Iowa State, you could be next.
Or you, Colorado.
That's the kind of hope Kansas and Missouri has given to other schools in the Big 12 North.
A little time and commitment to a program and presto - a successful season.
The most recent Bowl Championship Series standings has Kansas at No. 4 and Missouri checking in at No. 6.
Yet success hasn't happened overnight for both schools. Kansas coach Mark Mangino is in his sixth year at Kansas, and Gary Pinkel his seventh at Missouri.
``People stuck with them and look at what they're getting,'' Iowa State first year coach Gene Chizik said. ``It takes time, especially with some programs that traditionally aren't nationally recognized and aren't a national power.''
Chizik is just hoping he's given ample time to develop the Cyclones into a contender.
``Those are two great examples of two guys the administration stuck with and they've done well,'' Chizik said. ``Obviously, they're playing top 10 football right now and everyone sees them differently than they did three years ago.''
Kansas, ranked fifth in the AP Poll, and Missouri, No. 7, have helped reshape the image of the Big 12 North.
From what Pinkel was hearing in the offseason, the North was in a state of decline.
So much for that.
``It's not a surprise from my standpoint,'' Pinkel said. ``I've heard the last few years about the North not being strong and some people taking shots at the league. I think very highly of the strength of our league.''
Pinkel should. Oklahoma is No. 5 in the BCS standings with Texas coming in at No. 14.
M coach Dennis Franchione said. ``I think a lot of people didn't realize how tough this league was going to be.''
The success of the Tigers (8-1, 4-1) isn't a big surprise to Franchione. He would've picked Missouri to win the North with all the talent the team had coming back.
But Kansas? Now, that's a shocker to him. The Jayhawks are 9-0 for the first time since 1908.
``I think Kansas was the one that surprised the most people,'' Franchione said. ``They've done a great job.''
Even Sooners coach Bob Stoops, who's good friends with Mangino, had no idea the Jayhawks were going to be this competitive.
``He felt he had a good team,'' Stoops said. ``I don't know if any of us out of season sit there and brag about our team. You want to see how they work, how they come together.''
The team has come together nicely for the Jayhawks.
``We have some really talented players, we're not denying that,'' Mangino said. ``But we don't have an entire cast of huge playmakers. We have a bunch of kids that play hard and understand the value of hard work.''
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins isn't surprised by the success of teams like Kansas and Missouri in the North, even if that side of the conference often gets overlooked.
``People get paid a lot of money to pontificate and try to predict and say what's going to happen,'' Hawkins said. ``But the guys that are inside the trenches and digging it out day to day - they know what those teams are capable of.''
And want to be the next one just like them.
TEMPORARY BIKE BAN: One little fall won't stop Mike Leach from riding his bicycle again.
The Texas Tech coach broke a bone in his right arm in early October when he took a tumble. He's been banned from riding for at least another month as his arm heals.
``It's been kind of a nuisance,'' he said. ``You forget there's anything wrong with it. The worst is when you turn a doorknob and you get about halfway and you realize that you have a broken arm. But you know you only have to turn it a little further and so you do that. Then, pulling the door is another exercise.''
Asked if he'll stay away from cycling after this, Leach emphatically said, ``No.''
MISERY LOVES COMPANY: There was a long pause as Nebraska coach Bill Callahan contemplated the question of whether he'd be back next season.
The Cornhuskers suffered an embarrassing 76-39 loss to Kansas on Saturday, surrendering the most points ever by a Huskers team in their 117-year football history.
``I'm going to let the powers that be make those decisions,'' Callahan said. ``I think that's all any coach can ever do.''
Baylor coach Guy Morriss is in the same boat as Callahan. There are rumors swirling about his job status after the Bears were guaranteed the team's 12th consecutive losing season after a 38-7 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday.
``That's some stuff that I can't control,'' Morriss said.
With no bowl possibility, the Bears are playing for pride.
``You've got to make the decision: How do you want to play these last two?'' Morriss said. ``What they do on Saturday is pretty much up to the player. We can't go play for them. They have to decide: Are they going to give it their best shot? You're representing your personal self, your teammates and this university. Hopefully, we'll have enough character and pride and we'll go play hard.''
Callahan called this season a learning experience for the Huskers (4-6, 1-5). The team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
``We're not discouraged, we're disappointed,'' Callahan said. ``These are great life lessons for all of us, especially for this group of players. It's a tough pill to swallow. But our guys are holding their heads up high. That's all we can ask of them.''
EXTRA POINTS: Kansas State wideout Jordy Nelson had a school-record 214 yards receiving in a loss to Iowa State last week. He broke his own mark of 209 yards set earlier in the season against Missouri State. ... Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said nobody felt worse about the team's 38-35 loss to Texas than kicker Jason Ricks, who missed a 34-yard attempt with 1:13 remaining. ``That's a chip shot for him,'' Gundy said. ``He's going to make that kick time and time again. He just missed it.''

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