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Realignment Today: Why KU remaining patient (for now) is the right move as the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 formally announce new alliance

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A proposed ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 alliance is expected to be formally announced on Tuesday afternoon.

A proposed ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 alliance is expected to be formally announced on Tuesday afternoon. by Matt Tait

Updated at 3:27 p.m.

Commissioners from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 joined together on Tuesday to formally announce an alliance between their three power conferences.

While doing so, they made sure to point out that they’re rooting for the Big 12 Conference and emphasized that a thriving Big 12 is good for college athletics and the power conference landscape as a whole.

Not so good that they would want to include the remaining eight schools in the suddenly-on-life-support Big 12 in the alliance, mind you, but good.

Mmm hmmm.

In addition, the ACC’s Jim Phillips, the Big Ten’s Kevin Warren and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 all expressed admiration and confidence in Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and at least one of them, Phillips, said they all were willing to do whatever they could to help the Big 12.

Again, everything but securing its future by including the Big 12 schools left hanging by Oklahoma and Texas in the groundbreaking alliance, which, Warren said, was done in part to bring stability to college athletics.

That may well be true in those three conferences and with the SEC. But things remain anything but stable in Big 12 country.

The whole thing reeked of an awkward break-up, with one person saying really, really nice things about the person they’re dumping, first, to lessen the blow of the break-up, but, more importantly, to make themselves feel better about what they’re doing.

The details of the alliance remain a work in progress. Heck, there’s not even a contract, and Kliavkoff said there does not need to be.

That sounds like it’ll go well down the road.

At the center of it all, though, is the group’s belief that there will be scheduling advantages that lead to more television dollars, a shared belief that's important to preserve the core values that have always existed in college athletics and the idea that academics should remain a key part of the puzzle.

They didn’t come right out and say that some of those things don’t seem to matter as much in the SEC anymore, but you weren’t alone if you read into it that way.

It’s unclear today how any of this might impact Kansas and the remaining eight schools in the Big 12.

Things continue to look bleak in terms of the conference surviving as the power conference that we have known it to be for the past couple of decades.

And those eight schools whose futures hang in the balance have very different paths forward. Some, like KU, may be best served by remaining patient and seeing how things play out for the next year or two or four.

Others, like Kansas State, may have to be a little more aggressive, both from the perspective of self-preservation and in saving what they can of the Big 12 Conference.

That’s why you’re hearing K-State AD Gene Taylor offer up his thoughts and hopes for K-State’s future and also why you’re not hearing much of anything coming from KU.

It’s not because the Kansas administration — and, remember, this whole thing will play out at the university and athletic department levels — is sitting on its hands and carrying on like it’s business as usual. Conversations are being had. Strategies are being considered. And there seems to be a strong and sincere confidence that KU will be fine — whatever that may mean — when all of this is settled.

You don’t have to like it, but it is a part of their strategy. And it’s probably a smart move.

If KU is going to land somewhere other than a revamped Big 12 Conference in the near future, it is not going to get there by rushing into an agreement now with schools that either aren’t, have not been or will not be power five type programs.

This has to be attacked from the long-range approach, not from what makes you feel safe and secure in the present.

Let’s take every KU fan’s biggest dream of seeing the school land in the Big Ten as an example.

It does not appear that there is anything concrete happening there at the moment. Nor has there been. That does not mean that things could not change if — or is it when? — the Big Ten decides to expand sometime in the future.

If KU were to lead the charge or even just throw its full support behind inviting new schools into the revamped Big 12, it could find itself locked into an agreement (like the soon-to-expire granting of rights deal) that extends for a decade or longer.

That would backfire big time if, in three or four years, the Big Ten came to KU and said, ‘Hey, you want in?’

The answer then would still be yes, but there would be exit fees and a big mess to work through to make it happen, much like the situation you’re seeing with Oklahoma and Texas today.

It might not be a popular approach among the fans, but waiting patiently, keeping all of your options open and, most importantly, not locking yourself into anything concrete for at least the next year or two seems like the smartest plan of attack for KU at this point.

That all changes if the Big Ten, or even the ACC, were to come to KU in three months with a formal invitation to join. But short of that happening, remaining fluid is the best move.

Comments

Dale Rogers 1 year, 3 months ago

Intelligent thoughts, Matt. Now, I wonder how many commenters will panic over the lack of information from the KU Administration and will blast them for "sitting on their hands."

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

You sound like you've seen something like this before ;-)

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

Ummmmm…KU’s history of conference management might suggest that people aren’t panicking, just that they are wisely concerned about the competency levels of those making the decisions.

