Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has said throughout the past couple of weeks that he believed the Big 12 would have “options” that make it viable to stay together after Oklahoma and Texas depart.
Although the conference — and college athletics as a whole — remains a long way from knowing what he meant by that, a hint surfaced Tuesday.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Max Olson, Bowlsby was slated to meet with new Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff sometime Tuesday.
The details of the meeting’s agenda were scarce and probably will remain that way. But it’s clear, both from Bowlsby’s own words on Monday and from the fact that the meeting is taking place at all, that anything and everything is now on the table for the Big 12.
“I think there are options for us to partner with other conferences,” Bowlsby said Monday at a hearing of Texas lawmakers in Austin. “There may be opportunity for mergers. There may be opportunities to add members. There may be other opportunities that are currently unforeseen.”
When it’s survival you’re talking about, you can bet that anything goes for Bowlsby and the Big 12 from this point forward.
One other thing worth noting with these two conferences in particular is the fact that the Pac-12's TV deal expires in 2024 and the Big 12's in 2025. If they reach the point where they've decided to come together, perhaps the next round of TV negotiations would begin with the 2024-25 season, which would no doubt make OU and Texas happy.
I'm not saying the Big 12 is looking to do them any favors, but we know those two have a fair amount of influence in college athletics. Perhaps a you-scratch-our-back-we'll-scratch-yours situation could be in play that works for all parties involved.
The most interesting thing about Bowlsby’s reported meeting with Kilavkoff is that the Big 12 may actually have a little bit of an upper hand in it.
For one, it’s the Big 12 — with Texas and Oklahoma, of course — that has consistently ranked third in TV revenue payouts during the past several years, behind the SEC and Big Ten but ahead of the ACC and Pac-12.
The conference’s makeup will take a significant hit without OU and UT, but could a potential merger, if discussed or even proposed, be one that allows the Big 12 to survive based partly on that fact?
Another factor that could play to the Big 12’s advantage here is location.
When it comes to network dollars — undoubtedly a declining metric but still important to date — the central time zone is much, much more attractive than the late games on the West Coast.
If the Big 12 and Pac-12 were to merge in some fashion, keeping the Big 12 name and locating its league headquarters in the middle of the country could prove beneficial.
Even if it’s just the optics of such a move that matters, it still seems worth noting.
At first glance, the Pac-12, which reportedly paid out $32 million per member in fiscal year 2019 (compared to $35 million in the Big 12), may not have much use for the Big 12’s leftover eight.
But it’s not hard to see how a full-on merger and the formation of a 20-team super-conference could be viewed as attractive to ESPN, FOX, CBS or whomever else might want to get into the broadcast race.
After all, if those two conferences were good enough on their own to pump $30-plus million payouts, it stands to reason that combined, even without OU and Texas, they’d be able to negotiate a contract that comes somewhere close to that number.
The benefit of such an arrangement for the Big 12 is obvious.
The benefit for the Pac-12 comes in the form of stability and exposure. You’re now in all four major U.S. time zones — at least half of the time — and you no longer have to worry about any of your members getting poached by another conference.
Beyond that, competitively speaking, these two teaming up seems like a decent play, too.
For the Big 12, you’re gaining traditional powers like USC, UCLA, Oregon and Stanford.
For the Pac-12, you’re picking up programs like Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State and TCU, all of which have played in major bowls of late and been factors in the College Football Playoff or BCS conversation over the past decade.
And that’s to say nothing of adding the Kansas and Baylor basketball brands to the lineup.
Who knows what’s possible or what will come of today’s meeting? It could be a courtesy. It could be to talk about a scheduling alliance and not a full-fledged merger. And it could lead to absolutely nothing.
The good news for Big 12 fans, though, is that it’s happening.
Bowlsby may have his back against the wall and be scrambling like we’ve never seen before. But at least he appears to be actively pursuing whatever avenues he can think of at the moment.
