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Tag:Fox
Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:20 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:16 pm
 

Big 12 will release 2012 schedule by Feb. 1

Expect a Big 12 football schedule for 2012 by next Wednesday.

Contracts with partners ESPN/ABC and Fox mandate that a schedule be released by Feb. 1 according to a league spokesman. That suggests there will be some finality in a process that has been up in the air since West Virginia was welcomed into the conference on Nov. 4.

“That’s the deadline [Feb. 1] we’re working off of,” the Big 12’s Bob Burda said Wednesday morning.

While there could be shifting of dates for TV purposes after that date, the schedule – with or without West Virginia – would probably be released publicly at the same time, “given where we are on the calendar and the sensitivity of people wanting to plan,” Burda said.

He added that the league had schedule contingencies both ways with West Virginia in or out of the Big 12. A Rhode Island judge has directed West Virginia and the Big East into non-binding mediation to resolve their lawsuits. The two sides have sued each other over a Big East bylaw that requires 27 months’ notice before leaving the league. West Virginia wants to join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East bylaw would keep it in that conference through the 2013-14 school year.

Asked Tuesday when a 2012 schedule for his conference might be released, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said: "I’m really not going to give up a comment on that at this time."

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has long said it has received assurances from the school that West Virginia will be in for the 2012 football season. Earlier Monday, he told a Lubbock, Texas radio station that the 2012 football schedule would be out by Feb. 1.

If West Virginia is not in for 2012, that would put the Big 12 at nine teams and likely trigger network contract language regarding payouts if membership falls below 10 teams. Additionally, the nine teams would be put in a scheduling bind having to find an extra non-conference game at a late date.

Putting the current schedule delay in perspective: The base schedule for the 2011 season was completed in September or October 2010.  After adjustments by networks and schools, it wasn’t out publicly until March and April 2011. The Big 12 has lost four teams since June 2010 (Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri). It has added TCU and West Virginia beyond the 2011 season.

The SEC and Pac-12 have already announced their 2012 schedules, both between late December and early January. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 12:53 am
 

Source: Big 12 best to stay at 9

The Big 12 should not expand in order to maximize its earning power, a source intimately involved in the conference's TV negotiations told CBSSports.com on Thursday.

"If it were me I'd try to stay where I am," said the source. "Nine months ago they had the same money for 10 teams. Is anything going to change if they have nine?"

Texas A&M's formal departure to the SEC this week reduced the Big 12 to nine teams. Missouri is still contemplating whether also to pursue membership in the SEC. With nine teams, the source said, not only would the conference get an expected windfall for its primary rights fees following the 2015 season, it would provide nine more non-conference games as inventory.

"That's more attractive to the networks than BYU-Iowa State," said source who did not want to be identified because of his relationship with the league.

BYU is widely speculated to be joining the Big 12 should it expand. A nine-team league would allow the Big 12 to keep playing a round-robin conference schedule (eight games) while scheduling four non-conference games. The league currently plays a nine-game conference schedule with three non-conference games.

Both Fox and ESPN committed to saving the league in 2010 after the Pac-12 almost raided the Big 12 of half of its team. The 10 remaining schools were guaranteed approximately $20 million each when the conference's primary rights deal with ESPN expired after the 2015-16 academic year.

Fox began to fulfill that promise when the league agreed to a $1.13 billion deal for 13 years for its secondary rights earlier this year. The source said neither Fox nor ESPN were going pay less than promised in 2010 for the Big 12 at nine teams, or perhaps even eight teams. It's not clear if Fox or ESPN have a cancellation clause of their contracts if league membership falls below a certain number.

Staying at nine, said the source, would make it easier for conference schools to get to that $20 million per-team plateau. For example, with nine teams the new Fox deal alone is worth $9.6 million per team. In the latest round of conference realignment schools either are a "brand" or have markets. While more teams would bring more inventory (games) to bid on, the question is: Would each new school bring $20 million to the table individually?

The Big 12 has a long way to go before answering that question. It hasn't been determined whether the schools have committed their primary media rights to the conference for six years. That would essentially hold the conference together but no one is quite sure where that issue stands. Oklahoma president David Boren said a week all the remaining schools had agreed. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton merely said the issue was being discussed.

