As realignment dominoes continue to fall, each move not only strengthens the Big 12 and K-State’s future, but it also will impact future non-conference games in a negative way. Colorado is already locked in as a future Big 12 member, meaning that K-State, Colorado and the Big 12 will have to figure out a solution for scheduled non-conference games in 2027 and 2028 for the two schools. Another problem could be on the horizon though, Arizona is also on future schedules for the Wildcats, with games next season and in 2025 currently lined up.
This isn’t the first time this situation has come up for the Big 12. Kansas played the first game of a scheduled home-and-home series with Houston last season on the road, but with the Cougars’ arrival in the league, the return game to Lawrence was called off and left Kansas with an empty spot on the 2023 schedule. The Jayhawks scrambled and scheduled a 2023 and 2029 set of games with Nevada, playing the first game on the road in Reno this season.
Kansas had an easier time making this move as they already had Illinois on the schedule for this season, meeting the Big 12’s one non-conference game against an autonomy school (P5).
Conferences in the past have skirted around the tough rescheduling process by having conference opponents play each other as non-conference games that don’t count toward the league standings. Most notably and recently the ACC has done this a few times.
This doesn’t seem totally out of the realm of possibility for one or both of the Arizona games, given how quickly they will come on the schedule. It may also be true that the Big 12 waves the Power 5 opponent requirement for any teams that are in a tricky situation.
Another option for the Wildcats and other Big 12 opponents is to try and move future scheduled games like Rutgers up.
Another possible avenue is to try and find any other Power 5 schools with open schedules in 2024 and the other years vacated by future conference opponents. Not to get too far ahead of the process, but Oklahoma is still in need of two more non-conference opponents for their first season in the SEC in 2024.