Posted on: June 4, 2010 4:25 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2010 4:42 pm

What the week meant for the Big 12

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If it's possible, the Big 12 left here more fractured than when it arrived.

Commissioner Dan Beebe wanted a full plane by the end of the week at his spring meetings. He came away from his own spring meetings with a load of ----.

Nothing is settled as the conference realignment moves on inexorably. Missouri and Nebraska hemmed and hawed about their future plans -- whatever they are. Kansas AD Lew Perkins proclaimed this was "serious, serious, serious stuff," while his own future at KU seems to be in jeopardy.

Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne disparaged the Pac-10 while a report claimed his school was about to join the league lured by a promise of $20 million free and clear each year.

No one besides Iowa State and Baylor seemed to be pledging loyalty. Check that. Iowa State checked out. The president and AD put out a statement Friday saying the fix is in: "... the Big 12 is not in our control -- it is in the hands of a few of our fellow institutions."

Poor Beebe. Things are changing that fast. He came to a luxury hotel in Kansas City for five days to hear and read various accounts of his league breaking up. It came to a head Thursday when, confronted with that Pac-10 story, he left the hotel abruptly, media trailing behind him.

Before the media circus left town -- by the way, love that closet side aside for us to work in -- Beebe tried to calm fears that his league was breaking up. But it's not really a league, or even "a few of our fellow institutions." It's a team. Texas. Keep Texas and you keep the Big 12 together, in some form. Yes, Nebraska and Missouri are on the street corner hiking up their skirts from the johns from the Big Ten. But any league with Texas committed is a viable conference.

The Longhorns control the future. Theirs, the Big 12's, maybe college athletics'. In the coming (or at least predicted) realignment it's obvious Texas is king.

It is the jewel that can't get away if you're the Big 12. It would also make some conference lucky enough to snag it. Perhaps the biggest news of the week was Friday's story in the Columbus Dispatch that detailed correspondence between Ohio State president Gordon Gee and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany regarding Texas.

Message: Texas is interested.

Well, there it is, isn't it? Texas isn't loyal to the Big 12. Texas is loyal to Texas. And as long as that is the case, why should any school be loyal to the Big 12?

Thursday's shocking report that the Pac-10 may invite six Big 12 schools supported my theory: We're still months away from anything. The Pac-10 isn't going to invite anyone this weekend at the league's spring meetings in San Francisco. But I'm sure pretty much everything you can think of is on the table.

Notre Dame and Texas in the Big Ten, a 20-team Big Ten, a 16-team Pac-10, even a world where the Big Ten does nothing. The problem for the Dan Beebes of the world is that closed-door discussions are starting to leak out. It doesn't mean they're right but it's embarrassing as hell for a commissioner in a defensive position.

Beebe has one swing left to hit a home run. He keeps alluding to a windfall waiting down the line. He is referring to the new deal coming with Fox Sports Net. The network finished an aggressive second in the bidding for the ACC rights so it supposedly has money to burn. In the end, that might be the best play for Texas. It has won conference and national championships in the Big 12, gone to the Final Four, become the dominant amateur athletic entity in the country. Try counting to $138 million. That's the amount of Texas' athletic budget.

It's a burnt orange Catch-22, though. Beebe can't negotiate with Fox until April. His teams can negotiate with a new conference every day. Beebe should be thankful he has Texas. This week.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 3, 2010 11:15 pm

Larry Scott says no offers in "near term"

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott released this statement Thursday night:

“We are aware of a story filed today by an Orangebloods.com columnist, speculating about possible expansion plans for the Pac-10 Conference. While many interesting scenarios have been suggested in numerous news reports, around the country, we remain focused on a thorough evaluation process that examines all of the options for increasing the value of the conference for our member institutions, our student athletes and our fans. We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term.”

Define "near term."

Meanwhile, Texas Tech AD Gerald Myers tried to stay loyal:

"My position right now is that we're committed to the Big 12," Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Yeah, but check back in five minutes.

"We want the Big 12 to stay whole. The Big 12's been a great conference for all of the membership. Our interest is in continuing to be a Big 12 member and hoping that the conference stays intact, completely intact, with all 12 members."

