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: August 29, 2011 4:55 pm
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford -- The ghosts of Jim Plunkett and Herschel Walker will haunt the season.
2. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma -- OU has become Quarterback U.
3. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State -- Hasn't been one like him at OSU since Hart Lee Dykes (including Dez Bryant). I mean that in a good way.
4. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon -- With Lache Seastrunk no longer a threat to get in the rotation, is it possible the nation's leading rusher will get even more work?
5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State -- New set of receivers, same old arm.
6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan -- Would be a front runner but Michigan needs to win more and Brady Hoke is going to make him a pocket passer.
7. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina -- Just call him "Hoss" and give him the ball.
8. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama -- Longshot because Nick Saban spreads the carries around.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 4:35 pm
Heading into the conference's media days in Dallas beginning Monday, here are five key issues.
1. Stability. The Big 12 was a shotgun marriage from the start. We're just seeing the latest manifestation of the cultural and geographical incongruity. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are upset at the way Texas has pushed the Longhorn Network on the conference. There was a vague idea that TLN was going to broadcast high school games, but that quickly became a deal-breaker when TLN head Dave Brown went on Austin radio on early June and went Manifest Destiny on the Big 12. Eighteen high school games? Broadcasting out-of-state high school games of 2012 Texas commits? All parties are working things out. The league should stay together -- this time. The point is, the league needs to calm down when level-minded observers point out the conference's instability. Note to the Big 12: The current lineup may last 50 years (doubt it) but quit getting upset every time someone points out Texas is the big dog and usually gets its way. That alone might be enough someday to break up this league. It won't be over this issue, but the Big 12 will continue to live in a constant state of flux.
2. Oklahoma rules. With Texas down and not looking to rebound anytime soon, Oklahoma looks like it is ready to run away and hide in the new Big 12. No surprise. The Sooners won seven of the 15 old Big 12 titles and are loaded again this year. While Bob Stoops hasn’t been able to follow up on that 2000 title, this would be only the second time in the BCS era the Sooners will have been picked as a preseason No. 1.
3. How the North was lost. The remaining members of the division formerly known as the North in the Big 12 face a distinct competitive disadvantage in the new 10-team league. Notably, there will be no more scheduling holes that allowed Kansas to win 12 games in 2007 without having to play Oklahoma or Texas. That's one example. There are more. Point is, the new round-robin Big 12 schedule is going to make it extremely difficult for Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State or Iowa State to make a serious run at a title in the 10-team league. Those schools will be playing Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma each season. Since 2005, the remaining North schools have lost 75 percent of their games to those three. Add to that the reality that every other year, teams will be playing five of nine conference games on the road. Not only is there a competitive disadvantage -- only Kansas State among the four has won a Big 12 title -- there will be a physical toll as well. With a round-robin schedule, there will be fewer breathers.
4. Mack Brown's future. Texas' coach did what any veteran would do when the program slides off the edge of the cliff. He changed his coordinators. Much of the Horns' ability to turn around immediately from a 5-7 disaster will be on the shoulders of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Harsin is credited for making Boise State a huge offensive force in recent years. Diaz's career has soared since he began as an intern at ESPN. If Texas doesn't rebound quickly and begin competing for the conference title again, will this be Mack's final year?
5. Bring the kids, spread out a blanket and watch the fireworks. For whatever reason, the Big 12 has become the most entertaining league in the country. This is a conference that produced Vince Young, Chase Daniel and Jason White. The conference has made its on-field rep with great offenses and great offensive players. Three of the top six players in total offense came from the Big 12 last year. The top two receivers in the country (Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles) were also from the Big 12. Oregon's LaMichael James led the country in scoring. No. 2? Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys and Sooners were 2-3 in passing. With Baylor maturing and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at the top of their offensive games, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to "hang half a hundred on 'em," as Barry Switzer used to say.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 2:51 pm
As our five-part series ends, it's time for action. Our own. The following are meaningful and realistic reforms to clean up college football (and by extension college athletics).
Create a commissioner for college football: This is not an original thought. Our Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, suggested it in April.
The sport suffers from too many competing views and constituencies. There needs to be a person with some sort of meaningful authority over the sport. A go-to guy (or girl) who could, for example, explain in plain English why those five Ohio State players were allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl. An authority figure who could suspend a coach for a game or two for ripping officials. Someone who loves the game and has its best interests in mind.
An objective mind with enough respect to shake hands on press row, and enough of an iron fist to make the hard and fast decisions.
