Posted on: July 29, 2010 10:59 pm

A strange, fun look at Pac-10 media day

PASADENA, Calif. -- It was probably the first media day with complimentary sun screen, misting tents and towels. Don't forget the towels. They kept the sweat off the bald domes in the Pac-10 media crowd.

"You look like Al Davis carrying around those towels," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

That hurt. Bad. I may be balding but I'm not that pathetic and wrinkled.

Am I?

If so, please don't let me near Lane Kiffin. He might freak.

Thursday was the West Coast version of the Pac-10 East Coast media swing. Coaches and players spent a few days this week making the rounds in New York, then rode G4s back to their ancestral homeland here in Cali.

"People knew who we were," Arizona State's Dennis Erickson said of New York.

That's startling considering the conference is generally ignored in the East. Some Pac-10 games start at 10 p.m. ET.  It's also another backhand winner down the line for commissioner Larry Scott. There was a lot of angst this summer over whether the Big Ten could get into the New York market  with expansion. Scott chartered a couple of planes and cabbed it into Times Square from the airport.

Bingo, Pac-10 on Park Avenue, ringing the ball on Wall Street, going through the "carwash" at ESPN and generally introducing itself to the biggest media market.

"We've been that Left Coast conference, kind of perceived as the finesse conference," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "If I got into a conversation with somebody east of the Mississippi, they'd say, 'You play that throw-it-around ball.' It was a bold move. I'm not sure how it will work out but I think it is brilliant.

"We have a perception hill to climb. That's why I applaud commissioner Scott for taking the ball step to do that. I don't think any of us should rest until we're considered the top conference in the country."


Well, minus two of the biggest names in Pac-10 football on Thursday. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker didn't show. Apparently they were good enough for ESPN but not for the media who actually cover them here out West.

There's my rant. It beat sitting in conference rooms with the thermostat set at 55 degrees listening to pimp references. I was impressed. No stunned. The media day was on the floor of the Rose Bowl. The San Gabriels were shining in the background. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. Think of it, this is the field where Reggie Bush played. He was well compensated but he did play here.


There was a short promotional film to kick things off. The narrator, with one of those Captain Big Boy voices, said, "Here, on the western edge of the New World ..." I expected a ship full of Spanish conquistadors to pull up in San Pedro and start pillaging cruise passengers.

Best line of the day came from Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. As a former USC coach, he was hurt by the NCAA penalties. I asked him if Reggie Bush can ever come back to campus.

"In this day and age he can," Sark said. "Our president [Bill Clinton] faced the country. Guys face the music. Look at Andy Pettitte and look at Roger Clemens. One guy owned up, he's still getting standing ovations. The other guy is social outcast. It's how he embraces it."

California sun, veggie subs and a Slick Willie reference. It was not a bad day.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 11, 2010 1:23 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2010 1:57 pm

Boise State to the Mountain West

It's a few days late but Boise State will become the 10th member of the Mountain West Conference.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson told CBSSports.com Friday morning that the deal had been consumated. The Mountain West announced the deal a few minutes later. 

Mountain West presidents reportedly were ready to invite Boise at their league meetings on Monday until the possibility of grabbing Colorado became an option. When CU announced it was headed to the Pac-10 on Thursday that opened up the spot for Boise.

The Broncos bring a 26-1 record the past two seasons that will count toward the MWC's fight to become a BCS league. There are two more seasons to run on a four-year evaluation period. All conferences will be evaluated on average finish in the BCS and conference strength among other factors. The MWC believes it is close to what would be temporary BCS automatic qualifier status in 2012 and 2013.

The MWC might not be done. Depending on how expansion shakes out, the league could be interested in taking in Big 12 castoffs that don't make the cut in the Pac-10 or Big Ten. That's good news for the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri.

Posted on: June 11, 2010 8:46 am

Rift in Texas

Your morning expansion line for Friday includes news that Texas and Texas A&M may break apart.

