Until now, the major conferences have consisted of the haves and the have-nots. The SEC has always brought Vanderbilt along for the ride. Northwestern is typically in the bottom of the Big Ten. Conferences have powerhouse legends who recruit the best athletes possible and stay atop the standings year after year. Then they also have the teams that use the accessibility to the powerhouse to recruit their own players. But times are a-changin’ right in front of our eyes.
The current drama surrounding the Big 12 and the movement of Texas A&M to the SEC brings a new picture into focus — one in which the powerhouse title switches to the conferences instead of the individual school. The SEC is now the powerhouse and schools far and wide want to be a part of it. And what it leaves in its wake is a path of have-nots who have no place to go but down since the schools that were once powerhouses have been sucked up into power structures instead.
This leaves schools like Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State in the lurch. The Jayhawks certainly look good with their basketball program, but their football program is a bottom-dweller. Overall, the three schools are among those that ESPN’s Pat Forde called the “undesirables.” And they might be left with no place to go but down.
Certainly the non-power brokers have to be worried at a time like this about their own athletic futures. While KU will continue to be a basketball destination, the other sports are sure to go down. Even Jayhawks basketball may suffer if they jump to a less than desirable conference for their affiliation. The rich will continue to get richer while those without will find their stock falling.