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ROUNDTABLE: Post-Farmageddon Edition

For the second time in two years — and only the second time in 10 years — K-State started Big 12 play 1-0 after yet another Farmageddon win in Kansas City against Iowa State.

Attendance at the game left something to be desired, and that's putting it lightly, but the BOTC crew was there in full force.

Follow the jump for our thoughts about playing future conference games at neutral sites, the potential red juggernaut gaining steam up north and the current state of the Big 12, both on and off the field.

1. With a closer-than-it-should-have-been Farmageddon win in the books, K-State now stands at 1-0 in Big 12 play and leads the North Division. That distinction might last only 2.5 weeks, when Nebraska comes to Manhattan for a sure-to-be-raucous Thursday night game on ESPN.

One-quarter of the way through the regular season and halfway to bowl eligibility, how do you think the remainder of K-State's seven conference games stack up? Are there any games you thought would be in the wins in the summer that now look like losses, or vice versa? What will the Cats' final conference record be?

TB: I don't see a lot of change from my preseason thoughts. The game at KU now is more winnable than I thought it might be, but not by a lot since I didn't think KU would be all that good this year.

If we played Missouri at home, then I might be more confident about that, but I still don't see KSU getting a win in Columbia. Not with this defense, anyway.

It's hard to get a read on Oklahoma State. K-State's defense probably can slow them down enough to shorten the game and keep us in it, but if they get off to a fast start, we'll be in serious trouble. Baylor still is going to be a tough game, but it's clear they aren't noticeably better than they were last year, before Robert Griffin III went down.

I still consider Nebraska and Texas likely losses. We have not proven we're all that good at stopping the zone read, and I'm worried Taylor Martinez will run through the defense at will if we don't get better. With Texas, their defense is going to be nothing short of nasty by November, and points will be pretty hard to come by.

Long story short, I think 4-4 is well within reach, but it won't be an easy road.

BracketCat: I largely agree with TB — I'm smelling 8-4. Assuming wins over UCF and North Texas, both of which I think are fairly likely, the most winnable games are @BU, @CU and @KU. We probably will drop one and maybe two of those.

Nebraska, Missouri and Texas all look like probable losses, but I still think we pull an upset out of that group.

Oklahoma State is a complete unknown and toss-up at this point, and I won't have a feel for that until the Pokes play Texas A&M, at least, and probably not even then. But it certainly looks less like a victory than I assumed all summer.

Panjandrum: I'm going to qualify my prediction with the assumption that everyone remains healthy on all teams involved. That said, I think there's a decent-to-good chance KSU ends up 4-4.

The remaining conference home games look tough (Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma State), and the road games look winnable (Kansas, Missouri, Baylor, Colorado), but road games are always unpredictable.

I think, on paper, KSU is better than three of their road foes (Kansas, Baylor, and Colorado), and I think they'll find a way to win at least two of those games. KSU's power running attack and bend-but-don't-break defense will be consistent throughout the year.

Three teams thus far have tried to stop the Wildcats from running the football, and three teams have failed. It seems pretty obvious, at this point, KSU will impose it's will on the ground on nearly every team in the conference, save NU.

If there will be on "surprise" loss, I think it will be Baylor on the road. I think Jeffrey Godfrey and Taylor Martinez will give us a good feel for what KSU can do to bottle up electric running quarterbacks, but Robert Griffin is just a man.

That game, being on the road, against an absolutely dynamic dual-threat QB, just gives me pause.

If there's a surprise win, I'll go with Texas. That game will be at home, most likely nationally televised, and if there's one thing Texas can't do very well, it's run the football. KSU has done a very good job thus far with pass efficiency defense (No. 16 in the nation), and I think a varying mix of zone coverages will give Garrett Gilbert problems.

I think there are a lot of people out there enamored with Texas because of who they are, but their offense isn't very good. The defense is excellent, but again, they haven't faced Daniel Thomas yet, either. Hopefully, a cold November Saturday greets the Longhorns when they come to Manhattan on a very early Senior Day.

2. Farmageddon II attracted 2,000 fewer fans than Farmageddon I, despite both teams being somewhat improved, and about 11,000 fewer fans than Bill Snyder Family Stadium can accommodate.

