Conference Realignment Central: The Collegian sports desk gives their thoughts

Quarterback Skylar Thompson runs the ball in to the end zone for a touchdown during the game against Oklahoma at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. (Archive photo by Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

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With Oklahoma and Texas officially declaring their intention to exit the Big 12, the other eight conference teams are left in the lurch. What does the Collegian sports desk think will happen to Kansas State and the rest of the Leftover Eight?

Nathan Enserro, Assistant Sports Editor:

First thing’s first — the remaining eight Big 12 teams, plus any combination of BYU, American, Mountain West or C-USA teams, is NOT a power conference and will not bring the TV contracts K-State and Co. need to continue operating at the level they have been. Poaching top-level Group of Five teams is not the worst possible outcome (that would be winding up in the Mountain West), but it is not desirable.

The ideal situation is that the Pac-12 recognizes the value of Kansas State and Oklahoma State as the 29th and 30th most valuable programs in the country and the Kansas legislature does something to get itself removed from California’s state-funded travel ban.

Obtaining an invitation from the Pac-12 should be K-State’s main goal as an athletics department and a university during this process. From an athletic, academic and reputation perspective, it should be considered mission-critical. Regardless of what happens to the other seven schools, K-State should take any opportunity to join a Power Five conference and should work endlessly to that end.

If the remaining eight Big 12 schools do wind up having to poach from Group of Five teams to try to build the most valuable possible conference, they should add BYU, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Cincinnati and Memphis to get to a more stable 14 teams.

Athletics Director Gene Taylor and President Richard Myers announced in a joint statement Monday afternoon that the athletics department is making “every effort” to put “Kansas State and the Big 12 Conference in the best position moving forward.” While this is a good statement, I hope that “effort” means racking up the phone minutes trying to get K-State into the Pac-12.

Colin Settle, Sports Editor:

First and most obviously foremost, horns down always, but more importantly, this is a major shift in the world of college football. What Texas and Oklahoma are doing not only has a major impact on the Big 12 but is shaking up the rest of the country as well.

Starting with the two leaving, I think this is a big mistake for Texas and, more importantly, Oklahoma. With Texas being one of the most statistically average teams in the Big 12, to talk as if they have run this conference for the past decade is a joke. Also, with a majority rule needed to bring these two teams to the SEC, I don’t think Texas A&M and Missouri will act kindly when it comes to ruling in favor of the decision.

Oklahoma is a bit different, with the Sooners having just a bit of success over the past decade. The main issue I see with them leaving the conference is that winning the Big 12 was Oklahoma’s ticket to the College Football Playoff. Joining the conference you are consistently beaten by every season in the playoff seems counterproductive. The Sooners will have to play Alabama, Georgia, etc. if they make the playoff anyway, so playing them in the regular season or a conference championship game is detrimental to them making the playoff at all.

For the rest of the Big 12, problems are bound to happen. It would be nice to keep everyone together in the Big 12 and add a few teams, but who knows if that is feasible for the upcoming seasons. If we added teams to the Big 12, I think the biggest assets would come from Houston, SMU, Cincinnati, Memphis or Tulsa. The biggest issue is removing the validity of the Big 12 of being a Power Five conference moving forward.

For the case of moving on, I think K-State would fair the best in the Pac-12 or the proposed Pac-16 floating around the internet.

K-State already has a history with multiple teams in the Pac-12 and could easily find ways to renew old feelings with teams like UCLA and Oregon. However, I fear travel costs and the financial side would be a bit more detrimental for K-State in the long run.

Lastly, I think Kansas and Iowa State could very likely make a push for the Big 10. However, if Kansas wants to move to a more basketball-heavy conference, joining a conference like the Big East with more basketball-heavy schools like Gonzaga and Villanova might benefit the Jayhawks more.

As long as no one ends up in the Mountain West wasteland, I think things will work out in the end.

Landon Reinhardt, Staff Writer:

Anyone up for a little weeknight MACtion?

While I don’t think K-State will end up playing in Akron, Ohio, on a Wednesday night in October, I do think the Big 12’s conference run is coming to an end. This means K-State has to find somewhere to go … and they need to find out where FAST.

But why can’t the Big 12 survive with only eight teams, especially since the Big Eight survived for nearly 90 years?

The answer: money.

As much as I’d like to criticize Texas for leaving the Big 12 even though they’ve been a mid-level team since 2005, their departure from the Big 12 is likely the biggest piece tearing the conference apart. The Longhorns bring in the most money of any college football program – by a lot – and the rest of the Big 12 doesn’t do too hot.

