Who Cares About College Basketball?
If there was one thing that was made clear throughout the conference alignments, it's that money steers all decision making, therefore crowning football as king.
The fact that basketball was a complete non-factor in realignment discussions is very sad, yet very true.
In order to truly see the dominance of football, take a look at the Big 12 schools that were initially left out in the cold: Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor, and Iowa State. Two of those teams made the Elite 8 this past season, and another is perhaps the most storied program in the history of college basketball.
Because Baylor and Kansas State's success is fairly new, I don't label their being forgotten as a tragedy. I do, however, feel great remorse for the neglect of Kansas basketball.
Wilt Chamberlain, Phog Allen, Larry Brown, Jo Jo White, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, and the inventor of the game of basketball itself, James Naismith, are just a few of the people who have either coached or played for Kansas since the program's founding in 1898. It's funny how irrelevant these names have been lately.
Luckily for the Jayhawks, the Big 12 only lost a limb, and is still alive today.
But what was to become of Kansas if the Big 12 had ceased to exist?
Again, football would have determined their fate, which means that the Mountain West Conference would have most likely been the new home for the Jayhawks.
Can you imagine Kansas basketball in the Mountain West?
Neither can I, but Kansas football seems like a nice fit with the Mountain West competitively.
Texas held all the cards in the fate of the Big 12 with five other schools waiting anxiously to act in response. Not only did Kansas not have a say in the matter, they were not deemed worthy to even follow Texas. This was despite the immensely rich history of their basketball program.
Kansas has won five national championships (both pre and post-NCAA creation) and 24 conference tournament championships, has made 13 Final Four appearances, and leads all NCAA teams with 20 consensus first team all-America players. Most recently, Kansas won the 2008 NCAA National Championship under coach Bill Self.
It seems to me this resume warrents respect, even if Kansas doesn't measure up to Texas financially.
The fact that a program so powerful and with a history so rich has taken a back seat to other schools with more clout is a crying shame. Recent events have shown how much influence big money/big football schools have in the NCAA.
As a result, an important question arises: has college basketball become nonrelevant?
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