The dust never settles on conference realignment in college sports. Power conferences forge on, but retro-speculation continues. The latest involves Kansas.
In a story that appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, the Jayhawks were envisioned by some in the Big Ten along with Nebraska, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma to form an eight-team division with Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The notion of such a move and what ramifications may have followed are intriguing to imagine, more so than speculation involving Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor to the Big East in 2010, or Kansas to the Pac-12 in 2011.
The exodus to the Big 10 that never was is also more interesting to ponder than Missouri to the Big Ten; Kansas State and others to the Mountain West; Texas, Oklahoma and three others to the Pac-12; Kansas and Texas to the Atlantic Coast Conference; Pittsburgh and Louisville along with West Virginia to the Big 12; and Notre Dame to the Big 12 — all of which were entertained at some point from the beginning of the realignment speculation.
Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to the Southeastern Conference, Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12, and BYU to the Big 12 were also considerations.
All of these potential moves were widely speculated in the media and perhaps discussed at the administrative levels. Some possibilities were stronger than others, and the ones The Star confirmed were published.
It’s great fun speculating about realignment and to play what-if. At SEC and Big 12 Media Days during the previous two weeks, league officials said things are stable. The Big 12, the only conference with 10 members, would be the one with an eye on growth, but as commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, “The majority of our presidents and chancellors believe 10 is the right number for us.”
That is, there’s nobody outside the Power Five conferences that would bring added value to the Big 12.
But we’ll always have speculation, even in the rearview mirror.