West Virginia brings in the lowest amount from any Power Five program, but that is still better than any non-P5 outside of UCF, so bringing in any new teams to the Big 12 will bring an approximate net loss of over $120 million. As much as I’d like to say college football is about the rivalries and student atmosphere, the number one driving factor is the amount of cha-ching a program brings in.

Where does this leave the Wildcats? Hopefully, it means Gene Taylor and other decision-makers have been on the phone with any relevant conference willing to take us. While options are limited, my colleagues have pointed out that the theory of a possible Pac-16 would be the best option.

I personally wouldn’t mind seeing games against programs like Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and UCF, as they’ve all been consistently in the top 25 in recent years. However, as if I need to mention it again, money might keep us away from a conference with these teams.

If you’re feeling down about what is to become of the football program, just remember we can always spin Oklahoma’s departure as them being mad about back-to-back losses against Skylar Thompson. So, who’s really to blame for the Big 12’s explosion?

(Note: The only sport I mention is football because of the money football programs bring in, regardless of the school’s basketball popularity.)

Cameron Bradley, Assistant Sports Editor:

First off, I have always been a massive supporter of the Big 12, especially the old Big 12 when there were, you know, 12 teams. However, I’ve seen this coming ever since the mass exodus of Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M in the early 2010s — it was all just a matter of time.

The competition lessened with the additions of TCU and West Virginia in place of those four, and it has been a downhill slope ever since. Oklahoma and Texas were the two schools keeping the Big 12 alive, and everyone knew it — they had all the power.

With that power comes greed, and they both found something that will bring their schools more money and better competition. While it is a smart money move for both, I think Texas will suffer on the field from a football standpoint.

The Longhorns just aren’t good enough (yet) to compete with SEC-caliber opponents, and while the Sooners can at least compete, they won’t be winning an SEC title anytime soon.

With K-State left in the dust, the best thing fans can hope for is that the Wildcats can make a move to the Pac-12 and stay in a power conference. That is just the best-case scenario though because many things could happen to the Wildcats.

One scenario is that the Big 12 doesn’t dissolve and brings in other teams to fill the massive void left behind by Oklahoma and Texas. Adding Group of Five teams like Cincinnati, SMU, Houston and Memphis is a possible start, while other high-caliber teams like BYU and Arkansas could also sneak their way into the Big 12.

Still, in no way will that fix the Big 12 as it slowly slips further and further into irrelevance with more inferior competition in the conference.

Another bad scenario for K-State is that they will fall into a Group of Five conference like the Mountain West or the American Athletic Conference, which is the last thing any team from a Power Five conference would ever want to do.

Unfortunately, I don’t see things ending well for K-State with this situation, and if the SEC does vote to allow Oklahoma and Texas in, it could very well change the landscape of college athletics for years to come.

Marshall Sunner, Graphic Design Chief:

There’s only one way to describe the current state of the Big 12 with Oklahoma and Texas announcing their departure come 2025.

A disaster.

However, this is something that maybe people should have seen coming. With the constantly changing landscape of college athletics — school brands becoming larger than ever — it only makes sense for schools like Oklahoma to seek a bigger market (less so Texas, but I’ll let it slide with them wanting to stay relevant), and the SEC provides that.

Regardless, the announcement now has the rest of the Big 12 in shambles. When it comes to Kansas State (and even other outliers like Baylor and TCU), the administration should be hitting the panic button.

With the Big 12’s dissolution imminent in my opinion, K-State needs to take nothing less than an invitation to the Pac-12, and administrators need to do everything they can to make that happen.

There are rumors already swirling that K-State could find themselves in the American or Mountain West. While that might make sense geographically, the caliber of talent and competition in those respected places just isn’t enough for athletics to stay relevant.

Let’s be honest — no one wants to watch K-State football take on Tulane at 11:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Another option is keeping the Big 12 alive by adding Group of Five powers like Cincinnati, Memphis, UCF or Houston, but even that wouldn’t make the conference live up to the Power Five name. That would just make the conference slip into an irrelevant limbo.

With the way things are going so far, I personally don’t see this ending well for K-State, or even TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech. The conference is screwed, the teams are screwed and the blame can all be put on the money-hungry, Wildcat-fearing Oklahoma Sooners and the wanna-be relevant Texas Longhorns.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to

Hey! I’m Cameron Bradley and I am the sports editor for the Collegian! I am a junior from Wichita, Kansas, and I am majoring in journalism. When I’m not working for the Collegian, I’m creating content and putting on broadcasts with K-StateHD.TV. I am also currently a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. I love sports, spending time with friends, family and doing everything that I do for the glory of God!