Inside College Football: Realignment may not be an active topic, but it's out there

There were a couple of significant developments in conference realignment you missed last week. If you saw the news at Nebraska Cornhuskers and Kansas Jayhawks , you probably didn't even make the connection.

At first glance, the tantalizing statements by former Huskers coach Tom Osborne to Land of 10 could be passed off as stream of consciousness from a wisened icon.

Osborne said he knows "people" he has talked to "in the past" who "maybe have some interest" in the Big Ten "as a viable option."

Well, duh. I can think of about 50 schools right off the bat that might be interested. Don't forget, Nebraska got the whole realignment ball rolling eight years ago because of its nervousness about the Big 12. Osborne also referred to a current "disruptive factor" in his former league.  

So yeah, T.O. can influence realignment with mere words, and the Big Ten is a primo destination.

Curiously, at about the same time last week, Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger shocked boosters with a surprise announcement at a happy hour Kansas City gathering. 

Zenger boldly presented a $300 million stadium renovation project that will include an indoor practice facility. That rocked the fundraising arm in athletic departments from coast to coast.

In a vacuum, this would be surprising news. Per USA Today, $300 million is more than three times Kansas' current athletic revenue. Per that same database, $300 million for this one project is also $108 million more than Texas A&M's total athletic revenue, the largest in the country.

This is Kansas, a basketball school, winner of exactly one FBS game in coach David Beaty's two seasons. The program as a whole hasn't won more than three games since 2008.

There's something else going on here.

"It brings us into the level of playing field that you must be at to be a Power Five university," Beaty said.

Read that quote carefully: This is as much an all-in financial commitment as it is as a buy-in for KU to have a seat at the table in the next round of conference realignment.

At least you'd better believe that's how Zenger is selling it to boosters.

Don't laugh. Kansas was this close to playing in the Mountain West (or Big East) in 2010 when Nebraska began extricating itself from the Big 12.

Its storied basketball program alone wasn't going to save KU if the Pac-10 had been successful in its raid of six Big 12 schools

Football still rules the fortunes of any school that wants to play -- and spend -- at the highest level. That FBS/Power Five label alone affects enrollment, grants, state appropriations and ability to hire top professors.

"I haven't really said this to anyone publicly," Beaty continued, "but if you track the programs that have committed and done something like this -- I'm talking about the Oregons of the world, the Oklahoma States of the world -- look at the production that has followed major college football in the future."

Beaty has a point as well as a new contract that supports the narrative. It takes money to make money.

It made sense in December that Zenger extended his coach's deal out two more years to 2021. A coach has to be able to tell recruits he's going to be around when they're seniors.

But Zenger doubled down, not only doubling Beaty's salary (to a still-below-market $1.6 million) but adding an almost unprecedented bonus clause.

Beaty gets $100,000 for each win over a Power Five school. I spoke to several sources familiar with coaching contracts. They had barely heard of such a thing.

Is it possible Beaty coach harder with a six-figure incentive attached to each game? Figuring in retention and bowl bonuses, Beaty's salary would grow to $2.5 million for a mere 6-6 season.

All of this goes under the category of Kansas wanting to look big time even if recently it hasn't been. In December, the school ended a run of 4+ years in which it was paying off former coaches (Turner Gill, Charlie Weis) a combined $22.5 million to win exactly 11 games from 2010 to halfway through 2014.

"They know if this thing blows up in another four years -- they're a basketball school -- this is all about football," a current athletic administrator said. "I think what they're betting on is, 'We have to be ready when this [conference realignment] thing implodes.'"

Yes, and it's worth reminding Kansas has been mentioned for years as a someday member of the Big Ten. See where this could be headed?

"We have a lot of friends in the Big 12 [in] a lot of the regent schools like Kansas and Kansas State Wildcats and Iowa State Cyclones ," Osborne told Land of 10.

Several administrative sources spoken to for this piece mentioned that Zenger wouldn't have mentioned the monster project if he didn't have at least promises for a large portion of that $300 million (to be phased in over 3-5 years).

There may be a naming rights deal in the works that could be worth eight or nine figures. TCU Horned Frogs raised $325 million in a seven-year period for a stadium renovation and other amenities without going into debt.

It can be done. Especially when you're not winning, it's about marketing the experience as much as the game -- whether it's fans or players.

"A lot of that has to do with the fact that we are recruiting millenials," Beaty said. "They are making their decisions on what they see and how they feel. They are not thinking much more than that."

