Someday, hopefully in the distant future, KU's Big 12 regular season championship streak is going to end. It's not going to be a fun day, but it's a day we should be mentally prepared for. My question is: If you could pick which conference foe would be the one to break the streak and win the regular season title outright, which team would you pick? My answers are listed in reverse order.
Kansas State- K-State shared the title with KU in 2013, and even though Kansas beat them three times that year by a combined 41 points, Wildcat fans still never shut up about it. Needless to say, we don't want them to break the streak for realsies. They'd be printing conference championship t-shirts in Manhattan for millennia-- instead of Matthew McConaughey traversing dimensions and knocking books off a shelf to communicate with his daughter to save the future of mankind, he'd be disrupting Kansas State conference champion t-shirts in a Dick's Sporting Goods. EMAW, amirite?
TCU- The Horned Frogs winning the Big 12 would feel too much like a joke, and then that season would forever be remembered as "That stupid year when friggin' TCU won the conference." Ask Big 10 football fans how they feel about the 1995 season, or hockey fans about the 2006 Stanley Cup.
Texas Tech- Nope.
Baylor- After all the annoying little daggers that Scott Drew has thrown over the years, there's no way I want to have to look at his face and be reminded that he out-coached Bill Self for even a single minute, much less an entire conference season. Plus, I can't help but have the sneaking suspicion that someday this fictional conference championship would end up getting vacated, which would just be a super-annoying asterisk that would always have to be mentioned in every conversation about the streak, especially if Kansas turned around and resumed winning again the next season. This may sound a bit insensitive, but I feel the same way about the home loss to Texas after T-Rob's mom passed away. It's always like "Yeah, KU won 69 in a row at The Phog, but if the team doesn't stay up all night consoling T-Rob, they actually end up winning 103 in a row."
Oklahoma State- See Drew, Scott. I don't want to have to watch future games against the Cowboys, look down at Travis Ford on the sideline, and think "Ugh. Are you kidding me. This is the guy that finally took down Coach Self and ended the streak." If Ford ends up getting fired, and is replaced by anyone not named John Calipari, then Okie St. probably jumps up a couple spots in these standings.
West Virginia- I don't hate Bob Huggins as much as some other college basketball fans do. Personally, I'm a huge fan of short-sleeve golf jackets, and I think it's stupid, borderline dangerous, that coaches are expected to wear a suit on the sideline anyway-- but maybe I only think that because I'm a voracious perspirer. That said, West Virginia hasn't been in the Big 12 nearly long enough to warrant winning a conference title. If Kansas is working on a 21-year streak a decade from now, then we'll talk.
Oklahoma- If there was a year for the streak to end that would have been, for lack of a better word, the most "acceptable", it would have been 2009. KU's roster was gutted after winning the national championship, and the Blake Griffin-led Sooners were really really good. For my money (of which Oklahoma made me a lot during that regular season; it's always nice to jump on a bandwagon before the Vegas lines catch up), they were the second-best team in the country that year, and they caught a bad break by getting stuck in North Carolina's bracket. That Elite 8 game should've been the championship; maybe it would have been more exciting than Carolina steamrolling yet another boring Tom Izzo team that somehow scrapped their way into the Final 4.
What was I talking about again? Oh yes, so anyway, Oklahoma missed their shot, so now I don't care if they're the ones to break the streak or not. I'm pretty neutral about them.
Texas- This was very nearly my choice. Perhaps a solo conference championship would be the first step in returning the Longhorns to their 2001-2008 heyday. We need Texas to be elite, year-in and year-out, for a number of reasons (I'll discuss this more in an upcoming post). Basically it's like the inverse of Gotham's relationship with Batman: Texas is the hero this conference needs, just not the one it deserves right now.
But in the end I couldn't give it to them, solely because I just don't think their fans would care that much. If this streak is gonna end, I want a fanbase who is going to celebrate it, and cherish it, and even talk some crap about it. Not a fanbase who is going to be pumped about it for one night, then spend the next day on message boards arguing over football recruits, and writing 5,000-word manifestos about how they never should have forced Mack Brown out.
Iowa State- Ding ding ding, here's my winner. It's been nice these last few years, having the Cyclones be nationally relevant again. The games have been a bit chippy-- you can tell the players don't love each other. The Iowa St. fans have the proper amount of hatred for KU (aside from the racist shenanigans towards Elijah Johnson, but let's not let the actions of few spoil the passion of many). They care about basketball more than football in Ames. It wouldn't be an embarrassing failure for Kansas to lose to them, like it would be if it was TCU or Tech. It would still be easier, and probably more beneficial, if Texas was the second elite team in the Big 12, but hey, if Iowa St. could get back to where they were at in the late 90's, I certainly wouldn't complain. Beggars can't be choosers. I'm like Larry Eustachy that way. I mean, yeah, I'd love a glass of Johnnie Walker, but if Natty Light is all you got, I'll still drink a few.
Remember, this is an exercise in hypotheticals. If the Jayhawks HAD to lose the conference streak tomorrow no matter what, who would you choose to lose it to? I can appreciate the sentiment here. I'd rather die quickly in the explosion than suffer slowly from radiation poisoning, but if it's all the same to you, I'd rather just not have a bomb dropped on my city. But pretend like you have to make a choice here.