The Missouri board of curators will reportedly meet on Tuesday. The board could merely empower Deaton to seek another conference although there is no indication which way the school is leaning.

Big 12 expansion speculation is all over the map -- from staying at nine to going to 16 teams.

 

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:57 pm
 

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Don't look at this Texas A&M thing as conference realignment. Look at it through the stakeholders' eyes.

The stakeholders being ESPN, Oklahoma, A&M and Texas. It's likely that ESPN CEO John Skipper is evaluating at this moment how to maximize his profits through Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas if there is another round of conference shuffling.

Where those schools end up is less important than how the three current Big 12 schools can be profitable for ESPN (and Fox).

Whether or not A&M ends up in the SEC, watch for the Pac-12 to sooner or later take another run at Texas. The Big 12's instability dictates it. Commissioner Larry Scott told the Austin American-Statesman last month after the formation of the Pac-12 network one could "imply" that the Longhorn Network would be a "huge impediment" to Texas joining his league.

How quickly things change -- or possibly change. In a strange way, the Pac-12 could now make it more likely that Texas make the jump if it deems the Big 12 not worth the effort.

"At this point I don't think Larry does anything," one source close to the situation said, "He's got to let it come to him. He's the one who is sitting there with all the firepower. There is no one in a better position to monetize expansion than Larry Scott is. Not the SEC, not the Big East, not the ACC, not the Big 12. He's sitting in the catbird seat."

Why? Because he can. Remember, Scott was the guy who had invited six Big 12 teams, including Texas, last year. Consider it a still-open invitation. One that Texas would have to seriously consider.

One source painted it this way: The new Pac-12 Network is made up of six regional networks. Why couldn't the Longhorn Network be folded into the Pac-12 as a seventh regional network?

The source emphasized that ESPN is desperate to make TLN profitable. It has sunk hundreds of millions into the venture and there is no certainty whether it will work. To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.

It didn't help Thursday that the NCAA ruled against the televising of high school games on school/conference networks.

There are a few hurdles. Texas supposedly would have to surrender its third-party rights (re: archival, historic properties). But if Texas shows interest, that's nothing more that details. The new Pac-12 shares revenue more or less equally. Again, that can be worked out because it's, well, Texas.

Pac-12 schools would have consider working around those barriers to get the No. 1 revenue-producing athletic department into its conference.

That takes care of Texas. Oklahoma? If A&M bolts, it is seemingly a swing team between the Pac-12 and SEC.

Here's why ESPN would like A&M in the SEC: The Aggies would make ESPN's (and CBS') 15-year, $3 billion deal with the league more profitable. Some at A&M obviously see it as a more stable home.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the Longhorns most likely aren't going to the SEC or Big Ten. Texas has always looked down its nose at the SEC. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds is on record as saying he is against independence.

The Pac-12 makes the most sense for Texas almost because of TLN. It would increase the value of Pac-12 Network as well as increase the value of TLN.

"Something is wrong with your conference," a source said. "when Washington State is getting more from its conference than the University of Texas."

The source was referring to the fact that some Pac-12 projections have the league making $30 million per school once its network gets up and running. Even when the Big 12 renegotiates its primary rights in a couple of years, it is expected to top out at $20 million per year. That was with A&M.

So where does that leave us? Scott and SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to comment through spokesmen. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did not return phone and text messages.

But I learned last year during the conference merry-go-round to start with the stakeholders. Last year, it was Texas and Notre Dame. Both stayed in place, minimizing conference realignment.

This year the main players are Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. The question seems to be whether the Big 12 will hold together (with nine schools, or more with new expansion) if A&M leaves. That decision is up to Texas and ESPN (and Fox).

That combination kept the Big 12 together last year. Is the negativity such that the league couldn't go on after the loss of A&M? Is an enhanced SEC and Pac-12 worth more to ESPN than a damaged or non-existent Big 12?

The answers, seemingly, are coming soon. Despite reports that A&M-to-the-SEC was a done deal, it's likely that nothing will be officially decided until the Aug. 22 A&M regents meeting.

While Nebraska was a slam dunk to go to the Big Ten last spring, it wasn't official until AD Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman made their official presentation to the regents.

