Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:28 am

SMU would like to join the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While it isn't official, it's pretty much an accepted fact that Texas A&M will be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC at some point in the immediate future. Which means that the Big 12 is going to be down a school and looking for a replacement. Now, generally, any school that might have some interest in joining the Big 12 would go about things quietly. Schools would perform their due diligence under the cover of darkness, and through meetings at undisclosed locations.

Then there's SMU. SMU wouldn't mind being in the Big 12, and it's even willing to go to the Dallas Morning News to let the world know
SMU officials said the school’s future lies in joining a BCS conference, heightening a public stance on their desire to rejoin big-time college athletics during a meeting Wednesday with The Dallas Morning News editorial board.

“We are pushing for it,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner said. “We want the city to know we’re pushing for it. We need as much help as possible, even from non-SMU alums. We believe it’s good for Dallas.”

While the benefits of joining a BCS conference would be clear — including a boost in prestige and TV money — SMU would need to be convincing to appeal to a BCS conference.
Now, SMU isn't going Big 12 or bust. While the school says the Big 12 makes the most sense, they'd be willing to go elsewhere like TCU did in joining the Big East. Of course, the big question is, would a BCS conference want SMU?

Some pros for the school would be that it seems to be back on the verge of respectability again under June Jones, and it is located in Dallas, a nice television market. A potential drawback could be SMU's stadium, which currently only seats 32,000. However, there are plans to expand that to 40,000, and while that's not typical of the stadium sizes seen in the SEC and Big Ten, it's not too terrible compared to other Big 12 schools.

Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium has a capacity of 50,000. It's also bigger than Robertson Stadium (32,000) that Houston, another school mentioned as a Big 12 replacement, currently plays in.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 12:44 pm

Big 12 may want to make things 'legally binding'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After the Big 12 narrowly escaped its demise last summer, the remaining ten schools in the conference came to a gentlemen's agreement about staying together and keeping the Big 12 alive. Now that Texas A&M seems intent on leaving for the SEC, we can all see how binding that verbal agreemement between the schools last summer was.

Which is why Texas Tech president Guy Bailey feels that the conference needs to come up with something a bit more solid. As in signing your name on a sheet of paper and agreeing to a contract solid.

"It's incumbent on us to be aggressive in assuring the future of the conference," Bailey told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "If not, we're going to be in the same boat again next year or the year after.

"We do have to do get something to secure our future... and that probably means putting your name on the dotted line. Doing that in a legally binding way is pretty important." 

In other words, this way when a school decides it wants to leave the Big 12 in the future, it's going to cost that school quite a bit of money to do so.

As for where the conference is now, Bailey said that the Big 12 needs to plan on Texas A&M leaving, and that means finding a school to replace the Aggies. The list of candidates are the same ones you've heard before: BYU, Houston, Notre Dame -- that noise you hear is Jim Delany laughing and saying "good luck with that" -- Air Force and TCU.

I'd say the most likely candidate to eventually join the Big 12 would be Houston. There's no doubt that Houston would like to move up from Conference USA to a BCS conference, and the state of Texas would love to add another one of its schools to a BCS conference as well. The concern with Houston is the school's athletic facilities, though the possiblity of both the basketball team and football team playing in the professional venues of the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans has been proposed as a solution.
Posted on: August 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm

SEC finishes meeting, doesn't invite Texas A&M

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The SEC has just finished its scheduled meeting of its presidents and chancellors, and unfortunately for secession-minded Texas A&M fans, the conference is staying put at 12 teams -- for now. Here's the full statement released by presidents and chancellors chair (and Florida president) Bernie Machen:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”

What Machen didn't say is that Texas A&M won't be invited to the SEC; if the chancellors and presidents didn't want the Aggies to come, the statement would likely have been worded with a bit more finality. As it stands, the conference is clearly leaving the door open to expansion.

