By Mark Janssen
John Currie is quick to the point: "The Big 12 Conference is good for Kansas State and Kansas State is good for this league. But most importantly, the Big 12 Conference is great for our fans, and we are in a position in the Big 12 that gives us an advantage over a lot of schools around the country."
Oh, and there's this that also comes from the Wildcat athletics director.
"Kansas State has been competitive across the board not only against our Big 12 brethren but also on the national stage. In a lot of leagues there are particular schools that haven't beaten school X, Y, Z for 30 years. That's not true here. There is more parity in this league, which is more exciting for our fans."
Quick to come to mind is the fact that the Wildcat football team has defeated Texas in each of the last three games; in basketball, the 'Cats have topped the Longhorns in four out of the last six meetings; and in baseball, K-State defeated No. 1 UT last year.
And this year's K-State women's basketball team defeated the eventual national champion Texas A&M Aggies, and the women's tennis team just enjoyed its best season in the program's history, and the cross country team advanced to the NCAA Championships.
While multiple Big 12 teams were mulling over their options of new geographic locations at this time one year ago, with the exception of Nebraska going to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac-12, the league stayed true to one another and will move on as a single-division 10-member league.
"As long as we focus on our strengths and not what other people are doing, we're going to be fine," said Currie of the K-State program. "We need to continue to make our strengths stronger, and shore up other areas in our program."
The second-year Wildcat administrator then stated, "We have won Big 12 titles and proven that Kansas State can and will be competitive in this league."
While some have favored a two-division, five-team format, Currie said, "There is absolutely no momentum to do anything different than what we currently have. I think our fans are going to get their monies' worth more than in any other conference. Our fans are going to see every football team in our league, in our stadium, every two years, and every team in the league in Bramlage Coliseum every year.
"You won't hear any debate that a team won because it didn't have to play these guys or those guys," said Currie. "In every sport, everybody is playing everybody. You can't get fairer than that. I can't wait for those basketball games in February where everything will be on the line. It's going to be awesome; extremely competitive, and a treat for our fans."
Head coach Bill Snyder and Currie are orchestrating the proper non-conference schedule for Kansas State's football teams in the future.
"Our first goal is to have as many home games every year as is feasible with absolutely a minimum of six but preferably seven. Based on where we are right now, we should have seven each year for the next several seasons," said Currie. "When we got here in June 2009 we actually only had five on the docket for 2010 and had to really hustle to secure a sixth for this past season."
"We also need to have a minimum of 11 FBS games," continued Currie.
Although Bill Snyder led the Cats to a 4-4 conference record in his first season back, the overall record of 6-6 included two FCS wins, thus rendering K-State ineligible for bowl competition.
Because the schedule set by the Big 12 gives K-State five home games on odd-numbered years and four home games on even-numbered years, that's going to mean three home non-conference games on even-numbered years and two home games on odd-numbered years.
Currie said an occasional football game at a neutral site might be a possibility because "Kansas State needs to continue to increase our exposure. That might mean taking our brand to a place that benefits our total University. But it needs to be a location that makes sense and against an opponent that makes sense."
Below is a list of non-conference games through 2015 that are confirmed as of today:
2012 - Miami, Missouri State, North Texas - 4 Big 12 home games
2013 - North Dakota State, Louisiana, (non-conf. game TBD) - 5 Big 12 home games
2014 - Auburn, Texas-San Antonio, (home game TBD) - 4 Big 12 home games
2015 - South Dakota, Louisiana Tech, (at Texas-San Antonio in Alamodome) - 5 Big 12 home games
Currie did say that K-State has an immediate charge for the department in the near future: "We need to continue to change the national perception of the K-State brand. The reality is, across the board Kansas State is a very strong program. We were one of 14 schools in the country to have a football team in a bowl game and both basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament. And, we need to continue to tell the story that we have had the best graduation rate in the Big 12 Conference for the last four years.
"President Schulz's visionary "K-State 2025" initiative to move us into the ranks of the top 50 public research universities is exactly what we need. It is exciting to see our university community rallying to this challenge."
Currie then repeated, "Our future in the Big 12 is bright. What we need to do is focus on who we are because we have our own strengths. We cannot get caught up with things we don't control. For example, we're never going to have the same number of television households in our geographic footprint as they have in the state of Florida or Texas or California. But we do have very competitive programs, a passionate national alumni and fan base with strong core values and tremendous balance academically and athletically."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.