Through an A&M spokesman I was able to determine this much about the process:

--A conference call among the regents is scheduled for Aug. 22. The fiscal year budgets for the entire A&M system will be discussed.

--An agenda has not been published beyond the budget discussions. An official agenda for the meeting will be available 72 hours prior.

--The spokesman would say whether conference membership would be discussed.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Brave new world for Big East commissioner

NEWPORT, R.I. -- If you saw John Marinatto 16 months ago he was sweating out the future of his conference. Literally.

Back in April 2010 the Big East commissioner was shepherded into a Phoenix resort conference room to discuss his conference's future with media during the annual BCS meetings. The pressure applied (and implied) by the Big Ten's Jim Delany perceived raid on the league had taken its toll. Marinatto was nervous, hot and had few answers.

"April 2010 was a challenge," Marinatto said. "I wasn't sure what we were walking into when we walked into that little room. It was a mine field, everything was so unstable. There was this real sense of fear, really."

He didn't know if his conference would hold together. Remember, this was during the height of conference realignment speculation. Fast forward to Tuesday here at the Big East media day where Marinatto was practically (Charlton) Heston-esque in delivering the conference's new message of optimism and solidarity.

Confident, articulate, proud, a man's man.

The upheaval that was supposed to usher in the era of the super conference was limited to five schools changing leagues this season. The Big East remained untouched; in fact it prospered adding TCU for 2012. There may be more teams on the way.

A combination of factors had Marinatto talking openly this week about further expansion, a possible conference championship game and a rights fee windfall due to hit some time in the next couple of years.

"We're living in a world where you pick up a paper or you're reading your tweets, there's something going on," Marinatto said explaining the Big East's new-found relevance. "You want to make sure you have enough inventory and enough schools. It is about existentialism at some point because you do want to have that security."

That would be the first time any of us have heard a conference commissioner play the "existentialism" card. But a quick check of dictionary.com shows what the commissioner is getting at. One of the definitions for existentialism is, "the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices."

That explains the league's position at the moment. Being the last major conference to renegotiate TV rights in the current rotation, the Big East figures to prosper in a marketplace that is absolutely in love with college football.

Reality TV sells. Sports is the ultimate reality TV because it's, well, genuinely real. Now add the fact that college football is the No. 2 sport in the country behind the NFL. The public wants to see football, it doesn't matter if it's Big East football. The league hasn't exactly been a national contender but in a weird twist has been a postseason success. It has a .615 bowl winning percentage in the BCS era. Despite the lack of a powerhouse, it can now claim seven of the top 14 markets when TCU joins in 2012.

That's part of the reason why Newport was populated with TV types from several networks, at least showing interest in snagging the Big East when its current ESPN expires in 2013 (football) and 2014 (basketball). NBC Comcast, which struck out on the Pac-12, is a player. So is Fox. Conventional thinking has it that current rightsholder ESPN will make a big push.

Point is, there are suitors with deep pockets. Who cares if the league based in the Northeast has extended all the way to Texas.

"If there can be a conference called the Big Ten that can have 12 schools, what's wrong with the Big East having a school in Dallas, Texas?" Marinatto said. "It's a brave new world."

The Big East wasn't such a ravishing beauty 16 months ago. Marinatto was worried that the Big Ten was going to pluck -- take your pick -- Syracuse, Rutgers and/or Pittsburgh. Delany was rattling the Big East's cage, if nothing else, in order to lure Notre Dame to his conference. It didn't work. The most attractive expansion candidate for the Big Ten turned out to be Nebraska.

Marinatto now has several options if his league wants to expand and stage a championship game which he said was "certainly a possibility." Army, Navy, Air Force, Central Florida and Villanova have been mentioned as candidates. Certainly TCU broke the seal for everyone on geographic restrictions.

"It [championship game] would give us more inventory," Marinatto said. "A football championship game maybe in New York City would be phenomenal. If we could ever replicate what we've done in basketball side on the football side in December ... what a phenomenal asset that would be."

How excited is Marinatto?

"We're in a position where, if we do things right, we won't be having this discussion 18 months from now," he said.