In all seriousness, I would nominate our Mr. College Football.
Quit sweating the small stuff: On Wednesday, our Bryan Fischer tweeted that the NCAA came down hard and banned media from filming involuntary offseason workouts. Brilliant. Meanwhile, players are partying on South Beach and making small fortunes selling their gear.
The best way for the NCAA to gain the trust of coaches and get the attention of players is to separate violations into another sub-category involving violations involving a competitive or recruiting advantage. Those are the violations that make a difference in the game. Those are the ones that piss off coaches the most.
"If you lump all violations of the law into one category, then all of us are guilty," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said.
Brett McMurphy pointed out this week that former Oklahoma State receiver Hart Lee Dykes put four schools on probation. Ohio State was able to win a Sugar Bowl and win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title because it fielded ineligible players. Concentrate on the major stuff. Everything else is details.
Call Spielman and Meyer for advice: You knowingly cheat, you're gone. Six months, a year. Doesn't matter. Put it in the rules. Players and coaches alike. In fact, create a list of penalties equal to corresponding violations.
The infractions committee has leeway in assessing penalties on a case-by-case basis. Too much leeway. That has become a crutch when explaining why one school gets The Big Haircut, while another gets off. This is the No. 1 way the NCAA could gain the trust of the public, coaches and administrators. Moses had the Ten Commandments. Not too hard for humanity to follow for thousands of years.
The NCAA has a 434-page manual that is all over the place. It can't be that hard to tighten things up.
Call Warren Buffett for advice: Former Oregon AD Pat Kilkenny suggested a brilliant way to cut through the B.S. Get four or five power brokers in and outside college athletics and figure it out, or at least begin to figure it out.
Start with SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commish Jim Delany. Throw in Phil Knight from Nike. Maybe Warren Buffett. The roster doesn't matter. Just make sure the participants are smart, powerful and willing.
Slive and Delany two of the most lucrative amateur entities in the country. Knight and Buffett are accomplished businessmen. I wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the room but I'll you a number familiar to Cecil Newton that these guys could come up with a way to save college athletics.
Whatever happens, please, no ... more ... committees. It's take for action.
Coaches must be removed from the player discipline process: Coaches are naturally prejudiced in favor of their players. That's not to say they can't be objective when the star quarterback gets a DUI, it means most of the time they won't be objective.
Coaches get paid to win. The best way to win is to have the best players on the field. The AD or a faculty committee should determine appropriate discipline. That would lessen the likelihood of player entitlement and or enabling by coaches. If that means one less Stephen Garcia on the field, so be it.
Make infractions committee hearing public: This was actually recommended by the Lee Commission in 1991. It has been stubbornly ignored since.
Twenty years ago, then-NCAA executive director Dick Schultz asked Ronald Reagan's Solicitor General Rex Lee to look into the enforcement process. Eleven of the commission's recommendations were adopted. Open hearings weren't.
NCAA types continue to argue that allowing the public into the process would keep witnesses from coming forward. Balanced against the NCAA accountability that would result from open hearings, the trade off would be worth it. For years, the accused have griped about "secret" nature of the proceedings. Now they know what the media feels like when practices are closed. Open 'em both up.
Give the infractions committee subpoena power: This has been suggested for years. The NCAA has no power to make people show up for hearings who are not under their jurisdiction. Think if they had the ability to compel Reggie Bush to testify.
There are all kinds of political and legal reasons not to compel witnesses to testify in an issue involving amateur sports. Few want more of Big Brother in our lives. But we're talking about rules-breaking here, not a murder trial.
The NCAA process resembles an administrative proceeding. Remember when O.J. was sued for monetary damages [and lost] after he [allegedly] killed two people? That's closer to the NCAA process than the trial that allowed The Juice to go free.
This one change has the chance of wiping out cheating as we know it. Picture a process where subpoenas could be issued and witnesses -- such as coaches who have left to school -- would have to testify under oath.
Read this transcript from a 2004 House Judiciary hearing for an entertaining and compelling argument both for and against NCAA subpoena power.
Call 254-754-9000: That's the phone number of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in Waco, Texas.
Seriously, where is executive director Grant Teaff and his leadership as the worst of his Millionaire's Club members drag the profession down the drain? The NCAA can't be responsible for all the reforms.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 8:29 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 3:01 pm
West Virginia is in negotiations to buy out embattled coach Bill Stewart, The Sporting News reported Thursday night, citing a source.
