The Big Ten is stopping at 12 schools for now, and the Big 12 is hoping to hang on to 10 members. Ten means 12, and 12 means 10. Oh, and Big means small, considering 16-member conferences are all the rage.
The confusing names make about as much sense as the concept of sending student-athletes all over the country to play games, in some cases witnessed by small crowds. For Kansas University, it’s a case of join the madness or get stranded.
KU stands now where it has stood all along, which is hoping that the Big 12 remains a viable conference. And how does it remain so? If Texas stays on board.
Doesn’t this all come down to Texas?
“I don’t want to put any kind of stake in the ground in terms of what all the members want to do together, but I appreciate your question,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said on a teleconference Friday evening.
If the Big 12 falls apart, which could happen as soon as Tuesday, what then becomes a realistic possibility for Kansas?
Becoming a member of the Pac-10. Here’s how that could happen: Texas moves to the Pac-10, but doesn’t take Baylor with it. Texas A&M chooses to go to the SEC instead of the Pac-10, thereby opening up a 16th spot.
A source inside a BCS Conference school’s athletic department said that Stanford, among the nation’s most elite universities, wants the Pac-10 to extend an invitation to Kansas.
Utah has not been invited to the Pac-10 yet, but certainly would accept if invited.
There are those who believe the Pac-10’s final invitation, in the event Texas A&M is not interested in heading west, could come down to a square off between Utah and Kansas. Here’s guessing Kansas wins that stare-down, even though Utah has the geographic advantage.
That would mean Kansas splitting from its two most intense rivals — Kansas State and Missouri — certainly not ideal, but better than getting left outside the BCS landscape.
The Big 12 continuing as a 10-member league certainly suits the needs of Kansas far better than a move to a conference two time zones in the distance. High school basketball recruits will be sleeping when Kansas is drubbing Oregon State on the road. Beebe’s counting on the 10 members believing the TV dollars will pack a loud-enough punch to keep the league together.
In the event the Big 12 falls apart and Kansas is not invited to the Pac-10, maybe the SEC wants to expand by welcoming Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Texas A&M, forming a basketball conference with coaches named Bill Self, John Calipari, Billy Donovan, Bruce Pearl, Frank Martin, Mike Anderson and Mark Turgeon.
The Big East already has 16 members, but only eight football schools, which makes Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri attractive possible additions at some point.
Here’s hoping sanity rules the day and the Big 12 stays together as a 10-member league. Staying at 10 has its advantages, including a football schedule in which everyone plays everyone every year, thereby doubling KU’s chances of one day upsetting Texas.
Making sense won’t make it happen. It must make dollars.