Monday, June 14, 2010

The new college math

The word "academics" has been used--occasionally--during the past couple of weeks of frenetic conference realignment activity. But, academics have to be questioning the math skills of those involved.

Follow along, if you can. The Big Ten, which actually had 11 schools in its conference, added another on Friday when Nebraska announced its intentions to join the league, thus making a total of 12 member institutions. The Big 12 not only lost Nebraska on Friday but also Colorado, who announced plans to move to the Pac 10. So, if you're keeping score at home, the Big Ten, which actually has 11, increases by one to 12, yet will still be called the Big Ten. The Big 12 loses two but will still be called by the same name even though it now only has 10 members. And, the Pac 10 now has 11. Got it?

Today was a big day given that, in the ever-shifting news reports on realignment, a ray of good news came out of the state of Texas where the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University, issued statements saying that they planned to stay with the Big 12. The collective sigh of relief you heard came from the following geographic locales:

- Kansas City: Yep, this is big news for our home town. Not only does Kansas City remain a player for the Big 12 post-season Mens and Womens basketball tournaments (already at the Sprint Center and Municipal Auditorium in 2011, 2012 and 2013) but also for major events like Kansas-Missouri football at Arrowhead Stadium.

- Manhattan: The past two weeks have been a cold slap in the face to the Purple Nation, never mentioned as a candidate for the Pac 10, the Big Ten, the SEC or the ACC. Keeping the Big 12 in place is critical for Kansas State.

- Ames: See above under "Manhattan."

- Waco: See above under "Manhattan" and "Ames." And, while some of us would like to see TCU join the Big 12, there will be some serious resistance to that from Baylor administrators who had to be incredibly miffed when word leaked that the Horned Frogs were lobbying to keep BU out of a possible Mountain West expansion scenario.

You could potentially add Columbia, MO to the above list, given that Mizzou never received an invitation from the Big Ten and was not prominently mentioned in the talk about the Pac 10 or SEC. Yet, I have to believe that if the Big Ten does eventually expand, as had been anticipated, that MU would be on the short list of future potential candidates.

While many hours remain until Commissioner Dan Beebe's press conference tomorrow at Noon, let's stay optimistic that sanity has reigned, at least for now, and the Big 12 will not implode. This news is good for us in Kansas City and it's something that all alums, that I spoke with, from Missouri, Kansas State and Kansas wanted to have happen.

It may be a short-term solution but, for now, it's a solution which is far more palatable versus some of the extreme conference realignment options being rumored over the past four days.

Thank you, Dan Beebe, for hanging tough and keeping this group of 10 quality academic institutions, with storied sports programs across a variety of sports, together.

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