Posted on: February 24, 2012 7:18 pm

Anti-doping official: Braun verdict "miscarriage"

The Ryan Braun decision was a “miscarriage of anti-doping justice,” an official from the nation’s leading independent drug testing organization told on Friday.

Chris Guinty, a vice president for the National Center for Drug-Free Sport in Kansas City, Mo.,  aggressively defended the protocol in handling what had been labeled a positive test for the Milwaukee Brewers’ star. He told that it was “standard industry practice” for Braun’s sample to be held overnight.

Drug-Free Sport handles testing for the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the minor leagues.

A three-man arbitration board decided to grant Braun an appeal to his 50-game suspension for reportedly testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Braun is believed to be the first Major League player to win such an appeal. In a press conference on Friday, he maintained that his sample was invalid after it kept by the collector for two days instead of being immediately shipped to MLB’s testing lab in Montreal.

Braun went to say the process was “fatally flawed” and suggested the sample may have been tampered with.

“I stop short of condemning anybody,” Guinty said. “[But] I believe in the chain of custody. I don’t believe any standard industry protocol was violated here.”

In the anti-doping world, the reaction was the opposite. The World Anti-Doping Agency said the protocol breach that saved Braun would have been within its rules. The chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, called the verdict in Braun’s favor "a real gut-kick to clean athletes." Major League Baseball released a statement defending the process.

“We have a very similar reaction to baseball,” Guinty said. “In our industry, it was standard industry practice to conduct the collection service like this collector did and take the sample home. The fact that nobody focused on the fact there is an unaccountable positive result … is a slap in the face to all the clean athletes who play the sport.”

Braun told reporters the test in question showed three times more testosterone than had been recorded in any other player. The reigning National League MVP went into detail Friday saying there was a 44-hour gap between the collection and the shipping. He went on to tell reporters that there was five FedEx locations open until 9 p.m. within five miles of Milwaukee’s Miller Field where he was tested Oct. 1. He said there was an additional FedEx store that was open 24 hours.

Guinty said that if the MLB collector had missed a FedEx shipping deadline, it is still better for that collector to hold the sample overnight.

“It is much more safer in the handler’s hands [in that situation] than at a FedEx where you don’t know what happened to the sample,” he said.

Sports medicine consultant Rod Walters also weighed in. Walters was head trainer at South Carolina for 17 years and has 28 years experience in the field.

“If it was overnight…is the specimen any weaker?” he said when contacted by ‘When you go longer than a year [the sample] may denigrate, it may lose some of its [strength].”

Drug-Free Sport has approximately 300 college clients, all but a fraction of those are NCAA schools. It claims more than 80 years of drug-testing experience on its staff. 

Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:10 pm

Plus-one revenue could be double current deal

DALLAS – The bullet points posted for BCS commissioners in a Grand Hyatt conference room Wednesday aren’t anything you haven’t seen or read before.

When considering reshaping college football’s postseason, the commissioners were reminded they must …

Improve the game of college football … enhance the experience for the student-athlete … Make it acceptable to the public.

Those are some of the playing rules. Those BCS commissioners left their latest meeting here having moved the ball only a few yards in what amounts to only a postseason scrimmage at this point. While they seem to have settled on no more than a four-team postseason model beginning in 2014, some of the issues are becoming clearer.

Revenue: learned Wednesday that early projections are that a plus-one could be worth as much as double compared to the current BCS. That would be approximately $360 million based on 2011 distribution of $180 million.

But that’s without knowing if games would be played on campus, in the bowls or bid out to cities like the Super Bowl. The general assumption is that the money would be huge. I reported earlier in the week that a seeded, four-team plus-one could be worth $250 million-$500 million per year.

Access points: The idea of only conference winners being eligible is still on the table, mostly because it hasn’t been discussed to any broad degree. The idea has the interest of at least one commissioner.

In 10 of the 14 years the BCS has been in existence, at least one team that did not earn its conference’s BCS automatic berth ended ranked in the top four. If only conference winners were allowed in a plus-one in 2011, No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Stanford would not have been eligible.

Rose Bowl: The 800-pound tournament float in the room. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is determined to keep the tradition and history of the Rose Bowl in a new postseason. Remember, the Rose, Big Ten and Pac-10 had to be dragged into joining the BCS. In essence, college football would not be at this point in history had not the bowl and its partners reluctantly agreed to open its bowl to the BCS.

