When is your enemy not your enemy? When your conference is crumbling.
Texas A&M is starting to divorce itself from the Big 12, which means the remaining teams not named Texas and Oklahoma should be making contingency plans. Even after striking a 13-year deal with Fox last year worth more than $1 billion, the league likely won’t be around long. Sure, everyone’s talking about how to replace the Aggies, but the general consensus is it’ll only be a matter of time before more attrition is too much for the Big 12 to survive.
That’s where the rivals must come to terms. Take Kansas and Missouri.
The Tigers are usually the one’s being talked about when rumors fly about other conferences taking Big 12 teams. Credit the sizable alumni and fan base, along with St. Louis and Kansas City TV markets. Kansas is usually tied to Kansas State as a package deal, mostly because the state’s board of regents wants it that way.
But, as Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger writes, it’s Kansas and Missouri who should be shopping themselves together – if Mizzou will do it. The Tigers presumably don’t need a package deal, but the Jayhawks just might. And that means ditching K-State. From Mellinger’s column:
The cold reality is that in the new college sports world, K-State is vulnerable to being passed over by the power leagues. In the megaconference landscape many experts predict, K-State’s profile is closer to the MAC than SEC. Not many schools have more to lose in a massive reshuffling.
Last summer, there was a thought that K-State could tie itself to Kansas and join a power league. But this summer, experts like Maestas think KU is tenuous enough on its own that it couldn’t carry another school.
Kansas, in the new world, must actively pursue backroom dealings to form an alliance with a more attractive program like MU, in large part because of the remarkable passion in Kansas City.
This puts Mizzou in an enviable position of power when and if the Big 12 blows up.
The divisive and uncomfortable truth is that KU and, especially, K-State would be scrambling behind.
How’d you like to be Kansas officials in this scenario? Asking – perhaps begging – your longtime rivals to help in your moment of need? I’d say that’s a situation where it’s impossible to save face.
But it might just be worth the shame.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.