Sunday, September 4, 2016

KU’s Bill Self dishes on potential Big 12 expansion

In this file photo from Oct. 15, 2014, Kansas head coach Bill Self talks about his team during a Big 12 Conference Media Day event at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

In this file photo from Oct. 15, 2014, Kansas head coach Bill Self talks about his team during a Big 12 Conference Media Day event at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Whether you viewed Houston’s football victory over Oklahoma as a feather in its cap during a de facto Big 12 audition or tracked the results of games involving BYU, Colorado State, Cincinnati and a half a dozen others, Big 12 expansion likely crossed your mind at some point this weekend.

Busy with visitors from the recruiting class of 2017 — KU commitment Marcus Garrett and target shooting guard Chaundee Brown — KU men's basketball coach Bill Self may not have spent much time contemplating expansion during the past couple of days, but earlier this summer he spoke on KLWN’s Rock Chalk Sports Talk about the topic.

Self has long made it clear that he understands that football is the key component in the movement that began with conference realignment and continues today, as the Big 12 explores the idea of adding two, four or zero schools to its lineup.

Self also made it clear that he’s just like everybody else when it comes to having information about what might happen with the Big 12.

“I’m not in the know on anything,” he said. “But I would think that if you’re gonna talk seriously about it, then there will be something that’s done in the relatively near future.”

For now, the relatively near future remains Oct. 17, the date of the next Big 12 board of directors meeting. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has said for weeks that he’d like to have some type of resolution — be it the identity of schools they would like to add or even just a definite answer on if they want to add anybody — by the time that meeting rolls around.

Whether the conference will be at that point six weeks from now remains to be seen, but progress is ongoing. Last week, several Big 12 hopefuls officially announced they were out of the running and Bowlsby and company continue to conduct interviews and gauge the viability of the 10 or so schools still in the running — Air Force, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, SMU, South Florida, Temple and Tulane.

“It is interesting to think about the potential schools that we would go after or if there’s any schools that have been poached by other leagues that may not be as content as what they originally thought they would be,” Self said. “I think if we’re gonna do this we should obviously explore every avenue, which I’m sure we’re doing. We’ve got really good leadership in the league office.”

As for the impact expansion might have on his program, Self said adding teams might not be a popular move among Big 12 basketball coaches.

“I think all our coaches agree we’ve got a pretty good deal going,” he said. “There’s no question that if the move is made it would be primarily to benefit football and we know football drives the bus in so many ways. We understand that and respect that, but we kind of like what we’ve got going now.”

Self said the geographic and travel issues that many opponents of expansion like to throw around are legit but added that they’re not as much of a concern today as they would have been in the past because of the money circulating in Power 5 athletic departments.

“It’s not as big of a deal as it used to be because of the private aircraft,” Self said. “Now, for a sport that doesn’t travel that way, I think it’s a much bigger deal.... In a perfect world, I think you would want everybody in a relatively close proximity, and certainly that’s the way it was 10 years ago with just about everybody. But this is a new world, the television markets and everything are so important. Basically, if you have a good television market and you can bring a following, there’s a great chance that you could be in a league where the majority of your teams are a three-hour flight away.”

Asked if he ever found himself day-dreaming — or even fearing — what the Big 12 might look like a decade from now, Self said he was just like everybody else.

“Sure, but I don’t worry about it,” he said. “We were worried about it from the league standpoint four or five years ago and that was big. But we like our league situation and we know that we’re in good shape.

“There could always be something that could happen that could certainly temper that. If you lose a couple of the key schools out of our league, that could certainly temper that. We want to keep going with what we’ve got going and hopefully just add to it. Hopefully everything we do will be a positive and an addition to it.”


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 4 months ago

I can not imagine anything that would now prevent UH from being extended a bid to the Big 12. Their is so much buzz around Houston for the Cougars and so many recruited lining up to sign. No UH coach will need to board an airplane to travel anywhere to recruit.

I've placed my Vegas bet on UH and BYU if expansion by two. If by four, my money is on UH, BYU, UC and UConn. I just can not any of the UH/BYU/UC schools being left out. If they can not make 3 work and need to go with 4, UCONN because they are ESPN's neighbor.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree with you Suzi. I think UH just punched their ticket to the Big 12 this weekend. Great TV rating stem from great markets and great rivalries and I think they proved they belong in this conference. People saying the B12 already has the Houston market are wrong. The SEC is all over the Houston market. Likewise, it could be a disaster for the B12 if Houston ultimately joined the SEC further opening up the Texas TV and recruiting pipeline.
I also watched a little bit of the BYU/Arizona game. Attendance looked solid with 40-50k fans. I as some highlights of the Cincinnati/UTM with 28k fans; no so good.

