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Tag:Pac-12
Posted on: May 8, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Responding to last week's cfb bombs

Proving once again there are no offseasons ever in any sport, these bombs dropped during my vacation last week. Each one deserves a response from this space's department of justice ...


The Bomb: Pac-12 agrees to a 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.

The Response: The first thing that came to mind: Larry Scott is gold. The commissioner was hired to drag the sleepy Pac-10 out of its past and rocket it toward a lucrative future. In less than two years, he delivered big time. As of right now, Scott can pretty much write his own ticket as a sports CEO. I'm talking about commissioner of baseball, the NFL, head of the U.S. Olympics, maybe even the next president of the NCAA. (More on that later in the week). 

Scott delivered because these commissioner jobs have evolved into giant fundraising endeavors. Sure, every once in a while a commish has to suspend or fine someone but that's small stuff. The commissioners' mandate from the presidents they serve is to make as much money as possible for the schools. Mike Slive and Jim Delany, two powerful guys with powerful NCAA backgrounds, had been the best at it -- until now. In less than two years Scott reshaped and repackaged his conference in such a way that it became the most lucrative league television property in history. Remember, this is a guy who sees profit centers in China for UCLA gear. 

The question now becomes what the Pac-12 schools do with their windfall. You can be sure that most of it won't be spent adding sports. There's a reason that only 10 or so schools out of 120 in I-A are turning a profit. The cash will go to the bottom line -- existing facilities, recruiting and coaching salaries. Adding non-revenue sports adds nothing to the bottom line. 

In other words, the Pac-12 just became a player for the likes of Urban Meyer. I'm not saying Meyer will be hired in the Pac-12, I’m saying that the Pac-12 can now afford coaches of his stature. UCLA, not exactly Fort Knox when it comes to paying coaches, now has the ability, if it chooses, to pay Meyer if it fires Rick Neuheisel. The question is not whether it will, the reality is that it can make that call without getting hung up on.


The Bomb: The Department of Justice writes the NCAA and asks, "What's up?" about a playoff. 

The Response: First, I'm not even sure Justice sent the letter to the right person. Mark Emmert and the NCAA he oversees has minimal control over college football in general and almost none over postseason football. Emmert's answer should be short and to the point: The reason we don't have a playoff is because the membership doesn't want it

Never mind that the NCAA technically isn't responsible, the commissioners seemingly have a way of diffusing any coming legal challenge.

"We never could have believed the regular season would have grown over the last 15 years like it has grown," said Delany, the Big Ten commissioner. "I think that's due, in part, to the BCS. We did what we set out to do, which is [stage] a 1-2 game, preserve the bowl system and grow the regular season ... We feel like we're on good [legal] ground. We never know about what a judge or jury could do, [but] we feel like we've got good representation."

I talked to noted anti-trust attorney Tom Rhodes about this issue last week. He isn't concerned for the BCS, calling the letter a political issue, not a legal issue, adding that assistant attorney general Christine Varney's interest is a "war dance" not a "war." Rhodes also intimates that Justice is a political animal that serves a president who made populist statements about a playoff while trying to get elected.

"It's important to understand what the letter does not say," Rhodes told me. "It doesn't say, 'You're in violation of the anti-trust laws.' ... Second thing is, if she [Varney] thought she had a case she wanted to bring she'd have brought it already. The third observation I would make is that the Department of Justice often has to be responsive to the political realities of the world. A political reality here is [Republican Utah Senator] Orrin Hatch is important to the administration.

Hatch has been a constant critic of the BCS but you wonder who his constituency is at this point. Utah is now in the BCS club. BYU, by its own choosing, went independent electing to join Navy and Army in having the worst BCS access in I-A. Those three schools will be considered if any finish in the top 14 of the BCS, but they are assured of a BCS berth only if they finish 1 or 2 in the final standings.

"People who are going to go to war usually don't spend a bunch of time jumping up and down with a war dance," Rhodes added. "This letter is consistent with the idea that Justice can do a war dance and if the BCS then makes a change, the [Obama] administration can claim, 'Look what we've done.' " 

Think of it this way: The BCS has been called in for questioning but no one is ready to make an arrest.


The Bomb: Ohio State will investigate the sale of cars to Buckeye players and their relatives at two local dealerships. 