Call it an expansion micro-burst. First it was the Big 12 breaking up. Now the most powerful faction of the Big 12 could be drifting apart. We always thought that Texas and A&M were joined at the hip pads when it came to expansion. But a Thursday meeting produced no consensus between Texas and Texas A&M. I hear that A&M prefers the SEC while the league is a non-starter for Texas.

I also hear that Jim Delany is still trying like heck to get Texas into the Big Ten. But what about that "Tech problem"?

The dominoes figure to officially start tumbling today when Nebraska announces it is joining the Big Ten. I wrote the heck out of this issue this week but it bears repeating: The Big 12 cannot survive if Nebraska leaves. 1) The TV rights go way down; 2) What's to keep Texas, or any other school, leaving in two, three, four or five years? The Big 12 is a bad marriage that cannot go on.

The biggest issues on the table going into Friday:

a) What does Texas do?
b) What does Texas do?
c) What does Texas do?

OK, seriously:

a) Where do Texas and A&M end up and do they go as a unit?
b) Where does the Big Ten strike next (because it will strike next)?
c) Where does the Pac-10 strikes next (please don't believe his stuff about the Pac-10 stopping at 11)?
d) What are you doing at 5 p.m.? Remember when happy hour today was the deadline for Missouri and Nebraska? Nebraska is gone and Missouri has no idea where it stands.

Posted on: June 10, 2010 1:54 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2010 8:46 pm

Say goodbye to the Big 12 -- R.I.P., 1996-2012

Well, if it makes it that far without a knife fight breaking out.

Colorado's departure to the Pac-10 Thursday made it official. It was so official that the Pac-10 itself cut out the middleman -- speculation -- and made the announcement itself.

Form is holding according to what one source told me earlier in the week: Colorado would be taken regardless in an effort to collapse the Big 12 and force Texas, Texas AM, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

The MVP of the expansion process remains Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott.

You'll be hearing a lot about legislatures and regents but it is a smokescreen. There is no Big 12 Conference to go back to.

Nebraska hates Texas which hates Missouri. That was in the best of times. Try keeping together a conference with that kind of animosity swirling around.

What you'll see next is the Pac-10 expanding to 16. The next move? Seeing if the Big 12 stays together even long enough to satisfy its current tv contract which expires in 2012..

The answer, of course, is no. Get out the machetes, boys. May the deserter win.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 9, 2010 7:45 am

Finally, some closure in expansion. Maybe.

Well, this is it.

Finally, some break in the ice pack that has frozen college athletics since the Big Ten maybe, kind of began exploring expansion in December. The Omaha World-Herald is reporting that Nebraska could go to the Big Ten by Friday.

Say goodbye to the Big 12.

Say hello to a bigger, bloated Pac-10.

Get used to two super conferences (Big Ten, Pac-10) -- at least.

Wish Nebraska luck in a strange, new world. The school was really forced into this move by Texas. Once Texas issued its "ultimatum" (or whatever you want to call it), Nebraska's fate was sealed. It could declare allegiance to the Big 12, but why? If the Big Ten offered, the money was too good. If Nebraska had to go back to the Big 12, the rancor was too much.

Imagine getting another deadline from the Horns in two years. Tom Osborne and Nebraska couldn't live like that. Now the school is the western boundary of the most powerful conference on earth. The bigger Big Ten will encompass more than 35 percent of the nation's population. Get used to Mike Rozier highlights on the Big Ten Network. Nebraska will be more attached to Chicago and New York than it will North Platte.

