Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 9:57 pm
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: May 3, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 10:09 am
The Pac-12 will announce the largest television rights fees deal in college conference history on Wednesday CBSSports.com has learned.
Initial reports Tuesday that the league would announce a 12-year, $2.7 billion agreement with ESPN and Fox were low, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Instead, the new deal will make the Pac-12 No. 1 among all conferences in an age where rights fees are skyrocketing. The 12-year, $3 billion deal will be worth an average of more than $20 million per school each year over the course of the agreement. The final numbers could be staggering considering that the Pac-12 is going to announce a broadcast and cable deal only at this time. There is the digitial (phone/Internet) and network component still out there.
In the reports that surfaced Tuesday Pac-12 teams would average $18.75 million per year per school. That figure alone would double the current take of Pac-10 schools. The New York Times also reported the deal Tuesday morning.
How a sleepy league that was routinely No. 4 rights fees could shoot up to to No. 1 is explained here.
The announcement should mark the ultimate payoff for commissioner Larry Scott. The former CEO of the Women's Tennis Association has been on the job less than two years. Already he has shaken up not only his league but also college sports. He nearly succeeded last year in a raid of the Big 12 in expanding the Pac-10 from 10 to 16 teams. Falling short of that, the league invited Utah and Colorado and instituted a championship game beginning this year.
Scott already is on record intending to market the Pac-12 in Pacific Rim countries, including China.
NBC-Universal dropped out of the Pac-12 idding last week according to the Sports Business Journal. The conference will be part of a Saturday night primetime package on ESPN also according to SBJ.
The league has scheduled a Wednesday morning press conference at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, meaning Arizona State will be the "host" school of the largest TV deal in college history.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 10:28 pm
Twenty-one economics, sports management and anti-trust experts have sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to look into legality of the BCS.
While this isn't huge news -- opponents have attacked the BCS on anti-trust issues for years -- it comes at a time when the system seems to be somewhat vulnerable. The Fiesta Bowl will meet with a BCS task force on April 23 in Chicago as part of an ongoing investigation. The meeting has been characterized as "information sharing." Ultimately, the bowl basically must justify why it should stay in the BCS after an in-house review revealed vast wrongdoing and lavish spending. John Junker was fired as Fiesta executive director after it was revealed there may have been illegal campaign contributions.
Here is the letter. It is interesting to note that only four of the 21 signatories are from BCS institutions. The highest profile member is economist Andrew Zimbalist who has been a critic and knowledgeable analyst of the college power elite.
" ... the core issue is that six conferences have bear hugged the goodies and agreed to run things for their mutual benefit," Len Simon told the Wall Street Journal. Simon, one of the 21, is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego which has been in the news recently.
The BCS has consistently maintained that it is not in violation of anti-trust laws.
"The Justice Department has been asked to do that [look into the BCS] before," said Bill Hancock, BCS executive director. "We have not heard a word from Justice. I think that is because they know the BCS complies with the law."
Alan Fishel, counsel for the Mountain West and Boise State responded: “I think it’s rather presumptuous of the BCS to make that assumption. To my knowledge, the Department of Justice has yet to make a determination regarding this matter.”
Eighteen months ago, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah sent a letter to President Obama asking him to urge the Justice Department to look into BCS anti-trust issues. A Justice official wrote back in January 2010 saying it was deciding whether to proceed. That caused much consternation among BCS types. If nothing else, the fact that Justice showed mild interest was a lot more threatening than just dismissing the matter. As recently as June, Hatch was urging Justice to investigate.
Hatch's stance is notable because it was around that time that the University of Utah, in the senator's home state, was being admitted into the Pac-10 which is a BCS conference.
The comments by two officials from last year indicate that the BCS will not be given special treatment:
Hatch asked the head of Justice's anti-trust division, Christine Varney, and Federal Trade commission chairman Jonathan Leibowitz: “Would the fact that these issues revolve around college sports keep the Justice Department from bringing a case” (against the BCS)?