In that way, there does appear to be solidarity in the Big 12, because you have to think that’s what all eight of the conference’s schools not named Oklahoma and Texas are doing right now, too.
Former University of Kansas golfer Daniel Sutton fired his fourth consecutive round in the 60s on Sunday to take fourth place at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Mo.
Playing in the final group at Highland Springs Country Club, and starting the day three strokes behind Round 3 leader Brandon Wu, Sutton did what he had to do to catch Wu, firing a 3-under par 69 while Wu shot 2-over on Sunday.
But he could do nothing about the stellar Sunday turned in by champion Max McGreevy, who shot his second 64 of the week and took home the title at 21-under for the tournament.
Sutton, who played his final two seasons of college golf at KU after starting at Idaho, finished at 18-under for the week and took home $29,250 from his first Korn Ferry event of the season.
The Birmingham, England, native started the day with an eagle at No. 1 and carded two more birdies on the front nine to make the turn at 4-under.
But a bogey at 10 and another at 18 kept him on the fringe of contention throughout the morning.
Also on Sunday, Lawrence resident and fellow-former-Jayhawk, Chris Thompson, delivered by far his best round of the week, shooting a 6-under 66 to finish at 9-under for the tournament and in a tie for 44th place.
Thompson, who spent the 2018-19 season playing his rookie season on the PGA Tour, made the field through a Monday qualifier and will move forward looking to do the same at a handful of events in the months ahead.
Thompson, who carded seven birdies and one bogey on Sunday — including birdies on three of his first four holes of the day — netted $2,998 for his strong finish.
A pair of former University of Kansas golfers easily made the cut at the Korn Ferry Torn’s Price Cutter Charity Championship on Friday.
Birmingham, England native, Daniel Sutton, who played his final two seasons of college golf at KU, finished Friday in a tie for fifth place, three strokes off the lead at 11-under.
He carded six birdies and one bogey to shoot 67 at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfiled, Mo., one day after firing a 66 to jumpstart his round.
Former KU All-American Chris Thompson shot a 2-under 70 on Friday to move to 5-under for the tournament. He enters the weekend in a tie for 40th place.
Thompson’s second round was nearly mistake-free, as he carded two birdies — one on each side — and 16 pars.
Thompson, a Lawrence resident who competed in his first PGA Tour season during 2018-19 at age 42, reached this week’s event by finishing in the top three at a Monday qualifier.
Brandon Wu leads the Price Cutter tourney at 14-under after firing a blistering 9-under 63 on Friday. Wu's round included seven birdies and an eagle to go along with 10 pars.
He leads by one stroke over Michael Arnaud, who shot 66-65 in Rounds 1 and 2 to climb to the top of the leaderboard.
It remains to be seen if this year’s version of the 2-million-dollar hoops competition known as “The Basketball Tournament” is able to be played. But teams and tourney organizers are making preparations like the games will go on.
For former Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe, that meant recently getting picked up by Philadelphia-based squad Team T.S.E.
Tharpe, who has spent the past several years playing professionally in the G League and overseas, joins a roster that features former players from Temple, LaSalle and the University of Boston.
Last year, Tharpe was a late addition to KU’s “Self Made” squad.
Currently scheduled for late July and early August at eight regional sites throughout the country, the TBT’s 64-team bracket is scheduled to be revealed on June 22.
There is currently no entry for a "Self Made" squad listed on the TBT web site, but the team of KU alums, should they desire to participate, still has more than a month to make a push to be included in this year’s field if the tournament is played.
The application deadline for the 2020 tournament arrives June 15.
Last year, the Self Made squad, which featured Elijah Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Travis Releford, Mario Little, Darrell Arthur, Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Kevin Young, Jeremy Case and Darnell Jackson, lost in the opening round in Wichita.
Back in March, TBT founder Jon Mugar released a statement expressing hope that the event will be played.