Robert Brock 5 years, 4 months ago

I am placing my bet on ZERO. Nada. Nobody. Leave it at ten and let the chips fall where they may when the GOR runs out.

I'm hoping that KU can get into the Big Ten or the ACC. The Texas schools can organize the SWC2. Yuk!

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

I'll take as much of that action as you can afford.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 4 months ago

Robert, I've been all over the map on this thing (from adding six and cashing in, to doing nothing) but, as the conference digs into these schools more, I think I'm with you on NADA. If the Big 12 can negotiate some extra $$ in exchange for not expanding, then that very well may be the wise play.

If we add two, from a purely personal point-of-view, I'd prefer UCONN and BYU just because both are big-time, big-name schools that I think add some luster to the conference. There isn't any math to back it up, just personal preference.

The difficult thing to predict is how the college landscape is going to evolve over the next ten years. Let's hope that the powers that be in the Big 12 get it right.

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

" If the Big 12 can negotiate some extra $$ in exchange for not expanding, then that very well may be the wise play."

Really? Just getting more money for nothing would be good? Shockingly that's not the most comical thing you've ever said. Let me guess, you've never negotiated anything in your life. Of course not. A Hillary supporter wouldn't know anything about real life.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 4 months ago

Have you told your wife and kids that you are obsessed with another man? Though it may be a dream of yours, it's never going to happen. Still, I think that your family - and therapist - should know.

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

Brett, you poor thing. Have you not noticed the multiple comments I've made on this thread? Several before you showed up? Is it just an excuse for some gay insults? Obviously it is.

An unhealthy fixation would be when you created a Jay Scott account complete with a copied avatar. That's not a gay thing, just your lack of emotional stability.

If you don't like being ridiculed for saying stupid things, stop saying stupid things.

Thomas Young 5 years, 4 months ago

I think the problem is that you re kind of a negative loser txt draws attention by being a crybaby. I think there is a solution to your problem.

And don't be a homophobe.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 4 months ago

your not a betting man ARE YOU? I hope for your sake your not. - - there is no way the league is standing pat

Mike Barnhart 5 years, 4 months ago

So, a couple of months ago, Coach Self was hoping we could "poach" a school or two who are "not content" in another power conference. As it stands today, I think he'd agree that ship has sailed!

Coach Self was spot-on when he said, a candidate needs to "have a good television market and...bring a following." Houston does neither of those things! Beating OU makes Houston CC look good today but still doesn't add many more TV's or TV viewers to the footprint. Football is only valuable when it brings an 8 share and 60,000 butts in the seats. Houston will NEVER do that over the long haul without cannibalizing Longhorn fans.

The best play for KU is still a break-up! We go to the Pac 12 along with K-State, Texas and Tech. OU and OSU go to the SEC and Iowa State and West Virginia to the Big 10. The private schools can fend for themselves.

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure if that's more unlikely, undesirable or just stupid.

Why would the B1G want Iowa State? Why would Kansas prefer the PAC to the B1G?

Doug Wallace 5 years, 4 months ago

Kansas would like the Pac over the B1G Because its run the same way as it is here with Ohio State as the big bully!Oh Ohio State lets the 2 Michigan schools have a share everyone else takes a back seat to them!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 4 months ago

Houston just filled up NRG Stadium with over 71,000 fans with more wanting tickets. Sure it was a high profile OU game but they routinely sold out the Astrodome before UT tried killing the program by blocking their entrance into the Big 12 when it formed. UH, without and doubts, brings the nation's 10th largest market.

The Dallas Morning News reports OSU's T. Boone Pickens told Mitt Romney he is supporting UH and SMU as the first two options, then BYU if it goest to a 3/4.

Mike Barnhart 5 years, 4 months ago

I don't see it and I'm pretty sure Texas wont allow it. Let's put it in basketball perspective. KU doesn't schedule Missouri or Wichita State because our current coach says, "There's nothing it it for us." I'm sure Texas feels the same way about Houston! And I'm REALLY SURE Oklahoma feels that way!

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

....... except that Texas has endorsed Houston......

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 4 months ago

The UT endorsement may only be a 'cover' story to show they tried. UT has always resented UH's athletic challenges calling them 'Cougar High." I'm hoping all the other schools can carry the day.

Shane Jones 5 years, 4 months ago

You're so wrong about the University of Houston. U of H is not in a power 5 conference. A "fan following" needs a long term history of winning every game they play or at least be part of a major conference like Kansas, win or lose, to have a large T.V. market or a large 60,000 plus following in the stands. If U of H were in the Big 12 those two factors would "appear" almost immediately. Winning is what it's all about.