Going back to the Big Eight, a strong and cohesive conference, KU was in a good position. If the Big Eight needed to expand, they could have done so with wise partners not from Texas. KU took a knee to bring Texas in, watched the league offices get moved, watched four teams depart, I mean six teams depart, and replace them with West Virginia and TCU.

Girod hired Long, the only man to ever lose to David Beaty, and approved the hiring of Miles without any due diligence. Do those decisions fill you with confidence?

Our only hope is that Goff is leading the way. Both Goff’s hiring of Leipold and his experience in the Big Ten have me cautiously optimistic that he can get something done.

My rule with Girod is to follow the Constanza rule: whatever he says, assume that the opposite is the right choice. So…..let’s get something done asap.

The Penn State AD made some comments about “fit and money” that left me feeling that we might have a spot in that league. Sitting around and waiting has not worked out well. Here is hoping that there is a high level of urgency and that Girod is left out of all the important discussions.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 3 months ago

Patient?

Of course we have to remain patient. There is nothing else we can do at this point.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

There are other options. Here's one: As misguided as it would be, KU could try to throw its weight around and pretend it has the power to save the Big 12. That would lead to bad things and an ugly end to all this. Here's another: KU could openly and publicly campaign for a spot in one of the other power conferences only to get turned down, making things even harder down the road.

Again, they have options. It just so happens they appear to be choosing the right one for the time being. We'll see if it stays that way.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 3 months ago

Didn't you just prove my point? The only option that makes sense is to be patient. We have no other choice.

Gavin Fritton 1 year, 3 months ago

No, he disproved your point. You said that there is no choice. He pointed out that there is a truly bad option, especially bad in comparison to being patient. That's not NO choice, it's a vaguely unpleasant choice and a risibly stupid one. They're both choices and they're both plausible. But they most definitely are choices.

Rodney Crain 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree there is no choice but to be patient. Since everything else makes no sense, doing nothing right now is all we should do. Sorry I confused you but we have to be patient. It is the option.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 3 months ago

I do believe that an agreement in principle for KU is important. KU has a lot of things in favor of it, but most importantly is the AAU membership. It makes itself eligible for the Big Ten.

KU also has a position with the ACC, because of the North Carolina and Duke presence, remember Duke is losing one of the best coaches of all-time and will need to retain a mantle that has never been passed.

Finally, the PAC12 has seen its numbers dwindle and needs a time zone more east than what is has.

KU and the Small 8, need to milk the payments out of OU or UT to get better leverage. Both those teams don't want to wait 4 years for SEC play, so there will be some give and take after this season.

I believe that KU is probably even a better play for the the ACC then WVU is, but the conference has to really put some pressure on Notre Dame.

I personally want the Big Ten, I'd be happy with B10, or ACC. The PAC12 would be acceptable and anything else would be disappointing, but time is on our side for about a year.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Well said. I believed from the very beginning, the day we heard OU and UT were leaving, that the ACC would be a legit and solid landing spot. The Big Ten has its obvious advantages and, geographically, would make the most sense. But there's a lot to like about the ACC as an option too.

Whatever happens, patience is the key because (a) cooler heads may prevail and (b) patience allows them to milk every penny out of OU and UT as you mentioned. There's comfort and stability in that in and of itself for a few years.

Spencer Goff 1 year, 3 months ago

This conference “alliance” is two high schoolers telling their friends they made out and that they might be dating.

When I saw the announcement I laughed and the SEC probably did too.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Yeah. I don't know that this ruffled the SEC's feathers as much as some might want to believe it did. They're still in a better position than any of these conferences, alliance or no alliance.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 3 months ago

I saw some numbers behind it. If they actually are able to prevent the SEC from scheduling the other 3 conferences and potentially the Small8, they actually would lose 25% of their games to non-premier TV rights, because the SEC only plays 8 conference games and 4 non-conference. If the 4 non-conference become non-premier games, the bundle becomes less valuable. Alabama / North Texas, doesn't have as good of a ring as Alabama / Michigan or Oregon. There is some backbone, but again the SEC could also just schedule more conference games and make themselves even more premier.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

For the life of me I don't understand why we are concerned about being in a power conference, aside from getting paid more what purpose does it serve? Texas makes more money than any other college program. What do they have to show for it? Money does not equal winning, and isn't that all we fans want? Gonazaga is in a horrible conference and yet they have proven they can win year after year after year. In fact being in a lesser conference will make us more competitive in football, and we would generate more revenue from fans getting back in the stands. Bottom line is money and conference affiliation does not equal winning. As a fan I don't care how much money my university makes Would we rather be a Vanderbilt or Northwestern and not win at anything, but have a ton of money? Or be us and keep winning but not have as money as these other schools? As a program Missouri has gone backwards with winning and they are in the best conference. I am not concerned where we end up.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

The problem with fans not caring about the money aspect of this — and I admire and understand why you feel that way — is that it impacts winning.

