KG brings up an interesting topic for conversation. Do the hunted now become the hunter and look to expand? Is it even possible? Or is everyone happy with the remaining 10 holding form? And while we're front paging KG's work I'll make one other quick note regarding fanposts.
SB Nation Kansas City has an "editors picks" section where top fanposts from the local sites can be promoted and shared. In addition those fanposts will show at the top of all the fanposts on Rock Chalk Talk and list as an "editors pick". So if you've got something to say, have at it.
Well, it seems official. The ten remaining teams of the Big "12" are committed to eachother (for now). The question now becomes...now what?
Last night the Journal-World reported that Oklahoma had agreed to move to the Big "12" North.
That's significant for a couple of reasons. First, it obviously effects scheduling--maybe KU can finally be free of the "all or nothing" format in football (honestly, that was my only real complaint with how the conference has been run in the past, and I suppose some school had to be stuck with it).
It seems pretty clear that the idea is for OU to become what Nebraska was supposed to be, a powerhouse for the North adding intrigue to the conference championship game. This is pure conjecture, but I'm guessing they only did so with the provision that they would get to play Texas every year in the Red River shootout. This could be accomplished by shifting to an SEC-style schedule, where each team has a designated cross-division rival they play every year. (Hey Dan, have you heard about how much Kansas hates Baylor lately? What a fierce rivalry that is!)
More importantly, however, it means that the Conference WOULD SEEM to be expanding. 10 team conferences have no need for divisions, since every school plays one round-robin in football, and two round-robins in basketball. So who do we pick up? How many teams do we add? Here's my thoughts on some candidates:
1. Notre Dame - a nonstarter. As I mentioned in another thread, getting ND to join a conference at this point would be like us changing our colors to black and gold. It just isn't happening, and certainly not to our conference (when was the last time any Big 12 school played ND? Meanwhile, they already play half the Big Ten).
2. Arkansas - most people rule this out immediately. HOWEVA, consider this: joining the Big "12" gives Arkansas important in-roads into Texas recruiting, which would pay off big-time. Arkansas has rivalries with all the Texas programs from their SWC days.
Furthermore, Jerry Jones is one of the most (if not THE most) powerful men around the Razorback program. In case you haven't heard, Jerry built a nice little stadium in Arlington lately out of his own pocket, and needs to host as many events as he can possibly get to get a return on his investment (he's already down to staging exhibition tennis matches). So getting his alma mater to move to the Big 12 could make him millions of dollars from hosting Big 12 title games (which obviously can't occur without 12 teams). And the better-quality the teams are that join the new Big 12, the more interest (and therefore more money) those title games will have.
3. Memphis - certainly would bring a lot in hoops. Football had a run at mediocrity with DeAngelo Williams back in the day, and the increased cash/ notoriety from being in a BCS conference could help them improve significantly. Of course, the same could be said for a number of teams, including Colorado State, SMU, UNT, New Mexico, etc.
The biggest feather in the Memphis cap at this time is, of course, the FedEx money. Personally, I find that whole exercise to be kind of disgusting. And even if the FedEx CEO insisted on doing this, there's no reason he couldn't have done so quietly. Now no matter where Memphis ends up, people will insist it is only because of the $10MM in ad money. Would it bother you if the Big 12 were to do this now? Or has Dan Beebe's ineptitude left us in a situation that no more harm could possibly be done to the conference's reputation?
4. Arizona/ASU - Certainly this would be a great addition to the Big 12. They would be travel partners, they have national profiles in football and basketball, and their women are ridiculously, unfathomably hot. But from their end, I just don't see it. They've been with the Pac 10 since 1978. They're about to get a new TV deal that should at least be comparable to what the Big 12 could offer, if not surpass it. It's nice that our conference has FINALLY started creating rumblings about raiding another conference (only 6 months too late there, Dan!), but I just don't see this going anywhere. Is ASU really going to want to play a football game in Manhattan in November? Didn't they go to a school like that specifically because they want to avoid that nonsense?
5. Colorado State - athletically, at this point, they bring almost nothing to the table. But they do have 27,000 students, and have significant ties to the Denver market. Boulder is definitely closer, but Denver has plenty of Rams fans, as it is the economic engine for the state. Experts project that the Denver area could grow by as many as 1,000,000 people in the next 20 years--can we really afford to just ignore that market? Isn't even a 25% share (extremely conservative estimate on my part) of 3.5 million people significant enough to consider it?
6. Louisville - another school that technically borders a Big 12 state, allowing us to keep the regional feel that a lot of us prefer. The ville has had past football success under Bobby Petrino, and their fanbase clearly has committed itself to high expectations for the program, as seen in hiring top candidate Charlie Strong this offseason. Bringing Coach Pitino into the fold would be entertaining, as well. As long as they were allowed to continue their OOC rivalry with Kentucky, isn't this a perfect fit for them? As shaky as the Big 12 looks right now, I still think the Big East is in more trouble.
7. TCU/SMU/Houston - varying levels of recent football success, but all have firm commitments towards building their programs. TCU's on-field quality is the only real positive here, though. Even when they had an undefeated season going last year, they still couldn't sell out their games...in Texas, where we're told football is supposed to be religion or something. SMU doesn't do any better of a job getting more of the Dallas/Metroplex market, and they really are a tiny school. Do we really need another Baylor (only with much worse basketball, track, baseball, etc.)?
8. Boise State/Utah/BYU - One of these three will, in all likelihood, be the 12th member of the Pac-12. All three lack the regional cohesiveness that has characterized traditional conference formation. Furthermore, apparently BYU and the Utah legislature/ Church of LDS pretty much run the MWC the way Texas runs us. Would they be willing to give up that kind of influence? Could the Mormon/Baptist battles get ugly? The last thing any conference needs is to deal with religious and political issues. Can Boise make another jump up in class this quickly? Difficult to say.
I think my ideal scenario would be to add Arkansas and Louisville right now. Taking the FedEx cash is certainly another option, but it creeps me out- conference spots shouldn't be for sale. Especially to quarterback's fathers. What's your ideal scenario? What other teams out there would interest you as expansion targets?