It's getting old everywhere except Mount Oread. Once-grand basketball schools – OSU, OU, Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State – have lost the faith over the years. Big 12 hoops has stagnated over the last eight-nine seasons.
Gonzaga has been challenged more in the West Coast Conference than KU has been in the Big 12.
But now the Cowboys have staged a revival. K-State is in the title chase. The Sooners are good again. Suddenly, Big 12 basketball has some sizzle about it. Three teams ranked in the top 14.
“I wouldn't mind ‘em sharing a little bit,” said a smiling OSU sharpshooter Phil Forte, who grew up a KU fan, since his dad played football for the Jayhawks. “We're going to have to work for it.”
Ford won't touch the what's-best-for-the-conference talk – “I don't know about that. I don't get caught up in that.” – but does say, “I would like for us to try to win one, absolutely. Is it time? I hope we've got a chance. Lot of respect for Kansas. They've had a lot of really good basketball teams.”
We long ago declared college basketball a post-season sport. Nothing matters except March and the NCAA Tournament.
But for this sport to thrive, the regular season has to matter. It has to be more than just slotting for NCAA brackets. A conference championship is well-earned. It should be more than a sign of prowess. It should be embraced with pride.
And it's time it was embraced by someone other than the Jayhawks.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.