Varney: “Senator, my view is that sports are business. They’re a big business, whether they’re in college or out of college… All of these enterprises are subject to the antitrust laws. We will obviously investigate, thoroughly pursue, and bring the appropriate action against any enterprise whether it’s sporting or otherwise that’s in violation of the antitrust laws.”
Leibowitz: “When Senator DeWine and Senator Kohl took over the Antitrust Subcommittee in, I think, 1997 and I was one of the staff directors, the first hearing we did was on the BCS. And at that time it seemed to us, and you know this, that it was a bunch of big, large competitors who got together … and excluded some of the little guys.”
Hancock added the Fiesta investigation won't be finished by the time of the annual BCS meetings April 26-28 in New Orleans.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 12:38 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:41 am
SALT LAKE CITY -- Michael Young knows the law. Specifically, Harvard Law. (That was his law school.) Early in his career, Utah's president clerked for Supreme Court justice William Rehnquist.
So the question seemed logical when I posed it to Young Wednesday in his office: With your background, what do you think of the legal challenges to the BCS?
Young believes the BCS is most vulnerable when it comes to estricting fair trade, the anti-trust angle.
"That's the only place you could win," he said.
The usual calls for anti-trust action have been replaced by challenges to the BCS bowls' tax-exempt status. Young gave BCS haters everywhere hope when he said, "I actually think that there is probably a perspective where you could take it all the way and win the case [against the BCS]."
Remember, this is a guy who recently crossed over to the "dark side", from non-BCS to BCS. Utah joins the Pac-12 this year.
Young's comments came the same day as NCAA president Mark Emmert said the association would "be happy" to help create a playoff. Emmert's predecessor, the late Myles Brand, told me the same thing a few years ago. Of course, the NCAA would be happy to help with a playoff. It would profit from it (along the membership too, of course).
The reason the BCS exists is to keep it out of the hands of the NCAA. Point being, that the NCAA is powerless to create a playoff unless there is a sudden shift in the opinions of college presidents.
"An anti-trust case could go a little further," Young said. "The question is does [the BCS] tie up the market? I think the BCS' argument is that it doesn't because ... these are the [power-conference] schools that people care to watch."
What undermines that argument, Young said, is TV ratings. When non-BCS schools have gotten into BCS bowls, those games have done respectable ratings numbers. It's not necessarily all about televising the top 40 football factories. For example, ABC's telecast of the Rose Bowl (featuring TCU) had the second-largest bowl audience of the season, according to reports, behind only the BCS title game.
Young's experience in Washington, D.C. -- he also worked for four years in the State Department -- make him cynical. He wondered how many legislators from the states of major football powers (Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, for example) would attack the BCS. Maybe that's why Obama the Candidate used his call for an eight-team playoff as a populist ploy. Obama the President knows there is no way in hell, he could legitimately take on the BCS while in office with gas approaching $4 a gallon.
It's much more important to fix the country than to fix a sport.
"Somebody is going to figure out there is a bonanza out there to create a playoff system," Young said. "Once they see it and put the money up, it will happen."
Young was reminded that Mark Cuban is organizing a playoff war chest. So far, it has been ignored. Also, ABC essentially proposed a Plus One 6 1/2 years ago with the same result.
"What will blow up the BCS isn't going to be all this noise on the sideline," Young said. "What will blow up the BCS is when the [TV rightsholders] realize they can create a March Madness with football, when any of the major networks decide, 'This is bigger than the Olympics.' "
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 1:55 pm
PROVO, Utah -- In the middle of a spectacular sunny afternoon at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, Bronco Mendenhall brought up the subject of player conduct. The BYU football coach probably didn't understand that a revealing look at the school's honor code would, in a few hours, take on added significance.
It turns out Mendenhall was speaking hours before BYU suspended basketball center Brandon Davies on Tuesday for an honor code violation. The information was released Tuesday night.
BYU is in the process of transitioning from the Mountain West to independent status in football. Almost all of its other sports will play in the West Coast Conference beginning next season. There is more urgency right now in basketball because it is seeking its first No. 1 seed. Davies was a key element in that chase.
