even two years ago, the decision would have been easy. KU officials would have had to jump on it. It makes geographic sense. It makes financial sense. And, with teams like Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Rutgers calling the conference home, it makes football sense, too.

But a lot has changed in the past couple of years. Enough, in fact, to make entertaining an offer next to impossible.

Kansas Athletics is now run by a man whose word means something and KU football, though still in rebuilding mode, appears in better shape than when Turner Gill was the face of the program. Oh yeah, and the basketball program added a Final Four, a title-game appearance and another NBA lottery pick to its list of accomplishments. But we all know where basketball ranks in all of this.

What’s more, after walking away from its own funeral, the Big 12 has repositioned itself as one of the nation’s power conferences. In addition to upgrading its television deals, unity and leadership, the league also has the unanimously approved granting-of-rights agreement that ties the schools together much more tightly than even a $50 million dollar exit penalty ever could. It’s moments such as these that were the reason behind the Big 12’s decision to go the rights route instead of focusing on dollars, which can, and seemingly always will, be negotiated down to a fraction of the original amount when parts get to moving.

With the Big Ten off the table, the focus shifts, at least around here, to what the Big 12 needs to do and can do to stay strong should the Maryland and Rutgers moves be the blocks that send the Jenga tower toppling over.

It’s true that the ACC is now more vulnerable than ever and it seems clear that future of that league is the key to everything. If the ACC survives, the madness could subside. If not, let the recruiting begin.

While picking up could-be ACC castoffs Florida State and, to a lesser degree, Clemson or Virginia Tech, would make some sense, the best move for the Big 12 today is the one that proved to be best during the two previous rounds of realignment — let patience, loyalty and logic carry you. With new television deals, fewer slices being taken out of a suddenly much-sweeter pie and 10 members that genuinely enjoy doing business together, it seems the Big 12 already got it right once.

Leaning on such core values may sound cheesy and like anything but the right course, but, aside from the destruction of a couple of long-standing rivalries, can you really say that those things failed the conference the first two times?


weeslicket 5 years, 6 months ago

none of these conferences make sense anymore (pac12 makes the most sense). thanks a bunch ncaa.

Jayhawk1963 5 years, 6 months ago

The NCAA has NOTHING to do with it ! Blame ESPN and the other networks and their mega-dollar contracts if you have to blame somebody.

weeslicket 5 years, 6 months ago

i am refering to the fact that the ncaa made a ruling some years ago that conferences must have 12 teams in order to have a conference championship game in football. that got the mega-conference money ball rolling.

Brian Chilcoat 5 years, 6 months ago

This madness, and that is what it is, needs to stop. While football is king, everything shifts over time. The constant, 24 hour a day barrage of football on Tv will take a toll on it's popularity someday. Money cannot be the only deciding factor in life. Afterall, aren't these institutions of higher learning? When does geography and common sense come into play?

JackMcKee 5 years, 6 months ago

Was KU invited to join another conference? You're putting the cart before the horse, Matt.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

The Big 12 should go after Cinncinnati, Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Pitt to become a 14 team conference. The Big Least and ACC are dissolving. The Big 12 needs to move.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I think it's in the best interests of the conference to get back up to 12 teams. That allows for a conference championship game in football which is a real moneymaker. Which two teams? I think Louisville should be at the top of the list. The second team might surprise, but I think South Florida might be an up and coming school, opens up prime recruiting and adds larger T.V. markets. BYU ought to be given serious consideration with Memphis a little further down the list.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 6 months ago

Agreed with all but Memphis. I do not see what they would add to football or even basketball.

Jayhawk1963 5 years, 6 months ago

All I can say is, if KU ever DOES get an offer from the Big 10, they would be INSANE to not jump on it !! There are only three "stable" conferences (Big 10, Pac 12 & SEC), and the Big 10 is by far the most prestigious (with the Pac 12 second). The Big 12 will only hold together as long as UT decides that it couldn't do better as an independent with of their Longhorn network. They will always do whatever is in their best interests and your "patience, loyalty and logic" won't count for anything. Furthermore, what makes you think the granting-of-rights agreement can't be "renegotiated" just like exit fees ??

As far as the Big 12 itself is concerned, they had better be proactive this time rather than "patient". Once Louisville and/or Cincinnati are snatched up by the ACC, the possibilities for the Big 12 become even less appealing. And, if UT tries to block expansion to 12 - 16 teams, what does that tell you ? KU has to look out for KU and being part of the Big 10 would be ideal, not just in athletics but academics and research opportunities as well.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 5 months ago

This is very true, especially since this article fails to mention what conferences are all about; money. Right now, the Big 10 distributes all of its conference income equally to all schools, and it's the largest payout in the entire NCAA, something well over $20 million. The Big 12 not only disproportionately pays out conference income, it's atrociously biased to Texas getting the vast majority, and the rest is then still disproportional; KU somewhere under $5 million.

Joe Giles 5 years, 6 months ago

Jayhawk1963: Agree with most of where you are going, however, struggling to understand the "most prestigious " reference in regard to Big 10 & PAC 12. Iff you talking academics, You have an arguable point, if your talking athletics, you are completely off base.

