Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:04 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 1:27 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
- The Godfather, Part III.
The aforementioned movie was probably the worst of the trio of films in The Godfather series but the quote is a fairly accurate reflection of what happened Tuesday. Just when you thought Oklahoma was out, they're pulled back in. Or, thanks to the Pac-12's statement late Tuesday night, pushed back into the Big 12.
As everyone woke up, it seemed as though Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State too) were headed to the Pac-12. Their board had authorized President David Boren to act in the best interest of the school regarding conference realignment on Monday. It looked like it was a mere formality before there'd be some movement. Before everyone was home from work though, it seemed as things had cooled on that.
The Sooners would still be willing to work out somethings in order to make the Big 12 work, The Oklahoman reported. Commish Dan Beebe had to go, Texas would have to alter The Longhorn Network and concessions would have to be made. The door was open for the Big 12, but so was the Pac-12's... until the latter wasn't.
That's the gist of the Pac-12's statement, that they'd be sticking with the current group of schools and their giant media rights deal that still has ink drying on it. From the looks of everything - and that seems to change hour-by-hour - Oklahoma will no longer head West and we've essentially hit the pause/reset button on the realignment craze for at least a few more days.
"We were not surprised by the Pac 12's decision to not expand at this time," Boren said in a statement. "Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress we've been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future."
What's it all mean?
For the Pac-12: Raise your glasses once again to Larry Scott. It was his vision a year ago to push for the Pac-16 and when offered the chance to make it work, he said no because he couldn't do it on his terms. According to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, the league balked at giving Texas a sweetheart deal to make the arrangement with the Oklahoma schools work. The Longhorn Network isn't their problem and now the league can go back to putting together their own network that makes LHN's distribution look like a needle in the haystack. That's another win for the Scott and the conference.
For the Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma have to work things out and the other schools have to sign off on it. Texas A&M is still leaving for the SEC so that means expansion is still a topic for discussion (Hello TCU?, BYU?). A source told the AP that the two power schools will meet in the next few days to negotiate a deal to keep both in the league for five years. Forget the Red River Shootout, the Red River Boardroom will be the place to see these two teams square off this year.
It's hard to see Beebe keeping his job through all of this. It's clear he's not in charge anymore and it's time to go. Orangebloods.com reported late Tuesday night that it's not just the Sooners that want the commissioner out. Perhaps Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione could succeed him, he's one of the sharpest people in college athletics and someone who could rally all of the schools and keep the league afloat.
For the Big East: The conference's football teams - newcomer TCU included - met tonight in New York City and remained firmly committed to the league. It's clear that commissioner John Marinatto will hold Pitt and Syracuse in the league until 2014 and actively pursue options to replace them when they do in fact head to the ACC. Brett McMurphy has a detailed account of the meeting and says that Navy and Air Force are two likely targets for the Big East.
For the SEC: Get ready to roll out the welcome mats (officially) for Texas A&M. The Big 12 sticking together means that Baylor and the other schools can relinquish their legal threats and allow the Aggies to proceed on their way East. It remains to be seen if they're going to pursue a 14th team but it seems as though Missouri is off the table - if they were in fact looking at the Tigers to fill that spot as reports had indicated.
For the ACC: Sit tight boys, it will be awhile before the two newest schools will be ready to join the conference. Might want to pump the brakes on adding UConn or Rutgers too as the superconference idea looks to still be aways off.
For the BCS: Oh yeah, don't forget about the BCS itself. There are leagues shifting around like crazy and numbers are certainly going to change. The end date for the current contract is in 2014 but the evaluation process to determine what conference is an automatic qualifier starts much earlier. This might be the final piece of the realignment puzzle to be worked out, but it's one of - if not the - most important.
Tags: ACC, Air Force, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Brett McMurphy, Bryan Fischer, BYU, Dan Beebe, David Boren, Joe Castiglione, John Marinatto, Jon Wilner, Larry Scott, Missouri, Navy, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-16, Pitt, Red River Rivalry, Red River Shootout, Rutgers, SEC, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, The Longhorn Network, UConn
Posted on: September 20, 2011 4:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 6:31 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Big 12 soap opera may have hit its soapy apex today when Oklahoma, fresh off a regents meeting that authorized president David Boren to take action regarding conference realignment, reportedly issued an ultimatum to the conference: either commissioner Dan Beebe goes or Oklahoma does.
