Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:52 pm

B12 commish senses big change in BCS

There is growing support toward eliminating automatic qualifier status in the next evolution of college football’s postseason according to Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas.

The concept has been discussed informally among the game’s power brokers and would represent a fundamental shift in the way the sport’s postseason is administrated. Neinas supports the change because he said eliminating the so-called “AQ” status would slow or stop conference realignment.

“I think there is growing sentiment to eliminate the automatic qualification part of the BCS,” Neinas told CBSSports.com this week. “You can see what’s happening. They [conferences] are gerrymandering all over the place under the intent to maintain an automatic qualification. History has shown you don’t need that if you are qualified.”

Removing AQ status would, in part, continue to benefit the power conferences who are currently bound by a two-team limit in the BCS. But it would also allow so-called non-AQs a more consistent, fair entry into the BCS. No changes would take effect until the 2014 season.

There are currently 10 slots among the five BCS bowls. One discussed configuration would allow the top 10 teams in the final BCS standings at the end of the season to play in BCS bowls no matter what conference affiliation. For example, if the Big Ten or SEC had three or more teams in the top 10, all those schools would get BCS bowls.

It’s not clear what the Rose Bowl’s stance is on the issue. It is known the Rose wants to keep its Pac-12-Big Ten game as often as possible. Eliminating AQ status may be the interim step between the BCS and a playoff. Various officials from four of the six BCS leagues have been in favor of at least a plus-one model at one time or another in the last three years.

The changes supported by Neinas wouldn’t occur until after the 2014 bowls when the current BCS deal expires with ESPN. Commissioners and ADs will discuss the changes as part of their next BCS meeting Monday in San Francisco.

“I imagine it will be one of many things they will be talking about," said Bill Hancock, BCS executive director. "It’s really premature to speculate about what the group might do."

The game’s administrators will have to have a new model going forward when ESPN reaches its exclusive negotiating window in October.

It’s not clear how much support there among commissioners. It would seem that at least the ACC and Big East would be against change. The ACC champion has finished out of the top 10 three of the last four seasons. Both leagues failed to have a team in the top 10 team at the end of last season.

It’s also not clear how money would be divided. Currently, 85 percent of the BCS bowl take is divided among the six power conferences. Last year approximately $200 million was made off the BCS bowls. If one of the six major conferences is not guaranteed a BCS bowl that could change the distribution model and potentially be a deal breaker.

Those six power conference champions – SEC, ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten – are guaranteed a BCS bowl. The champions of the five non-AQ leagues – MAC, WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West – are not. The best schools in those leagues must meet a set of benchmarks to get in.

Using the final 2010 standings as example going forward, the Big East (UConn, out of the BCS top 25) and ACC (Virginia Tech, No. 13) would not have had a BCS team because those conferences champions finished out of the top 10. The Big Ten would have had three teams – Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State.

In that configuration schools like Missouri (2007), Texas Tech (2008), Boise State (2008, 2010), Iowa (2009), Georgia Tech (2009) and Michigan State (2010) would have made BCS bowls simply by finishing in the top 10.

To date the Big Ten has played in the most BCS bowls, 23. The SEC is second with 21.

Neinas said he senses support for the change among his peers. The scramble for automatic qualification has affected three of the six BCS leagues just in the last couple of months. TCU and West Virginia joined the Big 12, in part fearing instability in the Big East. Syracuse and Pittsburgh joined the ACC for the same reason. Meanwhile, the Big East is trying to reconstitute itself to be a BCS league going forward.

Commissioners will have to decide if the Big East even merits AQ status if the system remains the same. It currently has that status because of a waiver granted by BCS commissioners in 2008.

“You can make it on your merit without having to be in an automatic qualifying situation,” Neinas said. “That would solve some problems here with people just scrambling because they think they have to take in certain institutions. Let’s eliminate automatic qualification. If you merit it, you’re in …

“The point is, then you wouldn’t have this effort to cobble together a conference for the purpose of automatic qualification.”

Neinas also said he senses “strong sentiment” for conferences to remain with current membership until 2013. That would mean Syracuse and Pittsburgh would remain in the ACC, Missouri and Texas A&M would remain in the Big 12 and West Virginia and TCU would remain in the Big East.

The Big 12 is in a state flux with its television partners (ESPN, Fox) because it needs at least 10 members in 2012 for its payout not to be affected, Neinas said.

