LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait
Our first look at realignment and what it means for the Big 12
Before I go any further, let me say one thing: It’s way too early to start freaking out about conference realignment in the NCAA, but I’m going to do it anyway.
OK, good. Now that we’re clear, let’s get to it.
Unless you’ve been living without electricity or in outer space instead of cyber space, you’re surely aware by now that the hottest topic in college athletics is the potential realignment of the major conferences into pods that have been termed mega or super conferences.
My short answer to this development? Get used to it, embrace it, learn to love it. It’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
My longer answer, however, will take us a little deeper into the issue, one that is as exciting as it is scary, as full of good as it is rooted in bad.
From where I sit, the bottom line for KU fans is this: As long as the Jayhawks aren’t left out in the cold, their fan base is going to accept whatever happens.
For years, the Big Eight was the greatest thing going. Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma; All were classic universities with outstanding athletics and sound academics. Then the Big 12 came along and things got even better. Although many Big Eight purists initially rejected the adoption of the Texas schools, many eventually learned to love it, particularly during bowl season or when March Madness rolled around. Having four more teams meant more chances to represent in the postseason. That, of course, provided KU backers more reason to brag about their school’s supremacy.
Remember, though, before there was the Big 12 and even before the Big Eight, fans of the Big 7 and the Big 6 probably felt the same way. Heck, I’m guessing that fans of the old SWC, where the Texas schools came from in the first place, felt that way about their conference. But, be honest, before this blog, when was the last time you even heard the SWC mentioned?
I’m not going to spend a lot of time speculating about what’s going to happen — at least not in this blog. I don’t know which teams will land where and nobody around here is talking much about it — at least not on the record.
Here’s the gist of what’s possible, though.
Nebraska and Missouri have been linked to the Big Ten. It’s possible that one, or both, could join the conference in the near future. Notre Dame is another major player on the Big Ten’s radar and the Golden Domers likely would be the Big Ten’s first choice. That’s if they just wanted to expand to 12. Expanding to 16, and therein forming a super conference, is a real possibility and that’s where the two Big 12 schools — and possibly even KU — come into play a little more.
Heading the other direction, Colorado has been linked — yet again — to the Pac 10. The rumors out of Boulder are saying that if the Buffs are given an invitation, they’ll jump on it in a matter of seconds. Again, I don’t know much here, but I’m betting this one is going to happen.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s say Nebraska and Mizzou go to the Big Ten and Colorado goes to the Pac 10. That leaves nine teams struggling for survival and puts the Big 12 in a tough position. Does the Big 12 then invite teams like TCU, Utah, BYU or Arkansas into the mix or does it implode completely with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State looking to bolt for the SEC? Add those four to the SEC’s current lineup and you’re looking at another super conference.
People are saying that the survival of the Big 12 is tied directly to Texas. Tell us something we don’t already know. But, in this case, it could be more true than ever. If the Longhorns want to stick it out in the Big 12, which would be very much in their favor as it has been all along, then the conference would survive. If not, it’s every man for himself and it leaves KU, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech scrambling for their lives.
Of course, a big reason that some of these schools are exploring the option of leaving in the first place is because they believe things are slanted towards Texas in the first place and they’re tired of dealing with it.
As far as Kansas goes, KU will probably be OK no matter what happens. The basketball program is a national draw and any conference out there — super or otherwise — would love to add that kind of program to their league. K-State, because it has been on the rise in recent years and is linked to Kansas in so many natural ways, also would probably be OK.
There has been talk about KU and K-State joining the Pac-10 in an attempt at making a super conference. Sounds crazy, I know, but there certainly are worse alternatives. In addition, rumors are flying around that the Jayhawks have been linked to the Big 10, as well. Whether this is in place of Missouri or Nebraska or in addition to them is still not known.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with all of this and I’m not sure anyone else does either. Are we going to have four 16-team power conferences or will this end up being like that earthquake that was supposed to hit Lawrence back in 1989? Your guess is as good as mine there. And, for now, it’s not really my job to figure that out.
I do know this, though. Change is coming. And, although it might be tough to accept at first, it could be in KU’s best interest.