Citing an unnamed source, NewsOK.com's Berry Tramel broke the news on Tuesday afternoon:
The frustrations on the part of Nebraska and Texas A&M alluded to here stem largely from Texas and its Longhorn Network, the Texas-only channel that had planned to feature high school games involving Texas recruits and at least one Big 12 conference football game. The high school programming plan was walked back after an outpouring of concern about the idea, but the damage was already done.
On the other hand, Beebe now has the opportunity to save the Big 12 a second time, this time by martyring his office in the name of the greater good of the conference. Of course, the downside to that plan is it leaves Beebe without a job at the Big 12, which would substantially reduce his interest in the welfare of the embattled conference.
Oklahoma has not confirmed Tramel's report at this point, and Beebe has not issued a comment about the situation yet either. In lieu of either, then, we advise that you start up "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men for the background, load up the Fake Dan Beebe twitter feed, and enjoy both simultaneously.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 7:42 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Pac-12 is in the advanced stages of a plan to bring Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State into the fold, according to various reports. Though Texas has long been linked as a potential target of the Pac-12, the Longhorn Network has always been a stumbling block for negotiations... until now.
It appears a compromise on the programming of the LHN is in the works, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman, and perhaps the Longhorn Network won't be all Texas, all the time in the future:
Plans for the then-Pac-10 to bring Texas and a cadre of its mates from the former Big XII South to help form a Pac-16 crumbled in 2010 during the first round of conference realignment, with plans getting hung up on whether the four Texas schools in the Big 12 would be forced to remain together in a potential move or not. For as vocal as Baylor has been in trying to block Texas A&M's move to the SEC, it likely won't sit quietly this time around either, but so far there's been no public comment on this report by Baylor president Ken Starr or anybody else there.
As for football play in the hypothetical Pac-16, if the American-Statesman report is to be believed, talks are advanced enough that the conference is planning four four-team pods where each team would play its fellow pod members once, then two teams from each of the other three pods for a total of nine conference games. That would lead to a host of logistical questions in terms of tiebreakers and scheduling inequities year to year, but it's just about the fairest way to handle a 16-team football league without scheduling 15 conference games a year.
If the move goes through, and if Texas A&M does indeed join the SEC as it's been trying to do for a while now, the Big 12 would be left with just five teams: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and the aforementioned Baylor. There will likely be a host of Big East football programs looking for a new conference to latch onto if the ACC continues siphoning programs away, so the Big 12 may see its footprint expand east. The provision mandating that a conference maintain a group of five members together for five consecutive years was removed on August 1, 2011 (thanks, @bylawblog), so the Big 12 isn't in any danger of outright disbanding unless it can't get eight eligible members together for a season. Considering SMU, Houston, and the suddenly vulnerable TCU are all viable expansion candidates right there in the state of Texas, to say nothing of programs like Louisville and Cincinnati who may be in danger of losing BCS conference status, disbanding seems exceedingly unlikely.
At any rate, Oklahoma and Texas (opens .PDF file in new window) both have Board of Regents meetings already scheduled for Monday afternoon -- with conference realignment on their agendas -- so nobody's going to be kept waiting about this report for very long.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Baylor, Big 12, Conference Expansion, Conference Realignment, Dan Beebe, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Ken Starr, Ken Starr, Missouri, Mountain West, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Pac-16, Pac-16 Expansion, SEC, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas to Pac-12, Texas to Pac-16
Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:15 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- While Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's newest acquisition, Utah, was warming up on the field of his conference's most storied member, USC, the former tennis executive strolled into the Coliseum press box beaming about the first ever conference game that was to take place a few minutes later.
Then he met a swarm of media interested in just one topic.
"I'd prefer to be less popular," Scott joked after being inundated with questions about conference expansion. "On this topic, we're trying to stay out of the story frankly. Our position hasn't really changed, we haven't been looking for or aspiring to expand since we made the decision on 12.
"If schools are going to leave the Big 12 and there's going to be a paradigm shift, or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we'll go ahead and step back and look at our options, then reconsider."
Scott is just one of the key figures in the ongoing conference realignment saga that has infringed on the start of the college football season. In a nod to the fact that the story seems to change by the day, if not by the hour, Scott couldn't even confirm that he would be running a 12 team league next year.
"I know there will be a Pac-12," he said before cautioning, "I hope there is. The ink is still drying on our new logos and the field paint and uniforms. It's our hope that the world stays the same and we get to enjoy what we've created. I don't think anyone, with how dynamic the situation is, would stick their neck out and say nothing is going to change."
While most of the nation was focused on the thrilling Missouri-Arizona State game Friday night, Scott not only took in the action in Tempe but also discussed issues with the man who has seen several of his teams openly flirt with other conferences, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.