Without all that cash, it's hard for athletic departments to keep their facilities on the cutting edge and their coaches happy. Without those things, it can be difficult to bring in top-notch talent. And without top-notch talent, it's hard to win games and win championships. There's a definite trickle-down effect in play there.

If it were just the difference between $35-40 million now and $25-30 million in the future, that might be manageable. But if KU falls out of the power five ranks, the money that awaits in the Mountain West or AAC or the like is closer to the $7-10 million range, if not less. That's a difference of nearly $30 million annually and losing that can be crippling to any athletic department budget.

Brian Skelly 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree patience, but that's what one says when they have no other options. I do think KU's position is stronger than most of the rest of the conference, but that's the extent of it.

I still think that KU to the Big 10 can and might happen. But it's not going to be now, and it might not even be soon.

More than anything, I think the "alliance" conferences saw the SEC and Big 12 commissioners work together for an idea to expand the playoff, then almost immediately thereafter watch the SEC raid the Big 12. Im quite sure, more than anything else, they see what's happening and want to not blow up things up right now.

I'd also say, this is as much of a check on ESPN than it is the SEC. And if you don't think that's so, I'd say your not paying attention.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Very good call there re: ESPN. There's no doubt that exactly what you're talking about here has been and will be a big factor in a lot of how this plays out.

Clarence Haynes 1 year, 3 months ago

My hope is that Girod, Goff, Self, et al are working on something constructive that we’re not aware of.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

Matt, if money equals winning explain Texas?

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 3 months ago

They've had just as many missteps with coaches as we have recently and they are .500 and we are .000.

Jim Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

And they still manage to put butts in their seats and our attendance is abysmal.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 year, 3 months ago

More money alone doesn't ensure winning but not having money ensures you won't have a seat at the party (at least in football). You still have to invest that money wisely.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

We will never have a seat in football, but we can be competitive.

Brad Barker 1 year, 3 months ago

The money at UT just allowed them to hire the one of the most desired bball coaches in the country and a coordinator from Alabama. Will either succeed? Who knows. But do you really think KU will be able to replace Self with the caliber of coach we are accustomed to if the KAI budget has been slashed by 50-70% and we are playing in a lower tier conference?

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

It doesn’t seem like they announced anything more than what had already been leaked. That is except for giving a shout out to the Big12. That is encouraging to me and even more allays any worry of wandering through the mountain west or wherever.

Also, while football might be driving all this, it’s not like ut, tosu, etc spends $200+k on football. It does allow them to better fund all the other non revenue sports.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

Jeff that is the point. You can have all the money in the world and still be only .500. That is not good and Texas should be embarrassed.

Charlie Gaughn 1 year, 3 months ago

This is absolutely pathetic. KU has no one to blame for being pretty much screwed but themselves. We've had 20 years of incompetent AD's that floated along thinking that basketball would somehow save us.

Al Bohl hired Mangino and turned the football fortunes around almost immediately. Then Roy got poopy and made sure that Bohl was fired. Then he (Roy) promptly left anyway. Then we hired Lew Perkins who wanted to hire "his coach" and promptly organized a coup against Mangino. Problem was, Mangino started winning and it was difficult for Perkins to have his way until he got numerous assistants to play along and Mangino had a down season. Thus Mangino (the winningest coach in KU history) was ultimately fired.

It has been all down hill since then. After Turner Gill, KU should've begged Mangino to come back, right the ship, and help find his long term replacement. Make no mistake, I had dealings with Mangino and he was not a nice individual. Bill Snyder wasn't a nice individual either. That's not necessarily a requirement to be a good college football coach.

Fans need to realize that there is no interest on the part of the Big 10, ACC, or Pac 12 to bring KU in. It's a small market, low enrollment, non-football school. Yes, a KU/Michigan/Ohio State/Michigan State basketball matchup might be fun, it' just doesn't generate the revenue.

It's time to jump to the Mountain West, become competitive in football, and position the program for the next "big re-allignment thing".

David Friend 1 year, 3 months ago

I think there is a discussion at the senior level about what KU football wants to be. KU is never going to compete for a national championship and the money for us is in Basketball.. I think the administration is looking in the mirror and realizing Mid-Major Status in football and remaining a basketball power may be where the cards lie. Hence Joining up with the AAC could be where we go. The only other thing i can see is the alliance wants to see if Leipold can make us respectable in the next two years. And then we get a call.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Here's the thing, though... Up to this point, and moving forward if you can find a way into one of these power conferences with the mega TV deals, they're handing out massive amounts of money even to a football program like Kansas.

