Cotton Bowl Countdown: Big 12 vs. SEC

The Sporting News put together a list of this season’s best non-BCS bowl games yesterday, and the Cotton Bowl came in at No. 1.

No surprise there. It is a top 10 game between 10-2 Arkansas and 10-2 Kansas State in a beautiful, new stadium. What’s not to like? Outside of the BCS title game and the Fiesta Bowl, you could make an argument for it being the third best postseason game out there. Even if you like the Rose Bowl better, the Cotton Bowl definitely looks to be more entertaining than the Orange and Sugar Bowls.

Here is how The Sporting News summed up the game:

“The Wildcats don’t have Arkansas’ talent, but can the Hogs match K-State’s will to win? Bill Snyder plus Bobby Petrino equals two premier coaches.”

I’ve got one more reason why the Cotton Bowl looks like a can’t-miss game: It’s a battle between the Big 12 and the SEC — the two most respected football conferences of 2011.

Or, as a wise e-mailer named David wrote when he suggested I blog about this topic:

“It is the only Big12-SEC matchup of the Bowl Season! The entire conference (Big 12) was fighting for survival what feels like just a few months ago, and with our two most recent turncoats (Texas A&M and Missouri) going to the SEC, this game seems like the only ‘statement’ opportunity to let the SEC know there is another conference in the nation on their level.”

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Cotton Bowl Countdown: Realignment redux

Arkansas and Kansas State have been on opposite ends of the conference realignment shuffle.

Over the past two years, Arkansas fans have kicked back and laughed as schools across the country scrambled to find the best possible place for their athletic departments. When the Big 12 reportedly reached out to the Razorbacks a few months ago and asked if they had any interest in leaving the SEC, the answer was a simple “Thanks, but no thanks.”

K-State fans, meanwhile, have sweated out the departures of four teams from the Big 12. First Nebraska and Colorado. Then Texas A&M and Missouri. Everything seems to be stable in Big 12 country now that the conference has added West Virginia and TCU. Texas and Oklahoma have agreed to equal revenue sharing, and the league had a fabulous football season. But there were some tense times in there.

Why were their experiences so different? Arkansas decided to get in on conference realignment 20 years early.

In 1990, the SEC was looking for new teams. After shopping all over the region, it added the Razorbacks and South Carolina. The move allowed the SEC to play its first conference championship game in football.

Up to that point, Arkansas was a long-time member of the Southwest Conference. Read More »

K-State issues statement on Big 12

Kansas State officials said they were committed to the Big 12 when Texas A&M was considering a move to the SEC, and their stance hasn’t changed now that the Aggies are officially on their way out of the Big 12.

“K-State remains fully committed to the Big 12 Conference and continues to be excited about its future,” said K-State president Kirk Schulz and athletic director John Currie in a joint statement.

“There is great solidarity among the nine league institutions and an eagerness to achieve the stability our students, fans and alumni deserve. We remain actively engaged with our conference administration and fellow presidents and athletic directors in proactively determining our next steps.”

Big 12 Board of Directors Chairman and University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton released a similar statement this afternoon.

“The chancellors and presidents of the Big 12 are committed to keeping our conference competitively and academically strong,” Deaton said. “We have a process in place that enables us to move aggressively regarding the possible expansion of the conference and to assure our members and student-athletes that we will take advantage of the most productive opportunities in the best interests of all.”

And here’s one more statement from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe:

“The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the Conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options.”