“We have to provide inventory to our TV partners and also we have some bowl partners,” he said. “Of course the major problem is scheduling.”

West Virginia has been sued by the Big East to fulfill its obligation to give 27 months notice before leaving the league. Big 12 sources are upset that Missouri intends to leave by July 1, 2012. Neinas remarked that it was “awful short notice” by the school.

Both Texas A&M and Missouri are still haggling with the Big 12 over exit fees owed to the conference. Those fees could range from $15 million-$30 million per school according to reports.

If both Missouri and West Virginia aren’t in the league in 2012, that would leave only nine members. With only nine members, each Big 12 team would have to find another non-conference game on short notice for 2012.

Asked if he expected Missouri to be in the league next year, Neinas said, “That would be nice, sure. Is that possible? I don’t know.”

He was then asked if there is any sentiment within the league for legal action against Missouri, Neinas said, “I don’t’ think I’ll comment on that.”

Posted on: October 16, 2011 9:25 pm

Ignore top four teams in BCS; drama starts lower

Let's cut through the BCS standings commercials, teases and the wild guesses you saw on TV Sunday night.

Ignore the top four teams. Doesn't matter. That's not the news. LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are going to play each other. They all control their own destiny.

The story of Week 1 of the BCS standings are in spots 6 through 8. That's where three potential undefeated major-conference champions reside: Wisconsin, Clemson and Stanford. That is significant because only two undefeated major-conference champions have been shut out of the title game in the BCS' 13-year history. That would be Auburn in 2004 and Cincinnati in 2009.

We're looking at three just this season.  

Yeah, there's half a season to go, but it's easy to bet on those top four right now. Two of those emerging to play for the title seems to be a lock. The drama comes if one or more undefeated champions emerge from the Big Ten/ACC/Pac-12. It won't get us to a playoff in the near future but it will get those commissioners thinking about it, especially if any combination of the Big Ten/ACC/Pac-12 are shut out and the SEC wins a sixth consecutive national championship.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, BCS, Big Ten, Pac-12
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:24 pm

Boone Pickens speaks on state of Big 12

Boone Pickens says he believes the Big 12 will stay together.

I talked to him late Wednesday morning, asking him a serious of questions about the future of his program and the conference. If you need to be reminded, Pickens is the billionaire booster who has gotten Oklahoma State to the brink of the national conversation.

The Cowboys are coming off their best season, 11-2 in 2010. On Saturday at Texas A&M, they play only the ninth Big 12 conference game between two top 10 teams (not including the Red River Shootout). It might be the last game between the two schools as conference rivals.

"I still have great hope that the Aggies stay with the Big 12," Pickens told me.

If A&M goes to the SEC, do you think the Big 12 can be held to together?

"They've already told you [Oklahoma, Texas] they don't want you in the Pac-12. I don't want them either. I don't want to be in the division of the Pac-12 that doesn't have the ocean.

"I think we just work through it. If the Aggies are gone, we add somebody. I'd add TCU to go forward."

Lost in all this is your team is playing pretty well, the Big 12 is 23-2 in non-conference games, there's a big game in College Station on Saturday. Do you miss talking about football and bragging on your team right now?

"We've got a good football team. We haven't had a tough game yet. We'll see Saturday. We're no different than we've always been. We don't want to get anybody hurt."

How proud are you of what you and Oklahoma State have been able to accomplish?

"This is our sixth year since we've started with this program. Every year has been a better year. I hope this year will be better than last year. I’m not going to get out on a limb because, why? I saw OU play the other night against Florida State. I can see why they're ranked No. 1."

Do you think this decision by the Pac-12 last night keeps the Big 12 together in some form?

"May very well. I hope so."

I'm sure you've considered the culture change of OU and Oklahoma State going West.

"I lot of Oklahoma people went to California in the Dust Bowl during World War II to look for work. We're where we should be. This is home and I want to stay at home."

Do you consider this Pac-12 situation finished?

"I don't know. This thing is so fluid. In the morning I may pick up the paper and read something the opposite. I know what I think is best. I've thought through it. I'm objective. I know what I’m talking about. The Big 12 should stay together but it should be an equal conference."

I know you've had discussions with Texas. If they gave just a little bit back in terms of revenue would that be enough?

