Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was quite revealing Monday during a conference call prior Wednesday's beginning of the conference tournament. Beebe is headed into the men's basketball committee bunker for the first time. As a first-timer, he doesn't know what he is getting into -- at least physically. Don't load up on the dessert cart, Dan. Those of us who have gone through the mock draft process at NCAA have a new and special appreciation for commitment of the committee.
Of course, you won't hear much of that if one of Vitale's flunkies get left out of the bracket.
Most telling is that the NCAA seems to be in the process of informing conferences this week about the process of expanding the tournament. The NCAA could inform (perhaps by video conference) administrators about how expansion would take place.
Beebe and the basketball committee will have input, but the ultimate decision probably rests with the NCAA executive committee. Beebe says he was skeptical at first about expansion but is not more open about it.
"I'm still going to have to be convinced there is a better way to go," he said of the current setup.
In this Q&A, he also talks about the Brent Musberger-Bobby Knight pairing on Big Monday which has been somewhat controversial in the Big 12 region. Both seem a little bit out over their skis at times on the broadcasts, especially when the former talent, Ron Franklin and Fran Fraschilla, live in the Big 12 region and are knowledgeable about the conference.
Why did you join the men's basketball committee?
Beebe: "It is probably the most prestigious committee assignment you can get from the NCAA. Ninety-eight percent of the NCAA's budget is from the men's basketball championship. This is a critical time. We're in the middle of an opt-out period with CBS. If there isn't an opt out, we'll be planning for the future of tournament on CBS.
"I was somewhat recruited by Mike Slive. There had been BCS commissioners on the committee. They got down to the end of the rope and there I was."
(Beebe obviously was kidding.)
What's your take on expanding the NCAA Tournament field?
Beebe: "I probably entered that discussion with a lot more skepticism about it. After that discussion, we ought to be at least open minded. I'll tell you what I told the NCAA staff, I've encouraged them to take their show on the road, to see what their thinking is.
"The rank and file administrator who is trying to sell season tickets as well as those of us running quality [conference] tournaments have to take a long look at it ...
"I entered the discussion with a lot of skepticism. I'm more open. My decision has to be informed by [Big 12] administrators when they get the presentation this week. The other factor that I have to really look at is the missed class time issue. The other part of it is frankly, conferences at our level at not willing to take less [money]. We believe we [bring] significant value for the tournament."
There has been a bit of consternation about the Musburger-Knight pairing on Big Monday. Any thoughts?
"We provide feeback ... to ESPN. Television partners have the ultimate decision for the talent for the broadcasts. They pay a lot of money for that right. Those are two very high-profile individuals. Bob Knight, when I listen to his broadcast, you almost want to take out your pen and paper and write down what he says. He doesn't get into that hyperbole and is very instructive about the game.
"We'll talk to ESPN privately about things about that."
(When asked the same question about Musburger and Knight, an ESPN spokesman responded this way in an e-mail:
"Brent is the voice of college sports who has called major events in multiple amateur and pro sports – fans know it is an event to watch when they hear Brent calling it.
"Bob brings the experience of winning a Division I record 902 games and 3 NCAA Championships to the telecast; is known as having one of the best Xs and Os minds to have coached the game. People stop to hear what he has to say."
Bottom line: Don't expect change because the announcing team is working in the only category that matters. Ratings for Big Monday are up 8 percent.)
In other Big 12 news, conference officials will meet in early June to assign the championship sites for the next five years. There has been some talk that basketball would be locked into Kansas City (Sprint Center) and football would go to Dallas (Cowboys Stadium), but Beebe said the championships will not be permanently locked in.