Bill Self and I share at least one thing in common: We are both big fans of the offseason beard.
Of course, I tend to find excuses to let the "offseason" beard flourish year-round. One of them is the NCAA tournament; when I rocked the beard last year, my boss asked me if the facial hair was in honor of the tourney. Uh, yes. Sure! Does this mean I don't have to shave?
Anyway, the beardedness wasn't the most notable thing about Self's appearance at the KU KickOff in Prairie Village, Kan. this weekend. Self has apparently donned a beard each of the past three summers, so this bit of stubble is nothing new. (When will he shave? According to Self, "when my wife tells me I have to." Good answer, coach.)
No, Self's most interesting comments addressed the possibility of Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC, a move that could restart a wave of conference realignment and threaten the tidy 10-team Big 12 as we currently know it. But Self isn't seeing all doom and gloom in A&M's apparent desire to bolt. From the Lawrence Journal-World:
“I don’t have a feel for A&M. You know, last year I was worried. This year I think our league is fine,” he said.
“Hey as long as we know the other nine teams are solid, I’m OK with that. We may add (teams to league if A&M leaves). We may not add. To be honest, nine is a perfect number for football and basketball for scheduling purposes because it reduces your league games to 16 in basketball and allows you to schedule four nonconference football games as opposed to three.”
Hey, that's definitely one way to look at. There's no inherent reason why a nine-team Big 12 couldn't work. The only reason the Big 12 might be thrown into turmoil is if some conference members use A&M's move as their own convenient reason to jump ship. That could start a domino reaction, with teams vying for position in various grass-is-greener scenarios, that could tear the Big 12 -- and who knows what else -- asunder. But if A&M does leave, and the rest of the conference agrees that there's no reason to rock the boat, a nine-team Big 12 could get the job done, yes? We agree on this?
Anyway, let's hope Self is more right than not. A man willing to risk the wrath of his wife for the sake of offseason beardedness deserves the undivided attention of the Big 12's conference decision-makers. Really, it's the least they can do.