"I did speak with Dan yesterday," Scott said. "He was due to be in Tempe but didn't go. So we spoke over the phone and had a nice chat."
Scott already tried to raid Beebe's conference once before. Last summer he tried to boldly add Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to form a Pac-16 superconference. While he was unsuccessful in fulfilling his goal of adding all six teams - settling for the Buffalos and Utes - he still sees the future of major college athletics as having four, 16-team superconferences.
"I still believe it and I think what's going on is evidence that there's a disparity between certain conferences," he said. "I've been saying that over the past year that there will be more consolidation. I didn't think it would happen so quickly - a year after we expanded - that we'd have so much noise around the issue."
The commissioner did acknowledge that several schools have reached out to him - presumably Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - to gauge interest in the Pac-12 being a popular landing spot. Scott cautioned that there have been no votes nor any formal talks at adding teams to the conference. Given the threats of legal action from schools like Baylor, he chose his words carefully when asked about what could happen over the next few weeks.
"We're not being proactive, we're not trying to initiate any move to conferences beyond 12," said Scott. "I'm trying to be more precise in the language because it's a highly charged situation. People are hanging on every word, I felt that the media was getting a little further out in front of where we actually were, so I have had to be more precise that we're not initiating a move to superconfereces. We are only evaluating anything if other conferences go first."
For now, Scott and Pac-12 will wait. And watch. And listen.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 8:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Like most days as of late, Friday hasn't been the best day for the Big 12. Earlier in the day Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said what many people are thinking by placing the blame for the conference's problems on commissioner Dan Beebe, and on Friday evening Oklahoma president David Boren didn't do much to douse the fire of Oklahoma possibly leaving the Big 12 for another conference.
Boren talked to The Oklahoman's Travis Haney, and basically said that he has no idea what the future of the Big 12 or Oklahoma holds.
“It’s too early yet to know exactly what the outcome will be," said Boren. "Our main responsibility will be protecting the interest of the University of Oklahoma, do what’s in the best long-term interest of the university and our athletics department and the fans. That’s what we’ll attempt to do to. Beyond that, while we haven’t been saying much publicly – frankly, on purpose, because we’re at the sensitive point of discussions among schools. Too much said in public reduces success of our goals rather than enhances it.
“We have to study the best options for ourselves and not lock ourselves into a course of action until we know what’s best for the university. We’re heavily involved. I don’t know how long it will be before clarity comes to us. My experience is that, in these kinds of things, it might be a matter of 72 hours, it might be a matter of two weeks. I don’t really think this is something that’s going to linger on beyond two or three weeks, from the outside. This has been consuming my life the last few days. It’s a fascinating challenge. We’re just in the search for what’s best for the university."
Doren also went on to say that other conferences are interested in Oklahoma, though he did not say anything about Oklahoma being contacted by anyone. He also said that Oklahoma is exploring all its options.
“At this point in time, I’ll be very honest with you in saying I do not know with certainty, or perhaps even can’t hazard a totally intelligent guess as to what our final decision will be. But we are carefully looking over all the options."
It's been speculated in recent days that one of those options would be the Pac-12 as it is considering becoming the Pac-16 by adding Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. Of course, the SEC has been rumored to be interested in Oklahoma before as well, though I'm not sure the Sooners would make that move without Oklahoma State. Which means the SEC would then have to add a 16th school.
Of course, as Doren said, nobody can be sure what's going to happen in the Big 12 over the coming days, weeks and months. But it's somewhat hard to deny that dark clouds seem to be forming overhead.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 4:59 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Big 12 has seemed to be on the brink of extinction for about a year now, even when it supposedly wasn't, and with Texas A&M being the latest school to leave, everybody is just sitting around waiting for the next shoe to drop. Is the Pac-12 going to swoop in to take Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech? Could adding BYU save the Big 12?
We don't know. In fact, while there's plenty of speculation on the future, nobody knows much of anything for sure. Unless you're Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel. According to Pinkel, while he may not know what the future holds, he knows exactly who to blame for the past.
"Obviously, we have some issues in our league," said Pinkel while on Tim Brando's radio show on Friday. "When you have Nebraska leave one year. Colorado leaves. Also now Texas A&M. Three really good football teams. You know, we’ve got some issues. Without question there’s some issues that other leagues don’t have. You don’t hear anything about any other league in the country having these kind of problems. We all know where it starts. [Missouri athletic director] Mike Alden’s not the point man here. Dan Beebe is. Dan Beebe’s our commissioner. He’s the guy to ask. I don’t know what they’re going to do. I’m just focusing now on winning the football game.
