As conference realignment spins forward at a dizzying pace, Kansas officials may soon have an intriguing question to ponder.
Is it worth sacrificing two historic rivalries for the Jayhawks to ensure a soft landing in a major conference?
Kansas and longtime rivals Kansas State and Missouri will each become sports vagabonds on Tuesday once the Texas-led exodus to the Pac-10 becomes official, but there is a sliver of hope for the Jayhawks. If Texas A&M splits with Texas and heads to the SEC or even dallies to long making the decision, the Dallas Morning News reports that the Pac-10 is prepared to invite Kansas instead.
Kentucky and Louisville, Xavier and Cincinnati and Florida and Florida State have maintained longstanding rivalries despite being in separate conferences, but it might be difficult for Kansas to do it with two different schools.
It once would have been unfathomable to imagine the Jayhawks separating from both Kansas State and Missouri, but it's no less stunning than the potential demise of a 100-year rivalry between Texas A&M and Texas. A segment of the Aggies leadership and fan base considers the SEC a better opportunity and better fit than the Pac-10 even if the move comes at the expense of their relationship with the Longhorns.
"There was a time when I really felt like Texas and Texas A&M should be in the same conference ... but at the same time I think Texas A&M is now big enough to stand on its own," Texas A&M regent and former football legend Gene Stallings told syndicated radio host Paul Finebaum. "We don't necessarily need to be piggy-backed by anyone else."
If the Aggies ultimately accept the SEC's invitation, then Kansas could have to decide between joining its former Big 12 peers in the Pac-10 or exploring available options that would allow them to stay with Kansas State and Missouri. The Mountain West has publicly expressed interest and previous reports have suggested the Big East might also be a possibility.
Bill Self sounded incredulous and desperate earlier this week about the possibility of being left behind, but the Kansas coach appeared to have found renewed optimism on Friday night when speaking to the Kansas City Star.
"The more I am hearing, the more I see unbelievable opportunity," Self said. "I don't know what we're going to do. I think all of a sudden we became more attractive to some people, but in a very generic way, because nobody knows what's going to happen next."