Obvious from my name tag, I'm an Aggie. However, not here to bash the Chickenhawks. Just need to make the point that these conference choices have very little to do with rivalry, academics, or, geography ( although aTm's decision made sense on all three fronts) and everything to do with protecting your future. The school down in Austin has and will continue to promote solely in their own best interest. They have zero loyalty to anyone but themselves. The LHN is a major issue and the conference continues to provide exceptions to the Texas program. Not many are aware that UT has been granted a permanent home date on Thanksgiving night. An annual national platform to promote the program from every year. Are others in the Big 12 offered similar advantage? Nope

Advice from a long time Aggie with 50+ years of experience in dealing with the Texas program ........ If an offer comes ........... Sign and run as fast as can to the promised land.

Jayhawk1963 5 years, 6 months ago

Most unbiased sports commentators would concede that the SEC is the best football conference but not necessarily in any other sport. The ACC would probably be considered the best basketball league. If you include all sports, the Pac 12 would be tops. It seems like Stanford wins the Directors' Cup nearly every year as the best all-around athletic program. My point was that the Big 10 may not be the best at football or basketball (the two revenue sports) or academics or research individually but they are very good in all four categories and thus would be considered the most prestigious overall. The SEC, frankly, has a reputation as a collection of football "factories" (sort of an NFL minor league) with the exception of Vanderbilt. For that reason alone, KU obviously would not be a good candidate for an invitation.

danmoore 5 years, 5 months ago

yada, yada, yada. Translation, ATM and Nebraska can't beat Texas so they skip town. Nice spin.

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 5 months ago

1963, you're absolutely right. The Big 10 is by far and away the most powerful conference with the most viewers and the longest academic and athletic tradition. KU would be very negligent and possibly harmed not to make the move.

Just a year ago, OU and UT had a one-night stand with the entire West Coast, and we're sitting here confident that they won't do it again if the money is right? Get real. Get Big, as in Big 10 if the offer comes.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 5 months ago

I can't understand why KU would ever think about going to the Big 10. We have very little in common with those schools, even though they are only a few states away. We would be crushed in football by the likes of Ohio State or Michigan. Basketball up there isn't like what we have down here. It doesn't have the fan base. It plays second fiddle to hockey. The Lady Jayhawks would probably enjoy being able to compete against the likes of the Lady Gophers (don't mess with those Minnesota girls. They're big, blonde Britney Griners). There would be no perennial competitors for the KU men. The Big 10 gets one or two decent teams that rotate through. None of them are annually good from what I've seen. We'd be much better off staying in the Big 12 and recruiting Pitt and Louisville if we must. We can't even say that sticking with K-State and Iowa State would be keeping us down (as some said when Nebraska was leaing). Both of those schools beat us in football the last few years and can compete against us in basketball.

danmoore 5 years, 5 months ago

Big 12 is better in football than Big 10, atleast it has been for the last 40 plus years. We would probably get crushed by OSU and UM but if we stay put we get crushed by OU and UT. Overall it would be an easier conference to compete in.

straightforward 5 years, 5 months ago

kuguardgrl - Maybe you should watch a Big 10 game on TV sometime. From a basketball perspective I think we'd fit in really well there. Their fans are very passionate. No perennial competitors for the KU men??? Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana would provide as much or more competition than anyone in the Big 12.

Jayhawk1963 5 years, 5 months ago

KU has much more in common with the Big 10 than any other BCS conference (other than the Big 12). Yes, we probably would get crushed in football by Ohio St and Michigan but so what ! We get crushed now by OU and UT and OSU and Mich would be a step up in class. And, as far as basketball goes, I think Indiana, Michigan St, Ohio St, etc., would give KU PLENTY of competition. Also, the Big 10 has ten (at least) NCAA basketball championships compared to the Big 12's four. Better bone up on your sports history!

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 5 months ago

We would also be playing Nebraska again, as well as Wisconsin, Northwestern (5-3 in the Big 10) and Penn State, who despite the scandal is as good as ever. The only school with less than two wins at this point is Illinois (0-8 in conference). The Big 10 was also the conference that was originally tossed around for Mizzou. Why would we jump to a conference that took one school and considered another while we were trying to hold the Big 12 together? It really doesn't make sense for us to move if Bill Self and the administration aren't supportive. As the school with the second-highest revenue in the league, what benefits do we have in leaving? We would probably lose the Sunflower Showdown and the ability to play in KC and bring tournaments to the area. It's not a move to the Big 10 that doesn't make sense to me. It's leaving the Big 12 at all. We have so much more to lose. As long as Texas stays put, we have no reason to consider other options. The league just gained TCU and WVU who both have good things to offer. Pitt and Louisville would make the league that much better.

Jayhawk1963 5 years, 5 months ago

"As long as Texas stays put" is precisely the point ! Neither KU nor the Big 12 has any real guarantee that UT (or OU) won't jump at a better invitation or decide to go independent. I'm tired of KU's future being tied to events in Austin or Norman. If KU were in the Big 10, this kind of uncertainty would be gone forever. Unfortunately, danmoore is probably right; I doubt that a Big 10 invitation is all that likely.

danmoore 5 years, 5 months ago

Pitt is leaving Big East for ACC.

There are more good teams because it's a bigger conference but Big 10 is weaker than Big 12 in football. Basketball wise would make it tougher for KU but we could hold our own. We were 3-0 last year against Big 10.

I think it' very unlikely we'll get an invitation so it's probably a moot point at best.

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