The downside of Big 12 membership for Kansas is that it ensures a brutal schedule for a rebuilding football program.
With the exception of Baylor (0-3), which visits Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4, every conference member is off to a significantly better start than Kansas.
The upside of Big 12 membership gets better all the time and far outweighs the burden the football schedule brings. After all, there is a positive as well to playing in such a tough conference. Members can recruit to it.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spelled out clearly speaking at Big 12 Football Media Day the financial benefits to members.
“It varies a little bit from institution to institution based upon how they did in some of our championships -- but we distributed a little over $34 million last year,” Bowlsby said. “That is about a 15-percent increase from the previous year. That also, I would remind you, doesn't include our third-tier rights, which in the case of several of our schools are very substantial. “So we felt like we really have continued to compete from a financial standpoint. Among the critical success factors for any conference is the ability to distribute money to its members, and I think that we've continued to keep pace there.”
No disputing that.
In order to ensure it keeps its place in such a lucrative conference, Kansas must eventually get football turned around to the point it draws much bigger crowds and becomes a more appealing team for prime TV slots.
To that end, KU is trying to raise a stunning $300 million to renovate Memorial Stadium. No specific plans have been revealed for the first phase of renovations, but should come this month, perhaps tied to an announcement of a $50 million donation from a prominent KU graduate.
Even without a competitive football team in recent years, Kansas remains an appealing brand for apparel and equipment companies.
Look for Adidas to extend its six-year, $26 million deal with Kansas that expires in 2019, and do it in a way that could put KU at the top of its schools in terms of dollars and products received.
Joe Reitz, founder of Family Promise of Lawrence and retired University of Kansas business professor, sent me a text from Tuesday night’s Yankees-Royals game, marveling at the size of the Yankees.
“If this were football, it would be a huge mismatch,” Reitz wrote.
He then watched a huge baseball mismatch won by the Yankees, 7-1.
Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to compare the size of the players in the Yankees’ lineup, including both the starting pitcher and designated hitter, to Saturday’s lineup fielded by the Kansas baseball team against Kansas State.
Brett Gardner LF, 5-11, 195………………Rudy Karre CF, 6-2, 180;
Gary Sanchez C, 6-2, 230………………..James Cosentino 2B, 5-10, 175;
Matt Holliday DH, 6-4, 240……………….Matt McLaughlin SS, 6-1, 190;
Starlin Castro 2B, 6-2, 230………………..Devin Foyle LF, 6-3, 185;
Aaron Judge RF, 6-7, 282……………..….Jaxx Groshans C, 6-0, 190;
Jacoby Ellsbury CF, 6-1, 195…………… Marcus Wheeler 1B, 6-0, 230;
Chase Headley 3B, 6-2, 215………………Brett Vosik RF, 6-4, 215;
Didi Gregorius SS, 6-3, 205………………. Benjamin Sems 3B, 6-2, 165;
Chris Carter 1B, 6-4, 245…………………..Tanner Gragg C, 6-1, 215;
C.C. Sabathia P, 6-6, 300…………………..Taylor Turski P, 5-9, 180;
Average Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 239………………………………………6-1, 193;
You would expect a major league baseball team stocked with older, stronger players, to outweigh a college lineup, but not by 46 pounds per man.
You wouldn’t expect the Yankees to come close to outweighing the most recent Kansas football team to take the field in a Big 12 game, so let’s look at the starting lineup for the Jayhawks against Kansas State in Manhattan last November and see how they measure up.
Kansas football 2016 offense
QB Carter Stanley, 6-2, 196;
RB Ke’aun Kinner, 5-9, 191;
LT Hakeem Adeniji 6-4, 265;
LG Jayson Rhodes 6-4, 307;
C Mesa Ribordy 6-4, 290;
RG Larry Hughes 6-7, 311;
RT D’Andre Banks 6-3, 305;
WR Luis Gonzalez 5-10, 176;
WR Tyler Patrick 6-0, 177;
WR Steven Sims 5-10, 176;
WR Shakier Barbel 6-3, 203.
Average Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 236.
The Yankees starting lineup from Tuesday night outweighed the Kansas starting 11 in the 2016 season finale by three pounds per man.
What does it all mean? It means the Kansas baseball team could benefit from a massive slugger and the football team could use bigger players. The Jayhawks have become faster on the football field and are working at becoming bigger in the weight room and on the recruiting trail.
Eight of 12 schools on the 2017 Kansas football schedule are playing in bowl games, which means they get the benefit of extra practices. Coaches use much of that time with an eye toward next season, trying players at different positions, etc.
All eight 2017 KU foes play their bowl games on ESPN. Dig under your couch cushions for the remote and when you locate it, read on for the bowl schedule of KU’s 2017 foes so you can record them, study the returning players and get a feel for the degree of difficulty of next season’s schedule:
Today, 1:30 p.m.: Central Michigan is an 11-point underdog to Tulsa today on ESPN at 1:30 p.m., in the Miami Beach Bowl. (Here’s hoping that when Kansas returns to bowl action, this is the game).
Friday, 7 p.m.: Ohio’s a five-point underdog to Troy in the Dollar General Bowl, played Friday at 7 p.m.
Dec. 27, 9:15 p.m.: Baylor’s a 10-point underdog against Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.
Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m.: West Virginia’s a 1.5-point underdog against Miami (Fla.) in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Dec. 28, 8 p.m.: Kansas State’s a 2.5-point underdog vs. Texas A&M.
Dec. 29, 8 p.m.: Oklahoma State’s a 2-point underdog to Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
Dec. 30, 11 a.m.: TCU’s a 1.5-point favorite against Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
Jan. 2, 2017, 7:30 p.m.: Oklahoma’s a five-point favorite against Auburn.
Southeast Missouri State (3-8), Texas Tech (5-7), Iowa State (3-9) and Texas (5-7), all on next season’s schedule, did not qualify for bowl games, or in FCS SEMO’s case, the playoffs.
Honors keep rolling in for Payne
Congrats to Kelsie Payne, KU’s first two-time, first-team All-American in volleyball, as selected by American Volleyball Coaches Association, and to Ainise Havili, a third-team selection one year after earning third-team honors.
Payne, Big 12 Player of the Year, Havili and fellow first-team All-Big 12 selection Madison Rigdon all will be seniors next season when the Jayhawks will try to make it to the Final Four, which will be played close to home at Sprint Center.
Havili and Payne are the school’s only first-team All-Americans. Caroline Jarmoc earned second-team honors in 2012, third-team in 2013.
KU earned the outright Big 12 volleyball title by finishing one game ahead of Texas. The Longhorns finished as runner-up to national champion Stanford.