Though basketball is not at the fore-front of the discussion, the waves conference realignments could make in the sport are staggering.
Kansas basketball has had it's way since joining the Big 12, winning ten regular season titles and seven Big 12 Tournament titles since the 14-year-old league began in 1997. But with rumors of the Big 12 South essentially turning into the Pac 10 East, the Jayhawks conference dominance could come to an end as early as a year from now.
According to Orangebloods.com's Chip Brown, the Pac-10 has spent the last few days exploring the idea of adding Big 12 football power houses Oklahoma and Texas, along with Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Those six school's would combine with Arizona and Arizona State to form the Pac-10 East or whatever the newly formed conference would decide on.
Texas which at one point was the apple of the Big Ten's eye is on everyone from the Big ten to the SEC's wishlist because of their basketball and football programs ability to generate revenue and huge television market. But, an organization that until this point most college sports fan never knew existed, the Association of American Universities, supplies accredidations to universities that fit a high criteria for research and studies are making bring Texas into the Big Ten a problem.
Texas' two little brothers, Texas A&M and Texas Tech both fit the mold in terms of program strength and could be a financial asset to the Big Ten, but unlike Texas and A&M, Tech is not a member of the Association of American Universities, leaving them short of the academic requirements the Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is searching for in potential members.
According to an email obtained through a public records request the Columbia Post-Dispatch, Ohio State University president E. Gordon Gee to Delany, the Red Raiders are the only thing holding Texas back from making the jump to the Big Ten.
"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem."
The "Tech problem" would hinder the Texas from joining the Big Ten, but not the Pac-10, which would explain the west coast giant's new found interest in the Horns.
Nebraska and Missouri are both members of the association and if they were to leave the Big 12 as well for the Big Ten, the question then becomes what would come of Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State?
The Mountain West would likely consume Baylor Kansas State and Iowa State, but both Kansas and Kansas State would rather join the their Big 12 North mates in the Big Ten. For the Big Ten the decision to add Kansas would make dividing the conference evenly a bit easier.
As it sits a Big Ten South-North alignment would put the conferences football power houses all in the north, but by adding Jayhawks would give the new Big Ten a perfect split if a the conference was to be split East-West in terms of balance in basketball.
The divisional break-down would be as follows;
West-Division: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas State, Nebraska and Iowa.
East-Division: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern and Rutgers.
This scenario could give each team in the West-Division a strong conference schedule in both football and basketball, cut down the travel hassles that bother teams from conferences that span long distances and help maintain rivalries such as Kansas v. K-State, Wisconsin v. Minnesota, and Missouri v. Illinois just to name a few.
Basketball-wise this conference would be more than strong. If the chips fell into these positions the conference would have eight teams in the tournament field of 68 teams in 2010 and had more than half its football teams in a bowl game last season. Both the Big 12 and Big Ten have been scrutinized in both sports for not having a competitive teams in both the major sports across the conference, but fusing the two together would definitely end that discussion.
Imagine it. The Missouri v. Illinois football game actually meaning something, meeting the last game of the season with a birth in the conference championship on the line for the winner. The Tigers getting to play both Kansas and Illinois in basketball at home within the same week. The Big Ten Tournament turning into a spectacle rivaling the that of the Big East Tournament. One conference possible having ten teams in the NCAA Tournament.
In football, Ohio State playing Michigan for trip to the Big 10 Conference Championship in front of 73,000 Ohio-ans,ites or ers or whatever the folks in the Buckeye State go by. Nebraska never having to play Texas or Oklahoma again, a true gift from God.
On the other hand Kansas, and the rest of their moving partners could struggle with a not so friendly schedule.
The Jayhawks and others would be forced to travel to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois every season, all tough places to steal a road win. And every other year travel to Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State, also not the easiest of places to win in basketball.
In a conference with Tom Izzo, Tubby Smith, Thad Matta and Bo Ryan, Bill Self who has gone an astounding 202-43 (.824) in seven seasons in Lawrence would no longer be the best coach around.
Not to mention $22 million in guaranteed television contract money the Tigers, Cornhuskers, Wildcats and Scarlett Knights will get to deposit into their athletic accounts each season. Its safe to say all but Nebraska could use some facility upgrades and having a few million to play with every year couldn't hurt anyone.
Not to mention what the budget does for programs off the field; recruiting, banquets, scholarship funds, helping to ensure the female athletes at the universities are treated with the same respect and given the same resources and perks as the males.
The Pac-10's plans will likely lead to an huge television deal for its members as well. The Big 12 and Pac-10's current television deals will expire at the same time, giving them the leverage to negotiate a deal that could mirror or even surpass the Big Ten's. If the Pac-10 was able to land the teams on its wish list, it will have the attention of every college sports fan from Houston to Seattle from August to April.
Negotiating a deal of that magnitude would put some of the logistical problems for the lesser funded sports to bed, traveling to play out of division games wouldn't be a big deal to a school that has more than $20 million of revenue to send across all other division one sports.
Basketball in the Pac-10 would get a boost with the Longhorns, Cowboys and Aggies would contribute solid squads to a struggling basketball conference that received only three NCAA Tournament bids this past season. In addition the bringing in teams from Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma would open up the recruiting doors to those states for current Pac-10 programs in need of more talent (i.e Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford.)
Not to mention a trip to Los Angeles to play UCLA or USC, Eugene or Salem to play Oregon or Oregon State, Tempe to play Arizona State, Austin to play Texas, Northern California to play Cal or Stanford, Boulder to play Colorado or Norman to play Oklahoma would put players within 45 minutes of team presidents, scouts, players and coaches in eight NBA teams, nine if you count the short drives from Dallas and Houston to Austin.
Add that up with the Pac-10 Conference tournament being held in Hollywood at the Staples Center.
The Mountain West Conference might not be able to strike an eight figure per school television contract, but if it if the Big 12 is ravaged by the Big Ten an Pac-10 the Mountain West will likely be able land the BCS automatic qualifier that has eluded their conference for so long.
TCU needed and a perfect regular season to grab a spot in the Fiesta Bowl, and their opponent, Boise State, who also needed a perfect season to receive their spot in the Fiesta Bowl will likely turn to an in conference rival if the Mountain West does secure and automatic bid into BCS.
The fit of the placing the Mountain West Conference Champion in the Fiesta Bowl would be perfect, a seamless transition. Even with a bit of realignment all the school's within the conference will be within a reasonable travel distance, Boise, TCU and Utah have all performed well in the game before, and basketball in the conference would get a major boosts with the addition of Baylor and Iowa State (a program that can only get better.)
Representatives from the Big 12 and Pac-10 have met informally this week, likely to discuss the details of a merger if Missouri, who already has its foot half way out of the door and, and Nebraska decide to accept offers to join the Big Ten.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was set to make a statement today at the conclusion of the today's Big 12 meetings in Kansas City, but once again postponed making any statements until the conclusion of the meetings Saturday afternoon.
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