In this case, the future is being shaped while one of the worst FBS programs in the country plays in the background.

For now, Kansas is buying its way into that future.

A generational meeting

Circle Oct. 21 on your calendar. That day the oldest coach in FBS (Bill Snyder, 78, Kansas State) will meet the youngest (Lincoln Riley, 34, Oklahoma). That's a separation of 44 years.

That's believed to be the first such meeting since 2006 when Pat Fitzgerald (then 32, Northwestern Wildcats ) went against Joe Paterno (then 79, Penn State Nittany Lions ). That marked a separation of 47 years.

Three questions with Bobby Bowden

It has been almost eight years since the 87-year-old icon retired at Florida State Seminoles . Since then, Jimbo Fisher has carried on the legacy winning three ACC titles, a national championship and at least nine games in each season post-Bobby. We caught up with Papa Bowden recently to get his thoughts.

CBS Sports: What do you think of what's happened at FSU? Jimbo has it back to where you had it.

Bowden: "Jimbo's a heck of a football coach. [My son] Terry had him up in Salem College, then he took him to Samford. Then he hired him at Auburn Tigers . Jimbo is one of the best coaches in the country. He's good. He's a lot like Saban."

CBS Sports: What does Bill Snyder have to look forward to at age 78?

Bowden: "The whole key is having a good staff. He helps develop the plans and sees that they're carried out. He's got to have assistants and evidently he does.

"I had just hired [coach in waiting] Jimbo Fisher, [offensive line coach] Rick Trickett and [wide receivers coach] Lawrence Dawsey. I thought we had it ready to go, but I retired before I had a chance."

CBS Sports: You ever see a day where a coach was suspended? (Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, Rick Pitino in basketball; Hugh Freeze is under scrutiny for a suspension at Ole Miss)

Bowden: "I hadn't seen that in a while. A lot of people ask me if I miss coaching. I tell them, 'Not yet.' There's too much off-the-field stuff."

Another FBS startup?

Of all the recent FBS startups, this is one of the more unique. Texas Rio Grande Valley -- a 4-year-old school located in six extreme south Texas towns -- continues its feasibility study to add FBS football.

The school is part of the WAC in basketball but is becoming more expansive under the leadership of president Guy Bailey, former president at Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Tech Red Raiders . TRGV's consultants include former Texas coach Mack Brown and Oliver Luck, currently the No. 2 executive at the NCAA.

The school was established in 2013 after Texas-Pan American was folded into other campuses in Brownsville, Edinburg, Harlingen, McAllen, Rio Grande City and South Padre Island.

The school has studied the feasibility study conducted by Wichita State last year. Wichita State ultimately concluded football wasn't worth it when the price tag just to get to the point of snapping a ball was estimated at $40 million-$50 million. 

Additional notes from our Nigerian story

Two bullet items leftover from Monday's story on Nigerians and their success in American sports.

The NCAA listed only five native Nigerians in Division I college football in 2015 (latest year available). When they register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, athletes are only asked their current home. That doesn't take into account birthplace.  Men's basketball leads a "general estimate" by the NCAA with 45 Nigerian players.

Kansas left tackle Hakeem Adeniji is in Lawrence only because he had a cashew allergy. The former Air Force Falcons recruit was forced to transfer last summer because of academy regulations. The second generation Nigerian-American from Dallas was denied a medical waiver even though a brother had graduated from AFA and become an officer.

"The work ethic," Adjeniji said of the Nigerian culture. "The way you were raised. You were raised to be respectful."

He was named to the All-Big 12 freshman team and was freshman All-American honorable mention despite playing at 290 pounds.

Quick hits

Make it four former Art Briles staffers who now have jobs. Two of them were together recently at Arkansas State Red Wolves . Former Baylor Bears and current Florida Atlantic Owls offensive coordinator Kendal Briles consulted with Red Wolves' coach Blake Anderson on installing his father's offense. Arkansas State has also hired former Baylor strength coach Kaz Kazadi … Baylor confirmed Monday it is under NCAA investigation in wrongdoing resulting from the scandal. Add that investigation to the list of potentially explosive penalties to come with North Carolina Tar Heels and Ole Miss still ongoing … When ESPN extended its deal with Brigham Young Cougars one year through 2019, it basically assured the Cougars would remain independent at least through that season. BYU is 52-26 since going indy in 2011. That's the best record of any current independent in that span.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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