November 25, 2014

Column: Thoughts on the Big 12 scene

Danedri Thompson

dthompson@gardnernews.com

The Big 12 lives on and this heart is glad, but disappointed to note that college sports is no different than professional sports. They’re all about the Benjamins.

The potential demise of the best conference in college sports caused a lot of sleepless nights in my household.

• Missourians should probably throw Gov. Jay Nixon out of office over the almost-demise of the Big 12. He started the ball rolling and almost cost the state of Missouri countless dollars. Nixon and his friends on the eastern end of the state made no secret that they’d like to jump to another conference – specifically the Big Ten. Unfortunately for Tiger fans, the Big Ten wasn’t interested, and under countless scenarios of conference reshuffles, Mizzou was likely to be left out in the cold with no conference.

It would have devastated the university in terms of cash and bragging rights. Meanwhile, Mizzou without the Big 12 decimates Kansas City. Nixon stuck his foot in his mouth when he bashed the Big 12. Lucky for him, it appears the Big 12 is going to survive albeit as the Texas Ten Conference – as many sports analysts are calling it today.

• The players at every school left in the Big 12 should find new motivation to destroy the University of Texas – repeatedly. For reasons I’ll never understand, the Longhorns hold all the power in the college sports world. Every conference wanted them. The only reason they stuck with us lowlifes here in the Midwest was because they can have their way with us. At press time, the details of the new agreements between remaining Big 12 schools had not yet been released. I’m certain they’re more than favorable to the Big orange school to our south. They’ll get loads of money in this deal, and remaining schools in conference will get their table scraps. It’s gross.

• I don’t get the Longhorn love, and hopefully when the rest of the Big 12 anihilates UT in every sport year after year from here on out, no one else will get the Longhorn love either.

• Texas is double stupid for even considering a move to the Pac-10. I’m a Kansas State University graduate who spent every Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium as a student. Every Christmas holiday, I traveled to a bowl game. I’ve been in football stadiums from coast to coast following my beloved K-State Wildcats.

• FYI – attending away games at Southeastern Conference schools equals awesome. The SEC stadiums are loud, packed with tradition and the fans are great football fans. They’re not just painted in their school colors, they actually understand football. Entire communities shut down on Saturdays for football fever.

That’s so not the case at Pac-10 schools. In 2001, I traveled to California to watch KSU take on the University of Southern California. Trojan home games are played in a Los Angeles stadium that once played host to the Olympic Games, so you’d think locals would at least be able to direct tourists to the stadium. Not so much.

Within blocks of the stadium, people looked as us with blank stares as we asked their help in finding the L.A. landmark. The stadium was half full. And when the mascot came riding in on a horse, the USC fans’ cheers barely reached the field. Pathetic.

Why on earth Texas and its merry band of Big 12 South followers would want to play in that league is beyond me. What’s the fun in any game when your opposing fans could care less whether their team wins or loses?

• Good riddance to the University of Colorado. They were a drag on the Big 12 and have some of the worst fans in college football. Although their stadium is beautiful, I hated going there. Wear purple through the streets of Boulder, Colo. and Buffalos fans – all dozen of them – will assault you throwing empty beer bottles out apartment windows at you as you pass by on the street. They’re hardly friendly rivals. They’re mean and nasty and most of the people in Colorado could care less about college football.

• I’m sorry to see the University of Nebraska go. They have great fans and an awesome tradition. The biggest town in Nebraska is Lincoln, Neb. on game day when the number of fans in the stadium almost outnumbers the population of the entire state. Although they have a fierce loyalty to their team, the majority of their fans are gracious in victory and defeat. I’m not sure how much money they’re going to be able to bring their new conference’s table, but their fans are worth their weight in gold.

• KU and K-State programs have a lot to prove to the world after this entire debacle. It’s a sad day when a program like KU’s basketball tradition is almost left in the cold at the football altar. Hopefully this serves as a reminder to fans of both schools that the programs need your support. There is no love for flyover country in a land where the number of television sets in a given zip code is king. It’s imperative that both schools and their fans put their best faces forward at all times.

•I’m very proud of the way the athletic department and coaches at my alma mater and at KU handled the situation. They were grace under pressure. They’ve done us proud.

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