Here is BYU's honor code. You've probably heard or read about it in the past. The basics: honesty, chastity, abiding by the law, clean language, no alcohol, tobacco, tea or coffee and dress and grooming standards. Pertaining to nothing in this blog, it also includes a clause dealing with homosexuality.
We didn't talk Tuesday about Mendenhall losing lost star running back Harvey Unga in April. Unga voluntarily withdrew from school because of an undisclosed honor code violation. These Mendenhall quotes are from an interview dealing with football independence. Once again, the Davies suspension had not been announced.
"It doesn't mean that we still don't have a young man who makes a mistake out there," the coach said. "I'll lose about five players a year, probably, through academic choices or social choices or honor code choices ...
"To my knowledge we have the highest GPA in the country. When you're talking about recruiting young men, we're talking 3.3 cum [grade-point average] with at least a 19 [ACT] plus honor-code endorsed plus Division I [talent]. If we lose a player who, for some reason, hasn't had success here you're talking about an increased difficulty in him being replaced. We lose about 40 percent of our team every year through [two-year] missions and graduations. It's probably the highest turnover of any program in the country ...
"We really recruit quite a different kid. We will run into Stanford more than we'll run into Utah [in recruiting]."
Mendenhall said BYU players are a mix of those with Stanford's academic standards, the moral standards of military academy recruits with a "dust of Notre Dame". That refers to the religious underpinnings of the school. Oh, and they have to be good enough play in "a top 25 program."
"Rather than complain about it," he said, "I see it as a great competitive advantage ... It matters how we play and it also matters how the kids live. More importantly it matters what they represent."
Mendenhall was reminded that, because of that honor code, what would be news at BYU isn't, necessarily, at other schools. The trade-off, perhaps, is that the coach doesn't have to lecture his players on Fridays about staying out of trouble over the weekend. "I don't say that at all," Mendenhall said. It assumed they will walk the straight and narrow. He added that the 15 members of the football team who aren't Mormon, are seeking the same structure as the Mormon Church provides for members.
"Grade-point average has been a better predictor of social conduct than religious preference," said Mendenhall who has coached at BYU six seasons. "The higher the grade-point average of these kids coming in, the more obedient they are, the more faithful they are."
Over those six seasons, a question was asked of each of the players: Why did you choose BYU? Ninety percent, the coach said, replied "faith."
"Most of them want to be around like-minded youth," he said. "Catholic kids, Methodist kids, Lutheran kids that come, I don't offer any of them scholarships unless their parents come on campus. How do you explain through words or pictures what this is?"
Posted on: January 21, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2011 10:13 am
I put out an informal Twitter poll request this week: In light of The Longhorn Network announcement, what is the over/under on number of years the Big 12 will last in its current configuration.
Dan Beebe may want to avert his eyes. Fifty persons responded. The average life span from the respondents? 3.4 years
Here's a sampling of some of the replies ...
I'm not into Big 12 bashing. Any league with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri (three 10 win seasons in the last four years) is formidable. It's going to be easier for the league to get two teams to the BCS each season without a championship game.
3.4 years? And some of us thought conference realignment had calmed down for a while. If an informal Twitter poll means anything, the upheaval has just begun.
This week's letters from the edge ...
I hope 2011 is better. 2010 left me feeling cheated by the NCAA, the SEC, the sports media herd, and Preacher Newton. I love the SEC and wanted to cheer for Auburn, but the smell was too great. And you in the media fed the momentum for that Newton thug, making this ripoff a fait accompli. I could not watch the biggest game of the year, and hung my head over the black eye to this greatest of all sports. With the possible nod to TCU, 2010 was the year without a national championship, and you in the media, the last line of defense, allowed it to be so.
What exactly did you want us to do? We reported the news to the best of our ability. We stayed on this Newton story so hard that the NCAA took the unusual step of dealing with player eligibility in the middle of an active investigation. What exactly did we miss?
We are, like you, still skeptical. We, like you, need closure from the 2010 season. We, like you, probably won't get it.