"I'm not too big on compromise. I'm more about doing what's right. What's right is everybody is treated equal. When it came time for you to vote they didn't say, 'We'll give you half a vote,' when you're 18 years old voting in an election. That's not the way it is. You're either in or you're not in. I want to be on the same basis as everybody else."

How does this league stay together with Oklahoma president David Boren taking shots at the conference going out the door on Monday, then on Tuesday saying it's in OU's best interests to stay in the Big 12?

"Oklahoma schools will stick together. David Boren is a smart guy. He's been around a long time. He's got a plan."

Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 11:38 pm

Oklahoma-Texas officials met Sunday in Norman

NORMAN, Okla. -- Texas officials met here with Oklahoma administrators on Sunday, a source confirmed for CBSSports.com

A reasonable person could assume that the meeting had something to do with the schools moving together from the Big 12 to the Pac-12. The Associated Press reported that Texas president William Powers, AD DeLoss Dodds and women's AD Chris Plonsky met with Oklahoma officials. Texas spokesman Nick Voinis confirmed for CBSSports.com that the meeting took place but would not elaborate.

A spokesman for Oklahoma president David Boren did not return a call for comment. Other OU officials were mum as well.

This is a critical time not only for Texas, Oklahoma and the Big 12 but for all of college athletics. Oklahoma's decision on whether to go to the Pac-12 could usher in the age of super conferences. The general feeling on campus here is that it is a done deal, Oklahoma going west. But there is the still issue of the Pac-12's public stance and legal wrangling involving Texas A&M to the SEC.

The speculation is that Texas A&M will eventually get through the current legal hurdles and join the SEC as the 13th team. That would clear the way for Oklahoma to move to the Pac-12 citing the instability of the Big 12. The question is, would Texas follow?

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement Monday that the conference remains "optimistic" that A&M will join his league. He added that the league is looking at schedules in 2012-13 involving a 13-team membership. He said, "We don't have immediate plans for a 14th member."

That could be decided quickly if the Big 12 breaks apart. The SEC couldn't be accused of poaching if it took, say, Missouri after the Big 12 unraveled. Boren said previously that his school would not be "a wallflower" when it comes to conference realignment and that Oklahoma's future affiliation could be decided within a couple of weeks. Orangebloods.com reported Monday that the OU board of regents have given unanimous approval to join the Pac-12.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reiterated Saturday that the league isn't looking to expand but, "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."

If Oklahoma leaves then Texas would have to make a significant decision -- join OU and try to make its Longhorn Network fit in the Pac-12, go independent or try to make a go of it in a diminished Big 12.

Whatever the case, the look of college athletics seemingly is about to change dramatically.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 12, 2011 8:41 pm

When is a game over? Utah-USC leaves no answer

When is a game over?

That's the biggest question left from Saturday's Utah-USC game that seemingly exposed a hole in the college football rules. What was termed "an administrative error" by the Pac-12 officiating crew allowed it to change the final score of the game two hours after it concluded late Saturday in Los Angeles.

However, even that fact is up for debate. National coordinator for college football officiating Rogers Redding told CBSSports.com the crew didn't change the score but rather "corrected" it after noticing back at their hotel that it was being announced as a USC victory, 17-14.

The final score was adjusted to 23-14 after officials apparently didn't properly announce or signal a touchdown following a blocked field goal return by the Trojans. Pac-12 officiating supervisor Tony Corrente said the conference's observer had the final score as 23-14 when he went down to meet with officials after the game.

"One of the things we're investigating is whether the scoreboard had the score 23-14 and somehow it was taken down," Corrente said on Monday.

It is believed that is the first time the score of a game -- not including a forfeit or vacation -- had been altered so long after a contest.

Rogers said the crew got the ruling right on the field -- unsportsmanlike conduct for USC players coming off the bench.

"Just because the scoreboard reads something, that doesn't necessarily mean that's correct because the scoreboard keeper may or may not be in tune to the fact that the touchdown counts," Redding said. "The fact that the touchdown counts led to the final confusion."

USC players came off the bench to celebrate as Torrin Harris ran back Utah's blocked field goal for the score as time expired. USC was then flagged for a dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. According to a Pac-12 statement, "since the game was over, the penalty could not be enforced and the referee stated it was declined by rule. The officials did rule it a touchdown making the final score 23 -14."


But what if the change/correction was made the next day or two days after the game? In essence, when is a game over?

