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Berry Tramel  


Realignment: Big Ten regrets not grabbing Mizzou, KU?

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm •  Published: June 5, 2013
Ohio State president Gordon Gee talked out of his head last December — nothing new there; Gee has a history of embarrassing himself and his university — and among the targets of his zingers were Notre Dame, Bret Bielema, the SEC, Louisville and other assorted easy targets. Now Gee is out of a job. He has retired in the wake of the controversy. You can read here the many missteps of Gee.

But lost in Gee’s nonsensical ramblings was this nugget. Gee said he thought it was a mistake for the Big Ten to not add Missouri and Kansas.

Go back to 2010. Clearly, Missouri wanted to join the Big Ten. By 2011, the Tigers were so antsy, they jumped to the SEC. But the Big Ten absolutely is where Mizzou wanted to be. Probably would still go, if the Big Ten would ask. Meanwhile, Kansas was sort of an afterthought. Mentioned for the Pac-12. Mentioned for the Big Ten. But nothing serious. I don’t know enough about Kansas politics to know if the Jayhawks had a clear road to the Big Ten, should they have decided to go. But clearly, going to the Big Ten would have been a good move for KU.

Gee’s statements show there was some level of Big Ten interest in KU and Mizzou. The Big Ten ended up adding Rutgers and Maryland, and while those Eastern seaboard schools bring more population, they don’t bring a higher profile to the Big Ten and its network. Rutgers has been nothing but a scandal scar since announcing its move to the Big Ten, and Maryland, while a fine school with a decent athletic reputation, doesn’t conjur up much national cachet. Meanwhile, Kansas basketball is a national brand. Missouri football is hit-and-miss but has more been more hit than miss under Gary Pinkel.

The loss of Missouri really didn’t hurt the Big 12, other than the convenience of having a border-state school rather than faraway West Virginia. The loss of both Mizzou and KU would have hurt, though, and forced the Big 12 to scramble to replace Kansas. Louisville probably would have had to come along with West Virginia.

Instead, the Big Ten didn’t bite, and a year later turned to the lesser options of Maryland Rutgers. Which was good for the Big 12.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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