Amongst the logjam of expat in Korea blogs, I dare say no fellow expat Korean blogger is as informed as I regarding the current state of affairs in the Big 12 conference. I have a few thoughts.
I’ve always said that I am not a Big 12 fan, I’m a Kansas fan. I want KU to win, and other teams to lose. If, say, Oklahoma plays, say, Michigan in football or basketball, I don’t care who wins, other than how the results could potentially affect Kansas. To me, being a fan of a conference in college sports was always a bit like being a fan of an NFL division. If (let’s face it, when) the Chiefs miss the playoffs, I won’t cheer for the Denver Broncos to advance. I hate the Broncos. I want them to lose every game they play. I feel the same way about Missouri. I cheer for any college to beat Missouri in anything. I would even cheer for the Broncos to beat Missouri (side note - an NFL team could never play a college team in football, it just wouldn’t be fair. However, if Missouri and Denver ever had a cheating competition, there’s no telling what the outcome would be).
I also never cared for the Big 12 as an idea. I grew up with the Big 8, and while I certainly have no love for the other seven former Big 8 members, I never liked adding the Texas cast-offs. The Texas schools came from the Southwest Conference, a conference that died because it was so corrupt that Arkansas willingly left it for the SEC. The SEC, corruption-wise, is Chicago to the SWC’s Moscow. The Big-8-Texas merger was made for 2 reasons - money (Texas TV markets) and football. 12 teams allowed for a football conference championship. While this has driven barrels of money to the conference’s Dallas offices, it has also succeeded in causing upsets that knocked Big 12 schools out of contention for the national championship on multiple occasions. The formation of the Big 12 also uprooted the conference basketball tournament from Kansas City, where it had resided for decades.
I never trusted Texas. I suppose this statement is true in every conceivable way that it can be true. Adding the four Texas schools moved the conference power structure south. Texas has big cities, big money, but little decency. It is the state that gave us George W Bush (ish, but it’s what he says), Enron, and me a speeding ticket for doing 77 in a 70. The University of Texas is the gorilla at the table in the current Big 12 talks. Interesting fact - The University of Kansas and University of Nebraska are tied for the second largest university endowment in the conference at 1.2 billion dollars each. Texas is first, with an unbelievable 16 billion dollars. UT can, quite literally, buy and sell the rest of the conference. Right now, it looks like they’re in selling mode.
It has been widely reported that the Pac 10 is shopping for expansion, and they’re looking to swallow up Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. Baylor is looking for help from the “ledge” to be included as well in lieu of Colorado, but the news today says Colorado has all but split for the coast. I didn’t think the Pac 10 would want to mess with the Texas State House - after all, those people are armed to the teeth. The Pac 10, like everyone else, wants more football and more money. Baylor is terrible at football, generally the worst in the conference every year, and up until last year they were terrible at basketball too.
However, Baylor wants to keep the Big 12 together. As a sub-mediocre sports school in the backwater Waco market, they’ve gotten quite a free ride out of being a BCS school all these years. Advocating for Baylor and the continuation of the Big 12, the only voice outside of Kansas speaking up for the conference - Baylor president Ken Starr. Yes, that Ken Starr. Ken Starr might be the only man that can save Kansas Basketball. You think politics makes strange bedfellows? Politics has nothing on college sports.
How did this Big 12 clusterfuck begin? I am sure there’s a complicated answer regarding financial spreadsheets that I couldn’t begin to understand. However, as always, I blame Missouri. Before the Pac 10 vultures started circling the Big 12 South (and maybe Colorado), there was Missouri talking with the Big 10. I didn’t need another reason to hate Missouri. They burned my town after all, and they did it because they thought that owning humans was kosher. Strangely, I don’t want Missouri to leave the conference. I enjoy watching them lose, and I enjoy beating them.
Nebraska is also interested in joining the Big 10, and may be invited. My main question - why the hell would the Big 10 want Missouri or Nebraska? The Big 10 prides itself on academics. Neither Missouri nor Nebraska are in the top half of the Big 12 academically, nor are they in the top 100 schools nationwide. All of the current Big 10 schools are in the top 80. I also question why the Big 10 would want either school athletically. Missouri (as I love to bring up at cocktail parties) has never won anything in football or basketball. Nebraska is perhaps the worst basketball school in the Big 12, and their best days in football are behind them. Nebraska can’t win in football with the Big 12’s mildly more stringent academic regulations than the Big 8 had. In the Big 10? No chance. If they joined the Big 10 today, both would be in the 5-8th place range in football and would compete for dead last academically.
If the Big 12 is doomed, I suppose the main question is why Kansas isn’t being sought by another conference. Kansas unquestionably boasts one of the three most important college basketball programs in the world. Kansas won a BCS Bowl game 2 years ago. In fact, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are the only Big 12 teams to have won BCS Bowl games, and only Kansas and Texas have done so over the last 7 years. Kansas and Oklahoma State are the only Big 12 teams to win a basketball championship, and OSU last won in 1946. Kansas is also in the top half and of the conference and in the top 100 nationally in academics. The Big 10 should be all over KU instead of Missouri or Nebraska, although I would hate to be forced to watch so much Big 10 “basketball,” sweating out 39-36 games over Wisconsin.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the price of tea in China, or more importantly, Texas Tea in Dallas. The Big 12 is likely done. Trusting Texas and associating with Missouri always comes with a price. The other conferences will pick over the Big 12’s carcass, leaving only Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and either Colorado or Baylor. The Mountain West is licking its chops to add KU. The Mountain fucking West. Kansas Basketball could end up wandering the Utah desert.
Of course, there’s another scenario, a NES/NAS exclusive that nobody else has discussed. Missouri could leave the conference, and then the Big 10 could fail to invite them. Neither side wanted Missouri in the Civil War, so why should anybody want them now? Nebraska can go Big 10 (they only need one more team to get 12 teams for a championship game. Or, if they want 16, they could go east with Notre Dame, Syracuse, UConn, and Pitt). The current Big 12 South minus Baylor could all shuffle off to the Big 10. Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State could form “The Big Midwest,” and build toward a top-tier conference. The Big Midwest could become the aggressors and pilfer the top schools from lesser conferences. The BM (hmm, might need a different name for the conference) could nab Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Arkansas, TCU, Boise State, Rice, Tulsa, and BYU. That brings the conference to 11. To get to 12 for a conference championship, The BM could add a defeated, tail-between-its-legs Missouri. This conference would have competitive football with Boise, TCU, K-State, Louisville, Cincy, (sometimes), (hopefully) Kansas, and (hopefully not) Missouri. It would have solid hoops with Kansas, Arkansas, Louisville, Memphis, BYU, Tulsa, Kansas State, (sometimes) Iowa State, and (hopefully not) Missouri. Plus, while not the Ivy League nor even the Big 10, it would be alright academically with Iowa State, Rice, Kansas, Tulsa, BYU, and (not likely) Missouri.
In closing, I’d just like to say the following to Missouri and Texas (both the universities and the states): Fuck you. Really, I should close every post that way.