Of course the goal is to improve and be more valuable and all of that. But even if you just aspire to be a .500 program from time to time, you'll still get that dough if you can find a way into the power conference party.

You don't have to desire to be anything more than that. And basketball can still be king. You just have to find a way, any way, to do enough to be wanted, therein locking in financial security for years to come.

Easier said than done, but that should be the only goal. Convince/show whoever you need to show that you belong and they're better off having you.

David Friend 1 year, 3 months ago

the other conferences do not want to divy up money from a a once in awhile 500 football team that has no national or big market draw. That is the quagmire we are in. The ironic thing is for us to improve we have to spend money and for us to spend money we have to be in a power conference..

Ervin O'Neal 1 year, 3 months ago

Those other conferences have lots of members with terrible football programs. I don't think the SEC is going to kick out Vandy so they have room for Oklahoma State or any other school.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

Michigan has a ton of money and a big stadium, when was the last time they won anything of consequence?

The examples are endless. Nebraska went to a much superior conference then the Big 12 and they now suck at all sports. Being in a power conference and having money does not equal fans being happy and winning.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Correct. This really has very little to do with winning. See my reply right above this post of yours.

It's all about budget and having the money to keep up in the arms race. That's for facilities, coaches, branding, TV dollars and exposure, etc.

If any of that leads to winning, great. If it doesn't, at least you're still getting those checks and able to pay all of that staff for all of those sports and build all of those facilities.

If KU winds up on the outside looking in, sports will be cut and lots of people will lose their jobs.

Ryan Mullen 1 year, 3 months ago

If they have to cut some athletic departments so be it. As long as the Basketball stays good then fans will be happy. That’s all that matters is fan enjoyment. People will find other jobs.

Marc Frey 1 year, 3 months ago

I will just say" I have a bad feeling about this".

Gavin Fritton 1 year, 3 months ago

One other reason it makes sense to wait is if KU football really is the thing hobbling KU's chances of getting invited to the Big 10, this will give KU a chance to improve the football team and for the fanbase to show out and prove that we can hang with crowds from those schools.

Spencer Goff 1 year, 3 months ago

Matt;

The more I see this rhetoric from the conferences, the more I get the feeling that, even outside of the Big 12 for obvious reasons, Sankey really irked the other conference leadership.

I mean, the ACC is bought in full with ESPN and they still seem to be making moves against the SEC.

So my gut feeling is that it bodes well for the remainder of the Big 12 when 1) the ACC president said it benefited everybody for the Big 12 schools to "do well," and 2) if these conferences really intend to lock up the SEC in scheduling then it benefits them to pick up the remainder Big 12 schools because if they don't those schools are scheduling outlets for the SEC.

Would you agree to that? To quote Peter Frampton, do you feel like we do?

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Haha. Love the quote. And, yeah, there's certainly some sense in that line of the thinking.

The counter to it is this: If that happens, then could the SEC change its rules again and simply add more conference games and limit the number of non-conference games to 2 per year? They certainly have the teams to do that and such a set up would probably be viewed in favorable light by ESPN.

Alabama playing Texas, LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida every year is going to be way more appealing to ESPN than Alabama only playing three or four of those teams every year and mixing in games against TCU or Texas Tech to satisfy the SEC's non-conference power five scheduling requirement that currently exists.

By "forcing" the SEC to play more SEC games, it would potentially push the idea of the SEC being its own thing even more and even faster.

Again, just a counter to your point. Both ways of looking at it are valid and likely in play and being discussed.

Crazy times.

Matthew Pyle 1 year, 3 months ago

I question the smarts and/or sincerity of anybody that throws support and praise to Bob Bowlsby. He's a disaster, just like the prospects for the Big 12.

Lee Stanford 1 year, 3 months ago

It’s hard to see the Big Twelve go down in flames. If that’s the best hand that the remaining eight, and especially KU, should play - then it is what it is.

But I appreciate your coverage of this Matt - tremendous work and you are my number source for all of this.

The OU/UT move was like proverbially ripping off the bandage and leaving quite a mess for others to mend.

I think Goff is a tremendous asset for us. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s the right man at the right place and time to lead us out of this mess.

