With the Big 12(-2) now positioned to survive the first round of the conference realignment game, who are the big winners?
Besides Texas, look no further than the college sports scene in and around Kansas City.
It's not that the Kansas City area necessarily gained anything valuable in the realignment, its more that it didn't lose. Based on the up and down roller-coaster ride of the past weeks, that in itself is a huge win.
Two weeks ago it was a foregone conclusion that Missouri would head to the Big 10. When that fell through it appeared as though Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri might find themselves grabbing for the life preserver known as the Mountain West. Finally there was the flight that wasn't and a brief moment where Kansas appeared to be in the Pac-10's plans only to watch the flight delayed, canceled and diverted back to the West Coast.
After the college sports equivalent of the "near miss", how fortunate is the Kansas City area to keep these three programs as they currently exist?
If you've lived or been around Kansas City in the fall you already know. Drive down any street on any given Saturday from September through November and you'll see purple, blue and black flags proudly displayed outside the homes of fans. License plates, car flags, car stickers and tails. Walk into any sporting goods store and you'll find the same three colors each with their own section.
Kansas City has a special buzz because of these three teams, and it's a buzz that could lose some luster if the teams are separated.
In 2007, the Border War moved to Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs. Whether or not your team has been on the right side of the final score, there is no denying the excitement surrounding the game. Thanksgiving weekend in Kansas City is an event and in the three years with the game, no one can say they've left Arrowhead disappointed with the level of play. The survival of the Big 12 ensures this game carries on for a little while longer.
When fall turns to winter, Kansas City turns into a hub for three basketball programs making a strong argument for the best three-prong rivalry in the country. Bill Self and Kansas has and will remain strong. Mike Anderson has quietly rebuilt a Missouri program previously left in shambles. Even Frank Martin has gone from written off by the local and national media to one of the hottest names in coaching.
Next year promises to take this group and the excitement surrounding basketball in Kansas City to a new level. All three are well-positioned and could make strong arguments as a preseason favorite for the final Big 12 conference crown before the changes take place.
Throw in the fact that Kansas City was able to secure the Big 12 basketball tournament through 2014 and it's clear that basketball is back in a big way.
If any of the other scenarios of the past week and a half had played out, Kansas City would have suffered. If Missouri joins the Big 10, could the Border War have continued? If so, does it mean as much?
If Kansas departs for the Pac-10, Kansas City sits on the far eastern edge of the conference's geographic footprint and certainly doesn't get a sniff at a postseason tournament. Furthermore, the Jayhawks lose direct ties to both their in-state and border rivalry.
Even worse, all three end up in the Mountain West and the Jayhawks, Tigers and Wildcats are no longer competing at the highest level. At the end of the day that would have been a tough pill to swallow after so many years of being associated with a top conference.
Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State and the rivalries that go with those teams are all alive and well at this point. With that, so is the college sports scene in Kansas City. The events, the games and the programs that are most important to the area are tied to the area and still competing against each other at the highest level.
That's a win for Kansas City.