Why Kansas is winning the conference realignment game
10:21 p.m. Update:
Back with a link. No word of the 10-2 margin here, but this backs up Chip Brown's info.
10:13 p.m. Update:
Word is starting to trickle in about the SEC vote regarding A&M. Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com has Tweeted that he heard the vote was 10-2 in favor of adding the Aggies.
In addition, Brown says the SEC has targeted West Virginia as its first choice as the 14th member.
No official announcement expected until sometime tomorrow... But anything less than 10-2 in favor would shock me. A&M's going to the SEC and when that's official, things will really start moving.
And, of course, stay tuned...
7:37 p.m. Update:
Sorry... Had to step away for a bit to make a few calls, but, while I was away, this came across the wire. Nothing Earth-shattering here but it is interesting nonetheless.
For those who see this as a bad sign, stop and think for a minute what you would expect the regents to say. Anyway, here it is... From The Associated Press.
As we move into the evening we're just waiting for word from the SEC about whether they officially invited Texas A&M into the league or not. Oh, I guess we're also waiting to see if A&M accepts if they're invited. Wouldn't that be interesting.
Here's the bulk of the AP report:
• LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents says it would be best for Kansas and Kansas State to remain in the same conference, even if the Big 12 eventually falls apart.
Ed McKechnie told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that the Board prefers for the Big 12 to remain together, and "until something happens, I'm just not going to speculate on what else there could be."
The New York Post reported Monday the Big East has studied the feasibility of adding three schools — possibly Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri — to create a super conference with 12 football-playing members and 20 schools that participate in basketball.
Athletic directors for all three schools said Saturday they remain committed to the Big 12, even though officials from Oklahoma have acknowledged that other conferences are interested in the Sooners and Texas A&M has announced plans to leave the 10-member league.
4:13 p.m. Update:
Mentioned this briefly in the comments below, but thought I should throw it up here for those who missed it.
We all know that the Big East is offering up a fallback plan to a few Big 12 schools should the conference blow up. Multiple sources have told me that contact has been made and that, while there isn't an official offer in place, there has been talk of an offer-to-be should the Big 12 cease to exist.
If that becomes true, it's entirely possible that the Big East, which now is on the record saying it wants to expand to 12 football schools, would gladly slide into the TV slot vacated by the Big 12, which could include a substantial deal from Fox. Although the numbers probably would not be the same — since the Big East would not have UT or OU — they would be significant and enough to make the Big East a player in the super conference game.
Again, I'm not saying this is the direction KU is headed or should be headed, just pointing out that those who are down on the Big East being an option should remember that what you're down on is not the same as what it would become.
Here's a link that explains more about the Big East's desire to expand to 12 football schools.
2:34 p.m. Update:
Not a lot here, but this statement came out of the chancellor's office today. KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little continues to stress that the Big 12 is the best place for Kansas.
Having said that, there's clear language in here that indicates that the Jayhawks are not standing pat and waiting for the Big 12 to be saved.
Here's her statement:
"It's obviously disappointing that it has come to this point. Keeping the Big 12 strong and competitive remains our top preference, but no matter what happens we're going to continue to work in the best interests of the University of Kansas. That's our number one priority and it's what we've been focused on throughout the process as we've looked at all our options when it comes to conference realignment."
Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger is having one of those Jerry Maguire moments right about now.
Sitting in front of Zenger, who’s been on the job all of eight months, are two very different options. Option 1: Join the masses in the relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar while doing whatever it takes to reach that end. Option 2: Stick to your guns, lean on your morals and hope that, somehow and someday, the very thing you’ve spent your entire life believing in — the good of man — will be enough to keep KU afloat once this conference realignment madness comes to a close.
Time to call Rod Tidwell.
While Zenger has stood tall, remained honest with everyone and, perhaps to a fault, taken the word of his fellow Big 12 ADs to be worth something, presidents and administrators at other Big 12 institutions, as well as in conferences around the nation, have been scheming. All apologies for the negative connotation that automatically comes with the word, but you know the saying. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, right?
On the outside, nervous KU fans and probably even a few of KU’s coaches, likely are wishing that Zenger would do more. Call the Pac-12 and beg for a spot. Tell ’em how much more attractive KU is than Texas Tech. Dial up the Big Ten and explain to them all of the wonderful cultural and academic offerings that KU would bring. Hammer home to anyone who will listen the point about KU’s hoops program being truly elite, one of the best of all-time, a program with unparalleled tradition. All true. All irrelevant at the moment.
I’m not saying that Zenger shouldn’t be making calls. In the wake of last weekend’s comments from Oklahoma president David Boren, it’s safe to assume KU’s AD is making and taking a lot of calls these days. What I am saying is that panicking would be the worst move for Kansas right now. The conferences in question know exactly what KU brings to the table. Some like it. Others are merely luke warm about it. But it’s there. Groveling, pleading or, worse yet, mud-slinging only will harm KU’s image. And right now, in a situation driven by very little substance, image is everything.
With a new conference and another sexy scenario entering the picture almost every hour now, it doesn’t take a genius to see how fragile things are. A wink and a deal one minute can be blown to bits the next. Wanna know the easiest way for an AD to make sure the second part of that equation happens? Have him start running his mouth and beating his chest about what a great deal he pulled off. Poof! Gone.
But Zenger won’t do it. And it’s a smart move. Not for him, but for KU. By staying patient and in tune with everything that's going on out there, the Jayhawks are ensuring that they'll be fine when all this is over. More than a few people in the conference have told me that. So why mess it up by gravitating toward the spotlight?
While it may make some nervous and cause others to scratch their heads or pull their hair out, Zenger’s playing this thing just right. On the surface, Kansas is loyal to the Big 12 and, if circumstances allow, always will be. But a few layers deeper, there’s real action taking place and, believe it or not, both Zenger and KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little are right in the middle of it.
Remember, Zenger’s an old football coach. The man knows how to fight. Although it may look like he’s passively standing by, that’s anything but the case. There's a lot at stake here — both in terms of KU's position in the future of college athletics and legal ramifications — and a misstep one way or the other could not only jeopardize KU's spot at the big boy table but also could cost the university and/or the Big 12 a ton of money.
Here’s the deal; regardless of what Zenger does or does not do in the next couple of weeks, all that matters is how this thing turns out. If KU lands on its feet in one of the so-called power conferences — be it the Big East, Pac-12, Big Ten or even the Big 12 — then all of the anxiety many are feeling will be forgotten. Don’t buy it? Come talk to me in four or five weeks and I’ll ask you what happened in Kansas State’s football opener this weekend. Sure, the Wildcats’ 10-7 escape at home against Eastern Kentucky is fresh and kind of funny right now, but K-State won. And that’s all we’ll remember. The same would’ve held true a year ago had the Jayhawks found a way to sneak past North Dakota State, 10-6, 9-6, 8-6, whatever.
And that’s where we’re at with conference realignment, too.
Just before Jerry Maguire had his moment of clarity, the young son of a high-profile client who had just suffered a serious injury uttered a few choice words to the hot-shot sports agent. Born from the feeling that followed was Maguire’s mission statement: “The Things We Think and Do Not Say.”
At this point, I’m not sure if the Big 12 is going to survive or not. A week ago, I would’ve said yes. Two days ago I would’ve said no way. There’s a lot of talk regarding the league’s uncertain future right now. But it’s the things that aren’t said that could shape how this whole thing turns out. That includes pulling back on phrases like “Show me the money.”
I know this isn’t Hollywood. But you have to admit, it kind of feels like it.