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Conference Realignment’s Monday News and Views

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If you only watch ESPN, you are missing out on what is going to be the biggest story in college sports in at least a decade. This week, Nebraska/Missouri will decide by Friday whether they are going to leave the Big 12 and join the Big Ten, and if they do, the entire axis of college athletics will change significantly. As it stands now, Nebraska and Missouri are trying to decide whether to join the Big Ten and potentially be part of a mega-conference with Notre Dame/Rutgers/Pitt and Syracuse as other possible additions. If they leave, six teams in the Big 12 will then likely bolt for the Pac 10, the assumption being that they are Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor (thanks to some late maneuvering by (of all people) Kenneth Star to replace Colorado with the Bears). That would leave four teams in the Big 12 shut out, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Colorado. Their options would then be to join either the Mountain West or seek to create a new conference with the other nomads.

What is important for our purposes is whether the SEC would see these moves and try to expand. The conference could stay pat at 12, confident its 12 can compete with their 16, but that is dangerous. The ACC might grab the rest of the Big East (Syracuse, UCONN, Pitt and maybe a team like Central Florida or West Virgina) and all of a sudden you have 12 teams against three leagues with 16. Or it could make the first move and grab Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech and another (potentially Clemson), and hit 16 first, leaving the ACC decimated with not a lot of pickings on the table. Either position would create a string of big losers, the most obvious being Kansas, who is saddled with Kansas State thanks to the state legislature and has no obvious move that it can make. Also in trouble are Louisville and Cincinnati, two schools that play football but arent a real contender for any expansion due to academics (with the ACC or Big Ten) and marketability (with the SEC).

So what happens this week will change the face of all of college athletics. Could four 16 team mega conferences emerge, all of which could create their own basketball tournament? Could the Mountain West gobble up Kansas/Kansas State/Iowa State and Colorado (in addition to Boise State, who they are adding this week) and get a BCS bid? Could a new conference with the Big 12 rejects, Louisville, Memphis, Cincy, West Virginia and the Big East basketball schools (Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Depaul, etc) be created as well? All these possibilities are in the hands of the Presidents of Missouri and Nebraska. Not since the Civil War have the two states had a decision that could effect so few. Stay in the Big 12 and the Big Ten likely tries to get Notre Dame and that is it. Move and the entire college sports world shifts and it isnt clear what will end up where. It is a huge week and as a college sports fan, you should follow it closely.

To some notes……

— Tonight some negative news as WLEX 18 reported that Matt McCutchen, a UK graduate assistant football coach was arrested in Pikeville and charged with public intoxication. McCutchen is a former UK player and beloved by the entire UK football community. Hopefully this incident will pass over and he will be able to continue what is likely to be a promising coaching path.

— The UK Freshmen are arriving on campus this week, with all but Terrence Jones scheduled to come to Lexington. Stacey Poole arrived this weekend while Brandon Knight, Eloy Vargas and Doron Lamb should get here in the next few days. So get your cameras ready and be watchful for the newest batch of UK Cats.

— Let me just say that Enes Kanter pictures are brilliant. They are coming in from all over and have a “Demarcus Cousins” type KSR feel. He is going to be a blog star.

Randall Cobb tweeted (and by the way, along with Dave Ulinski, Cobb is the best UK player on Twitter….both are funny) that he heard that a UL player is saying he wants to break Cobb’s legs in the upcoming game. Cobb says he is motivated and he is going to show his game between the white lines. Is anybody ready for football yet?

— Late night reports that the Cleveland Cavs have a #1 choice in their coaching search and it isnt John Calipari. A couple of sources around Cleveland told media members that the Cavs would like to hire Tom Izzo of Michigan State. No word on whether he would consider the job, but it is interesting to hear a college coach not named Calipari connected with the Cavs job.

— Kentucky’s nonconference schedule continues to fill up. As of now, UL, IU, UNC, Notre Dame, the Maui Invitational, Portland and Boston look to be on the slate. When we get more, we will tell you more, but thats a pretty good early group.

— Rondo

Patrick Patterson is working out this week in California, with the Golden State Warriors and Clippers. Please no Clippers.

Finally, listen to the podcast if you have not yet. Some good info on there and a lot of ridiculousness. In short, a perfect KSR contraption.

More all day….

Article written by Matt Jones