That's when TV negotiations begin. Let the deepest pockets win.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Is the Pac-12 through expanding?

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The architect of the latest round of conference realignment says the earthshaking hasn't stopped.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told CBSSports.com that there could be more conference movement before 2020. Scott was named No. 1 Friday in CBSSports.com's college football top 100 for 2011.

"I don't see anything major on the horizon -- short term, a few years," Scott said. "I'd be surprised if in the second half of this decade, we don't see another major round."

What, he was asked, would set it off?

"It could be TV deals," he said. "It could be other politics and dynamics within the NCAA. If I had to guess I would say it would be economic. That's why I believed it made sense [to expand] and continues to make sense."

A marketplace starving for content and a bunch of major conferences coming up for rights fees renewal caused the latest shifts. Conference affiliation has become more about your rightsholder than your league partners. The leagues that have the most schools desirable to the networks make the most money. That's why we came close last year to ushering in the era of superconferences. Texas was seriously considering joining the Pac-10 a year ago.

It was last June when Scott narrowly missed shaking college athletics to its foundations with a bold play to lure half the Big 12 to the Pac-10 to form the Pac-16. The deal was all but done but ESPN and Fox intervened at the last minute making financial promises that essentially convinced Texas to stay in the Big 12.

Having to "settle" for expansion with Utah and Colorado, the Pac-12 still landed a record rights deal in May with the same two outlets. Fox and ESPN joined as partners in the Pac-12 deal to pay the league $3 billion over 12 years. What would a Pac-16 have been worth?

"It's hard to know," Scott said.

Given that a 12-team league that didn't include Texas was worth $3 billion, a 16-team conference with the Longhorns would have been worth at least $4.8 billion. That's a conservative estimate of $25 million per school multiplied by 12 years.

Would the Pac-12 still be interested in Texas? Any league would be interested in Texas. The Longhorns are happy for now, starting their own network within the framework of the now 10-team Big 12. But clearly the geographical challenges of flying from Austin to the West Coast didn't matter when Scott made his play last year.

"There was a 48-hour period during that week where it was close," said Chris Bevilacqua, the Pac-12 TV consultant.

Bevilacqua may be the first industry insider to admit that it was ESPN and Fox that saved the Big 12 a year ago. Neither network could afford for the Big 12 to go away so they both made financial promises in order to keep it together. Had the Big 12 broken up, that would have eliminated one BCS conference that accounts for 16 percent of the households in the middle of the country. With the Pac-10 going out to bid this year, there was a possibility that both ESPN and Fox would have been shut out of two BCS leagues.

The Big 12 recently signed a long-term deal with Fox for its secondary rights for $90 million per year.

"They [ESPN, Fox] conspired, of course they did," to save the Big 12, Bevilacqua said. "That's a fact."



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, ESPN, Fox, Pac-12, Texas
 
Posted on: May 26, 2011 3:02 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Pac-12 deal could be worth $400 million per year

One industry analyst told CBSSports.com Thursday that the Pac-12 could eventually take in $400 million per year when all its rights are accounted for. That would be a 40 percent bump in the current payout of $250 per year that begins in 2012.

The analyst was reacting to Wednesday's blog post when commissioner Larry Scott said Pac-12 Media Enterprises could bring in an additional $1 billion over the next seven-to-10 year period. That would be over and above the 12-year, $3 billion deal the conference signed with Fox and ESPN.

When the deal starts next year, the 12 schools will begin to split that $250 million or $20.8 million per school each year, on average.
The extra income would come from the yet-to-be valued media arm of the conference that bundles the network, digital rights and sponsorship and licensing. At $400 million, the schools would average $27.7 million per year.


"We're only at halftime here," said the analyst who did not want to be identified but is familiar with the Pac-12 situation. "There's probably another $50 million to $100 million a year [out there] ... We're getting into the $400 million-a-year stratosphere."

The conference continues to develop its strategy launch a conference network. 
Category: NCAAF
Tags: ESPN, Fox, Pac-12
 
Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 6:38 pm
 

Pac-12 may be looking at another $1 billion

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The Pac-12's financial momentum isn't about to slow.

 Commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday that the league's media arm could earn the conference an additional $1 billion over a seven-to-10 period. The previously announced Pac-12 Media Enterprises is a kind of holding company, according to Scott, that would bundle the league's new network, the digital rights and the conference's sponsorship and licensing (Pac-12 Properties).

 The expanded conference is just beginning to realize its total worth as it seeks to start its own network. The $1 billion would be separate from the 12-year, $3 billion rights fees deal the Pac -12 finalized with ESPN and Fox earlier this month. 

 "I can tell you this, based on offers people have made to us we've got at least a billion-dollar business we're sitting on," Scott told CBSSports.com. "That's just Pac-12 Media Enterprises."

 He later added:  "That is a broad figure that has been thrown out to us by media investors. That's a potential minimum value over a seven-to-10 year period."

 Dividing $1 billion among 12 schools could mean an additional $83 million is gross revenue total per school. Depending the on length of the deal, that means Pac-12 Media Enterprises alone could produce an additional $8.3 million-$11.9 million per year for each school. The schools already are guaranteed an average of $21 million per school in the ESPN-Fox deal.

 Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby seemed to confirm another pending windfall for the conference telling CBSSports.com that the network and digital rights "may be worth well into eight figures per year." He added, "Time will tell on that. We may know something in the next 90 days."

 Scott called Pac-12 Media Enterprises a "for-profit subsidiary of the conference."

 "I'm not running from it," he added, "but I don't want to leave the impression that our primary focus is financial."

 Scott, as well as industry insiders, is anxious to see the possibilities of the conference's network. The commissioner consulted with -- and gives a lot of credit to -- his peers at the Big Ten and SEC (Jim Delany and Mike Slive) who previously started similar ventures. All parties know the road to network profitability can be a long, hard slog. It took the Big Ten more than two years to realize a profit with its network. That was relatively fast for a start-up but no one knew in the beginning when that profit would come.

 The Pac-12 is seemingly better positioned because Scott negotiated rights to first-tier games in football and basketball for his network. In other words, the Pac-12 Network (or whatever it is called) will have first choice of the best games for its air.

 That situation will help with potential partners, distributors and advertisers. Scott said the league is still deciding how to deploy the network. First reports were that the Pac-12 would own it alone. That approach would maximize profits instead of having to share them with a partner. But Scott said several business models are still on the table.

 Scott even foresees a situation where the Pac-12 Network could be shown on an existing channel. He used the example of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) replacing what used to be Discovery Health.

The digital possibilities, he continues to say, are limitless. There are 2,700 Pac-12 "events" available for broadcast each year according to Pac-12 TV consultant Chris Bevilacqua. To date, only 131 of those have been sold. Scott wants Pac-12 content on every device imaginable. There already have been discussions with Google as a possible partner.

 "It's hard to imagine now but I wouldn't be surprised that five-to-seven years from now we've got more fans on different devices other than TVs," Scott said.

 

 

Posted on: May 8, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Responding to last week's cfb bombs

Proving once again there are no offseasons ever in any sport, these bombs dropped during my vacation last week. Each one deserves a response from this space's department of justice ...


The Bomb: Pac-12 agrees to a 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.

The Response: The first thing that came to mind: Larry Scott is gold. The commissioner was hired to drag the sleepy Pac-10 out of its past and rocket it toward a lucrative future. In less than two years, he delivered big time. As of right now, Scott can pretty much write his own ticket as a sports CEO. I'm talking about commissioner of baseball, the NFL, head of the U.S. Olympics, maybe even the next president of the NCAA. (More on that later in the week). 

Scott delivered because these commissioner jobs have evolved into giant fundraising endeavors. Sure, every once in a while a commish has to suspend or fine someone but that's small stuff. The commissioners' mandate from the presidents they serve is to make as much money as possible for the schools. Mike Slive and Jim Delany, two powerful guys with powerful NCAA backgrounds, had been the best at it -- until now. In less than two years Scott reshaped and repackaged his conference in such a way that it became the most lucrative league television property in history. Remember, this is a guy who sees profit centers in China for UCLA gear. 

The question now becomes what the Pac-12 schools do with their windfall. You can be sure that most of it won't be spent adding sports. There's a reason that only 10 or so schools out of 120 in I-A are turning a profit. The cash will go to the bottom line -- existing facilities, recruiting and coaching salaries. Adding non-revenue sports adds nothing to the bottom line. 

