With the talk of super-conferences, consolidation and the mega-bcs Kansas generally appears to be on the outside looking in. Certainly the University boasts one of the top basketball programs in the country, but from a football perspective there is plenty of work to be done.
TV sets, dollars and football is the battle cry. The state of Kansas doesn't necessarily have the television sets. In turn it's assumed Kansas won't bring the dollars. Despite a highly efficient athletic department that generates huge revenues, that's not really the bottom line being referenced in all the conversations.
All that said the last component is football. Kansas isn't going to boom in population anytime soon, so how does the University ensure it isn't left to pick up the scraps and move to a "basketball" conference? Quite simply, you make a move in football. Even if you are a basketball fan first, would you prefer to play in Conference USA and be another Memphis, or do you want to be lumped in with the top tier of programs in the country?
As fans of the University, the teams, the players and the coaches I'm sure any fan prefers to view Kansas as a top tier athletic program. That's the vision. Unfortunately that view doesn't appear to be shared due to the deficiencies historically on the gridiron. So how do we get there? How does Kansas as a University and an athletic department position itself to be an attractive component of one of these said super-conferences?
Perception is reality and reality right now is very few if any of the outlined scenario's in the media and in major conference circles include the Jayhawks in the mix. In the doomsday scenario Kansas is left to join the MWC or Conference USA, a move our rowing squad has just made.
There's one clear way to change that perception, but is it too late? When discussing Coach Gill's salary and the moves over the last year in regards to football there's been discussion that we are trying to spend like the big boys, act like the big boys and hope the program follows. Is this being done slightly in reverse?
Are we doing it in reverse because that's how Lew truly believes the football program can improve? Or are we trying to build the program in reverse at the moment because it is going to best position us as a program to survive when the chips begin to fall?
Even to a further extent, is the Gill for Mangino move and the subsequent good will tour that is still ongoing part of a move to make the Kansas program more "media and fan friendly". Kansas is experiencing a surge in football support that still has room to grow. If Lew has been aware of an impending realignment might he have wanted to strike while the irons hot and position Kansas to be part of expansion, realignment or whatever shape this takes?
Maybe, maybe not. Either way it's looking more an more inevitable that this is going to happen in some form or another. How and where Kansas falls is going to be interesting to say the least. The last thing any fan wants is for the program to be left behind. Competing at the highest level is the vision. Right now Kansas is there, but how to they stay there and not find themselves relegated back to a "basketball school"?