Now that Nebraska has set the dominoes tumbling and the Big 12 is teetering on the brink of extinction, it’s time to consider what becomes the best-case scenario for Kansas University.
Of all the possibilities discussed lately, the one that looks most attractive for Kansas, should the Big 12 disappear, involves a 20-team league that merges the Pac-10 schools with 10 Big 12 institutions.
This scenario discussed at the recent Pac-10 meetings didn’t get as much play as the one wherein the conference raids six Big 12 teams, but it was discussed.
Since Nebraska has found a new home in the Big Ten, that leaves one school left to entertain itself.
Which member is left homeless?
Not Baylor. Politically, it’s easier for Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech to bring along Baylor. Not Kansas State. You want KU’s perennial powerhouse basketball program to join the conference, welcome its in-state rival, too. Not Colorado. Geographically, it makes sense. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are in, too. Iowa State? The school never whined about Texas getting a bigger slice of the TV revenue pie. The loyal conference member deserves inclusion. Plus, the cheeseburger soup at Hickory Park in Ames can’t be replaced.
Four from Texas, two from Oklahoma, two from Kansas, one from Colorado and one from Iowa. That makes 10.
Missouri is left to fend for itself for having the gall to think it was attractive enough to scare the Big 12 by courting the Big Ten, a whiny move that infuriated the Texas schools.
Such a ground-breaking merger would allow for schedules weighted toward playing the vast majority of conference games against opponents that are closest geographically, thus minimizing travel expenses for the schools and time expenses for the student-athletes. The Pacific Division champion plays the Central Division champion in every sport, a small step toward a playoff system in football.
Nebraska’s impending departure will lead many to believe NU athletic director Tom Osborne turned his back on the conference that was such a big part of his life because he harbors ill will toward Texas for hogging the television revenues.
Not so fast.
One man in the know says Osborne was “lukewarm at best” about the move Nebraska is expected to announce as early as Friday. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman, believing joining hands with so many prestigious universities would raise his school’s academic reputation and attract more research dollars, drove the move.
Even though Osborne didn’t turn his back on his Big 12 brethren, his athletic program must pay the price. Those Nebraska left behind should blackball the Cornhuskers, never again playing them or Missouri in any scheduled sporting event.
Barring an unexpected last-minute snag — Notre Dame stepping forward to join the Big Ten and blocking Nebraska before the ink dries on any contract — and supposing the Pac-10 and Big 12 form a 20-school merger, where would that leave Missouri?
Two words: Who cares?