Assuming Nebraska comes over to the Big X and assuming Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M Oklahoma and Oklahoma State jump to the Pac10; what happens to everyone else? The soon to be former members of the Big 12 (Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State) are all going to end up without a chair in this offseason of musical chairs. What will become of these orphans? Where will they end up?
I'm not sure which schools I feel worst for. Baylor, Iowa State and even Kansas State stand the most to lose largely because of their location, smaller alumni base or lack of meaningful competitive teams over the last several years likely means they will not be sought after by another BCS conference. Baylor and KState have had some recent success in basketball and the Wildcats have had a good run or two in football over the last decade. But overall these universities do not add enough value that any of the BCS conferences will be clamoring for their allegiance.
Missouri doesn't bring with them a long history of athletic success but they are the largest university in their state, they have a foothold in the St. Louis TV market and while they aren't usually dominant they are typically competitive in the major sports. There has been obvious talk of adding Missouri to the Big Ten and that is a very strong possibility, depending on Notre Dame and just how big the BigX wants to expand to.
Kansas is the most fascinating of the 5 Big 12 orphans. I know that football is the driver of all things financial and their football program has been up and down (since the great rebuild by Glen Mason). But we are talking about one of the elite basketball programs in the country that will presumably become the Gonzaga of the midwest (intentional exaggeration). Someone will grab the Jayhawks. This is a program that has won the
Insight.com Bowl Orange Bowl in recent years to go along with a basketball national championship.
So where will these schools end up? Who really knows but it is fun to speculate so here is my best guess.
Baylor - I'm afraid that there will be no BCS future for the Bears. The best case scenario for Baylor would be a move to the Mountain West. Maybe the MWC makes a strong effort to replace the Big 12 as a BCS conference. Assume they can add Baylor, Boise State and someone else to get to 12 teams and they finally get that BCS status they so badly desire. Worst case scenario is they end up in the Sun Belt. Conference USA wouldn't be a terrible place to land but CUSA has 12 teams so I'm not sure what their plans would be. The Mountain West is a strong possibility and this may not end up too bad for Baylor.
Iowa State - I fear for Iowa State's BCS future as well. Best case scenario for Iowa State would be an invitation to the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the Cyclones that isn't likely despite the propaganda drive. Worst case would be a move to the MAC. But I think ISU is in store for Independent status in FBS football. I would project membership in the Missouri Valley for most sports and FBS Independence for football. They would still get to schedule Iowa every year and will get a chance to schedule more Big Ten teams as part of their non-conference schedule. Travel costs should go down for all programs but that will more than be offset by the loss of BCS conference revenue. I think this is the school I feel for the most.
Kansas State - Also, not going to a current BCS conference, imo. The Big Ten will not be calling. Kansas State's best chance of joining a BCS conference is to ride the coattails of Kansas. Maybe the Jayhawks will have some persuasive pull and will bring the Wildcats along. If that doesn't work KSU may want to team up with Baylor to push the MWC into prominence. The Mountain West would make a little splash by adding Boise St, Baylor and Kansas State. It wouldn't exactly put them on par with the SEC but they would add some clout and might be a nice boost for their MWC Network.
Missouri - Best case and most likely is a move to the Big Ten. They fit the profile and have been rumored to be one of the next BigX schools anyway. I think if the Big 12 breaks up this is a near certainty. Missouri adds value to the Big Ten and expands the "footprint" without robbing from a conference. This would put the BigX at 13 teams and another would have to be added.
Kansas - Finally we get to Kansas and the question that popped into my mind (and got me thinking about this post) is would the Big Ten bring on Kansas? They have a faithful fan base, they are an AAU member and they would enormously raise the profile of Big Ten basketball.
If it came down to Kansas or Missouri I wonder what the Big Ten would do? It appears as though the Big Ten was making a play for Missouri and wasn't interested in Kansas. So I assume that would still be the case. So it comes down to a numbers game. Do they want to stick at 12 teams? Are they going to add 2 more? 4 more? What is Notre Dame going to do? This game of conference poker is far from over. Are we going to get Jayhawk basketball in the Big Ten? And what is going to happen to the orphans of the conference formerly known as the Big 12.
The table below highlights some rankings and facts to help evaluate the proposed schools, I added Minnesota just as a Big Ten team to compare the orphan schools. Enrollment can be used to gauge alumni size. For information's sake I thought the table below might be helpful. I know that conferences are not basing expansion on US New or Director's Cup rankings but these are at the very least interesting.
|US News and World Report Rank
|Director's Cup Rank
|Kansas City (32)
|Dallas ? (5)
|St. Louis (21)