The KCAC’s announcement Monday that it had stepped out of Kansas to add Oklahoma Wesleyan as its 11th member beginning next year begs the question — will Central Christian College of McPherson be the 12th member that it says it wants to add in the future?
I find the addition of Oklahoma Wesleyan somewhat puzzling, considering the conference’s name is the KANSAS Collegiate Athletic Conference. That’s what sets it apart, it’s all Kansas schools and it’s been a tight fraternity since 1999 when the University of Saint Mary became the 10th member.
Oklahoma Wesleyan has been a member of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, of which Central Christian College currently is a mismatched member of. The Tigers, other than men’s basketball and at one time women’s basketball, generally struggle against the MCAC schools, which are bigger and seem to have more resources at their disposal. If you look at the MCAC standings for most of the sports during the 2012-13 school year, Central is in the middle of the pack or lower.
I have maintained for years that Central and the MCAC is not a good fit. It’s a conference that’s literally all over the map — schools in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The basketball road trips are simply brutal, as the CCC teams during conference play are in one state one night, then have to turn around and play during the next afternoon in another state.
Many of the KCAC schools already schedule Central for nonconference games in various sports. Central is close to many of the schools — of course crosstown McPherson College, Bethany, Tabor, Kansas Wesleyan and Sterling. All those schools seem to be just across the street when you consider that CCC currently makes six- and seven-hour trips elsewhere.
There could be two strikes that will work against Central. McPherson College has been in the KCAC forever and the conference could fear that Central might take away from its recruiting. The bigger strike may be that Central doesn’t have football and probably never will, though the same can be said for Oklahoma Wesleyan. Central, though, could compete in the KCAC in most of the other sports.
That the KCAC brass said it’s interested in adding a 12th school in the future to give it balance has to cause Central’s heartbeat to skip a bit. One reason it has so much turnover in coaches is that they’re tired of trying to build programs that clearly are at a disadvantage.
Given the fact Central plays so many KCAC schools in various sports should give it a leg up when the discussion gets serious about a 12th school. There aren’t that many other schools in state to choose from, though Haskell comes to mind. It plays a lot of the KCAC schools in basketball and also for years has appeared on the nonconference football schedule of KCAC teams. The Indians used to be McPherson College’s traditional season opener.
I’ll be honest, I’m not really looking forward to making the road trip to Bartlesville to do color commentary on Bulldog basketball games against Oklahoma Wesleyan. I know how far it is to my hometown of Independence and Bartlesville is another hour. I’ve spent time there, having played golf at Adams Municipal (a fine course by the way). It’s a fast-paced city, with its population more than nearly all of the KCAC schools. But I’m not a big fan of long road trips and getting home at 1 a.m. on a Thursday night.