Kansas football: Conference realignment means uncertain future on the gridiron

Kansas football (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Kansas football (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Reports of Big 12 neighbors Oklahoma and Texas inquiring about a potential move to the SEC have surfaced, and it could create an interesting future for Kansas football.

It appears the SEC could be announcing the addition of the two schools “within a couple of weeks”, according to the Houston Chronicle. Both Oklahoma and Texas are reportedly set to decline on an extension of their existing Big 12 media rights, which expire in 2025.

A transition away from the current 10-team conference would put its remaining members: Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, and West Virginia in a very awkward position.

The idea of Big 12 expansion has coasted for years now and it seems the clock may be coming down to the final seconds for the conference’s two superpower schools. Regardless, it places many programs, like Kansas, at a disadvantage for success.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold hasn’t even kicked off his first season with the Jayhawks yet, and news like this doesn’t leave room for much optimism.

While the headlines look promising, it’s important to remember things can change fast. A few SEC members, specifically former Big 12 member Texas A&M, wouldn’t appreciate adding another Texas-based member to the conference.

Furthermore, Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork has spoken out against the idea of welcoming the Sooners and Longhorns to the SEC.

Despite the negative reaction from their old friends at College Station, there’s no doubt adding Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC would create a super-conference. That’s all fine and dandy, but where do schools like Kansas go?

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Hoops beat out the gridiron

It’s no mistake that Kansas is known for its basketball history, and any conference change would strongly depend on the Jayhawks’ position to compete on the hardwood.

However, there’s still a football program to think about at the end of the day. The Jayhawks have been one of the worst college football teams in recent Power Five history, winning only 18 conference games in the last decade.

Making a sudden change would prove difficult for this program, as Kansas will be transitioning into a new conference with a new head coach. However, it could be worse.

The Jayhawks have new, proven leadership from Lance Leipold. If he only coaches one or two years in the Big 12, so be it. He’ll need to pick things up and move to the next frontier because that’s the only way any progress is getting made.

As for who will tag along with KU, it’s tough to tell at this given point. The good news is, they won’t be in this boat alone.

Orphaned schools

In the event Oklahoma and Texas take off, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is going to have a major problem on his hands.

Naturally, schools are going to be filling out their applications to jump ship and it’ll only be a matter of time before the whole thing blows up. Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State are three schools that may end up following each other out of the tunnel.

Despite currently undergoing another rebuild, the Jayhawks would be in a position for a fresh start.

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The circumstances aren’t great, however, it would place Kansas in a position to find a new avenue to start winning again. Whether or not Leipold can handle such a sudden change remains up for debate.

However, landing all three of these in a conference such as the Big Ten or ACC would be quite a stretch. Considering the current state of each schools’ athletic program, the American Athletic Conference would be a more reasonable landing spot for all three.

Kansas would join their southern neighbors Wichita State (in basketball), along with new friends Houston, Central Florida, and Cincinnati. This is all speculative, but the growth of the AAC has been impressive over the past few years and shouldn’t be ignored.

This is all speculative thinking, as worrying as the news is. Oklahoma and Texas could be gone for good fairly soon and would usher in a brand new era for Kansas. Expect these reports to be recognized by the Big 12 at some point, as the wheels appear to be turning quickly now.

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