"That's a good question," Redding said. "I think you can change it [score] at any time. In principle, we might should probably should have [a rule regarding] something like that. The reality is people are going to notice that stuff."

Rule 1-1-3b in the official NCAA rules and interpretations states that, "The game is ended and the score is final when the referee so declares." That interpretation was applied 20 years ago in the infamous Fifth Down game between Missouri and Colorado. Even though the officiating crew erred in allowing Colorado a fifth down, on which was scored the winning touchdown, the final score could not be changed.

Redding said in regard to Saturday's game there is nothing in the college football rules to account for such an altering of the score after the fact.

"It doesn't anticipate you're going to have this problem. It may anticipate people arguing over whether a foul was called correctly," he said

Saturday's score became an issue at least in Las Vegas where some sports books didn't recognize the scoring change and others did in paying out bets. Some sports books paid both ends of bets -- to those who had Utah covering and cashed in immediately and those who waited and were paid off after it was determined that USC, an 8 1/2-point favorite, had won by nine.

"The message in that is, don't bet on college football," Redding said.

"The point I keep coming back to is the officials, in terms of officiating the game, got it right. What he [referee] announced was an administrative error that had no impact on anything. It's an unfortunate thing that led to lots of confusion."

The final score also could influence voters and BCS computers if Utah is contention for a BCS bowl. Point differential is not included in Pac-12 divisional tiebreakers.

Referee Jack Folliard, a veteran Pac-10/12 official since 1982, worked the game. The Oregon-based Folliard at one time was on the board of directors of the National Association of Division I-A Football Officials.

One person with extensive college and NFL officiating experience wondered whether the score should have been changed at all.

"It was administrated incorrectly is best you can say," the person said. "The worst you can say it's was an error and it shouldn’t have been changed."

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-12, USC, Utah
Posted on: September 9, 2011 9:53 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 10:03 pm

Son of Weekend Watch List

This is all the stuff that spilled over from Weekend Watch List ... 

There will be plenty of opportunity for Jimbo Fisher to massage the roster in preparation for Oklahoma next week. Florida State hosts Charleston Southern which lost last week to Central Florida, 62-0...For the first time in 18 years Illinois is coming off a game in which it did not commit a penalty. It is one of three teams to go into Week 2 without a penalty. Navy and Eastern Michigan are the others ... TCU (at Air Force) hasn't started 0-2 since 1999 ... Can this be right? Virginia Tech (at East Carolina) hasn't started 2-0 since 2001...Hawaii (at Washington) is looking to start 2-0 against the Pac-12 after beating Colorado in the opener...Utah goes into the USC game with heavy hearts. The wife of Utes' defensive lineman Ron Tongaoneai was killed in a car accident following last week's season-opening win over Montana State ... With Colorado having shifted conferences, that means receiver Toney Clemons, a Michigan transfer, has played in three conferences...Iowa State has scored one touchdown against Iowa in the last 18 quarters going back to 2007...

One more thing about the new taunting rule:  Taunt your opponent on the way to the end zone and the points are taken off the board. We know that. What a lot of folks don't know is that the penalty counts as a personal foul. Two PFs and you're out of the game.

Players will be reminded of this, no doubt, but they're reminded of a lot of things: Like, how not to associate with prostitutes and greasy jock-sniffers who pop for $500 lunches. In the spirit of everything personal and foul, here are the five teams most likely to first get points taken off the board this season.

1. Arizona State: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict's nickname is not Choir Boy.
2. Baylor: Achieved a rare quadruple-quadruple -- 1,000-yard rusher (Jay Finley) and 1,007 yards in penalties to lead the country.
3. Troy: No team caused more laundry to be dropped on the field (110 penalties).
4. Ohio State: Off-field conduct carries over.
5. Miami: Do you even have to ask?

Noble pursuits:
With Jim Tressel having taken a colossal fall from grace at Ohio State, WWL thought it would be interesting to compare other recent major-college coaches who are out of the game. Compare Tressel's quality control position with the Colts (after a suspension that followed him from college) to these other accomplished coaches.

