Realignment Today: 7:19 p.m. - Reports say UT, Texas Tech, OU and Okie State headed west; KU?
7:19 p.m. Update:
I'm hearing now that reports of the Texas and Oklahoma foursome heading west may be a little premature. That is to say, at this point, it's not a done deal, though it certainly still could happen.
The sources I talked with tonight did not specify what that meant or how that involved Kansas. Just that reports of anything being final were putting the cart ahead of the horse in a bunch of different ways.
It's clear that tomorrow is a huge day for the Big 12, with the OU and UT regents both meeting.
As the end of this wild day approaches, many in the Big 12 still believe that the conference can live on. Waiting on pins and needles to hear what comes out of Austin and Norman tomorrow.
5:54 p.m. Update:
Just a bit of analysis regarding the stance that KU would be "fine" when the dust settled and my constant reminder of that.
It's my belief that that stance was developed without the knowledge of a potential move by Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC, which now has happened. That, along with the possibility that UConn and Rutgers could follow, could be the thing that changes the tune for KU in all this, though not necessarily for the worse.
I'm sure that many, both at KU and on the outside, believed that the Big East would always be there as a fallback option. With the Big East on the verge of becoming a shell of what it once was, that might not be the case any longer.
So what now?
A couple of options still exist.
The Texas and Oklahoma 4 go west, Missouri goes SEC and the four remaining Big 12 schools combine with what's left of the Big East to form some kind of conference. KU, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor, TCU, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida and whoever else wants to get into a BCS conference - BYU, Air Force, SMU, who knows. Obviously this is not the preferred outcome.
With everyone expanding around them, a few of their Big East targets headed to the ACC and the ACC making it even tougher, financially, for schools to leave, the Big Ten may have to give a real hard look at KU and MU here. Both would accept an offer on the spot. With that in mind, maybe the B1G really turns up the heat on Notre Dame and makes the Irish an offer they can't refuse. With those three in tow, the fourth team is irrelevant. If this comes true — and it could — it would without question be one of the biggest and best things to ever happen to KU's athletic department.
Lastly, there still exists the chance that the Pac-12 or even ACC would explore the idea of expanding to 18 or 20 simply because the KU/MU package remains out there and of interest to many. Not a real good shot of this happening, but it can't be ignored, either.
5:21 p.m. Update:
Kirk Bohls, of the Austin American-Statesman, sent out a Tweet just a few minutes ago that said, "I really can't see anything derailing Texas-to-Pac12 at this point."
Bohls has been all over this thing from the UT angle throughout and I'd bet good money that he's dead on here, too.
Not real sure what this means for the rest of the Big 12 schools but it's not good news for the Big 12 as a conference.
Most likely scenario continues to be UT, Tech, OU and OSU to the Pac-12.
Beyond that, it's all up in the air.
Based on those who I've talked with and sources I've contacted throughout the past couple of weeks, I've long held the belief that KU would wind up wherever Texas did. That's still in play here. That's also just a read on my part.
I'm not sure yet how it would or could get done. Perhaps KU beats out Tech for the spot in the Pac-12. Perhaps UT and OU have talked the Pac into going for 18 and adding KU and MU (or K-State), too.
A little more than a week ago, talk of the Pac-12 expanding to 18 or even 20 was out there. You never know.
Still working. Stay tuned...
3:19 p.m Update:
Here are a few links about the ACC's movement and the rumors regarding a whole bunch of Big 12 schools.
This from the Charlotte Observer in the heart of ACC country: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/09/18/2618930/fsu-president-confirms-pitt-syracuse.html
The latest from Orangebloods.com: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1266871
Here's Kirk Bohls' latest report that says UT to the Pac-12 "heating up" http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/longhorns/entries/2011/09/18/official_potent.html
And the latest blog from The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel, who introduces West Virginia as the Big 12's last hope: http://blog.newsok.com/berrytramel/2011/09/18/big-12-football-west-virginia-is-the-final-hope/
2:53 p.m. Update:
Now that the ACC has opened the door, conference realignment is in full swing.
Sunday has been as wild a day as we've had in a long time in this mess and, go figure, the latest reports regarding the Big 12 have us right back where we started.