The experiment concocted by Bob Krause, Jamie Pollard and Carl Peterson (now all thankfully unemployed) looks like an unmitigated financial failure, yet there is noise brewing about a 4-4-1 schedule in the new Big 12 (4 road, 4 home and 1 neutral game) to keep things fair.

What should the future of this series be, and if the Big 12 adopts such a model, should K-State look for a new dance partner or stick with the Cyclones? If the latter, what can be done (if anything) to improve attendance?

TB: The future of this series needs to be on campus. It's clear that K-State and Iowa State don't attract a big crowd to Kansas City, especially when the tickets aren't part of a season-ticket package.

If the Big 12 is going to a 4-4-1, John Currie needs to lobby hard for a bigger-name dance partner. It's to our advantage to have a neutral-site game against a big-name opponent, for two reasons.

We don't have to go into a hostile road environment every other year, and the financial payout almost certainly will be better than it would otherwise.

Texas and OU already are off the board, so we need to lobby for Texas A&M or Texas Tech, in that order. I'd be happy to play either of those schools in a series that rotates between Kansas City and Dallas every year.

BracketCat: I'm all for continuing with a neutral-site game, but we need to put the "AG" in FarmAGeddon by hooking up with everyone's favorite dog worshippers, the Texas A&M Aggies.

A rotating game between Arrowhead Stadium and Cowboys Stadium takes advantage of the direct-to-Dallas flights, provides DFW-area alumni with a great venue to see their team play, gets us out of Kyle Field every other year and absolutely will sell more tickets at either venue than a game against Iowa State.

There's just no hate in the current Farmageddon and as long as it's played in the same venue as the Border War, it will continue to pale in comparison. In this case, imitation is the sincerest form of unoriginality.

The other thing the Big 12 should consider is an interesting idea proposed by Danny Clinkscale on 810 WHB last Friday. He suggested scheduling four or five of these games together in one week, most likely the first week in October, and selling it as a ticket package to Dallas locals.

OU and Texas already play in Dallas, so they could either continue their series at the Cotton Bowl or move it to Jerryworld. Baylor and Texas Tech are playing in the Jones Monstrosity this season, too. KU and Mizzou probably would want to be exempted, so pair ISU and OSU up, add a dash of the "new" Farmageddon and let's get 'er done.

Such an event easily could rival the Big 12 Tournament in terms of revenue, if not exceed it, and perhaps more than offset the loss of revenue created by the death of the Big 12 Championship game.

Panjandrum: I don't mind the concept of one neutral site game a year, but yes, the dance partner needs to change.

Someone (BracketCat: It was Danny Clinkscale.) put forward the idea of having one big weekend where the Jerrydome would host five neutral-site contests. All tickets could be sold like the Big 12 basketball tournament, where you can buy full sessions or single game tickets.

If the Big 12 were to adopt that concept, I'd suggest that it schedule one game per day over Labor Day weekend every year, starting with Thursday and ending with Monday. Each day/night, the Big 12 could put forth one game that potentially could be televised on national television.

The size of the Jerrydome, coupled with the potential for five televised games, could be a financial boon for the entire conference. Also, it really would be a unique way to kick the season off with a bang.

3. Nebraska put some serious hurt on Washington on Saturday, and the hype train that is the national media's coverage of the Huskers and their freshman quarterback now has throttled into overdrive.

Based on what you have seen, is Nebraska the best team in the Big 12? What are Big Red's chances of a swan-song exit that includes a conference championship this season?

TB: I'm still not ready to say Nebraska is the best team in the Big 12. Texas and OU clearly have their shortcomings, but OU put a hurting on Florida State and Texas' defense is ridiculous. I think the Texas defense can stop Nebraska's offense in its tracks, and make the game come down to turnovers and special teams.

Whether it can win that game, I can't say, but I'll still take the Longhorns at this point.

BracketCat: Until further notice, Texas has the best defense in the conference. That was a damned impressive effort in Lubbock on Saturday. Nebraska still will have its hands full when the Longhorns come to town.

And I sure wouldn't bet against Bob Stoops in the Big 12 championship game, so there still are significant hurdles for the Huskers to clear.

Road games at Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State all could be challenging, although the game in Kyle Field doesn't look too bad.

No doubt, Nebraska is playing the best and most consistent football in September. The Huskers' zone-read offense is multi-pronged and hard to defend; their defense is pretty salty, if not crazy dominant like last year; and special teams will be a real strength for them.

