KANSAS CITY, Mo. - West Virginia football's move to the Big 12 was accompanied by the suggestion that life there was about Texas and Oklahoma. WVU basketball's introduction isn't much different. The league is very much about the Kansas Jawhawks.
Make that the eight-time defending regular-season conference champion Kansas Jayhawks, who were showing off their bedazzled championship rings at Big 12 media day at the Sprint Center on Wednesday.
They will begin defense of that title as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12.
"Our players don't want to be the team that doesn't," Coach Bill Self said. "They put pressure on themselves not to be that. I think that's good. I think it means an awful lot to them. I don't think there is a jubilation of winning the league maybe that you would anticipate with our guys, because I think they take the approach this is our job. This is what we came here to do. So I really like their approach.
"I like how much it means to them. I like the pride they take in it, that sort of thing. But the most important one we could ever win would be this year's, and that's how I think our guys look at it. That is certainly how I look at it."
Since the league came together for the 1996-97 season, the Jayhawks not only have led the league in attendance, they have won eight Big 12 tournament titles and at least a share of 12 regular-season titles. Kansas has had seven conference player of the year winners and by far the most first-team and all-conference players. They're even tops in academic all-conference picks.
The Big East never had such individual dominance when WVU as a member, though the Big East was a better RPI conference in nine of the 16 years the Big 12 has been around and six of the nine years Self has been the Jayhawks coach.
"It's really amazing," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "You talk about home court advantages, and I don't know who has a bigger home court advantage than KU has. We went in there and lost by I think it was (by) 106 my year at Kansas State (2007). My 7-foot-2 center fouled out in seven minutes.
"When you talk about KU winning all of those, I think there is one guy really responsible, and that's Bill. He's a great coach. Of course having all those players doesn't hurt anything either, just in case you were wondering. That doesn't hurt at all either."
Huggins was 0-3 as the Wildcats coach against Kansas, but lost by 37 at Kansas, by nine at home and then by six in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinal.
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THE MOUNTAINEERS will adjust to the tricky travel in the league and the status as the easternmost school and the only one in the Eastern Standard Time zone.
"They asked me there who our rivalry in the conference was going to be and I said, 'It's probably Iowa State. They're the closest. Only 853 air miles,'" Huggins said.
Cyclones Coach Fred Hoiberg heard and later laughed.
"Proximity wise, it works," he said "I can't sign off on it, though."