That probably means it would not want to be part of a national semifinal. (It would, in theory, stay in a championship game rotation.) But Rose Bowl officials are concerned they may have no choice.

While Delany has been adamant about keeping the Rose-Big Ten-Pac-12 connection, it was interesting to hear Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott on Wednesday. I asked him if he could ever envision the Rose Bowl game being a national semifinal.

“I’m not going to comment on hypotheticals,” he said.


The exam thing: The commissioners don’t want to play these games until after a general exam period that runs to Dec. 21. They want the season to end as close to Jan. 1 as possible. Using that window, here’s how a plus-one might look in 2014, the first year it could be played:

The weekend of Friday, Dec. 26 is a good place to start for the semifinals. Yes, that’s the day after Christmas, but teams have played on Thanksgiving for years. And Nick Saban isn’t going to fly Alabama in the night before the game just so his players can open their presents at home. It’s something we’re going to have to live with.

That leaves the championship game for Friday, Jan. 2 or Monday, Jan. 4, 2014. We’re assuming that the NFL would have dates tied up on Saturday and Sunday. College football bowls traditionally stay as far away as possible from going head-to-head with the NFL.

Ranking the teams: Another assumption -- the current system would stay in place with a plus-one – coaches poll, Harris poll, computers.

But Delany said even that subject has barely been discussed.

“Too early. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about rankings …,” he said. “If there is a way to improve the poll that’s great. It’s been a pretty phenomenal kind of mechanism for building interest.”

 “The level of understanding is modest in the sense that we have no idea what the marketplace would say, what the bowls would say, what the television people would say,” he added. “We’re just trying to understand conceptually what the pieces are. It will take months to test those kinds of options and ideas with presidents and athletic directors.

“It’s at the very beginning.”  

The commissioners next meet here March 26. The annual BCS meeting is April 24-26 in Hollywood, Fla. The discussion could last late into the year. ESPN has an exclusive negotiating window for the new postseason model in the fall. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:34 pm

Conference champs only in the postseason

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer advocated taking only conference champions for any kind of postseason structure starting in 2014.

Just for giggles I went back and used only conference champions (or BCS automatic qualifier in the case of ties) in figuring both the current 1 vs. 2 game and a Plus One. Three times in 14 years, the 1 vs. 2 BCS title game would have been different. In 10 of 14 years, at least one team in the top four would have had to be replaced. In 2011, there would have been two – Alabama and Stanford.

Here’s how BCS title games and a Plus One would have looked if only conference champions were allowed, 1998-2011:


1998 championship: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

1998 Plus One: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 5 UCLA; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Not included: No. 3 Kansas State.


1999 championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Virginia Tech (same)

1999 Plus One: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama; No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Nebraska


2000 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida State (same)

2000 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. Washington; No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Miami


2001 championship:  No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 Colorado

2001 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 8 Illinois; No. 3 Colorado vs. No. 4 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Nebraska, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Texas


2002 championship: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State (same)

2002 Plus One: No. 1 Miami vs. No. 6 Washington State;  No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia

Not included: No. 4 USC, No. 5 Iowa


2003 championship: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 USC

2003 Plus One: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 7 Florida State; No. 3 USC vs. No. 4 Michigan

Not included: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Texas


2004 championship: No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (same)

2004 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 6 Utah;  No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Auburn

Not included:  No. 4 Texas, No. 5 California


2005 championship:  No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2005 Plus One: No. 1 USC vs. No. 7 Georgia; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Not included: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame


2006 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2006 Plus One:  No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Louisville; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No 3. Michigan, No. 4 LSU


2007 championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 LSU (same)

2007 Plus One: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma; No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Virginia Tech


2008 championship: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida (same)

2008 Plus One: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Utah; No. 2 Florida vs. No. 5 USC

Not included: No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Alabama


2009 championship:  No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Texas (same)

2009 Plus One: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU; No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Cincinnati


2010 championship: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon (same)

2010 Plus One: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 Wisconsin; No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

Not included: No. 4 Stanford



2011 championship: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State

2011 Plus One: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 10 Wisconsin; No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oregon

Not included: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 Stanford,  No. 6 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State, N. 8 Kansas State, No. 9 South Carolina


Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:08 am

A sad goodbye to Karl Benson & perhaps WAC

The enduring image of Karl Benson will be his practically skipping through the University of Phoenix Stadium press box on Jan. 1, 2007.