“We look forward to summertime, when we hope to be able to host a collection of teams, all across the country, for competitive, meaningful, championship basketball once again,” Mugar wrote. “Therefore, we opened our online team application process as planned. We hope you find some fun and respite in participating in the process or following along.”
Mugar added that event organizers would take necessary precautions and guidance to determine whether this year’s tournament can take place.
“We at TBT are committed to doing whatever we can to play our part,” Mugar said. “And will continue to pay close attention to CDC recommendations as they evolve.”
Former KU forward Perry Ellis was injured in what proved to be a short-lived run through the TBT tournament last week with Self Made in Wichita, bringing into question the status of Ellis’ immediate professional future.
Just nine days before Self Made’s Round 1 loss, Ellis inked a new contract with Osaka Evessa club in Japan for the upcoming season.
Now, he’s awaiting surgery and rehab and wondering where his next opportunity might come.
The former KU All-American, who spent the early portion of his pro career playing in the NBA’s G League as well as overseas in Australia, Italy, Germany and Turkey, revealed this weekend the extent of his injury in a YouTube video that was not exactly Ellis’ idea.
“My girlfriend’s kind of making me do this,” Ellis said with a laugh. “Not gonna lie. But, nah, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands now so I think it’ll be kind of cool to do this. This is a way I can keep people updated on my journey (of) trying to return back to the court.”
The injury — a tear of the patellar tendon in Ellis’ right knee — happened shortly after Self Made’s opening game tipped off.
“Basically, I was just falling backwards,” Ellis said. “I looked back at the clip and that’s really all that happened. I’m falling backwards, trying to catch myself on my right leg and so much weight was on the back I guess it just gave away. I remember falling and looking over at my mom, looking over at her and I said, ‘It’s a wrap.’”
In the video, Ellis explained that he knew right away that it was his patellar tendon.
“Sure enough, I went to the hospital and that’s what it was,” he said. “When I looked down at my knee, I said, ‘Yo, it looks like I’ve got a (disproportionate) knee like a camel. This ain’t looking right. Something looks crazy.’”
Ellis, who has played professionally in the NBA’s G League, as well as in Australia, Turkey and Germany, said the injury will keep him from going to Japan and instead force him to rehab and recover while looking for his next opportunity to play professional ball.
“That’s basketball,” he said. “And now it’s just time to get better. It’s a new obstacle in my way and now I’m just trying to get better and get back to what I was.”
The former KU forward who will turn 26 in September said his immediate future holds a lot of Xbox and icing of his knee until the swelling goes down enough to have surgery.
He plans to track his journey with video updates on his YouTube channel throughout the process and said he was appreciative of all of the love he had received since the injury occurred.
“Last but not least, I want to thank everybody for the support and prayers and all the messages,” Ellis said at the end of his video. “This is my way to kind of keep up with you all and kind of keep you guys in the loop.”
Ellis played last season at Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi in Turkish BSL league and averaged 13.8 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Ellis also played for Oliver Baskets (BBL) in the German league, where in 12 games he recorded averages of 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He also played 9 games in the FIBA Europe Cup, where he averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.
Back in his hometown of Peoria, Ill., for a charity golf event this week, Kansas basketball assistant Jerrance Howard was in Chicago over the weekend and he caught up with a couple of Jayhawks past and present.
As luck would have it, the two were actually working out together, making it even easier for Howard, now in his seventh season on Bill Self’s coaching staff, to reconnect with former KU forward Cliff Alexander and new KU signee Isaiah Moss.
“He was up there working out with Isaiah,” said Howard of Alexander, a one-and-done KU prospect who recently became a father. “And what was so cool about it was I walked in and he had all Kansas gear on. That was so exciting because Cliff loves Kansas.”
After picking KU over Illinois in a highly publicized and televised college announcement back in 2014, Alexander played in 28 games for Kansas during the 2014-15 season before eligibility concerns ended his college career eight games early.
