How Safe is Kansas in Conference Realignment?

I'm hearing it more and more amidst all the conference realignment chatter: at least this time around, Kansas is safe.  Last summer, there was much concern about the Jayhawks' ability to remain in a BCS conference if the Big 12 were to blow up.  Since then, it has been said that Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri basically had a standing offer to join the Big East in the event of conference Armageddon, and that said offer remains in place today.

This rumor usually includes a line about how Iowa State could be substituted into that group if Missouri were to go elsewhere, and mentions the Big East's interest in expanding to a two division, twelve team football format.

So Kansas is safe, right?

But wait a minute.  If things really hit the fan, the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and ACC will all be trying to expand to 16 teams.  If that happens, the Big 12 isn't the only conference getting raided, and the Big East is the next in line.  Going back as far as last summer, there have been rumors involving Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.  For the sake of argument, say Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia are grabbed by other conferences, and Missouri heads to either the Big Ten or SEC.  To get back up to ten teams, say the Big East decides to add Baylor, the only BCS school left.  Here is what would remain of the Big East as it tries to maintain its AQ status:

-Connecticut
-South Florida
-Cincinnati
-TCU
-Louisville
-Rutgers
-Kansas
-Kansas State
-Iowa State
-Baylor

So, the college football landscape includes four powerful super-conferences, and this assortment of teams is supposed to get a BCS invite every year?  People mock the Big East's inclusion in the BCS as it is.  It seems highly unlikely that this version of the conference would be included after the dust settles. From a football perspective, if this happens, Kansas might as well have joined the Mountain West.  Because of the heavily populated areas still included in this version of the Big East, the TV contract would be better than a Mountain West scenario, but the bottom line would still be that Kansas ends up left out in the cold.

Granted, this is a bit of a doomsday scenario.  There is a possibility that the Big 12 will hold on in some form for a while longer, and there is no guarantee that the sixteen team power conference scenario will ever come to fruition.  There are rumblings about Kansas possibly joining the Pac-12, and even a few whispers about the Big Ten or ACC.  Still, none of these can be counted on at this point.  The Big East sounds like a nice fall-back option, but by no means can it be considered a secure way of maintaining our BCS status.  The Big East, like the Big 12, is set up to be poached when and if the super-conferences come knocking, and Kansas' status is still very much up in the air.

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