The Response: I think I speak for everyone when I say there are few people in this world more trustworthy than used-car salesmen. Yeah, right. Those 14 magic words have, at some point, rung in all of our ears: "What's it going to take for me to put you in this car today?"

Next thing you know you're meeting the finance manager and making chit chat about how much you make a year. Having jaw surgery is more pleasant. Yep, something smells about the school now investigating 50 sales to determine whether players or relatives received price breaks (translation: extra benefits). My dad was a car salesman. Never once did he mention that cash-poor college kids were an untapped customer base. 

So now the case goes to the Ohio State compliance department which is the collegiate equivalent of those used-car salesmen. This is the crack group that forgot to tell the Buckeye Five that selling their gear to a tattoo-parlor owner was against the rules. This is the sharp-minded department that decided to check Jim Tressel's computer after it was way too late. Yep, they're the ones you want searching for the truth with the program potentially eligible for the death penalty.

"I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," Doug Archie, head of Ohio State compliance, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Sorry, but we've heard it before: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

If this case has legs -- or rather, keys --  greasy car salesmen will be the least of Gene Smith's problems. Ohio State could be looking at lack of institutional control and a postseason ban, two penalties it has so-far dodged. But, damn, the Buckeyes will still have a badass set of wheels.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 10:09 am
 

Pac-12 will announce record deal

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 2:21 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Big 12 to announce new TV deal

The Big 12 is expected to announce a deal with Fox this afternoon for the reconstituted league's secondary television rights. The league has scheduled a 4 pm ET conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe.

The 13-to-15-year deal is expected to approach $90 million annually. It would be worth more than $1 billion in total. ESPN/ABC still hold primary basketball and football rights through 2015-16. 

The latest announcement is the upshot of Texas keeping the league together last summer after turning down an offer to join the Pac-10. The new number is expected to a be 350 percent increase in the current rights fees paid by Fox despite the loss of Nebraska and Colorado. 

Texas turned down the Pac-10 offer after Fox and ESPN, according to reports, promised rights fees that in the end could be worth $20 million per school per year. Fox reportedly promised a significant increase while ESPN said it would continue its current payouts to the Big 12 despite the loss of Nebraska and Colorado.

The average fan might wonder where the money is coming from. Ultimately, it will come from them in their cable bill. Sports is seen as the ultimate reality show. Because results are immediately available, sports are unlikely to be DVRed which is attractive to advertisers. The ACC doubled its takes in its latest deal with ESPN. Fox finished a close second in that deal. The money left over may be going to the Big 12. There are reports that the new Pac 12 deal may approach the annual take of the SEC and Big Ten. Each of those schools receive a reported $22.2 million per year in rights fees. 

The Big 12 broadcast "footprint" represents approximately 16 percent of the nation's TV households. It was worth it for ESPN and Fox to keep the league alive. The alternative could have meant the loss to two BCS leagues for both networks. The Big 12 would have ceased to exist while the new Pac 12 is, as speculated, going out for bid on the open market. 


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:07 pm
 

Call it Super Saturday (Dec. 3)!

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: January 21, 2011 1:50 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:48 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 19, 2011 7:37 pm
 

What The Longhorn Network means to the BCS

It wasn't a surprise, this ESPN/Texas deal. Not the money, not the partner, not the length. The Longhorn Network -- or whatever you want to call it -- was announced Wednesday, a deal worth $300 million over the next 20 years.

Somewhere in there they managed to remind us that "campus musical performances" would also be televised and you had to chuckle. Sure, TLN will fund some other areas -- half the money in the first five years will go to the university -- but at its core this about Texas controlling the market, the Big 12, the universe.

It's about power -- just like the BCS, which got me to thinking. We all know that our beloved postseason system is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table by ignoring a playoff. The commissioners would rather control the system than profiti more by it.

The Texas deal, though, should be a sign. A modest Plus-One playoff (four teams) can, and should, be in college football's future. I wrote about it on the day of the BCS championship game.

I asked BCS executive director Bill Hancock directly why the BCS couldn't enter into its own long-term agreement with a rights holder. Hancock said" "Don't kid yourself. The bowls would suffer." To loosely quote the conclusion in the book, "Death To The BCS", that's B.S. A Plus-One could be locked in for 15, 20, 25 years. The BCS fathers could expand it, shrink it, dump it. The point being that the BCS commissioners, like Texas, control the system so it's theirs to manipulate.