From there, the 6-foot-9 power dunker who was ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2014 class by Rivals.com spent bulk of the 2015-16 NBA season on the Portland Trailblazers’ roster — appearing in just eight games — before going on to find some success with four different franchises in the NBA’s G League.
Still pursuing ways to play professional ball — Alexander has played overseas in France and Germany in recent years — the former Jayhawk and Chicago native continues to help out his old school whenever he can.
“Cliff helps us recruit in Chicago,” Howard said. “He’s always repping Kansas, always talking about Kansas. People think because of the way his time ended here that he doesn’t like Kansas, but he does. Everyone asks him how was the experience and he’s like, ‘I love Kansas. I love coach.’ He’s grown up a lot and it was good to see him.”
Spending some time with Moss was also a bonus for Howard, who believes the Iowa grad transfer’s experience, maturity and all-around game will be an asset for Kansas during the 2019-20 season.
His time in Chicago, and on the recruiting trail prior to his trip home, only reinforced that belief.
“What was refreshing was, when we went out on the road (recruiting) last week, a lot of the Big Ten coaches came up to (Self) and said, ‘Hey, you guys got a good basketball player,’” Howard recalled.
Familiar with Moss even before KU signed him because of his relationship with the new KU guard’s coach at Chicago’s Simeon High, Rob Smith, Howard said conversations with Smith, past and present, only added to the excitement around adding Moss to the 2019-20 roster.
“Everyone talked about his shooting, which I know we needed,” Howard recalled. “But I have a relationship with his high school coach and he was like, ‘Jerrance, this dude can guard.’ That’s what’s really going to stand out with coach and the fans. We got a two-way player and we got a good one.”
What stands out most to Howard about Moss is not so much his skill set as it is his veteran presence.
“He’s been battled tested,” Howard said. “He started for three years and his demeanor is one where he doesn’t get too high or too low, which is why he’s really good in the clutch. … Those fifth-year seniors are like McDonald’s All-Americans now. That’s how I look at it. They help you win. They understand what you have to teach guys that are coming in, freshmen. There’s nothing wrong with it. Everybody’s got to go through it. And it’s stuff that you can’t really learn until you go through it. But (older players like Moss) understand getting their rest and eating right and the importance of studying scouting report and that every possession counts.”
Introducing “Foul Shots,” a podcasting partnership between KUsports.com & Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson
The crew at KUsports.com is excited to announce a podcasting partnership with Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson that promises to bring must-listen content to your headphones each week.
Schwerdt, the host of “Rock Chalk Sports Talk” in Lawrence and Johnson, the former KU guard who helped the Jayhawks reach the national title game in 2012 and delivered a few of the most memorable individual performances in recent KU history, have started a brand new podcast called “Foul Shots” that plans to bring unique and entertaining hoops insight and the kind of who-knows-what-they’ll-say-next content to KU fans everywhere.
The first episode will drop Thursday, June 6, and a new “Foul Shots” podcast will be available each week from here on out.
“Rock Chalk Sports Talk” glue guy Derek Johnson also will be a part of the project as the “Foul Shots” producer.
Now, here’s where we come in.
In addition to sports editor and KU basketball beat writer Matt Tait being a regular contributor to the podcast, we also have arranged to bring the “Foul Shots” content to you a day early each week, with new episodes posted every Tuesday exclusively at KUsports.com.
This adventure, which has been a long time in the making, no doubt will be a lot of fun and aims to bring a completely new dynamic and style to the KU podcasting world.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do with Elijah for a while now,” Schwerdt said. “I’d gotten a chance to talk to him a handful of times over the years and have always appreciated the way he shoots from the hip and the unique perspective he brings to the table. Who better to talk about what’s going on inside the locker room than a guy who’s lived it? We’ve been working on this for what seems like an eternity — Skyping back in forth while he was in Greece last year just tossing ideas around. And we’re excited to finally launch the Foul Shots podcast and share it with KU fans. I really hope they enjoy it.”