Boise State had just shocked Oklahoma, college football and the world. The commissioner of the Broncos’ league was along for the ride. Karl Benson, a former Boise State shortstop, had just seen the gosh-darndest thing in his life. Along with the rest of us.

He was proud that his lowly-but-proud Western Athletic Conference had taken advantage of the BCS rules to – put in terms of the conference’s marketing slogan – Play Up. Yes, the loosening of BCS bowl access rules in 2006 contributed to Boise’s rise. But it took the team’s performance on the field to convince the world that college football wasn’t the exclusive domain of the Big Six conferences.

WAC member Hawaii went to the Sugar Bowl a year later but the new wave punk band that was the WAC slowly broke up over the years. Boise State skipped from the Mountain West to the Big East. Others followed.

The plucky little conference that couldn’t be killed was on its death bed Thursday with the news that Benson had become the new Sun Belt commissioner. On the surface, Benson is trading a job at the 10th-rated conference in FBS to one rated 11th(and last in the division).

In reality, it is the latest shift of conference realignment tectonic plates. The 50-year old WAC that Benson leaves behind be damaged beyond recognition.  It was formed in 1962 in order to grab an NCAA tournament automatic bid – there were only 24 at the time. The Original Six included Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.  The current seven-team league (in football) could be absorbed like rain into the soil by some combination of Benson’s new conference and the emerging Big Country (Conference USA/Mountain West conglomeration).

It really depends on the intentions of the Big Country. 

Benson, 60, fought the good fight out West with dignity. Now it’s time to keep the Sun Belt alive and kicking. Time after time on the conference call announcing his hiring, Benson was not shy about saying he wanted the 10-member Sun Belt (in football) to grow to 12. At least. It doesn’t take too much to figure out where those two (or more) teams are going to come from.

As mentioned, in 2012 the WAC is down to seven teams, one above the NCAA minimum. The teams that emerged from that conference to gain BCS bowls under Benson’s watch – Boise State and Hawaii – are long gone. Just a guess but look for the Sun Belt to go after WAC member Louisiana Tech – if the Big Country doesn’t get to Ruston first. The New Orleans-based Sun Belt already has members at Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.

“There are schools in the [Louisiana] footprint that would make sense,” Benson said.   

Other possibilities: Any combination of Appalachian State, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Liberty. All four are moving up or in the process of moving up to FBS.  

Benson has literally held the WAC together by force of personality. First, reorganizing after half the then-16 team league left in 1999 to form the Mountain West. (He got the news lying down on the couch at home after eye surgery.) Then with the departure of Boise State (Mountain West, then Big East) as well as Fresno, Hawaii, Nevada (Mountain West) Benson hustled within the last year to add Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The next FBS game those two schools play will be their first.

The pity is if in the end Benson was somehow forced out of the WAC. The conference owes its current existence to him. With the Sun Belt’s Wright Waters stepping down, the lowest-ranked FBS league is about to experience a rebirth. The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt) could to shrink to three.

In a way it consolidates Big Six conferences’ power. The apparent end of BCS automatic qualifying conferences in 2014 means that access to the game’s biggest bowls becomes more important for the “non-AQs” that Benson helped make famous.

“I often asked who is the next Boise State?” he said. “With my Sun Belt hat on, why not someone from the Sun Belt?”


WAC football membership in 2012

Louisiana Tech
New Mexico State
San Jose State
Texas State
Utah State

Sun Belt football membership in 2012

Arkansas State
Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Middle Tennessee
North Texas
South Alabama
Western Kentucky

Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:38 pm

NCAA considers using private investigators

INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA enforcement may be going private – at least private investigator.

As the NCAA’s most feared division reinvents itself, that little nugget emerged during my recent conversation with enforcement director Julie Roe Lach. She has been with the NCAA for 14 years. But it was the last 12 months or so that have been the most challenging, with seemingly a scandal a week.