"Everybody we do business with, we do long-term stuff with them," Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told me Wednesday. "We find somebody we like and put some length on it."

As for the BCS doing a long-term Plus-One agreement, I asked Dodds about that too.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "You have to get the Rose Bowl past where they are."

The Big Ten-Pac-12-Rose Bowl blockade of an expanded postseason is not insignificant. But, remember, we once thought something like the BCS was impossible because the Big Ten and Pac-10 did not want to give up their exclusivity to the Rose Bowl. On Jan. 1, TCU of the Mountain West won in Pasadena. There goes some of that exclusivity.

TLN is such a game-changer that Texas is now essentially competing as an independent. It has a contract with ESPN. It has scheduling agreement with the nine other teams in the Big 12. The conference could go away but Texas/ESPN won't. Dodds swears his will stay loyal to the reconstituted 10-team Big 12, but for how long? It was within a heartbeat of jumping to the Pac-10 last summer.

"If something happened and the Big 12 would dissolve in some way -- which would not be caused by us because we're not going to do that -- who would take us with our network?" Dodds asked. "That's a question in my mind and I assume someone would."

Yeah, somehow poor, old Texas would scrape by.

Control. Security. It's something the BCS should think about. A four-team Plus-One solves a lot of problems. It would produce a more legitimate champion. It would take care of, in most years, all the undefeated teams at the top. For example, this year we're still wondering about how TCU would match up against Auburn.

It would move the access argument from between the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked teams to No. 4 and No. 5. That actually would mean less of an argument. That also would equal a better football postseason

We'd have Texas to thank for the template. The Horns rule. Literally.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 6, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 5:25 pm
 

Andrew Luck to stay at Stanford

This is a win for ...

Stanford, which now should be a consensus top five team with the return of the Heisman runner-up at quarterback.

This is a win for ...

The Pac-12, the Pac-12 North in particular, which now returns two Heisman finalists. Oregon's LaMichael James being the other.

This is a win for ...

Bob Bowlsby, the Stanford AD, who now may have a realistic chance of keeping his coach Jim Harbaugh as well.

But this is a win, mostly, for ...

College football. After a season of sleaze and slime, we can all feel good about ourselves today. It's OK to stop squinting. The car crashes are over. A sometimes R-rated season has some purity left. This is the way it is supposed to be. This is the way it used to be until the money and runners and the advisors got involved.

This is the way I kind of predicted it would be.

When Andrew Luck announced Thursday he was staying at Stanford for his redshirt junior season, we all exhaled. Admit it. It was the breathless sigh of relief. Something that had finally gone right. Auburn may win a championship with a quarterback that half the nation is looking at sideways. Ohio State just won a bowl game with key contributions from five players who should have been sitting out. USC is appealing an NCAA case this month that was decided in June and started six years ago.

Instead, Luck's on our side. He loves college. He wants to get his architectural degree. He wants to spend time with his sister Mary Ellen, a Stanford freshman. He loves college football. If you've ever been on the Stanford campus, you love Stanford too. Great kid. Great decision.

The NFL knee jerks will tell you that Luck is leaving $50 million on the table. Who cares? It's going to be there next year when Luck might be even more valuable. If he isn't, well, how much money do you need? By staying Luck is telling us that's not really the point anyway. The college experience is once in a lifetime. The Stanford experience is, well, you Stanford grads know how special it is.

"As good as he is, he'll only get better by staying in school," said Gil Brandt, a noted NFL player personnel guru. "I just think that he realizes that the fourth year in school is like his senior year and it will be a great year for him. It might not as be as good football-wise but whatever he was going to get this year, he'll get next year."

Maybe Harbaugh will realize that the NFL will be there next year too. Luck's return may be just enough for the quirky coach to stay in Palo Alto. With or without him, the Cardinal are going to be absolutely loaded. Seventeen starters return including 10 on the defense that pummeled Virginia Tech. Roll this around in your mind: Stanford is going to compete for a national championship. Mark your calendars for Nov. 12 -- Oregon at Stanford.

The biggest loser in all this? Clearly the Carolina Panthers who have the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Panthers' Luck just becamebad luck.

"I'm sure," Brandt said, "area code 704 just had a heart attack."

So what? College football won this round. No more waiting to exhale.

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