Added Johnson: “I think this podcast will be what everyone’s in need of. The from-the-bleachers-to-the-bench format will open the audience up with talks on current events, controversial opinions and much more.”
The “Foul Shots” concept has been well thought out and organized, is ambitious in its goals and vision and will be much more than just a couple of guys sitting around talking into a microphone.
The fun begins tomorrow. But the buzz begins today.
Give the "Foul Shots" Podcast a follow on Twitter, check out the following tease to Episode 1 and be sure to check back with KUsports.com on Thursday — and every Tuesday from here on out — for a new episode of “Foul Shots” with Nick Schwerdt and Elijah Johnson.
Two members of the 2008 national championship team rounded out the Elijah Johnson project known as Self Made, an all-Kansas alumni team hoping to participate in this summer’s event known as The Basketball Tournament.
Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson were announced late last week as the final former Jayhawks on the squad, bringing the roster total to nine.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the 2019 TBT team,” Arthur said in a video announcing his inclusion. “Looking forward to seeing all my KU fam, all my brothers that I haven’t played with or against in a long time. Looking forward seeing everybody, the fans, you all come on out and support. Thanks.”
If Self Made is able to entice 1,000 fans to sign up as official supporters on The Basketball Tournament’s website, the team will be able to add a 10th member at no additional cost.
As of mid-day Monday, Self Made had 916 registered supporters — nearly twice as many as the squad began with last Friday — and was on pace to eclipse 1,000 any day.
Speaking of cost, the team which also includes four members of KU’s 2012 national runner-up squad — Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Travis Releford and Kevin Young — will be vying for a $2 million prize if it makes the field of 64, which includes many teams like Self Made, which are made up of players from the same schools or conferences competing in the one-and-done event.
“I think that we’ve got the chance to win it all,” Johnson told Rock Chalk Sports Talk host Nick Schwerdt back in April when he first starting putting the team together. “There’s no way that I’m going to look at these names on the roster and say we don’t have a chance. Of course we have a chance.”
Joining Arthur, Jackson, Johnson, Taylor, Releford and Young on the roster are former KU teammates Landen Lucas and Perry Ellis and tough-as-nails Chicago native Mario Little.
KU fans can track the latest with Johnson’s Self Made endeavor by following @SelfMadeTBT on Twitter or on Instagram at selfmadetbt.
That’s not the only way fans can get involved. In fact, Johnson and the former Jayhawks need a little help.
The bracket is put together based on the desire of any given team’s fans to see it play. KU fans can sign up on the TBT website to toss their support behind Self Made or by Tweeting at @thetournament with the hashtag #TBTRecs to tell event organizers that they'd like to see Self Made in the field of 64.
For more information about the tournament itself — including dates of KU’s likely games in Wichita and how to get tickets — log on to The TBT website for more on this year’s event and the history of the summer showcase that has gained attention and traction year after year.
If Self Made gets in, it almost certainly would be placed in the Wichita Region, with games slated for July 25-28 leading up to the winner-take-all finale Aug. 1-6 in Chicago.
It’s been a big week for former Kansas basketball greats and Halls of Fame, with Nick Collison and Perry Ellis both receiving career honors in the past seven days.
Last weekend was Ellis’ turn, as the former KU forward and native Kansan was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the state track meet in Wichita.
Ellis, who hails from Wichita, and left KU as the program’s No. 8 all-time scorer (1,798 points), enjoyed unprecedented success during his high school days at Wichita Heights.
A four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and four-time starter and state champion, the four-time all-state selection also was class valedictorian.
At KU, Ellis became one of the most effective and efficient scoring forwards in school history. In addition to leading the Jayhawks in scoring during his final two seasons, Ellis also finished as the program’s No. 12 all-time rebounder and earned multiple all-Big 12 and All-American honors along the way.
Collison’s honor came late this week, when it was announced that he and 12 others would be inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame later this year.