It's also worth pointing out that the Texas A&M Board of Regents has yet to authorize school president R. Bowen Loftin (who did not attend the SEC's meeting) to negotiate its conference standing; that action is set to take place Monday. Texas A&M is still a member of the Big 12, and it might not even be legal for the SEC to invite the Aggies at this point.  In other words, the "future conditions" Machen talks about may be as simple as Texas A&M applying to the SEC, or at the very least setting an end date to its affiliation to the Big 12. Either way, the metaphorical ball likely wasn't in the SEC's court to begin with.

Moreover, Texas state Rep. Dan Branch has called for a hearing before his Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday, with officials from the Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M invited. The Texas state legislation has been active in conference affiliation matters in the past; it pushed for Baylor's inclusion alongside Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the "Pac-16" plan that eventually fell through, for example. Branch has said it would be "inappropriate" for Texas A&M to go to the SEC before the Tuesday meeting, and Loftin said that he would be present at that meeting, and that the Regents.

Arkansas chancellor Dave Gearheart attended the meeting, and said that while no action was taken on Texas A&M, the school was certainly one of the topics of discussion. "It was really an open discussion, not just about A&M but about the future of the conference and the future of other conferences," Gearhart said. "We did talk about Texas A&M. It's a great university, a great place. But I think the decision was to make no decision at this particular time."

This issue isn't put to bed by any stretch. An unnamed SEC official told the New York Times' Pete Thamel that the meeting was to let Texas A&M "get its house in order." But for now, Texas A&M is stuck with the Big 12. Saturday, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe issued a statement that the conference had "unanimous desires" for Texas A&M to remain a member, and that the conference "took actions [...] to adequately address those concerns" that Texas A&M had raised.

Texas A&M's main problem revolved around the upcoming Longhorn Network, the Texas-affiliated sports channel set to launch this fall. In particular, Texas A&M was among many Big 12 members who objected to the channel's plans to air an in-conference football game and high school games involving high-profile recruits. Both of those options have since been taken off the table, with the NCAA issuing a moratorium on all collegiate networks airing high school games.

Still, the mere suggestion that these ideas were planned by the network may have been enough to sour Texas A&M on the Big 12 for good, regardless of what the Longhorn Network actually does, and it probably didn't help matters when Beebe told the conference that it can survive without Texas A&M and speculated on candidates to replace the Aggies, namely Houston and Notre Dame

Members of the Texas A&M coaching staff and its players declined any comment that indicated any interest in the potential move. Head coach Mike Sherman said "I don't pay a lot of attention to [the SEC issue]" after an afternoon practice on Sunday. Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed, saying "it's not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

Loftin issued a statement through Texas A&M on Sunday on the issue.

"As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines. The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment. I will also accept Chairman Branch's invitation to participate in his committee's hearing on Tuesday. These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M." 

RapidReporter Brent Zwenerman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 4:53 pm

Texas A&M moves Regents meeting to Monday

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In what's likely the most ominous sign for Texas A&M's future with the Big 12, a Texas A&M Regents meeting originally scheduled for August 22 has been rescheduled -- to next Monday, the next possible business day.

Here's the link to the official meeting notice. There are 15 items, and the first 14 aren't related to athletics. Oh, but Item 15:

15) Authorization for the President to Take All Actions Relating to Texas A&M University's Athletic Conference Alignment, The Texas A&M University System

That is not a discussion. That is not a consideration. That is allowing school president R. Bowen Loftin to send A&M to the SEC, something that wouldn't be authorized for the heck of it.

This doesn't appear to be a major concern to Dan Beebe or the rest of the Big 12 anymore, however. Texas A&M RapidReporter Brent Zwerneman posted that the conference is ready to move on without the Aggies:

There appears to be no turning back for the Aggies to the SEC. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has told Texas A&M the Big 12 will survive without the Aggies, and that Texas holds the key to the conference’s future, according to an A&M official. The Big 12 also said Houston will be a viable replacement for the Aggies, according to the A&M official.