“It was constant,” she said

As part of a new streamlined approach, the NCAA might indeed use private investigators on a contract basis to observe subjects.

“Literally, if they could mobilize someone in a matter of hours as opposed to us putting someone on a plane it’s a timeliness issue,” Roe Lach said. “That, to me, is where we need to stay ahead of the curve.”

Proactive is a term seldom attached to the enforcement division. Last year’s test of the association’s ability to police itself comes at the same time the NCAA is trying to downsize its 436-page manual.

The NCAA has become more open, more accessible, more understandable. Last year, Roe Lach’s department conducted an all-day Enforcement Experience exercise for media. The idea is to communicate that enforcement is going to be more efficient, more streamlined.

“Are people going to expect that more is going to be permissible? …,” said Roe Lach, 35. “Should we publish a list of all the schools we’re investigating? I don’t know if we’re going there.”

The NCAA last week released a set of proposed enhanced penalties that could be in effect later this year.’s Bryan Fischer first published a version of those documents on Jan. 15.

As a part of that, Roe Lach said her division may begin contracting with private investigators for selected surveillance missions. Jim Rockford used to charge $200 a day plus expenses. Will the NCAA go there in hiring out investigative contractors?

“We could. Our bylaws don’t preclude it,” Roe Lach said. “We’d have to be very careful how we do it.”

As long as the NCAA gets it right. With only 55 persons in enforcement – 30-something on the street – enforcement can never catch all the outlaws. But told her department needed more vigilance in football, the NCAA hired former homicide Bill Benjamin to head a new football enforcement division

“If we get wind that a booster is employing student-athletes or an agent is too connected we’ll just go and watch foot traffic,” Roe Lach said. “It’s not like we’re out there stalking people.

“We’ve definitely conducted surveillance recently. Is it a better use of our resources to contract out surveillance?”

We’ll see.


Here’s a quick Q&A with Lach … The NCAA seems to be more open under president Mark Emmert. To the point that Cam Newton’s father was called out, the media is engaged on subjects and enforcement is more of a transparent process.

Roe Lach: “Probably because I think that’s President Emmert’s philosophy. First, the challenge is to take an honest look at where can we have more transparency. We also recognize there are some times we can’t be transparent about either because federal law says so or there is a greater interest at stake.

“I don’t think the default is no longer, ‘We can’t say anything.’ “ Talking to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he agreed whole-heartedly with the intent of the Penn State letter  to possibly investigate the school in light of the Sandusky matter. Where is your department on that right now?

Roe Lach: “Right now, and I can say this because it’s been stated publicly, the Penn State letter was framed very specifically as from the president’s office. It’s really at an inquiry or information gathering stage and if the NCAA should take some sort of action. If the answer is yes … the next question is how?

“Is this an enforcement action or is there some other action that doesn’t currently exist that needs to be examined?” Was there a border crossed there? The Sandusky case is a legal matter.

Roe Lach: “Historically, legal matters are dealt with through the criminal system … There are times when criminal action also violates NCAA rules. There was a Division II case where a coach was providing a prescription drugs to student-athlete. I don’t know if that is legal.” But even that is different from the Sandusky case.

Roe Lach: “You’re right. Typically, criminal issues are separate from NCAA issues but not always. Especially on the gambling front. That’s why we try to have relationships with  the FBI and other agencies.

“The larger issue at play … is what’s the culture here going on in the athletics department? Does that somehow tie into how the athletic department exercises institutional control? President Emmert’s letter opened the door for that discussion.” Does that mean every similar case like that is going to end up on your desk?

Roe Lach: “I don’t think so. The larger issue is, do you have NCAA violations that may not be as clear? But you could make the argument that those are part of the culture that undermines institutional control. That the athletic department is not really being controlled by the school.” Couldn’t you just wait for the courts to play out?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes that’s what we have to do … It’s not necessarily a wait-and-see approach either.” There has been an addition of a director of enforcement for football, Bill Benjamin. What does that entail?

Roe Lach: “I was with the head football coaches (at the coaches’ convention) … We had heard from them, ‘Hey, here are our concerns [about enforcement].’ … That helped really to support the move to move staff to football.

“Part of their push to us has been we need to increase the penalties for secondary violations and suspend some coaches. They’ve also met with the Committee on Infractions and want to ramp up the penalties on football cases.

