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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Collegiate Conference Alignments

After a lot of bluster about what might happen, this week it appears that the game of musical chairs among the various college conferences is done, at least for now. Nebraska moves to the Big 10 (12), Colorado and Utah go to the Pac 10 (12), Boise State goes to the Mountain West. I really expected to see the demise of the Big 12 (10), but it lives on.

From a track and field perspective, there are only a few interesting developments. One is that Nebraska's men's program will likely thrash the Big 10 (12) from the day they join until the day the rest of the conference gets tired of it and figures out how to up its game. And while Colorado won't make much of an impact on the Pac-10 during track season, it will make the Pac-10 cross country championships into a war.

Possibly the most interesting is what will happen in the Big 12 (10). Note that while Pat Henry's men's team at Texas A&M has won the last two NCAA outdoor championships, they have never won the Big 12, indoors or out. I could argue that this is an extreme case of the weirdness of track and gives rise to many of the problems we have in attracting attention, but that's for another day. What I'm interested in is whether or not a new conference alignment would change much of the pecking order in the Big 12 (10).

One change is that it gets A LOT easier to score in the distance races. Colorado scored 29 points in the 5k and 10k alone, and if they had been absent the eighth and final scoring place in the 10k wouldn't have been 29:39 but 30:43. Much of Nebraska's strength comes from technical events, the throws and hurdles and the like; the hammer throw in particular would be much different without the Huskers. Also, if you exclude Colorado or Nebraska, there were only six decathletes in the whole conference.

The standings from the 2010 Big 12 outdoor Championships...

1. Nebraska 118
2. Oklahoma 114
3. Texas A&M 110
4. Texas Tech 77
5. Baylor 63
6. Colorado 57
7. Texas 56
8. Kansas 53
9. Oklahoma State 47
10. Missouri 44
11. Kansas State 40
12. Iowa State 39

I rescored it by deleting Colorado and Nebraska and moving athletes up. New scores:
1. Oklahoma 144
2. Texas A&M 131.5
3. Texas Tech 92
4. Texas 74
5. Baylor 73
6. Kansas 69.5
7. Kansas State 62
8. Iowa State 59
9. Missouri 55
10. Oklahoma State 52

So the absence of Nebraska would not have helped A&M at all. While moving up one spot in the standings, they'd actually be further away from the title--eight points with Nebraska/Colorado, twelve and a half without. Now, this is only one year, and Henry's strategy might change in the absence of these two schools. But I think it highlights how one-dimensional the Aggies' program was this year. Sprints, hurdles, horizontal jumps, and not a whole lot else.

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