Urban Meyer (resigned December 2010), last coaching job: Florida. Currently, ollege football analyst, ESPN. NCAA reformer.
Mike Bellotti (resigned to become Oregon AD 2008. Left that position 2010), last coaching job, Oregon. Currently: ESPN analyst.
Mark Mangino (resigned under pressure, December 2009), last coaching job, Kansas. Currently, residing Naples, Fla.
Mike Leach (fired December 2009) last coaching job, Texas Tech. Currently, author of best-selling book Swing Your Sword, daily satellite radio show on SiriusXM
Jim Leavitt (fired January 2010) last coaching job, South Florida. Currently, linebackers coach, San Francisco 49ers
Dan Hawkins (fired after 2010 season) last coaching job, Colorado. Currently, ESPN analyst
Butch Davis (fired, July 27, 2010) last coaching job, North Carolina. Currently, unknown.

Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 9:57 pm

Schools have called Pac-12; Big 12 days numbered?

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott admitted for the first time during this latest round of conference upheaval that his league has been contacted by prospective members.

"I will say schools have reached out to us," Scott said Saturday shortly before the start of the LSU-Oregon game here. "We are not doing anything proactively."

Scott was speaking approximately 90 minutes after an Oklahoma source was quoted as saying the school's "sole focus" was moving to the Pac-12. The story broke Saturday in the The Oklahoman and stated that Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State could also be part of the move to the Pac-12.

The commissioner said he was not aware of the report but reiterated that, "schools have called us. We certainly are going to listen."

Cut through the language and it seems that the Big 12's days are numbered. Texas A&M is expected to be formally invited to the SEC next week. Oklahoma has been leaning toward the Pac-12. It's doubtful that the 15-year-old league could survive with the loss Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.

"If you can't fix Big 12, you might as well go west," Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State's billionaire benefactor, told an Oklahoma City reporter.

 Events of the last 36 hours may have put college athletics at the brink of one of the most significant points in its history. Oklahoma president David Boren said Friday his school would not be a "wallflower" as it surveys conference membership. Boren added that Oklahoma's future could be clearer by as early as Monday. At no time during those comments did he pledge loyalty to the Big 12. A Pac-12 expansion to 16 teams could usher in the era of the super conference in college athletics.

The Pac-12 locking up Texas and Oklahoma, two of the most famous brands, in college sports would almost assure it. There already has been speculation that the combination of the new Pac-12 agreement ($3 billion, 12 years with ESPN/Fox) and the new Pac-12 Network could mean an annual $30 million to each member school.

Other conferences -- notably the SEC and Big Ten -- would almost have to react to the Pac-12's move.

"I've also been clear," Scott reminded, "that there will probably be further expansion at some stage."

The Pac-12 controls the option to reopen that lucrative contract for negotiations if membership changes, Scott said. He added that he and the Pac-12 won't be the guys who alter the current college conference structure.

"If there is any suggestion whatsoever that our conference is being predatory that's just wrong," he said. "We've not had expansion as an initiative, as an agenda, for us at all. If there were any conversations going on, you can be sure there are not any we initiated."

That's likely legalese for staying with the process. Three weeks ago SEC presidents met to discuss Texas A&M's move to the conference. They were reminded by lawyers during that meeting the conference could not appear to be pursuing the Aggies at the expense of collapsing the Big 12.

The then-Pac-10 was definitely proactive last year when it pursued six Big 12 schools last year in a bold attempt to move up to 16 teams in preparations for negotiating a new TV deal. It settled on Utah and Colorado to expand to 14. That deal is now in place.

The biggest complication seems to be folding Texas and its network into the Pac-12. Texas and ESPN have an exclusive $300 million deal with the Longhorn Network. Scott said any such deal would have to be folded into the Pac-12 distribution model. The Pac-12 Network consists of six regional networks.

Texas mostly likely would have to renegotiate its deal and possibly share money with Pac-12 members were it to join the Pac-12.

Posted on: September 3, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 7:39 pm

Oklahoma's 'sole focus' is Pac-12

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott came to the Metroplex Saturday and a college football game broke out.

Sorry, but LSU-Oregon just got knocked off center stage here. The Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma's "sole focus" is on the Pac-12.  The implications are as significant as you think. The guy who wrote the story, columnist Berry Trammel, is as solid as they come. You can it to the bank.

It seems as if the Big 12 stands on the brink of breaking apart.

"You put something like that [Oklahoman quote] out there and it just reinforces that image of being unstable," Missouri's Mike Alden said from Columbia, Mo. "How do you recover from that? I don't know."

Scott is scheduled to meet with the media here at Cowboys Stadium press box at 7 pm ET. Stay tuned.

Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com