"There’s just no one in the country, no other league in the country, where this stuff goes on. And it’s really a shame because the potential of the league is just so tremendous. Anyway, I have no control over it. We’re just trying to beat Miami (Ohio)."
How do you really feel, Gary?
While Pinkel doesn't come right out and say it, it's pretty clear that he lays the blame for what has happened to the Big 12, and what could happen in the Big 12, at the feet of Dan Beebe. Pinkel is just sharing feelings that many other Big 12 schools have felt privately for a while, and that is that they don't appreciate the way Beebe has treated Texas compared to the way the rest of the schools are treated. And it's hard to blame any other Big 12 school not named Texas or Oklahoma for feeling that way.
You can hear the entire interview here.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 6:14 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
With the season only days away, the subject of realignment and Texas A&M-to-the-SEC just won't seem to stay out of the headlines. For many reporters, local or national, this means even later nights and even earlier mornings spent tracking down the latest rumors regarding the delicate dance that schools are going through to join/leave/flirt with conferences.
Like other reporters, I submitted several Freedom of Information Act requests to the public schools in the Big 12 on behalf of CBSSports.com earlier this month. Why? To see if I could get a clearer picture about what was happening behind the realignment curtain. While more and more school presidents and athletic directors are getting smarter about picking up the phone rather than leaving a paper trail about these matters, there's still plenty of information that has to travel to or from various .edu addresses around the league in regards to the Aggies possible departure.
Though I am not the only one to submit these requests, I did get an interesting call today from the legal office at one of the schools. Part of my request would be delayed because it had to be sent to the Texas Attorney General to make a ruling. Why, I asked, was this?
The Big 12 didn't like me taking a look at their business.
One of the things that I requested were any emails sent from schools to the league office with certain keywords. These emails are public record because they were from a public official at a... you guessed it, public institution and subject to open records laws. Of course, the conference office didn't see things that way. The Big 12 sent a notice to schools saying that they do not agree to the release of any of the information contained in the emails.
Sorry Dan Beebe, that's not going to fly.
The Big 12 is essentially claiming their emails contain trade secrets and they can't be released. A call to the league office for comment about the matter was not returned. It is not known what the folks in Dallas are trying to withhold but if Texas released the Longhorn Network's contract with third parties IMG and ESPN, you do wonder what it is the Big 12 is trying to hold back.
What happens now is the schools will gather all of the emails the conference wants withheld, will then send them to the attorney general, who will rule on whether they can be released. This will take some time of course.
And that's why the Big 12 is doing this. They want to keep some prying eyes out of their realignment business. It probably won't happen but at least they'll have some time to sort a few issues out.
They seem to be busy.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 10:12 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
In the latest chapter in the ongoing flirtations between Texas A&M and the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe (pictured at right) has responded to Texas A&M's Thursday announcement that the Aggies were exploring a switch in conferences.
Beebe should be careful here, as the only high-level unaffiliated football programs out there are Notre Dame and BYU (no offense, Army or Navy), and saying the conference is "poised to move aggressively" implies that there's a willing candidate already in Beebe's mind. Yes, that almost certainly could mean SMU, who's practically begging for a BCS invite, but if the Big 12 adds Houston (as has allegedly been mentioned by the conference as a possibility before), the Conference USA brass might have the grounds to suggest that the Big 12 was admitting to interfering with Conference USA business, and that could mean the threat of legal action.
That said, it could also mean something much less litigious, like adding BYU and/or Notre Dame in football only, and either gently phasing in the other sports (as both schools have full pre-existing conference affiliations outside of football) or leaving it a football-only arrangement entirely.
Not only that, there are probably plenty of expansion candidates off the metaphorical radar with which the Big 12 has had some sort of contact, and maybe Beebe has the sense that they're privately amenable to a conference change. Again, we're talking about off the radar, so it would be reckless to speculate (see: flat-out guess) on possible schools, but Beebe would be derelict in his duty as a conference commissioner if he didn't have a contingency plan for any type of expansion -- especially one based on how willing the other schools would be to move to the Big 12.
We'll say this, though: Texas A&M is still not even an applicant (much less a member or invitee) of the SEC yet. That's likely to change, but it hasn't yet. So if Dan Beebe can wrangle four of his conference members away from a potential Pac-16 in 2010, then somehow brink Texas A&M back from the bring of "SECession," he's got to be the biggest miracle worker among conference commissioners. Alas for Beebe, miracles are miracles for a reason, and this one's probably not going to happen.