Coach-in-waiting/offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen would be elevated to head coach. Asked to confirm the report, Mountaineers AD Oliver Luck replied via text, "I can't comment."
The coaching staff had recently been investigated by Luck, who was trying to determine the source of what were termed "leaks" disparaging Holgorsen in recent newspapers accounts. The school said there were "blatant inaccuracies" in a report that Holgorsen had been involved in three to six alcohol-related incidents in the past few months.
A former Pittsburgh newspaper reporter said this week during a radio interview that Stewart urged him to "dig up dirt" on Holgorsen.
Had Stewart been fired after last season, the school would have owed him $2.5 million. Instead, the school hired Holgorsen from Oklahoma State, made him the coach-in-waiting and adjusted Stewart's contract. This would have been Stewart's final season as head coach. Holgorsen was to take over in 2012.
Stewart, 59, was the toast of Morgantown 3½ years ago when he beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. That night he was elevated to head coach following Rich Rodriguez's departure for Michigan. Stewart has won 28 games -- nine in each of the past three seasons, plus the Fiesta Bowl.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:31 pm
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It wasn't the No. 1 seed being at risk.
It wasn't the foul trouble.
It wasn't the flat start.
It was the near embarrassment for No. 2 Kansas of being punked in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament by a five-foot nothing shooting guard with an overbite.
Too harsh a description for Oklahoma State's Keiton Page? Maybe not. Jayhawks guard Tyrel Reed was asked if the (actually, 5-foot-9) Cowboys guard would be considered a Big 12-caliber player at first glance.
"I don't think anyone would [think that]," Reed said. "He probably doesn't look the part, but definitely plays the part."
Page, the Cowboys' second-leading scorer, is one of those gnat-like guards who can seemingly dribble between your legs. But let up or back off and that embarrassment potential is high. He's that little guy who can stick a three in your face and shoots 90 percent from the line. That Page didn't touch the ball in the game's final possession was probably the difference in Kansas' 63-62 win. Up until that point, he had been the Cowboys statistical and spiritual leader with 23 points.
"When you talk about the eye test, there's a lot of guys out there who don't exactly pass the eye test," KU coach Bill Self said, "for what the prototypical two-guard in the Big 12 should look like. But that kid can play. He's a bad boy."
Not bad enough, it turned out. With his team trailing by that point, Oklahoma State's Jean-Paul Olukemi missed a closely-guarded three as time expired. The spiritual and statistical leader never touched the ball. Self had wisely placed long-armed 6-4 Elijah Johnson on Page to deny him the ball,
That the Jayhawks held Page to "only" 23 was the difference in Kansas moving on to Friday's semifinals. A loss would have raised even more questions about KU's focus this time of year. Hey, when you're 30-2 there isn't much more to analyze. That's 10 30-win seasons in school history, four under Self.
The Jayhawks have won seven consecutive regular-season Big 12 titles and, even with a loss, may have been able to keep a No. 1 seed. The last time they won a conference tournament game this close was five years to the day -- by the same score, against the same team.
"Obviously the last five minutes of a game is far more important than the first five, because the mistakes are magnified and you don't have time to recover," Self said. "In our season, we know we're going to get to go on, and their [Oklahoma State's] goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament. So they're in the last five and we played like were in the first five."
Leading rebounder Markieff Morris fouled out. KU shot only five-of-25 from the arc. Ho-hum, bring on the tournament. Kansas is among the handful of teams that have to span that mental abyss from a regular season of accomplishment to the "real" season in March. Seventeen days ago Page scored only eight points in a 27-point blowout in Lawrence. It was easy to figure that Oklahoma State -- likely headed for a three-letter postseason -- would have more energy, more desperation this time. Kansas' effort was explainable, even tolerable, this time of year. It wasn't explainable last year when Northern Iowa upset the Jayhawks in the second round with a similar desperation.
"I don't think we were looking forward to next week by any means," Reed said. "It was a tough game. Oklahoma State came out with a lot of energy ... There are going to be games when you're not making shots and things aren't going your way and it's going to be a half-court game. That was definitely a tourney type game [on Friday]. We've got a taste for it now."
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
For the moment I'm going to name it Super Saturday. Even that seems a bit modest.
Traditionally, the last weekend of the regular season was already a monster -- the Conference USA, Big 12, SEC and ACC championship games along with your random Civil War thrown in. It was, and is, usually a one-day play-in for the BCS championship bowl and other major bowls. Last year alone we got Oregon's coronation at Oregon State, Auburn's major, final statement against South Carolina and Virginia Tech winning the ACC (again).
