Bulletin: New Orleans — the university, not the city — has NOT joined the Big 12 Conference for baseball.
Contrary to perception, the Privateers are only playing an abbreviated Big 12 schedule.
When New Orleans visited Norman last weekend, the Privateers took on their third Big 12 club this season, serving in their unofficial role as the equivalent of an Oscars seat filler, plugging holes in the conference's uneven schedule.
There are others, too, with Big 12 teams scrambling to fill at least one, and sometimes two full weekends during what should be premium dates for showdowns in the race for the league title.
Instead, Big 12 clubs find themselves in an annual search for filler material, with only nine league schools fielding baseball teams since the first round of conference realignment shook things up.
And, yes, it's a problem, beyond the unavailability of respectable opponents, since the other power conferences are immersed in league play this time of year. It's troubling as another factor in the Big 12's bad RPI puzzle, which threatens to result in a record low NCAA Tournament invites.
Kansas played at BYU and will go to Utah the final weekend of the regular season.
Kansas State used Bethune-Cookman and Iowa as schedule filler.
Oklahoma State heads to Omaha this weekend for the TD Ameritrade Classic, with games against Rutgers, Creighton and Nebraska on tap.
TCU played San Francisco and will visit Southern Cal.
Texas went to Minnesota. Texas Tech took a weekend off, unless you count a single game against Lubbock Christian.
Baylor and West Virginia both played New Orleans, and the Mountaineers have Liberty coming up.
What do those teams have in common? Most are baseball no-names, offering wins perhaps, but also an RPI hit.
The Privateers, for instance, are 6-38 overall, including an 0-9 mark against the Big 12.
These are games that nobody wants to play.
Or needs to play.
Or buy tickets to see.
Yet, with nine teams, what's the Big 12 to do?
Sooners coach Sunny Golloway has an idea. And clearly, the league needs ideas, not to mention a willingness to adjust.
Golloway's plan: three divisions — North (Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia), Central (OU, OSU, TCU) and South (Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech). The three teams in each division play home-and-home series against each other, resulting in four weekend series; plus one series against the other six teams.
Before that, Golloway suggests the three nonconference weekends filled with an opening winnable series, a tournament, and a challenging series. Such a lead-up lends to building a solid early résumé.
“Now you're ready to enter league play with a really good RPI,” Golloway said. “When everyone enters the league with a good RPI, then we take care of each other the rest of the way. We ride each other out.
“Then we have six or seven teams every year with NCAA Tournament credentials. This year, we're going to be lucky to have three tournaments in the NCAA Tournament. We're going to be lucky. And deservedly so, because honestly, shame on us.”
Golloway has shared his plan with the rest of the league coaches, getting resistance from only Baylor's Steve Smith, who Golloway said was concerned that there would be no true conference champion.
And Smith has a point, except it's a minor one.
The ultimate goal is to get to the postseason. Big 12 titles are nice. Postseason appearances are what defines a program.
Next year's schedule is in place, meaning any move to Golloway's plan will have to wait until 2015, at the earliest.
The Big 12 must hope that's not too late.
“We could be set so far back that there is no recovering the image of our Big 12 Conference in baseball,” Golloway said.