But dominant in September is not dominant in October or November. It will be interesting to see how the freshman QB fares when he plays a real team on the road, not the joke that is Washington football since 2003.

Panjandrum: I'll say this... Nebraska is the most solid team in the conference. I don't think they're the best team, but I think they're the most solid team. After looking at some of the games, I think OU will end up being the South Division champ because they just seem like a salty bunch that will just win every game in front of them.

In a match-up between OU and Nebraska at a neutral site, I'd probably give the edge to the Sooners. However, NU is going to win at least 10 games this year. That's a good football team.

4. Missouri and Texas A&M both used improbable finishes to escape near-losses at home to inferior opponents. Oklahoma's having its fair share of troubles, too. Which Big 12 team is setting up to the be the biggest disappointment of the season? And which one has surprised you the most, to this point?

TB: Texas A&M is headed for a disappointment, relative to expectations. I saw predictions of 10-2 for them in the preseason, and at this point, it looks like they'll do well to get to 8-4.

Jerrod Johnson is either hurt or not as good as everyone thought, and their defense is just OK. If they beat Arkansas, I may change my mind, but I'm pegging them at third or fourth in the South right now, depending on how you value Oklahoma State.

My biggest surprise has been Oklahoma State. True, they haven't shown their stuff against any teams that are even remotely mediocre, but they have put up some pretty ridiculous numbers in two of their wins. They're going to be tougher than expected, as I had them struggling to reach bowl eligibility before the season.

BracketCat: Texas A&M is too easy. The Aggies will make a bowl again, and that's all that mediocre program should be expecting any year. It's not their fault all the "experts" anointed them a dark horse in the summer.

No, my pick for most disappointing is Baylor. Everyone thinks this is this year the Bears finally will get to a bowl.

Well, I don't see it. Robert Griffin hasn't really returned to form, he has no supporting cast on offense and the defense looks just as bad as ever. Waco is football purgatory.

As I said earlier, the jury's still out on whether Oklahoma State is the new Texas Tech or just has played three really bad defensive football teams. I'm still leaning slightly toward the latter, at least until the Cowboys venture out of the confines of Boone Pickens Stadium.So, the biggest surprise in my mind is either Colorado or Kansas.

I had Colorado down for 1-2 at this point, with an outside shot at 0-3. Hell, the Buffs actually have a chance to beat an underwhelming Georgia program and get to 3-1 in the non-conference, which would be nothing short of a miracle.

They still won't go to a bowl, but 5-7 would be pretty good for that consistently crappy program.

As for KU, simply beating Georgia Tech was amazing. Yes, the Yellow Jackets are terrible, but the Jayhawks still should have lost — as they proved in the miserable effort in Hattiesburg, they just aren't a good football team at all.

Panjandrum: Honestly, I'm most surprised by Kansas State. I wasn't anticipating KSU to be this consistent. They aren't necessarily "good," but they're consistent in what they want to do, and they're executing a pretty simplistic game plan with strength and efficiency.

For a team that wasn't supposed to be very good or go to a bowl game, I think there's probably a very good chance KSU wins seven games, at the very least. That's a roaring success in Bill Snyder's second year back at the helm.

I'm most disappointed in Texas. I thought that their offense would have been a lot better. The defense is good, but the offense is going to have a hard time moving the ball against NU, OU, etc.

The win over Texas Tech was impressive, no doubt, but they certainly aren't the juggernaut they were predicted to be going into the season, that's for sure.

5. Saturday's game at Arrowhead Stadium was far from flawless in any of the three phases of the game, but in the spirit of being a good fan, which four players would you award helmet stickers to for the victory?

TB: Daniel Thomas, Terrance Sweeney, Brodrick Smith, William Powell

BracketCat: Daniel Thomas for obvious reasons, Brandon Harold for the sack/strip/fumble recovery when we absolutely had to have it, Josh Cherry for coming in cold and nailing his first two kicks of the season, and Brodrick Smith for the sickest catch he's had yet.

Panjandrum: Daniel Thomas, William Powell, Brandon Harold and Brodrick Smith. Honorable mention goes to Terrance Sweeney. Alex Hrebec would have received one had he not almost given up the game with horrible pass coverage against Alexander Robinson at the end, which could have sent it into overtime.

