Doug Tucker of the ASSOCIATED PRESS has details on the action the University of Kansas is taking to try to save the Big 12 conference.
(Tom Osborne Holds Key To Future Of Big 12 Conference)
Recognizing the defection of Nebraska to the Big 10 could create a mass exodus of Big 12 schools to the Pac-10, Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little called Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman today to “urge” her counterpart to keep the school in the Big 12.
Gray-Little said she planned to call Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton “with the same message.”
Gray-Little said of her conversation with NU Chancellor Perlman:
“I’m sure that for (Perlman) and for others, the conversation will involve a great number of issues. I did not get an indication from him on which way things were going to go.”
The Nebraska Board of Regents meets on Friday with the issue of conference affiliation obviously on the agenda.
The other interesting piece of news involving Kansas today is Gray-Little outlining her stance on the school’s ongoing relationship with Kansas State.
“That’s been our commitment and our plan, to the extent that it’s possible, that we would work together, that we would intend to be in the same conference and have the opportunity to play one another and continue a great tradition of rivalry.”
Also attempting today to appear proactive in the face of being stranded without high profile dance partners was new Baylor President Kenneth Starr. (Yep, Lewinsky cigar Starr.)
In a statement this morning and a press conference this afternoon, Starr implored the Big 12 Texas schools to stay together if a move to the Pac-10 became imminent.
But does Baylor have the influence to remain part of that influential collegiate clique? Starr:
“That all remains to be seen. I’m not going to speculate. What I do know is members of our board of regents are out there working tirelessly to make Baylor’s case known that there are these great traditions and rivalries among the Texas schools. But, our energies are devoted entirely to keeping the big 12 together.”
Indeed, emails from Baylor Regent Buddy Jones obtained by the WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD portray the Baylor official as a desperate man:
A powerful Baylor University regent is rallying alumni legislators to make a full-court press to keep the Bears aligned with their historic Texas athletic rivals, whether they remain in the Big 12 or defect to the Pac-10 Conference.
If the University of Texas and other Big 12 South schools left for another conference without Baylor, it would be “Armageddon for our university,” Neal T. “Buddy” Jones wrote Friday in an e-mail to the legislators.
Jones’ list included 15 Baylor graduates in the Texas Legislature, including state Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, and state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin.
Jones has asked the legislators to call high-ranking officials at the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University to lobby for Baylor.
But while Baylor puts on a full-court press, another school in a somewhat similar position, Iowa State, seems much cooler about what may play out. (Bob Knight’s “relax and enjoy it” quip comes to mind.)
In an interview with Kelly Beaton of the WATERLOO-CEDAR FALLS (IA) COURIER, ISU Athletic Director Jaime Pollard treated the subject with a more philosophical tact:
“No, it doesn’t alarm me. I take more of a historical perspective. Historically, if you look back over the last 50 years, there’s been contraction and expansion in college athletics. Going back to South Carolina to the SEC, Georgia Tech to the ACC, the Big East getting raided by the ACC … through all of that, we know two things: the sun comes up, and college athletics is exciting and vibrant.
“And I fully anticipate that there will be some kind of change, but college athletics will continue to be exciting, and Iowa State will be part of that.”
“The world was (supposedly) ending when the Big Eight and the Southwest Conference went away. The world was ending when the ACC raided the Big East — but the Big East has never been stronger. The natural order will take place, and what’s supposed to be will be, and everybody will move on and it will be vibrant.”
I much prefer Pollard’s stance over KU Chancellor Gray-Little’s methods. It appears she’s merely covering herself politically by going on the record about calling Nebraska and Missouri. If she isn’t savvy enough to know that she has no influence on what NU and MU will do, she shouldn’t be leading Kansas in the first place.
Though I do believe there is some value in Baylor attempting to rally political support for its inclusion in a possible, Texas-led exodus west.
Earlier today, I noted that when recently asked if he would listen if the Big 10 came calling, Kansas Athletic Diretor Lew Perkins said to the LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD: “How do you know they haven’t called us?”
With the action of Perkins boss Gray-Little today, we now know the answer to Perkins somewhat rhetorical refrain.
Let’s just hope for the sake of Gray-Little, Perkins, Pollard, Starr, Buddy Jones and Dan Hawkins, that Dennis Dodd’s delightful Tweet today is dead wrong:
Though if that’s wrong I don’t wanna be right.