Two words summed up your post -- "real world". There is no real world in college athletics. Notre Dame is private. Texas is public. One has to release balance sheet. The other doesn't. Both are among the richest schools in the country. And that's just a start. There are still 118 other schools with their own stories, desires and bank accounts.
We should have it figured out by now. Athletic departments are like board rooms -- selfish and worried about the bottom line. The "stock" in this case are young adults on scholarships on whose talents the schools' "stock" fluctuates.
According to my research, you represent exactly 50 percent of the fans at Michigan right now. The other half wonder why the heck Dave Brandon couldn't do better.
There is no Louisiana-Lafayette. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette media guide has asked the media to call us UL, Louisiana or Ragin' Cajuns. The use of ULL or Louisiana-Lafayette is unexceptable.
Ragin' Politcally Incorrect:
Serious tip: I have this rule that I've enforced for the 13 years I've been at CBSSports.com. This isn't some court room where you can change your last name when it suits you. You've got to earn it, over decades. Calling Ooo-La-La, Louisiana is arrogant and wrong. The same goes for Central Florida (not UCF) and South Florida (not USF). In other words, you're not a household name just because you say so.
All name changes should go through a panel made up of USC, UCLA, ACC and K-State officials.
He did make an honest attempt and spoke to a few key players by cell phone when they landed after the bowl game. He even apologized. I've got no problem with that. Edsall and Maryland kept this whole thing under wraps perhaps better than any of the other coaching searches this season. We didn't know Edsall was at Maryland -- until Edsall was at Maryland. Hurt feelings heal. Randy Edsall's only duty is to his family, his employer and his players. He has done all he could for all of them.
At this time, SEC has had a good run in football and the BCS, no doubt. However, when CBS & ESPN, ABC tells you that the SEC is great, I wonder. You guys are paying a lot of money to the SEC, you really can't say anything bad, and lose viewers. Sorta like patting your 8-year-old on the head telling everyone how great he is.
... or sorta like saying the sky is blue. We were merely stating the obvious, no matter how repetitive it might be. The SEC is fantastic until further notice. Nothing can change that no matter who runs the company.
I really don't get your sniping at the Legends and Leaders division names. Get a life. I think they are fine. Hopefully they will build into a tradition in time. I really don't get why you hate the Big Ten Conference so much. It sure does show.
Thank you, Mr. Delany. Your correspondence is appreciated.
I still wish that Butler had hit on that 3-point, 3-fourths of a court shot at the end of the NCAA Championship Game last year. That would have done more for parity, folklore, and equalizing all sports, big and small, at all levels of college sports. Duke would have deserved it, too!
Little Big Man:
Obviously you haven't been watching Boise State, TCU, Utah and Jacksonville State in football.
How does a national championship game that isn't even on network TV in prime time demonstrate that the whole BCS concept is a good idea? Give me back the days when all the games were on New Year's Day and the winner was crowned shortly thereafter.
Ding, ding, ding! We have found one of the two percent of people who don't have basic cable. What's it like watching Oprah all day?
Let's just make it the SEC vs. Big 12 every year and get over with, right?
TCU beat four teams with at least eight wins this season. Wisconsin beat three. TCU beat five bowl teams. Wisconsin beat four. TCU was one of two undefeated teams left in the country. Wisconsin was not. The Mountain West is considered just as good or better than the ACC and Big East and may have a BCS berth beginning in 2012.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 6:46 pm
On the same day TCU received its first Rose Bowl bid, its stadium was demolished.
The two occurrences on Dec. 5 are actually related. In a strange way, the Frogs were in Saturday's Rose Bowl because Amon G. Carter Stadium was being demolished. The win over Wisconsin was a culmination of events that might have elevated TCU to being the best non-automatic qualifier in existence.
Part of the stadium was torn down as part of a $100 million facilities upgrade. Call it an overall upgrade, the biggest in school history. With the Rose Bowl win and a 13-0 season, TCU is on the edge of breaking into college football's elite. It certainly has passed Utah and Boise as the best non-BCS programs of the BCS era (since 1998). World's tallest midget status is a bit meaningless now, though, with TCU joining the Big East in 2012.