6. BONUS: Colorado and Nebraska both will leave the Big 12 after this season.

Are you pleased with or disappointed by the financial compromise that was reached between all the parties regarding liquidated damages? Do you think this still will be a 10-team league when it renegotiates all of its television contracts in 2016?

BracketCat: I've already posted some disparate thoughts on the subject, so here's an attempt to mash them together into a semblance of an answer.

Obviously, Nebraska and Colorado are only paying some of the buyout. We clearly met in the middle. No one’s super-happy with the settlement, I imagine, but nobody’s really super-pissed about it, either, considering what could have been. That’s the nature of compromise.

The punitive part of me certainly wanted to see the Huskers and the Buffs suffer a little more, but the truth is, if K-State had been in their position with the way things were looking in mid-June, we absolutely would have done the same thing.

At this point, I'm in favor of whatever gets Colorado the hell out of this conference so we don't have to play an asinine 11-team schedule in 2011. This settlement accomplishes that goal and it also nets the remaining 10 members of the Big 12 an amount of money greater than zero. I call that a win.

As for the future of the 10-team league that so many talking heads and uneducated college football fans already have proclaimed nearly dead, here's what I would love to see play out in the next decade.

Nothing is going to happen with realignment for at least two years.

The SEC is locked up until 2022. The ACC and the Big East also have long-term deals they negotiated recently. If we take Chip Brown at face value (a risky proposition, admittedly), then none of those conferences will expand because their television partners will not renegotiate.

Ergo, the same size of pie, split more ways, equals smaller pieces. Not gonna happen.

The Pac-10 still could expand, but why would it? Who is there to take? Larry Scott already swung for the fences and missed. He’s not going to invite any other Mountain West schools. That league needs to absorb Colorado and Utah, start its conference championship game and hope to hell it doesn’t lose money on the deal.

That leaves the Big Ten. Although the Big Ten still could expand to 14, I find it highly unlikely it will until at least 2013.

The schedules are set for the next two seasons, the divisions also are set and Nebraska only will break even for the next three years.

Eventually, the Big Ten will want to absorb more markets to grow its network, and thus, its expansion timeline is not dictated by network partners. But Jim Delany still wants Notre Dame first and foremost, and that does dictate things.

(More on this later.)

Next year, the Big 12 will renegotiate its second- and third-tier TV deals — everything except ABC/ESPN, including Fox, Versus, etc. Other than the Pac-10 deal coming up, we’re the only thing on the bidding block. We should at worst break even.

Those deals will be four-year deals, to bring them into sync with the ABC/ESPN deal, which makes 2016 the year of reckoning. We will be the only thing for the networks to bid on, and stand to make out like bandits as long as our bottom-level teams continue to improve competitively. (I'm looking at you, Jayhawks.)

Let’s say the Big Ten picks that time to expand to 14 or 16. It will do so by grabbing teams such as Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse, both to gain East Coast markets and to force Notre Dame’s hand by crippling the Big East.

Here’s what the Big 12 needs to do (and what I think the Big 12 will do).

In 2015, we need to extend invitations to BYU and Notre Dame to join the conference in all sports except football.

Notre Dame will be allowed to maintain its own television deal, just as Texas is being allowed to create its own network. BYU can maintain its new deal with ESPN, although that likely would be incorporated into the new negotiations. It also can continue to use BYU-TV as an independent platform.

Each would be requested to schedule a couple of football games against Big 12 teams each season, much as Notre Dame already does with the Big East. The Fighting Irish already are scheduled to play Texas four times in the next decade.

The Big 12 once again would be the Big 12 (which is why we will keep the name in the interim) in all sports except football (and baseball, since Iowa State doesn’t play it), BYU wouldn’t have to be in two conferences for its non-revenue sports, Notre Dame would gain the stability it doesn’t have in the Big East and the flexibility it won’t be afforded in the Big Ten, and we would gain two national fan bases that also are upgrades.

(Notre Dame football brings in more money than Nebraska’s, and the basketball isn’t even a comparison. BYU and Colorado aren’t even on the same planet in terms of media attention, fan devotion and competitiveness.)

We know Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick are close.

Texas already is making overtures through Chip Brown and backdoor channels, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn in 10 years that one of the reasons BYU made the leap to independence was that Big 12 officials were offering private assurances behind the scenes that the Cougars would be on the short list when the time is right for the league to re-expand.

