Apr 28, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; A general view of Memorial Stadium before the Kansas Jayhawks Spring Game. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
Big 12 expansion has been a hot topic in recent weeks. What is the impact on Kansas if the league looks to the East and expands to 12, 14 or even 16 teams.
While things seemed to have cooled a bit on the conference realignment front, the next round of change could be looming on the horizon. As Big 12 officials met last week the unanimous sentiment seemed to be that holding pat at 10 teams makes the most sense given the current landscape. Until the format of the impending college football playoff is further defined, expanding doesn't seem to be a necessity or the best option.
That said, future expansion does seem almost unavoidable. With that as the backdrop, Kansas is one local team that stands to feel an impact of any future expansion and it might not be in the Jayhawks best interest. The final number and the alignment of the Big 12 could change quite a bit for Kansas both on the football field and on the basketball court.
From a basketball perspective, Kansas would seem to be in a position to weather any changes. The Big 12 has recently extended the postseason tournament agreement with Kansas City and the Jayhawks are coming off a National Title game appearance as well as an eighth straight league title. Whether it's the Big 8, Big 12 or Big 16, Kansas has and should continue to play a prominent role on the college basketball scene.
If the league does expand it will however change scheduling including the current round robin format that made for such a compelling run in 2011-2012. Kansas would be back in a divisional setting, perhaps trading home and home games with teams like West Virginia, Clemson and Florida State rather than previous trips to Nebraska, Colorado or Missouri.
That is a pretty substantial shift and that same shift could impact Kansas on the football field. If the league goes to 16 the divisional alignment would have to move to either two-eight team divisions or four-four team divisions. The latter is preferable as Kansas would remain in a division more geographically aligned and from a football perspective the opportunity might exist to raise the program profile on a more consistent basis.
Travel considerations, matchups and program competitiveness are all factors that will iron themselves out if further expansion occurs. At face value the best thing for Kansas might be the continuation of the current 10 team league, but from a conference stability standpoint the Jayhawks might have an interest in pushing for further and continued expansion.
For more on the Kansas Jayhawks and potential Big 12 expansion, check out Rock Chalk Talk.