K-State’s Big Recruiting Week Overshadowed by Conference Realignment
It has been quite the offseason for K-State sports. Football recruiting has created a buzz among the fan base like I cannot remember, new men’s basketball coach Jerome Tang is rebuilding the team, and conference realignment is rearing its ugly head again.
Rather than focus on one topic this week, I thought I would try to hit on everything relevant to K-State sports at this moment in time.
There used to be a sports talk show host in Kansas City, John Renshaw, with a segment on his show called ‘Rapid Fire.’ Callers would call the show with short takes about whatever they wanted to talk or rant about. If you called, you had to be quick, get to the point, and not ramble. So I thought I would try this concept in print form. Without further ado, here is ‘K-State Rapid Fire.’
1. Four-star quarterback Avery Johnson committed to the Wildcats, choosing K-State over Washington and Oregon. The high-profile announcement was made live on the CBS Sports website, with two commentators discussing Johnson and his commitment prior to the official announcement. This commitment is a big-time “get” for Chris Klieman and company. K-State football is on the upswing.
2. According to 247Sports, this is the first time since 2007 that K-State has had two four-star players in the same recruiting class. According to Rivals, it is the first time since 2015. Avery Johnson and running back Dylan Edwards sit at the top of the 2023 recruiting class so far, but the Wildcats aren’t done. There may be a couple more great players coming. Josh Manning and Ja’Kobi Lane, both four-star players, are on the radar and may commit soon.
3. K-State’s 2023 recruiting class is currently ranked 41st in the country. That is the school’s highest recruiting ranking since being ranked No. 37 in 2008. Four years later, they won the Big 12. Just sayin’.
4. Has K-State ever had two four-star quarterbacks two years apart on their roster at the same time? It may have happened back in the day, but it hasn’t happened in a long time. K-State appears pretty stacked at the quarterback position for some time to come. Adrian Martinez, expected to be the starter this fall, was a four-star recruit out of high school. The Wildcats could then transition to Jake Rubley and then to Avery Johnson. Three four-star caliber quarterbacks in a row would be a great thing to see.
5. Speaking of Rubley, some are worried he might transfer since Avery Johnson has committed. I don’t see any signs that he would do that. I’m not saying it will not happen down the road, but I do not see it happening right now.
1. What does the latest conference realignment talk mean for K-State? I think the Big 12 will try to expand to at least 16 schools and maybe more. They should probably do that, but I also believe that there is a bigger plan in place for college football. Has anyone else noticed that there are two conferences that everyone is flocking to? The Big Ten and the SEC. The Big 12 has been blindsided before by member institutions leaving and has had to regroup and rebuild numerous times. Now it has happened to the Pac-12. The ACC is sitting and watching everything play out. I don’t think the Big Ten or the SEC are done expanding.
2. Two conferences appear to be running the show. People ‘in the know’ regarding college football have said that each of the two conferences may expand to 20 teams, but I think they might each expand to 32. That would result in two super conferences modeled off of the NFL. If that happens, the conference affiliations may go away altogether. We will have our 64-school model and likely return to regional divisions and conferences.
3. K-State should do two things in response to the latest round of realignment. They should help add teams to the Big 12 so that the conference is viable in the short term, but they should also play the long game by contacting either the Big Ten, SEC, or both, to express their interest in joining. K-State does not want to be left out when the reorganization of college athletics is complete, and they need to be proactive if they want to continue to compete at the highest level of college sports.
4. What happens when Notre Dame decides it is time to join the Big Ten? Is that when the rest of the dominoes fall? I think part of what the Big Ten and SEC are pulling off is to force Notre Dame’s hand to join a conference. When that happens, there will be another round of expansion. This is when schools like K-State may be left out in the cold. A lot of people don’t think K-State will be left out, but I can see it happening.
5. The ‘big boys’ don’t necessarily want schools like UCF, Houston, Cincinnatti, and BYU in their super conference(s). While it made a lot of sense for the Big 12 to add those four schools at the time, I don’t think there will ever be a merger between the Big 12 and any other conference. The ‘big boys’ in the SEC and Big Ten will eventually cherry-pick who they want out of the Big 12, the ACC, and the remnants of the Pac-12. That means we will have to go through this all over again. The Big 12 might exist as a conference once all of the dust settles, but the league may look completely different than it does right now.
1. Jerome Tang finally has enough players on his roster for a five-on-five scrimmage. However, he still has a few roster spots to fill. My general impression is that they tried to hit a few home runs on the recruiting trail and in the transfer portal and ended up hitting a lot of doubles. It looks like scoring may be an issue for the 2022-23 Wildcats. But the team is pretty athletic, has some size, and should be able to rebound the ball pretty well. It can’t be any worse than Bruceketball, can it? I sure don’t think so. It should be an interesting, and hopefully fun, basketball season. Also of note, Tang’s staff is in on some very high-profile recruits for 2023 and 2024, so it will be enjoyable to follow basketball recruiting.
2. It is an exciting time to be a Kansas State Wildcat fan. Both football and basketball are trending in a positive direction, and I haven’t seen fans this excited about recruiting in a long time. It sure is fun to watch. Now they need to get on the field and on the court and win some games!