BYU doesn’t want to be an independent — it wants to be a BCS power, and independence is the first step.

The worst case scenario is that the Big Ten projects all of this out and sees that Notre Dame has an attractive escape pod if Delany squeezes too hard. If that happens, the Big Ten won’t expand and the Big 12 will stay at 10.

Either way, I like our position.

If we play this out right, K-State will be in an extremely fortunate position to be in a league with the two most profitable athletic departments in the country. Our region will experience population growth even as the Big Ten’s region experiences decline.

The Big Ten won’t cease to be a powerful conference, of course, but it sure won’t be the monstrosity some projected it to become. And the Pac-10 will be lucky if it and the state of California aren’t bankrupt in 10 years.

Go ahead and laugh at this scenario if you want, but we’ll see who is laughing in 2016. The winner of realignment will be the conference that ends up with Notre Dame and Texas. We’re already halfway there and I guarantee some powerful people are working behind the scenes to try and make that happen.

If we land BYU and Notre Dame prior to renegotiating our contracts in 2016, those contracts will go through the roof.

Best of all, we will have the national appeal that regionalized conferences such as the SEC and the Big Ten haven’t been able to create.

TB: As with most settlement situations, both sides will claim victory. The Big 12 will claim that it received 50 percent of the money and didn't have to go through litigation to obtain it, while Nebraska will claim that it paid half-dollars on the dollar to get out of a situation it didn't create. Both sides will be half-right, of course.

I'm disappointed in the Big 12. It just seems weak to me to cave in and make concessions when there isn't even a lawsuit pending. My preference would have been for the conference to withhold the 80 percent, then wait for Nebraska to file a lawsuit. If it did, fine, go to the bargaining table.

But to just basically split the baby this early in the process struck me as a "let's just get it over with" tactic.

Nebraska rightfully can claim that it got a fairly good deal here by paying half without having to file a lawsuit to get it, but its argument wasn't as strong as a lot of its fans seem to think.

I can't imagine a corporation that thinks it has a really good argument and a really good chance at success, but says, "Oh, well, we'll just pay $9 million for the sake of convenience." That's just not how it works.

As for the other question, that's really hard to say. There still are a lot of variables in play. I tend to agree with BracketCat that most of the conferences don't have any incentive to expand right now because they're locked into TV contracts, but it only takes one to start the chaos again.

With the Big Ten Network, the Big Ten can expand at any time and still justify it if it moves into new states (or gets Notre Dame). And the Pac-12 might be forced to keep making a play for Texas, because it's not going to get the boost from Utah and Colorado that most Utes and Buffs fans think it'll get.

I don't think any of the current members of the Big 12 are going anywhere, absent extraordinary circumstances before the next major TV contract negotiation, so I'll say: Yes, the Big 12 still will be a 10-team league in 2016 when the contract is renegotiated.

Pending the results of that, however, and the landscape at the time — Big Ten and Pac-12, particularly — we'll see whether Texas still is interested in sticking around.

Panjandrum: I'm not totally pleased. Satisfied might be a better word, so I'll say that I'm not totally satisfied.

I get why Nebraska did what it did. I really do. I think they overreacted, sure, and I think there was a great deal of their typical hubris and arrogance at play, and I think that in 10 years, they'll regret their decision because, frankly, they'll be the red-headed stepchildren of the "old money" in the Big Ten — but I get it.

That said, I think they should have paid every freaking dime. Every last cent. No settlement. Take them to court.

Then, as TB said, make them settle, if that's the play. But put your best foot forward and sue their pants off, if possible.

I'm just glad we're getting something more than week-old Chinese food for Colorado. I don't think it has much else to give, so anything is better than nothing. I'm shocked the Big 12 even found what it did.

In terms of what the conference looks like in 2016, there are going to be two models put forth before the networks — one with 10 teams and one with 12 teams. At that time, they'll say, "What will you give me for these 10?"

Then they'll divide that number up and see what's there, and then they'll say, "What if we add schools X and Y?"

They'll factor in the money there, add the money for a conference championship game and divide by 12. If that number is higher than the number we get when they divide by 10, we'll see invites extended.

At that point, theoretically, we'd approach a team such as Arkansas and say, "With you in the fold, we get this much more money, and you'll make this much as a result." If that's higher than what it gets in the SEC, it might join the "new" Big 12. Anyway, that's my thought on the matter.