“To me that’s the first time a coaches’ association has stepped forward and said, ‘We want you to do more to us.’ “ Dr. Emmert told me in November in the middle of the investigation that Miami had been ‘extraordinarily cooperative.’ That’s the first time I’d heard anyone from the NCAA say anything like that in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Your reaction.

Roe Lach: “We don’t typically comment on cooperation but this goes back to the other discussion. That’s not a confidential issue. In the past we probably took a conservative approach. If a school is really stepping up and cooperating and taking some heat … sometimes it helps for them to be recognized by us.” Does that make things uncomfortable if, in the end, Miami gets hammered?

Roe Lach: “I’ve been in hearing rooms where we’ve said, ‘This is an extremely serious case – if not the most – close to it [but] the school did everything within their control once they found out about these serious violations …

“The appeals committee message has been: You need to give some credit in the penalty phase … You need to factor that his. Where the committee has tried to land is, there is an obligation of cooperation. You shouldn’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. There is a philosophical disagreement about that within the membership.” How is the shrinking of the manual coming?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes you feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. Right when you think you’ve got a ground-breaking idea … then 10 more unanswered questions pop up. It’s so hard for people to get their arms around less regulation and how does that affect coaches and schools.” Can this year be better than 2012? Perhaps less work?

Roe Lach: “We’re just trying to continue our progress in terms of knowing what’s going on. If people are breaking the rules, we’re upholding integrity by enforcing them.”

Posted on: February 14, 2012 4:25 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 5:48 pm

Karl Benson expected to become new Sun Belt boss

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is expected to take the same position with the Sun Belt Conference, has learned.

Benson, 60, has been in his current position since 1994. The recent instability of the league may have led to his decision to pursue the Sun Belt job. Current Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters is retiring later this year.

A formal announcement on Benson is expected Thursday. 

Under Benson's watch both Boise State and Hawaii played in BCS bowls since 2007. But conference realignment has cost him both of those schools. The WAC currently consists of eight schools in 2012. However, Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State are leaving for what will be the new Mountain West/Conference USA conglomerate in 2013.

In the late 1990s, Benson oversaw the first super conference when the WAC expanded to 16 teams. The arrangement quickly became too unwieldy. In 1999, eight schools broke off to form the Mountain West.

Benson is a proud former shortstop at Boise State. He is expected to take office at the New Orleans-based Sun Belt on April 1, the week the city is hosting the Final Four. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:05 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Big 12 schedule released -- finally

It was the most anticipated schedule since Elvis’ coat went on tour

The Big 12 finally released its 2012 football schedule on Tuesday – most of it, at least – to the relief of schools and scores of sportswriters. Don’t forget the fans. They’re they ones who apparently crashed West Virginia’s website briefly on Tuesday.

The primary news was the school finally extricating itself legally from the Big East. Call it the legal version of all those switchbacks in the state’s noted mountain landscape. The delay built anticipation. The schedule release itself could have been sold as a prime-time event.

(I just put an idea into a marketer’s mind somewhere but moving on …) To put Tuesday’s developments in perspective, the Pac-12 and SEC released their schedules in late December and early January. The delay also means it's a sellers’ market, if you’re a football bottom feeder willing to yourself to the highest bidder. There is talk of I-AA schools (FBS) with openings on their schedule getting $800,000-$1 million to come get their butts beat by a BCS school.

Either the Big 12 or Big East was going to get screwed by where West Virginia ended up. Turns out it’s the Big East – although $20 million richer – that is looking for an extra non-conference game for its teams now that the Mountaineers have left. That could change if somehow Boise State is able to get to the Big East in 2012

That’s why the simple release of a football schedule became an economic mystery.

Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas promised a Feb. 1 deadline. It came and went with only TV partners getting a copy. Somehow Texas Tech’s schedule slipped out early on Friday. Apparently forgotten was the fact there are people – some call them fans – trying to schedule and budget in order to see some of those Big 12 games. They will do so knowing that Oklahoma still had two holes in its schedule, although there are indications contracts could be signed shortly.

In a weird piece of realignment fallout, West Virginia paid the Big East that $20 million for the right to go to Ames, Iowa. That’s another way of saying that Iowa State is the Mountaineers’ closest opponent now that it is in the 10-team Big 12.