That final weekend could be about to get a lot bigger. First, consider we've got a new configuration with the Big 12 dropping its championship game and the Big Ten and Pac-12 adding title games. Suddenly, the Big 12 is without a presence on that last day (Dec. 3 this year). Turns out there are serious talks underway about moving Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and/or Texas-Texas A&M to that day.
That could make Saturday truly Super considering the blockbuster implications for this season. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State most likely are both going to start the season in the top 10. The game could end up being the Big 12's first "championship game" in the new 10-team alignment. Texas and A&M could also be moved off its traditional Thanksgiving week home.
"The leader in the clubhouse would be either UT-AM or OU-OSU,” a source told the Tulsa World. “ABC wants a blockbuster weekend on championship Saturday, but doesn’t want to blow up Thanksgiving, so it’s a tricky situation."
The odds of all four of those Big 12 teams being out of the title race on the final day are minimal. Even if they are, those games are sure to deliver the key Texas demographic (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio etc.) That cannot be underestimated. The source added that a Texas-A&M, OU-OSU doubleheader is a possibility.
"That (doubleheader) is on the table and being discussed," the source said. "It is by no means a 'done deal,' but it is certainly possible."
Don't forget that the Pac-12 will play its first championship game that day at the stadium of the school with the best record. The Big Ten is already slotted to play its title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In other Super Saturday news, the Big East -- which just released its schedule -- will have two games that day -- Connecticut at Cincinnati and Syracuse at Pittsburgh.
The next question: How to schedule all those games so they don't all bump into each other.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 9:19 am
Edited on: November 28, 2010 1:06 pm
It looks like the biggest college football Sunday, well, until next week when the BCS bowls are announced. At issue today:
--Let the Miami speculation begin. Randy Shannon’s firing means a wide net will be cast. As Gregg Doyel pointed out, Miami pretty much has said player conduct isn’t an issue anymore. Miami fired a fine man who had recruited good players and good citizens.
Forget that, it’s time to find a football coach. Miami’s legacy is so deep that a rule has been named after it. Well, it doesn’t have an official name but next year points will be taken off the board for excessive celebration during a play. I’ve written about …
Anyway, to the speculation:
Miami needs a head coach. Miami needs an offensive coach. Miami needs a coach with quarterback experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean a former quarterback (Mark Richt?) but it does mean one who can coach (and recruit) quarterbacks.
My short list in no particular order:
Dana Hologorsen, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator – No, he’s not a head coach but he’s the reason the top three offensive players in the Big 12 play for Oklahoma State (Brandon Weeden, Kendall Hunter, Justin Blackmon).
Mike Leach, Key West resident-- He’s laying low in the Keys filing lawsuits until the next big thing comes along. If Miami wants to go 180 degrees from Shannon then this is their man. Note to Miami, though: Bring representation. This former lawyer is legally armed and dangerous.
Charlie Strong, Louisville - Defensive guy. Definitely not a quarterback guy. Strong, though, is known as a great recruiter who could get Miami back on track in a hurry. That pretty much goes for whoever Miami hires. We’re talking the ACC, here.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech -- He’d come in a heartbeat. He loves Miami, knows how to recruit there. Tubs has two national championships rings from Miami. Is he too old though, 56, for Kirby Hocutt’s tastes?
Greg Schiano, Rutgers -- Here’s what you have to ask yourself – Has Rutgers dragged Schiano down? He led it to unprecedented heights but the Knights will miss their first bowl in five years this season. Or, are Miami’s resources just waiting to be tapped by an energetic former Hurricane assistant. Schiano has recruited South Florida for years.
Mark Richt, Georgia -- His name is automatic given his ties to the program (former quarterback) and success at Florida State and Georgia. But how does Richt go from the hot seat at Georgia to a hot candidate at Miami in just a few weeks?
--Other issues today: Three-way ties in the Big Ten and Big 12 have to be settled for BCS berths.
Oklahoma is expected to slip past Oklahoma State (and Texas A&M) in the Big 12. Wisconsin is expected to grab the Rose Bowl berth ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State.
In Oklahoma’s case, it’s fitting that the final Big 12 game (in this configuration) could be OU and Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. It’s that rivalry (among others) that was altered when the Big 12 was formed.
TCU seemingly has clinched a Rose Bowl berth, at least, after destroying New Mexico. The Horned Frogs’ regular season is done. It’s difficult to project them falling out of the No. 3 spot in the BCS.