KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baylor's Kim Mulkey and Texas A&M's Gary Blair are presumably old chums, dating back to their days at Louisiana Tech, where Blair was an assistant coach and Mulkey was a star guard.
Apparently, that was before the impending breakup.
When A&M and Blair make their exit from the Big 12 to the SEC, Mulkey said she'll be cutting off the Aggies from future scheduling, no matter how great their rivalry has become, both in the league and nationally.
“My feeling is this,” Mulkey told reporters Wednesday during Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City, “if a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him, and then he asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is, ‘No!'”
Football commands the tight focus when the topic turns to Big 12 realignment. But the impact and ramifications of a shake-up stretch across all sports.
So, too, does bad blood.
Remember, it was Baylor that tried to block the Aggies' Big 12 exit with the threat of a lawsuit.
Mulkey, firing up Wednesday's series of press conferences from the outset, was playing off comments made by A&M president R. Bowen Loftin.
She went on: “I remember Texas A&M's president with these quotes. ‘It's like a marriage. If it's over, it's over.'”
And the A&M rivalries appear to be over. And not just for Baylor, which went 3-1 against the Aggies a year ago, with the lone loss a costly one: in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.
Texas won't schedule A&M — in anything; the Longhorns are on record with that.
Remember, it's Texas that gets much of the blame for the Big 12's realignment mess, which has already seen Nebraska, Colorado and A&M flee the league, with Missouri currently considering its exit strategy.
“Everybody's going to try to find a villain,” said Longhorns coach Gail Goestenkors. “But that's their business. We don't feel like the villain. We know we're not the villain.
“So we're just going to play ball.”
Just not against A&M, the defending national champion and one of the program's that has helped elevate the Big 12 to elite status nationally.
And while most coaches — Mulkey excluded — took a politically correct avenue in discussing potential future games with A&M as a nonconference foe, privately they were against it.
“That would not be my choice,” Blair said. “We'll play anybody, any time.
“But it takes two to dance. And I'm not going to get in and be the wordsmith with Kim or anything on how she feels.”
Missouri may be next on the outs, if indications are true that the school will seek admission to the SEC.
Kansas State and Mizzou have a 100-year rivalry. What happens to that?
“We have, obviously, a great level of respect for Missouri and the matchups we've always had,” said K-State coach Deb Patterson. “But in this day of change, we have to be ready for adjustments, and we'll find new rivalries and sustain those that are still a part of the Big 12.”
And that — that there is still a Big 12 — at least offers some relief.
Women's hoops is one of the Big 12's strong suits, on par with football in a competitive sense. But when it comes to realignment, the sport carries no clout, which can be both frustrating and scary.
For a while, it appeared as many as four schools — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech — were heading to the Pac-12.
“Well, it was all out of our control,” said Cowgirls coach Kurt Budke. “We were never involved in any of those discussions. But it did cross our minds.
“We even looked at changing our recruiting base a little bit, hitting California a little bit more.”
While not that drastic, change is happening.
Nebraska and Colorado are gone. A&M on the way out and Mizzou might be following.
TCU is coming. And West Virginia, Louisville and another school could be moving in, too.
“I think this is tough for our sport,” said Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale. “I think all of college athletics, really, is bound by those traditional, regional, institutional rivalries. And when you take geography out of it, you lose a lot.
“At the end of the day, however, while conference alignment is about many things, women's basketball is not particularly one of them.”