Like Ellis, Collison, the Iowa Falls, Iowa, native, also was inducted into the Iowa State High School Activities Association’s Hall of Fame in recent years and he also recently had his jersey retired by the Oklahoma City Thunder following a 14-year NBA career with the franchise.
Collison’s time at Kansas was full of honors and big moments. After earning McDonald’s All-American honors during his senior year of high school, the power forward went on to earn dozens more individual honors during his four-year career at Kansas.
Included among them were a multiple all-Big 12 honors and a consensus All-American selection in 2003. Collison helped lead KU to back-to-back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003 and ended his Kansas career as the Big 12’s all-time leader in scoring and rebounding.
The induction ceremony for the 13-member 2019 class, which also features former KU standout swimmer Tammy Thomas Ammons, will be held on Oct. 6, 2019, at the Kansas Star Casino, located at 777 Casino Drive, Mulvane, KS, 67110.
The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, which soon will have 297 inductees, is in its 58th year of operation and is located at the Wichita Boathouse.
Ellis, who has enjoyed a professional career overseas with teams in Italy, Australia, Germany and Turkey, since leaving KU, is planning to play in this summer's $2 million event known as The Tournament for a team called "Self Made," made up of former Jayhawks and put together by Elijah Johnson.
Johnson finalized the "Self Made" roster this week and the nine-man squad now includes: Ellis, Johnson, Kevin Young, Mario Little, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, Landen Lucas and the two newest members of the squad, Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson.
The 64-team tournament is slated to take place this July, with Self Made likely playing opening-round games in Wichita.
Collison, meanwhile, is lining up what to do with life after professional basketball and continues to spend time in the Lawrence and Kansas City areas.
Elijah Johnson’s “Self Made” squad seeking to take home The Tournament’s $2 million prize this summer
You’ve seen it before at alumni scrimmages, the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic or various other charity events over the years.
But now there will be something on the line. Something huge.
Former Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and a team of yet-to-be-named former Jayhawks will be throwing their name in the ring at this summer’s event known as The Basketball Tournament.
The 64-team, single-elimination TBT battle comes with a winner-take-all prize of $2 million and Johnson, who appeared on Rock Chalk Sports Talk with Nick Schwerdt on Monday to talk about the upcoming challenge, believes his team of former Jayhawks will have the right recipe to bring home the top prize.
“I think that we’ve got the chance to win it all,” Johnson told Schwerdt on Monday. “There’s no way that I’m going to look at these names on the roster and say we don’t have a chance. Of course we have a chance.”
As for who those names are, Johnson promised to unveil the roster, one by one, throughout the day Tuesday. But he teased the lineup just a little bit and said there were some big names from KU’s past on the squad, which will play under the team name “Self Made” this July and August when the tournament gets rolling.
“The roster has changed numerous times,” said Johnson, who has been on social media interacting with KU fans over who they’d want to see on the squad for several weeks. “Overall, I’ve had 18 or 19 different names on the roster and we’ve had to narrow it down to the nine names or 10 names that we’ve got now.”
One thing Johnson likes about the team he has constructed is the fact that they all come from the same place and were taught basketball in the same manner.
“That’s what made me want to build my team around KU because we all know each other, even if we didn’t play at KU together,” Johnson said. “With us mixing our same background together and just knowing how to win, I think that gives us a better chance than most people from the beginning. I think it gives us that edge that most teams don’t have.”
Stay in touch with KUsports.com and this blog right here throughout the day for updated news about the Self Made roster.
For more information about the tournament itself — including dates of KU’s likely games in Wichita and how to get tickets — log on to www.thetournament.com for more on this year’s event and the history of the summer showcase that is now in its sixth year and has gained attention and traction year after year.
ROSTER UPDATES, starting at Noon on Tuesday, April 16:
(It looks like players will be announced one at a time throughout the week so stay in touch with KUsports.com for updates or follow @SelfMadeTBT on Twitter)