Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Realignment a wake-up call for Big 12 hoops coaches


It was a harrowing and humbling experience for everybody who coaches basketball in the Big 12.

With talk of conference realignment swirling around them like floodwaters, nobody at the highest administrative level where historic decisions were being made even bothered to pretend that basketball was a factor.

Football and its millions in television rights were all that seemed to matter as the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference attempted earlier this month to pick off the Big 12’s choice schools.

“I think most coaches realized that football generates more revenue,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “But I think it surprised some people out there just how great the disparity level was between football and basketball.”

Even the storied Kansas basketball program seemed to hold no allure. There has been talk that Kansas might have held some interest for the Pac-10, but the league made clear it preferred Oklahoma State or Texas Tech if bringing them along would help land the nationally prominent and imminently marketable Texas and Oklahoma football brands.

“I know who makes the money for the university. I understand that,” Texas A&M; coach Mark Turgeon said Monday during a Big 12 basketball coaches teleconference.

“The scary thing was a school like Kansas — because I played there — their tradition, and them not having a place to go. That was a little bit sobering. I think I was realistic about things. But it’s our NCAA Tournament that pays for the rest of sports in their championships, so that was the hard part.”

After Colorado announced it was leaving for the Pac-10 and Nebraska said yes to the Big Ten, the Big 12 finally did hold together with 10 members and the promise of a big increase in football television money.

But for the two uncertain weeks while the Big 12 appeared to be on the brink of a breakup, the NCAA could only stand by since its rules say nothing about what conference anybody must belong to.

“I’ve been a big enough fan of college sports my whole life to understand that football makes the big TV dollars,” said Kansas State coach Frank Martin. “What’s frustrating is that the NCAA — 97 percent of their whole budget comes from men’s basketball. And yet, nobody was going to stand up and try to protect that and (stop the ruin of) some of these conference rivalries and environments that have been created, which is what makes the Big 12 so special.”

Even though he admits that football “was definitely driving the bus,” Kansas coach Bill Self said he never doubted the Jayhawks would wind up in a major conference somewhere.

“I never feared we weren’t going to have a home. I never feared that we weren’t going to be in a BCS conference,” Self said. “My problem ... was the uncertainty that we could lose a recruiting class or whatever — in the meantime, trying to be certain where we would go.

“You look back at the history of NCAA sports, we’ve impacted many of the sports at a championship-type level. I felt assured we would land somewhere. But the uncertainty of it was the biggest problem.”

With lame duck members Colorado and Nebraska playing out the string, the upcoming season will be a bit awkward. A 10-member league is almost sure to switch to an 18-game round-robin format where everyone plays everybody else home-and-home. And that will be a big change. Since the Big 12 began play in 1996, basketball has been split into two six-team divisions and schools played those in the other division only once a season. Almost all the coaches agreed that that will make it tougher to put together glittering records in what has been one of the most rugged leagues in the country.

“This last year we were 15-1 and the year before we were 14-2 in the league,” Self said. “Now 14-4 is going to be a championship season. The league’s that much tougher playing everybody twice.”


craigers 8 years, 10 months ago

As long as you don't play Texas too early in the season, getting two wins shouldn't be too hard!!

jaybate 8 years, 10 months ago

College basketball needs two divorces ASAP.

  1. Follow the precedent being set by BCS football divorcing from the NCAA and start a March Madness Championship series to divorce from the NCAA.

  2. Divorce from football. There need to be separate basketball and football conferences. The NBA does just fine without riding the NFL's coat tails and the NBA doesn't have to pay players. Imagine how profitable NCAA hoops would be if it divorced from college football.

I like the idea of the NCAA. But it has lost its teeth as an enforcement arm and as a savvy promoter for college basketball. Any organization that puts football first can no longer act in the best interests of college basketball.

Rock Chalk! .

Hank Cross 8 years, 10 months ago

I actually like the idea of divorcing football and basketball conferences. As it stands now, KU FB is overmatched in the B12 and is undermatched in BB. BB needs a large national stage with great match-ups. The North 4 to the BE was such an intriguing idea. If the North 4 had gone to the BE, the BE tourney would've been more competitive and tougher than the NCAA.

Rick Arnoldy 8 years, 10 months ago

NCAA may be can not say what conference anybody must belong to but they can apparently put limits on games and scholarships so they still have some power over football programs. They could have put a stop to this nonsense (and still can) by limiting conferences to 12 teams.

Hank Cross 8 years, 10 months ago

I still wish that A&M accepted that SEC invite, thus triggering KU's invite to the P10, which by all accounts was going to be made. When Self was talking about going nation-wide and into places KU had never gone before on that Friday, he almost certainly talking about the P10, not going to Lubbock and Waco every year (Yippee!). The whole realignment process has cast a pall over B12 BB. Are we supposed to thank Dodds for letting KU BB live?

100 8 years, 10 months ago

Still amazes me, although KU was portrayed to be on the fence of five measly wimps for weeks leading up to the Big 12 implosion, that the real story never came out that the Orangeblood author clearly stated in a couple different ESPN interviews.

The Pac 10 officials had made an emergency trip to KC to invite KU to join the Pac 10 (it is still unknown which KU official had this set up). Upon the Pac 10 officials arriving in KC, they received an emergency call from Texas where Beebe was meeting and they immediately took off to Austin to find, essentially during their flight, that UT had backed out of the Pac 10 merger concept.

That's how quickly all this went down. Without the flight to KC to talk to KU, the Pac 10 officials might never have got caught in the air, unable to meet with Texas officials.

And as KU fans, we should be proud we were being included by the Pac 10, although certainly not for the football reasons Texas was. In short, we were not part of the forgotten five.

The truth is always better than some media concocted "feeling" of being an unwanted stepchild, which we never were, the only question ever was our football market, which had grown drastically in the last 3 years...

So the fact is: we would be in the Pac 16 (there was no legal bind to KSU according to multiple sources, and staying put would have cost us a bunch of future paychecks and basically put us back into the times before Naismith came to town).

Hank Cross 8 years, 10 months ago

It should also be remembered that ESPN NEEDS KU for Big Monday. It needs KU because it needs a good 2nd half of a double header, which means an 8 pm start time in the Central Time Zone. Most of the SEC is in the Eastern time zone, which means that the only available marquee BB team in the Central Time Zone is KU.

If members of MW joinded the B12 or vice versa, I guarantee that it would have been arranged that the start times for Big Monday would've been same.

In short, KU had more hand than it thought and it's too bad we're stuck on Bevo's ranch.

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