“We had a great legal team,” said Oliver Luck, West Virginia’s AD.

Hooray for that. Courtroom prowess replaced proximity in the mad realignment dash long ago. The Big East and whatever Conference USA/Mountain West calls itself in the future are spread coast to coast. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds continues to work on Notre Dame forming some kind of non-football alliance with the Big 12. Never mind that the closest Big 12 school for the Irish is two states away.

Louisville desperately wants into the Big 12. BYU still might be a possibility in the future. The Big 12 could get to 11 easily in 2013. The problem is finding a 12th team that is a good fit. So Tuesday’s announcement is one of those clip-and-save moments. It’s a 10-team Big 12 for now. There are still some holes in the schedule but at least we have a working model.

Back in November Big 12 officials flew out to Morgantown for a reception welcoming the Mountaineers as a replacement for Texas A&M or Missouri. Not sure which. It doesn’t matter. TCU is also in after a slightly shorter dalliance itself with the Big East.

Point is, the unification of Big East defector and the Pure Prairie League didn’t become reality until Tuesday. Time for another reception?

“As you may be aware the Big 12 is a very stable conference,” Luck added.

 We’re not but that’s not the point right now.


The highlights …

--The “new” Big 12 kicks off Sept. 15 with TCU playing its first Big 12 game at Kansas.

--Each team will have a double-bye, the function of 12 games being played in a 14-week college football calendar in 2012.

 --The first beer served in a Big 12 game since Colorado was a member will be Sept. 29 when Baylor visits for West Virginia’s conference opener. We’ll let that issue breath a bit as you consider alcohol-serving state school vs. Baptist flagship.

For now, call it the Lawsuit Bowl. Five months ago Baylor was threatening to sue the SEC over its “poaching” of Texas A&M. West Virginia had sued the Big East to get out of the conference (and were sued right back).

 --Eight of the 10 teams will be in action on the last day of the season (Dec. 1). That’s a brilliant piece of scheduling making it more likely that the Big 12 title will be in play the same weekend as the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten play conference title games.

Last year, Oklahoma State clinched the title on the last day of the season against Oklahoma. Robert Griffin III more or  less clinched the Heisman Trophy on the same day after beating Texas.

--The conference's showcase game -- the Red River Shootout -- is Oct. 13 the week after Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech and Texas hosts West Virginia.

 In case you’re counting this is the third different lineup for the Big 12 in three years.  This time it just might work – at least until Notre Dame says yes. Just don’t put a deadline on it.  

Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:21 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 1:25 pm

My preseason top 25 applied to postseason models

You've got to start somewhere in shaping a new postseason model. Using this humble correspondent's preseason top 25 posted Monday as a template, here are a few possibilties. All of them are among the 50 or so discussed last month in New Orleans.

A seeded Plus One on campus (The Delany Model. Top-four rated teams meet in national semifinals):

No. 4 Oregon at No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 USC.

Winners meet this season in the Orange Bowl based on the BCS rotation.

A Plus One in the bowls Oregon vs. LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma vs. USC in the Sugar Bowl. Winners meet in the Orange Bowl.

An unseeded Plus One (Playing a championship game after the bowls. In this model, all six BCS league champions guaranteed a berth. No. 7 Arkansas and No. 9 Georgia are left out. Unranked Rutgers is in as Big East champion. A human committee and/or rankings determine the top two teams after the bowls):

Rose Bowl: USC* vs. Wisconsin*

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma* vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: LSU* vs. Clemson*

Orange Bowl:  Rutgers* vs. Alabama

*-conference champs

Two highest-ranked teams after the bowls meet for the national championship. Championship game location TBA.

No automatic qualifiers (No. 1 vs. No. 2 meet in the championship game. Four other major bowls are populated by the remaining teams in the top 10. Ohio State not eligible. In this scenario, five SEC teams are included. Big East and ACC not represented because no teams are ranked in top 10.)

BCS title game (Orange Bowl): LSU vs. USC

Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Sugar: Alabama vs. West Virginia

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Cotton: Georgia vs. Arkansas

Are there any other postseason models? Probably. For now, this is your lump of Play-Doh to shape.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or