U of H would not take Texas fans "away" most 60%, is the figure quoted, of viewers in the Houston market currently follow SEC, many fans would eventually turn to U of H in their on "back yard". Everyone likes a winner remember, lol. But especially if all of America knows about it. Not just South and/or North Dakota people. Understand?

Doug Wallace 5 years, 4 months ago

Right on Mike! Not only KU and K-State go to the P_ac-12 but Texas Tech and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State go to the Pac=12! I Do NOT THINK Texas will be wanted by them.They are too Toxic to any good conference like the Pac-12.Hell theyd be better off taking Rice,Houston or UTEP instead of the losers Texass Shorthorns.Maybe also Pac-12 Take Hawaii.Just saying!

But yeah both Kansas schools be great in the Pac-12 miss the Colorado games more than Id miss West Virginia!

Clara Westphal 5 years, 4 months ago

Texas isn't going to want someone who can beat them in football.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 4 months ago

This is a football deal all the way. Texas, Oklahoma, and OSU (T-Boone) will have to sign off on any decisions. The others, including Kansas, will have to go along or move along. The Florida schools get you not only into big TV markets, but into hotbeds of football recruiting. BYU gets you into every LDS home in the country and beyond, except on Sunday when they don't play. Could be a scheduling nightmare in a larger league. Houston is a commuter school, and I believe the Florida ones are, also. Is that an issue? Probably not if other factors like TV markets and football recruiting outweigh that concern. Cincinnati makes sense because of West Virginia, but does't bring much in football. I do not get the infatuation of some with the PAC 12 when they only get on ESPN when 3/4 of the country is in bed. How much do you hear about Colorado these days? Out of sight, out of mind. KU desperately needs to upgrade its football program, both facilities and talent. Basketball at KU is the crown jewel but the numbers just can't compete with football money. Let's just be darn thankful we have that crown jewel in today's reality (money).

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm back to Florida State and Clemson...conferences are now thinking 12 was optimal and east coast is where the money is.

Jay Scott 5 years, 4 months ago

Have they expressed any interest? That might be the first step....

DB Ashton 5 years, 4 months ago

Just woolgathering at this late date, but since I was alive for the Big 7 (1947) and active during the Big 8 (1957): Arkansas was often mentioned as a sensible option as a 9th member, given geography and Fayetteville's love/hate relationship with the Texas-heavy Southwest Conference. So, you'd have Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Iowa State, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Add one or three from: Texas Tech, SMU, Iowa and TCU. Perfecto. Even better: Kansas and Missouri join the Big 10. Probably Nebraska, as well. As I say, requires a time machine and a sense of the state of play from Wilt to Hadl to Sayers to the 12th man Penn State Orange Bowl. Here in Texas, I cannot imagine the likes of UT countenancing the addition of Houston. I believe we missed a beat with Louisville. And given the ridiculous geographic addition of West Virginia, why not Connecticut as well, given their strength of program, and/or the best available poach in Florida for recruiting purposes?

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 4 months ago

Lots of interesting scenarios, but my money is with Suzi and Jay on this one. I can't imagine the conference standing pat, so Houston seems a lock given their rising program and the huge Houston market. After that, a case can be made for a number of schools.

The Florida market could be attractive when you consider that KU basketball has recruited Joel Embiid and Udoka Azubuike from there. Also, although he was from Chicago, didn't Jamari Traylor play at one of the academies down there? Also, isn't potential recruit Chaundee Brown from Orlando?

In short, continuing to be big in Texas and adding the Florida market should boost the conference's prestige, and hopefully help the KU football program open up some more or expanded recruiting opportunities.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 4 months ago

I still think the smart money is Houston and BYU. However, I think UCF would be a good option for the reasons you state Harlan. However, I didn't think SMU was a realistic candidate until today, so who knows.

Randy Bombardier 5 years, 4 months ago

Hmm. I am not for expanding the conference geographically unless there's huge financial benefits. My preference is to try big state universities first. So, on with dream list. Any former members have a change of heart? Thinking Colorado primarily. Next Any chance to get Utah (and BYU as a pair), Arizona, Arizona State? Arkansas, LSU? (Why not? Doesn't hurt to ask)

Not real high on City Schools in general but Houston might be exception.

Colorado State and Air Force geography over Florida recruiting hot bed. Sheer personal bias but adding two Florida schools might make sense.