Both Kirk Bohls, of the Austin Amercian-Statesman, and Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, have put out reports that say Texas is likely headed to the Pac-12 and will be taking Texas Tech with them. Those two, reports say, will join OU and Oklahoma State out west and Missouri is now rumored to be going to the SEC.
That's a lot of action for one day and leaves Kansas with a bunch of questions.
Although sources close to the university have said that KU continues to hold out hope for the Big 12, reports have indicated that the Jayhawks have "other options" and that, if things continue to move quickly, Kansas may have to jump on one of those.
I just got back to Lawrence from Atlanta so lemme bang around and find a few links to get you up to speed. Just wanted to update you on the latest in this wild story.
7:07 a.m. Update:
Saturday was the first day in at least 72 hours in which we had real, actual, tangible, relevant news regarding conference realignment.
And it came out of nowhere.
Although it had been reported many times that the ACC was involved to some level in the whole realignment mess, almost nobody expected the league to be the one that made the first move.
Today, at 8:30, that’s exactly what is expected to happen when the ACC hosts a rare Sunday morning news conference at which it is expected that league officials will announce the addition of Big East schools Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the league. The details of the move remain to be seen but it’s not so much things like when Syracuse and Pitt will begin play in the ACC or what kind of exit fees they’ll face for leaving the Big East that people will be focusing on.
No, most everyone’s focus from here on out will be on which conference will step into the ring next.
Will it be the Pac-12, which has had Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on its radar for weeks now? Will it be the SEC with another team from the Big East or perhaps even Florida State or Missouri? Or will it be the Big Ten?
Of course, around here, all of those questions are secondary to the big one of what will happen to the Jayhawks? Saturday morning, an ACC official told me that Texas and Kansas had been targeted as the 15th and 16th members of the ACC. By Saturday night, that talk had cooled considerably.
The defections of Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC could be good news for KU regarding possible openings in the Big Ten. Of course, the Big Ten will have to want to expand to for that to go anywhere and they’ve given no real indication that they’re dying to do that.
Then there’s always the old fallback plan of the Big East, which looks a lot less attractive with Pitt and Syracuse gone. Think about it: If OU and OSU go west and Texas and Texas Tech join them (yep, that’s still possible) then that will leave KU, K-State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State to fend for themselves, with the most likely scenario having them combine with what’s left of the Big East to form a decent but not spectacular combo league.
Sources close to KU said late Saturday that Kansas remained eager to learn what OU would announce on Monday, when the Sooners’ board of regents are scheduled to meet. UT’s regents also are scheduled to meet Monday.
While we wait, and while I fly home from Atlanta, here are a few links from late Saturday night that help shed some light on the questions we’re now facing. Most of them are questions we’ve asked before, but it’s funny how even those seem to take on new light from day to day.
Here’s this from Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman regarding Texas and the Pac-12: http://www.statesman.com/sports/collegefootball/pac-12-commissioner-addresses-conference-realignment-amid-swirling-1864259.html
Here’s a story from the Chicago Tribune that reveals Notre Dame’s surprise at Saturday’s news from the Big East: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/college/chi-notre-dame-ad-swarbrick-big-east-turmoil-a-surprise-20110917,0,4068299.story
Here’s a little more about how the move by Syracuse and Pitt developed: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/story/2011-09-17/acc-approves-syracuse-pittsburgh-big-east/50448806/1
Here’s a story from Pete Thamel, of the New York Times, that says Congress may be ready to get involved. The story surfaced early Sunday morning: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/sports/ncaafootball/congressional-scrutiny-of-conference-realignment-is-said-to-be-likely.html?_r=1
And, finally, here’s a statement from Big East commissioner John Marinatto about the expected loss of two long-time members and the future of the now weakened Big East Conference:
“Although I was obviously very disappointed to learn the news about the ACC’s being in discussions about membership with the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, I continue to believe the Big East Conference is well positioned for the future and that the events of the past 24 hours will unify our membership," Marinatto said. "We have been working steadily to solidify and strengthen the Big East Conference and position us for our upcoming TV negotiations and I am confident that we will again emerge from this situation and remain strong."
I’ll try to update this again after landing back in Lawrence. But, for now, it looks like the big day will be Monday.