Friday, September 9, 2011

Conference Hokey-Pokey™: What it's all about for MU Baseball

Nothing new here - just a summary of the blizzard of info from the past week or two.

No one knows what's going to happen at this point, and nothing any of us say, predict, fantasize or fear will affect the decisions being made in the offices of university administrators.

But basically, there are two options:
  • The Big 12 survives and thrives by growing: aggressively acquiring new members. This is getting less and less likely (see Big 12?)

  • The Big 12 disintegrates and each school scrambles for a new conference home
Here's a summary (with links) of our information and analysis of each of those possibilities and the options:

Potential new Big 12 members (from a College Baseball point-of-view), ranked from the best baseball programs to the least:
  • Rice: top-tier baseball program, but football and basketball programs unlikely to earn them an invite unless the Big 12 is really desperate.

  • Arkansas: Average RPI ranking of 22nd; unlikely to leave SEC for wounded Big 12

  • TCU: Average RPI ranking of 22nd; has jumped conferences frequently in the past 20 years; currently headed to Big East

  • Notre Dame: Average RPI ranking of 40th; not going to happen

  • Houston: Average RPI ranking of 51st; geographically a good match for Big 12

  • Louisville: Average RPI ranking of 76th, but has been an up-and-comer this decade; built-in historical/regional rivalry with MU

  • Wichita State, Creighton, Tulsa: All pretty successful baseball programs; none will get a sniff of a Big 12 invite

  • BYU: Average RPI ranking of 122nd

  • Pitt: Average RPI ranking 126th; would be another middle-to-bottom dweller in Big 12; geographically makes no sense

  • Air Force: Not a good baseball program, in lower half of RPI rankings nationally

Potential new conference homes for Mizzou
(from a Baseball point-of-view):
  • SEC: One of the elite 4 baseball conference, generally considered #1 overall; Competition level would be somewhat greater top-to-bottom than the Big 12; MU would need to step up recruiting, facilities, competitiveness on all levels; some good regional rivals

  • Pac 16: One of the elite 4 baseball conferences; Competition level fairly equivalent to Big 12; travel costs would be huge playing in the Pac 16, even if OU, OSU, UT and TT are included

  • ACC: The least likely scenario; ACC is one of the elite 4 baseball conferences, comparable competitively to the Big 12; unlikely to come seeking MU, currently very geographically bound to the east coast

  • Big East: Not among the elite 4, but generally better than the Big Ten; makes sense only if the Big East also adds in some other Big 12 schools as well (KU, KSU, BU?)

  • Big "Ten": A decidedly 2nd-tier conference (maybe even 3rd tier) - Recruiting and strength of schedule takes a hit; MU's focus shifts to dominating and winning B1G conference championships and riding that success as far into the post-season as possible

And a side note: What about Kansas?

In the end, unfortunately, NCAA Baseball, along with all the other non-revenue sports, will be only a side note at best in the discussions. Football is the 800 pound gorilla, with Basketball its skinny sidekick.

My best guess on MU's "final" destination?
  • 45% Big Ten
  • 45% SEC
  • 10% Big East

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