It will leave behind quite a legacy before starting a new one as one of the game's haves. Gary Patterson is a defensive savant but his teams have been tremendously balanced. Departing senior Jeremy Kerley was a dual threat as a receiver and returner. Quarterback Andy Dalton leaves as the winningest active quarterback in the game. His placement will be either Casey Pachall, a redshirt freshman, or Matt Brown, an Allen, Texas star who changed his commitment from Arizona in February.
Only 10 starters return with the loss of 26 seniors in 2011. But Patterson has been good at replenishing and rebuilding. Most of the 2010 recruiting class redshirted. Only three true freshmen played any significant time. This season marked the program's fifth in the last six with at least 11 wins. The residual gift from those victories will benefit both the Mountain West and Big East. BCS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed Saturday night that the leagues will each get credit for TCU's records in 2010 and 2011.
A four-year evaluation period for automatic BCS conference qualification has been adjusted to match up with TV contracts. That's why TCU will most likely help the Big East keep its BCS status and aid the Mountain West in getting its shot. If the MWC meets a series of benchmarks it will get temporary automatic qualifying status in 2012 and 2013. That would help sustain the league despite the losses of Utah and BYU next season and TCU in 2012. Boise State joins the MWC in 2011. Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii (football only) will arrive in 2012.
Some dope tweeted Sunday about TCU's weak schedule. While the MWC has been damaged by defections, it is on the brink of BCS automatic qualification because of the accomplishments of TCU, BYU and Utah. The Frogs have actively sought a tougher schedule in the Big East. Meanwhile, in the non-con Boise State comes to Fort Worth in 2011. Oklahoma and Virginia follow in 2012. There's a home and home with LSU in 2013 and 2014.
Let's see Ohio State (Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan this season in the non-con) match that.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:27 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 11:01 am
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Welcome to Day 2 of the post-Urban Florida coaching search. This time it's for real. We think.
Florida AD Jeremy Foley says he'd like to have someone hired in 2-2 1/2 weeks. He also says he hasn't contacted any candidates. Of course, he hasn't. That's not the way searches work. Coaches who want to remain anonymous can keep on the down low by speaking to a third party. You can bet some influential Gators have been burning up the phone lines talking to candidates already -- probably some of these candidates.
Here's my list in descending order of probability...
It would be a good get for Foley, but for how long?
The biggest drawback: Whit is an accomplished head coach already headed to a BCS conference (Pac-12). He could take a bigger step going to the SEC. If they hired him, the Gators would play defense, I guarantee you that.
Here's what bothers me: Mullen isn't exactly known as an aggressive recruiter. His record in two seasons with the Bulldogs is still only 13-11. On the plus side: Steve Spurrier didn't enjoy recruiting either and he did all right. Mullen would unite the Gator Nation, although whoever gets hired is going to be the guy to follow the guy. Never a good thing in the coaching profession. You know what happened here the last time a coaching icon left.
Kevin Sumlin, Houston: Foley loves him.
Chip Kelly, Oregon: If his team wasn’t playing for the national championship I bet he'd more than listen. The timing, though, is a deal breaker. Kelly wouldn't leave until after the BCS title game (Jan. 10) and Florida sure wouldn't wait that long.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: There will be some sentiment for Spurrier's former defensive coordinator to come "home". Insiders know that Stoopsie is perfectly happy in Norman, loves his AD (Joe Castiglione) and can continue to compete for Big 12 and national championships each year. Sorry, Gators.
Chris Petersen, Boise State: As much as I like Pete, he wouldn't last three minutes in Florida's media fish bowl. There's a reason he hasn't left yet. Petersen is completely comfortable at a place where he can win forever.
Larry Fedora, Southern Miss: Could be dark horse candidate.
Charlie Strong, Louisville: Florida's former D coordinator is a strong recruiter and great man. Florida needs a rock star. Charlie Strong is not a rock star.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Don't. Think. So.