There were two interesting developments in Manhattan, KS this week (and, no, Iowa State beating the Cats on their Senior Night is not one of them).
1.Kansas State signed basketball coach, Frank Martin, to an extension that brings with it a significant pay raise.
2.Earlier in the week Kansas State University president, Kirk Shulz, unveiled an (overly?)ambitious plan to elevate KSU into a top 50 school (they are currently tier 3) over the next 15 years.
What's the link to Big Ten expansion? This may be giving our humble conference too much credit, but my takeaway is that the ramifications of Big Ten expansion and the entire process leading (or not) to it are setting layers upon layers of forces in motion with effects more wide-reaching than first suspected. Sure, there have been the expected overtures from willing participants (Mizzou, Rutgers, Pitt) and controlled leaks (Nebraska, Wisconsin) from parties hoping to position themselves better for their own purposes. What we haven't really seen is movement from the "also rans" category of schools (Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech, etc.) that figure to be left without a chair when the music stops (or at best, a rickety, splinter-ridden chair with exposed nails). This is the first I've seen of a university from this pool trying to force itself into the discussion. Of course, with a 67-30 record over 3 years, the Martin extension was already well in the works. But the scale of the deal shows a real commitment to the sport from a school whose brightest days have been on the gridiron. The top 50 goal is really where I see the effect of Big Ten expansion come into play. Obviously, it would be foolish for any university president to not state the desire to enhance the academic reputation of their institution. But why now? And why aim so high? Is it an attempt to get the Big Ten/Pac 10 to notice them? Was it done with the intention of convincing Texas that the Big XII can become a league committed to similar ideals?
It would be nice to think that Kansas State is just at the crossroads of good fortune and noble ambition, but I cannot help but think that they will be the first of many universities doing everything in their power to make themselves attractive to the power players.
OK, tear it apart!