Basketball

Postscripts: The Future of College Sports is Unfolding Before Our Eyes

Brett Yormark vs. George Kliavkoff

What’s going on in the Big 12 and beyond? I expand and explain every Sunday in Postscripts at Heartland College Sports, your home for independent Big 12 coverage.

This week, the future of college sports is being decided in real time, a former Jayhawks has a new heart and the Big 12’s favorite whipping boy is headed out the door, presumably back to the hospitality industry.

 

A Tea Leaf Piece

One of the better hires in recent months was Yahoo! Sports luring Ross Dellenger away from Sports Illustrated (though in hindsight it looks like a wise move on Dellenger’s part). Dellenger does breaking news, sourced reporting and analysis features with equal alacrity.

This week he posted a piece on the future of college sports, specifically the College Football Playoff and the NCAA Basketball Tournament. With a Dallas dateline and a first paragraph that noted activity in the Big 12 office, clearly Dellenger embedded himself with commissioner Brett Yormark for a bit.

Delleger framed the story around the announcement of the new advisory board created by the Big Ten and the SEC, an uneasy feeling when you consider how the last “alliance” went.

Dellenger quoted both Yormark and ACC commissioner Jim Phillips. Yormark told Dellenger that his reaction the news — which both he and Phillips were informed of in advance — was “benign.”

 

“If Tony (Big Ten commissioner Petitti) and Greg (SEC commissioner Sankey) want to go into a deeper think tank with their key stakeholders about the future of collegiate athletics, there’s no pride of authorship here as long as that communication continues at the rate it’s been,” Yormark told Dellenger. “I really don’t think about this as an opportunity for them to move in a different direction.”

What interested me most was the talk about the NCAA Tournament, something that most fans believe is about as perfect a postseason tournament as there is. Earlier this month, the commissioners of the power conferences began conversations with the NCAA about pushing for expansion. Dellenger wrote they were “transparent” about wanting more access for at-large teams.

Brett Yormark’s quote was telling.

“I want to see the best teams competing for a national championship, no different than (the Big Ten and SEC) want to see in football,” Yormark said. “I’m not sure that is currently happening.”

That made me recoil. The Big 12 is going to get nine berths in this year’s tournament, at least. Once it expands to 16, it could be 10 or more yearly. I’m sorry, at some point, you have to draw a line and say you’re not good enough for this. I, frankly, like the lines the way they are.

The postseason NIT is already spreading the seeds for this (and it’s owned by the NCAA now). Regular season championships no longer get you an auto berth if you fail to win your conference tournament. Plus, each of the six power leagues will get their Top 2 non-NCAA teams in the NIT automatically.

Yes, change is coming and there is little that we as non-administrators to stop it. It’s about driving revenue for members and as much as humanly possible. It’s been Yormark’s charge since he was hired. Frankly, he’s great at it and he’s not above ruffling feathers to do it, either.

At some point, there will be a great schism in the games we love. The big boys will go do their own thing, leaving the rest of the NCAA in their wake.

We’re watching it in real time. All you have to do is read the tea leaves. Dellenger spread them out for us all this week.

 

Scot Pollard Update

Last week we noted that former Kansas basketball player Scot Pollard had been moved to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville as he awaited a heart transplant.

Well, earlier this week Pollard got his transplant. But, first, there was some prep work (I actually didn’t know the facial hair had to come off).

Then, there was Dawn Pollard’s post letting everyone know the surgery was a success.

Later, Dawn posted video of Scot getting up out of a wheelchair 12 hours after the surgery.

 

Pollard has a long way to go. It’s a heart transplant after all. But the good news is so far, so good for the former Jayhawk.

Heading to the Pentagon

For the past few years, the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., has hosted some big-time neutral site men’s game. In fact, the past two years, Baylor has made its way up there to play Gonzaga and Auburn.

Next season, the women take their turn, as Kansas will take on Iowa.

I would assume Iowa won’t have Caitlin Clark. But she does have one more year of eligibility (COVID waiver) and if you saw Paige Bueckers the other night, stranger things have happened.

Bye, George

I’m honestly amazed this took this long. Had I been in charge of the Pac-12 (or Pac-2, meaning Oregon State and Washington State) I would have already kicked him to the curb.

Look there are a lot of reasons why the Pac-12 in its present form is going away. But a more experienced commissioner with actual time in the sports administration space might have kept this from happening, or at least kept the Pac-10 together. But George Kliavkoff was just utterly overmatched for what transpired.

Out of Context Tweet of the Week

Probably a good idea to specify which type. Tif 419 Bermuda? Rye? St. Augustine?

Or, did you think they were talking about some other type of grass?

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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