Is that a good thing? For Nebraska, it is the only thing. Twenty million is twenty million, reportedly poised to grow to $40 million per team if the Big Ten does this expansion right.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 8, 2010 11:35 am
Edited on: June 8, 2010 11:50 am

Expand-O-Meter for Tues, June 8

Days college athletics has been held hostage (since Big Ten announced expansion exploration on Dec. 15): 175
Who is having the best day: Colorado. Mountain West presidents decided not to expand Monday, in essence because they thought they could get Colorado. Don't believe the stuff about CU getting an ultimatum from the Big 12. It's a Texas ultimatum to Nebraska. At this moment, it looks like Colorado is going to be taken care of one of three ways: by the Pac-10 in the six-team Big 12 shift, by the Big 12 or by the Mountain West where it can be the big dog in a suddenly BCS-quality league. Not a bad fall back for a cash-strapped athletic department.

Who is having the worst day: Kenneth Starr. Just what the heck was that press conference on Monday? Baylor's president said absolutely nothing. Sure, Baylor is committed to the Big 12 but would leave for the Pac-10 in a heartbeat if its political forces in Austin weasel the Bears in ahead of Colorado. Big Ten. Six days on the job and Starr is already going D.C. suit on us.

Quote of the day: "There hasn't been this much talk of expansion since Oprah stopped using the treadmill." -- reader comment after the first Expand-O-Meter on Monday.
Link of the day: Well, it's almost in our face. Pac-10 invites coming soon according to Orangebloods.com.

What's on tap: Someone please tell E-O-M, does the Big Ten stop at 12 if it gets Notre Dame or does it go to 14 or 16? I don't think even Notre Dame or the Big Ten knows.


Posted on: June 7, 2010 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2010 11:49 am

Introducing The Expand-o-meter

(With expansion news changing by the nanosecond, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce a new feature to Dodds and Ends. Welcome to The Expand-o-meter, a daily summary of expansion-related stuff. Think of it as the blog equivalent to a pair of Sansabelt slacks. It expands and contracts according to the size of the bloated belly of college football. The E-O-M will last as long as expansion does or until vacation, whichever comes first.)

Days college athletics has been held hostage (since Big Ten announced expansion exploration on Dec. 15): 174
Who is having the best day: Mountain West which might reap a windfall if it gets leftover Big 12 teams. The MWC was meeting Monday and was expected to invite Boise State to bolster its BCS chances. According to reports, Boise will have to wait as the Mountain West waits to see how the national landscape shakes out.
Who is having the worst day: Big Ten. Rapid Pac-10 expansion is forcing Jim Delany's hand. JD is desperately trying to force the Irish into his league with Texas now out of play. For a brief moment there, it almost looked like the big guy almost lost his leverage.
Quote of the day: "No wonder Baylor is fighting so hard not to get left behind by Texas,  Texas Tech and Texas A&M, they think this is the rapture." --a tweet from @Pac16Conference
Link of the day: End of the Big 12? Blame commissioner Dan Beebe for not pushing a playoff.  
What's on tap: Watch for formal invitations this week to Big 12 schools from Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott.
Posted on: June 7, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: June 7, 2010 12:40 pm

Latest from Expansion Central. Syracuse?

The latest scuttlebutt Monday morning has to do with Syracuse being the key to prying Notre Dame loose for the Big Ten.

If Missouri and Nebraska say yes to the Big Ten, I'm hearing that then either Pittsburgh or Rutgers would be paired with Syracuse to form an expanded eastern boundary of the new league. The key, apparently, is taking The 'Cuse into the Big Ten. The fit already looks good. Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor is a former chancellor at Illinois and provost at Michigan.

In this scenario, the addition of Syracuse collapses the Big East and potentially forces Notre Dame to find a conference home for its minor sports. Not to mention a conference home for football.

In other words, Notre Dame needs a compelling reason to join a league in football. I reported yesterday that if Notre Dame came to the Big Ten, that league's expansion might be capped at 12. That might not be the case now. The two biggest words to remember in this entire process is that it is always a "fluid situation."

Adding to the intrigue is that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Sunday that expansion could happen in stages

If all of the above comes to pass, we'd be looking at two 16-team leagues (Pac-10, Big Ten), the collapse of the Big 12 and Big East and a whole lot of chaos. Does the SEC react?

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