So shortly after the OU/UT story broke, Big Twelve Commissioner Bowlsby met with met his counterpart in the Pac-12, George Kliavkoff. Nothing appeared to come out of that. And then as we all know, the Pac-12, the B10, and the ACC have moved closer into some sort of an alliance, excluding the Big Twelve from those talks. Kliavkoff has indicated that the Pac-12 may be sending out expansion invitations in the next few weeks. So I am guessing that should be Pac-12 move to expand, at least some of the eight remaining members of the Big 12 will receive invitations.

Given the meeting between Bowlsby and Kliavoff prior to the three-conference negotiations, how possible could it be that a Pac-12/Big 12 merger had already been worked out prior to the alliance negotiations, which then would have proceeded under the assumption that the Pac-12 would include the eight remaining schools? Or have I read too much into that?

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32079112/pac-12-commissioner-decide-expansion-interests-end-week

And either way, should KU receive a Pac-12 invitation next month, would it be best to just go for it and join them or wait for something better?

Coverage of the newly announced ACC/B10/Pac-12 alliance has focused on scheduling. Some where I read that the alliance would be able to muster some 41 votes against the SEC’s 16 regarding such issues as the logistics and details of the college football playoffs. In what other areas could this alliance leverage these votes over the SEC? I have not heard much about that aspect of the alliance.

I know I may be beating a dead horse here, but it seems that if being outvoted could prove significant to the SEC, then why not get more numbers on their side by keeping alive an expanded Big Twelve that would vote in alliance with the SEC? Both conferences would have to add numbers (e.g. SEC to 20 and B12 in excess of that).

My biggest struggle throughout all of this has been watching a number of scenarios where there would not have been any losers - all go up in smoke. But oh well, such is the life of a spectator watching high stakes events unfold.

Matt Tait 1 year, 3 months ago

Appreciate the kind words, Lee. It is hard to watch this all go down like this. I always have loved the Big 12 and believed it was a great conference. Obviously, twice now, we've seen that not everyone believed that to be the case. Crazy stuff. A sign of the times, I suppose.

I'll stay on top of it all as best I can. Thanks for following along!

Barry Weiss 1 year, 3 months ago

It looks like the SEC won this battle. The b1g, Pac 12 and ACC all blinked to end the stare down. Now it would appear those 3 all will be hesitant to expand given their "alliance" or whatever you want to call it with the other two. The SEC, however, can make the next move when they want and on their terms.

It would seem that the b12 has limited options, either lure some non power 5 schools to join the conference, which Matt does not think is a good move, or merge with the AAC, another non-power 5 conference. I guess lastly, do nothing and react to whoever makes the next move. Its a sucky position to be in.

Ervin O'Neal 1 year, 3 months ago

Arkansas built a new horseshoe stadium on their campus that holds over 76,000 fans. I know a lot of their fans. Not a single one believes that they will win the SEC anytime in the next decade. But they built a new stadium to improve recruiting and to greatly enhance the fan experience. Their stadium is packed and gameday is a can't miss event. Ole Miss hasn't won the SEC since the 60's. But their gameday experience is one of the best in the country. KU has a Top 20 setting for a football stadium. But we don't have a Top 100 stadium. It doesn't have to be massive (55,000 seats is plenty) as long as it is designed to be loud with fans close to the field and have the foundation to enable easy expansion in the future. If KU announced this week that they were seeking donations and drawing up plans to completely replace the football stadium, we would look so much more attractive to the other conferences. The difference in earning $75 million per year in the B1G vs $10 million per year in some small conference will make paying for the stadium much easier. And just think what a full stadium would do for the rest of Lawrence.

If you build it, they (fans, recruits) will come.

Austin Lopez 1 year, 3 months ago

So I have been thinking about this deeply, I think this whole alliance thing gives the Big12 a huge opportunity. Why? What if the Big12 was to go out and poach Utah, Oregon, UCLA, and USC from the PAC 12? Why would those schools ever think of doing that? Look at it this way, a Big12 that includes Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Utah would demand more TV money then what the PAC 12 offers its members right now. If the Big12 can pitch those schools on how much TV money they can make under a new agreement that includes them and they jump on board now you have momentum to go out and poach Clemson, Miami, AND Florida State. As of right now with Texas and Oklahoma the BIG12 is third in TV money, if you replace a Texas and Oklahoma with a USC, Utah, Oregon, UCLA I believe you might be able to demand more TV money that is currently on the table. The BIG12 can turn into another SEC if they play chess and not checkers. This can be pulled off if you Pitch TV money that included them, also this would open up a huge recruiting pipeline for BIG12 members, Texas, California, and Florida. Also the BIG12 is Centrally located this could work!

1 year, 3 months ago

ill have some of what hes smokin

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