In other words, the split is basically done, and neither side is interested in stopping it. Now the only question is who else the SEC takes -- and whether any any other Big 12 teams are on the way out as well. According to RedRaiderSports.com's Chris Level, a "high ranking Texas Tech official" (and for the record, TTU athletic director Kirby Hocutt was previously Miami's AD) says the SEC is "in talks with Texas A&M and an ACC school," but once the SEC acquisitions begin, what's to stop SEC head honcho Mike Slive from going past 14 teams?

Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:21 pm

Dan Beebe doesn't seem concerned about A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that if Texas A&M really is set on leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC, the Aggies better hope that the SEC's interest in them is mutual. According to our Texas A&M Rapid Reporter Brent Zwerneman, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has told Texas A&M that the Big 12 will survive without it. Which doesn't exactly sound like the words of a man who is trying to do everything he can to keep A&M in the Big 12.

Beebe also told Texas A&M that Texas is the school that holds the key to the Big 12's future, and that as long as the Longhorns don't leave, the Big 12 would survive. In fact, should Texas A&M leave then the Big 12 may just replace them with Houston

Of course, that's if Texas doesn't decide to leave the conference as well. Something that isn't exactly set in stone according to The Oklahoman. In a story about Oklahoma believing that Texas A&M is going to leave, there's also this tidbit about what the future of Texas may hold.
[Texas athletic director DeLoss] Dodds said his preference is for the Big 12 to bring in another school to replace A&M, should the Aggies leave. He also mentioned Texas and Notre Dame joining forces to create a new conference, should the Big 12 disintegrate. 
In other words, Texas doesn't really care if its in-state rival leaves the conference, but it just wants to make sure that the Big 12 remains a 10-school league, or the Longhorns will continue to cut their own path.

So if it wasn't apparent to you before, it should be now that the Aggies are merely just the first domino of what could be many to fall.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: August 5, 2011 4:03 pm

Podcast: Top five QBs in the nation

Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst unveil their top five quarterbacks of 2011 ... and let the debate begin. Both Aizer and Darst have Stanford's Andrew Luck, Boise State's Kellen Moore and Oklahoma's Landry Jones in their top three, but you will be surprised at the order and who is ranked No. 1.

Also debated is the best quarterback in the Big Ten ... is it Northwestern's Dan Persa or Michigan's Denard Robinson? A few other names are tossed around, including Houston's Case Keenum, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Oregon's Darron Thomas. Who else should be in the Top 5?

Listen to the podcast below:

Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:33 pm

Walter Camp Award watch list announced

Posted by Chip Patterson

As we brace ourselves for the media day onslaught that will begin with the SEC on Wednesday, the watch list season finally wraps up with the prestigious Walter Camp Award watch list. The award is given annually by the Walter Camp Football Foundation to the "Player of the Year.  Although it also awards individual greatness in college football, only two of the last five Heisman Trophy winners have also collected the Walter Camp Award.

Two of last year's finalists return to the watch list (Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oregon's LaMichael James) along with many of the usual suspects from the other position-based awards. The list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in mid-November, then the winner will be chosen from the finalists and announced on Dec. 8.

QB Matt Barkley, USC
WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
LB Tank Carder, TCU
DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
DT Jared Crick, Nebraska
RB Knile Davis, Arkansas
TE Michael Egnew, Missouri
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M
QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
QB Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois
RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
DB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
DT Brandon Jenkins, Florida State
WR Damarais Johnson, Tulsa
QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
QB Case Keenum, Houston
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
DB Robert Lester, Alabama
DE Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh
QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy
QB Bryant Moniz, Hawaii
QB Kellen Moore, Boise State
QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
WR/KR Eric Page, Toledo
QB Dan Persa, Northwestern
RB Chris Polk, Washington
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
QB Denard Robinson, Michigan
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
QB Darron Thomas, Oregon
QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
RB James White, Wisconsin

Anyone missing?  Think anyone doesn't belong? Let us know in the comments section below or tell us on Twitter 

Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October

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