Overall, I'd say we need to expand by at least 4 probably 6. Which 6 depends on if there are really any teams unhappy with their current power 5 home. If all are content, then personal preference is

Houston BYU Colorado State Air Force

UCF S. Florida

Those would be solid gets all the way.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 4 months ago

Can't disagree with you, Karen and Randy. Lots of options on the table and will be interesting to see what happens.

LJ Gee 5 years, 4 months ago

This is what it boils down to with UH. If the Big XII doesnt give them an invite, someone else will and the conference will lose a lot of the Houston market. I live here and without a doubt, over the last few years, the SEC has started establishing a strong foothold here. Combine that with Texas' slip over the same period and the fact that nobody here cares about Baylor or TCU (even TTU only has about as big of a presence here as KU) and you can see the danger. Conversely, over the last 10 years, since I got back to Houston from Lawrence, UH has really changed the culture and as a result has grown its following tremendously. Tillman Fertita is a billionaire who is pouring money into the university now and what happened Saturday was not a fluke. Last year 3 of the 10 highest rated college football games in the Houston market were UH games and the UH OU game was second highest rated game of the weekend. Finally, Houston is the biggest city in the Big 12 footprint and has major alumni bases for every school in the conference. Adding UH gives those fans and alumni an opportunity to watch their team without having to travel. Every game will be sold out. Big 12 has to do something though b/c if they dont, the conference will fall apart completely within 10 years. In my mind, there is no question that UH is the most desirable Group of 5 school outside of maybe BYU if you dont mind what comes along with them. What I can tell you is that the leadership at UH is very good and they are extremely focused on getting into a power 5 conference so if it isnt Big 12 I would not be at all shocked if they ended up in the Pac 12 or somewhere like that. I think its in the Big 12's best interest to keep another power 5 from getting a piece of that market.

Personally, Id rather see the conference break up and KU get into the Big 10 but I think its unlikely, unless the conference stands pat.

Mike Greer 5 years, 4 months ago

As oil and chemical companies have relocated to Houston in mass, I agree, there are many BigXII alumni in the area. Graduates go where the jobs are, and right now there are a lot of jobs in the greater Houston area, many filled by BigXII grads. I also agree, if the BigXII doesn't grab UH, another power 5 conference will and that's going to be worse for schools that recruit the area, than if they pull UH into the conference. If your OU or UT, who would you rather recruit the Houston area against, UH or Georgia, LSU, Alabama, etc. What helps KU basketball recruit all over the US, the fact that it's a program that's on nationwide TV almost every week. These kids what to be seen by their peers and in football, the best way to be seen is to have your area be part of a conference that's televised locally. You don't want Houston in another power 5 conference and have that competition.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 4 months ago

Could not agree more except the SEC is not realistic as TAMU would do anything possible to keep UH out. The Pac 12 is a realistic alternative for UH. However, the Big 12 is not going to pass on UH and probably not on BYU, although the alphabet people are out in full force. Rumors about UH and BYU joining the Big 12 started coming out of Irvine over a year ago. Although UT has publicly endorsed UH, I still don't trust them. UT has always had a paranoia fixation about UH, commencing when Yeoman ('62-'86) ran UT out of the Cotton Bowl with his Veer offense. Recall immediately after UH got into the SWC, Houston went to 3 of 4 Cotton Bowls! If that was not enough .... UH basketball under Guy Lewis and Phi Slamma Jamma render UT to an unwanted stepchild...

UH Golf produced the likes of Fuzzy Zoeller, Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, Bruce Lietzke, John Mahaffey, Bill Rogers, Blaine McCallister, Billy Ray Brown and broadcaster Jim Nantz. Those golf teams are one of the most successful college programs in history, with 16 team national championships and eight individual national championships.

The list goes on and on. UT has a well earned never to be trusted reputation amongst UH fans!!!!

LJ Gee 5 years, 4 months ago

Actually, Suzi, TAMU tried to get UH in the SEC with them over Mizzou but of course UH wasnt ready then yet. Historically, it has always been UT that has blocked UH, not TAMU. I actually think TAMU might want UH just to get another local game for their recruits and their families.

UT, I agree is, untrustworthy. They have single handedly ruined the Big 12 and I suspect they're going to bolt the conference as a result in the next 10 years. For now they're supporting UH but who knows. What I do know is that UH has tried scheduling UT for years and UT has always refused but yet they've played Rice and UNT, et. so you may be right about them blocking it behind closed doors.

I dont know what will happen but it would be terrible leadership by the Big 12 to not invite UH. Having said that, Big 12 leadership has been beyond abysmal over the last 10 years so who knows what will happen

Doug Wallace 5 years, 4 months ago

10 years? Nah they will get out of the GOR ASAP!Id bet any amount of money they got lawyers on the case of how to get out earlier!

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