With Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12, the conference could fall apart and die, what should the Kansas Jayhawks do next?
The athletic life of the Jayhawks has always remained centered around the plains. Once a member of the Kansas Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1890, the Jayhawks spent a good chunk of time in the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1907-1928) before migrating to what was then the Big 6 in 1929. That was the Jayhawks’ entrance into major college sports. The league grew to the Big 7, then the Big 8, and then the Big 8 migrated into the Big 12 in 1996.
The departures of Oklahoma and Texas would put the Jayhawks in an interesting spot. Their football brand is, well, awful. But they would still draw interest from other conferences in an expansion marketplace because their basketball program is one of the game’s true bluebloods, and what conference wouldn’t want that?
That’s the rub when it comes to Kansas. Which conference, in a situation where leagues are trying to consolidate 16-team memberships to catch up with the SEC, would swallow that football program for the sake of having Kansas basketball in their league?
ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 Can All Be in Play
Oddly, I think all three remaining Power 5 conferences would have interest.
Could you imagine in the ACC? You could have yearly visits by Duke and/or North Carolina to Allen Fieldhouse. And then KU returns the favor. A game every other year with Syracuse, perhaps? Maybe even a reunion with West Virginia (that way Bob Huggins can keep getting his ‘Kansas bonus’ if he beats the Jayhawks)? It’s intriguing.
The Big Ten would be interested. Sure, Kansas football isn’t going to shake up the Big Ten West. But you can argue the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Add KU to that, and, well, yearly games with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois (hello, Brad Underwood) and the like would bolster that conference’s NET ranking even higher. Plus, Kansas has that American Association of Universities affiliation the Big Ten likes so much.
And we should not that on Friday morning, Mike Vernon reported that a call between KU and the Big Ten has already been set up.
The Pac-12 would dig the Jayhawks for basketball, too. Not so long ago, the Pac-12 was quite the menace in basketball. That’s not the case these days. But, in a scenario where the Pac-12 raids the Big 12 to count to 16, they would have interest in adding Kansas, though I think Kansas might have less interest in joining the Pac-12 for the same reason — it’s not that powerful a basketball conference anymore. Though, Kansas vs. UCLA every year has a certain ring to it. Plus, if the Pac-12 raids the Big 12, the geography could be more beneficial to Kansas than the ACC.
Kansas presents the Big 12’s most unique situation to a realigning college football world — a name-brand athletic program whose identity isn’t wrapped around football. That makes their future a bit trickier. In a situation where the Big 12 dies, my belief is the Big Ten would make the most appropriate home. It’s solid geographically for the Jayhawks, especially in a divisional format, and they’re a great fit for the conference’s basketball profile. The ACC would be next, followed by the Pac-12.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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