In other words, the Pac-12 just became a player for the likes of Urban Meyer. I'm not saying Meyer will be hired in the Pac-12, I’m saying that the Pac-12 can now afford coaches of his stature. UCLA, not exactly Fort Knox when it comes to paying coaches, now has the ability, if it chooses, to pay Meyer if it fires Rick Neuheisel. The question is not whether it will, the reality is that it can make that call without getting hung up on.


The Bomb: The Department of Justice writes the NCAA and asks, "What's up?" about a playoff. 

The Response: First, I'm not even sure Justice sent the letter to the right person. Mark Emmert and the NCAA he oversees has minimal control over college football in general and almost none over postseason football. Emmert's answer should be short and to the point: The reason we don't have a playoff is because the membership doesn't want it

Never mind that the NCAA technically isn't responsible, the commissioners seemingly have a way of diffusing any coming legal challenge.

"We never could have believed the regular season would have grown over the last 15 years like it has grown," said Delany, the Big Ten commissioner. "I think that's due, in part, to the BCS. We did what we set out to do, which is [stage] a 1-2 game, preserve the bowl system and grow the regular season ... We feel like we're on good [legal] ground. We never know about what a judge or jury could do, [but] we feel like we've got good representation."

I talked to noted anti-trust attorney Tom Rhodes about this issue last week. He isn't concerned for the BCS, calling the letter a political issue, not a legal issue, adding that assistant attorney general Christine Varney's interest is a "war dance" not a "war." Rhodes also intimates that Justice is a political animal that serves a president who made populist statements about a playoff while trying to get elected.

"It's important to understand what the letter does not say," Rhodes told me. "It doesn't say, 'You're in violation of the anti-trust laws.' ... Second thing is, if she [Varney] thought she had a case she wanted to bring she'd have brought it already. The third observation I would make is that the Department of Justice often has to be responsive to the political realities of the world. A political reality here is [Republican Utah Senator] Orrin Hatch is important to the administration.

Hatch has been a constant critic of the BCS but you wonder who his constituency is at this point. Utah is now in the BCS club. BYU, by its own choosing, went independent electing to join Navy and Army in having the worst BCS access in I-A. Those three schools will be considered if any finish in the top 14 of the BCS, but they are assured of a BCS berth only if they finish 1 or 2 in the final standings.

"People who are going to go to war usually don't spend a bunch of time jumping up and down with a war dance," Rhodes added. "This letter is consistent with the idea that Justice can do a war dance and if the BCS then makes a change, the [Obama] administration can claim, 'Look what we've done.' " 

Think of it this way: The BCS has been called in for questioning but no one is ready to make an arrest.


The Bomb: Ohio State will investigate the sale of cars to Buckeye players and their relatives at two local dealerships. 

The Response: I think I speak for everyone when I say there are few people in this world more trustworthy than used-car salesmen. Yeah, right. Those 14 magic words have, at some point, rung in all of our ears: "What's it going to take for me to put you in this car today?"

Next thing you know you're meeting the finance manager and making chit chat about how much you make a year. Having jaw surgery is more pleasant. Yep, something smells about the school now investigating 50 sales to determine whether players or relatives received price breaks (translation: extra benefits). My dad was a car salesman. Never once did he mention that cash-poor college kids were an untapped customer base. 

So now the case goes to the Ohio State compliance department which is the collegiate equivalent of those used-car salesmen. This is the crack group that forgot to tell the Buckeye Five that selling their gear to a tattoo-parlor owner was against the rules. This is the sharp-minded department that decided to check Jim Tressel's computer after it was way too late. Yep, they're the ones you want searching for the truth with the program potentially eligible for the death penalty.

"I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," Doug Archie, head of Ohio State compliance, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Sorry, but we've heard it before: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

If this case has legs -- or rather, keys --  greasy car salesmen will be the least of Gene Smith's problems. Ohio State could be looking at lack of institutional control and a postseason ban, two penalties it has so-far dodged. But, damn, the Buckeyes will still have a badass set of wheels.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com