So we have a home. For better or worse it's the same home as before less a pair of long term neighbors. Now, what does it mean? What are the initial reactions and glaring changes for Kansas football and basketball with the survival of the Big 12?
Once the new television deal and proposal that managed to save the dying conference are released we'll have the opportunity to dive in a bit further. For today though, what are the initial reactions both on the football field and the basketball court in terms of what remains?
All signs point to 10 being the final number. That being the case the Big 12(-2) will likely move to a conference schedule that would include all 9 opposing teams and an outright conference champion.
The bad news is Kansas now has to play Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech every year. The old two on, two off system gave Kansas a small reprieve from the gauntlet in the south by switching it up every other year, but that will no longer be the case.
This means three non-conference games to pad the numbers and then Kansas will need to find three to four wins a year to make a bowl game a reality. Missouri, Iowa State and Kansas State will all face the same uphill climb and the North has it's work cut out for them. Missouri is undoubtedly the best positioned program to compete right away and it's up to Kansas to close that gap. Games against these three opponents will go a long way toward determining which teams sink or swim in the newly aligned conference.
If a couple of these teams can begin to build some momentum, keeping ties to the Texas schools will continue to help the recruiting efforts in the Lonestar State and give them a chance to compete with the big boys down South. In some respects this might sound like an inferiority complex, but the reality is that no Big 12 North team has consistently risen up to the level of play from the South at this point.
In the end the impact on Kansas football is fairly significant. We just took the treadmill, turned it up by 5mph and increased to a 45 degree incline. Time to pick up the pace and push hard to catch up.
This runs top to bottom and includes the fans. If there is one thing that Kansas fans have hopefully realized in all of this, it's that football matters in a BIG way. As proud as we are of our basketball program we can no longer exit the stadium at halftime, shrug our shoulders and say, "when's basketball start." It's time to get serious about football so we aren't caught on the outside looking in the next time this happens.
Take away two bottom feeders in the league and you have addition by subtraction. The Big 12 was a strong as ever last year with Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State all finding their way into the tournament. 7 of 12 teams, the most ever by the conference.
What was lost? Colorado and Nebraska, two from the bottom five. Two perennial bottom feeders. The three remaining that did not make the tourney include Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Traditionally Iowa State and Oklahoma have been tournament caliber teams and if Pat Knight can get things going at Tech things could get interesting.
Top to bottom this isn't the biggest league, but it might be the most competitive and it has the opportunity to be one of the best.
In addition to the quality of the remaining programs, the teams have the opportunity to move to a full home and home series with every conference opponent. No more unbalanced schedule. Everyone has to come into Allen Fieldhouse and Kansas has to go to every opposing arena. The Texas vs. Kansas rivalry specifically has the opportunity to reach new heights.
Kansas remains well positioned to recruit at an elite level. Bill Self has one of the most competitive leagues to sell and the Jayhawks should be battle tested and well prepared come March. Winning the conference crown might prove more difficult, but don't you want to measure yourself against and compete with the best?
As a parting shot...a few quotes from coaches around the league that I found f