Friday is going to be a huge day in college athletics. The Pac-10 meetings begin in San Francisco.  The Big 12's Dan Beebe has to say something the same day as the Big 12 meetings wrap up.

Somethings going on out there. These administrators are acting like they have been approached by the Pac-10 but were embarrassed that their secret is out.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 3, 2010 8:33 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2010 10:20 am

Colorado AD: CU on verge of Pac-10 invite

The dominoes are beginning to fall.

The Boulder Daily Camera has reported that Colorado AD Mike Bohn believes this his school will be among six Big 12 schools to get an invitation to the Pac-10 this weekend.

Bohn added that a Thursday report on Orangebloods.com appears to have some "validity" to it. The reported stated that Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M would be invited to the Pac-10, essentially ending the Big 12 Conference. The new 16-team Pac-10, the report added, would then start its own network paying members $20 million per year.

I reported earlier that Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott did not deny the report. Pac-10 meetings begin Friday in San Francisco.
Posted on: May 11, 2010 1:25 pm

Star power comes to the Pac-10

Tom Cruise at Pac-10 media days?

No, really. It could happen.

CBSSports.com has confirmed that the Pac-10 has hired Hollywood giant Creative Artists Agency to promote the league. High powered consultant Chris Bevilacqua will be involved as one of the point men on the deal.

Part of CAA's duty will be to seek out candidates for expansion and explore the possibility of a conference network. The network makes sense. I think the new Pac-10 partner will quickly find out there isn't much value in adding Utah and Colorado which leads us to the real reason CAA is in the picture.

Those of you who watch television or movies are familiar with CAA, or should be. It is one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood talent representation. It has dipped into college athletics in recent years. High-powered player agent Tom Condon now works for CAA.

As for Cruise, why not? Cruise is a CAA client and could be part of the attraction at the Pac-10 media days in July. Already the Pac-10 plans for bi-coastal media days with coaches meeting New York media on the East before the traditional dates with coaches in Los Angeles.

The key phrase in this story is this: "[Pac-10 commissioner Larry] Scott expects some of CAA's celebrity clients of events such as football media day."

Why stop at Cruise? Scott wants to make a splash, "rebrand" his conference. I'm just hoping we don't get a bunch of B-listers at media days. Think Steve Spielberg instead of Chelsea Handler, George Clooney more than Kathy Griffin, Brad Pitt over Tyler Perry. All of them schmoozing with us writers.

Maybe I can corner Spielberg about that script I've been working on. Or maybe he'll call the police and complain about me hiding in the bushes spying on him. What he calls stalking, I call fan worship.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10
Posted on: May 7, 2010 11:14 am
Edited on: May 7, 2010 6:06 pm

Pac-10 and Big 12 talk about future partnership

The next expansion bomb may have dropped as the Kansas City Star is reporting that the Pac-10 and Big 12 have met to discuss, according to the paper, "collaborating in a future sports landscape".

Nine of the Big 12's athletic directors met this week in Phoenix with Pac-10 officials at that conference's regularly scheduled meeting. It might be too early to attach the word "expansion" to the meeting but it's obvious the Big 12 may be taking the first steps toward being proactive in the shifting landscape.

The league knows it could be raided by the Big Ten which, according to many reports, has its eyes on Missouri and/or Nebraska. The Pac-10 is on the record as deeply exploring expansion but might have trouble finding partners that add value.

Utah and Colorado are the most widely mentioned Pac-10 additions but there is doubt whether the schools could add enough revenue to make expansion worthwhile.

"The conventional wisdom is Utah and Colorado doesn't get you enough eyeballs," one Pac-10 AD said referring to a potential television audience. "The home run is obviously Texas-Texas AM. "

There is little talk about Texas and Texas A&M to the Pac-10, for now. There was a standing offer by the Pac-10 to Texas and Colorado in the 1990s before the Big 12 formed. CBSSports.com reported on April 23 that BYU is likely out of Pac-10 expansion discussions for the moment, in part, because of academic issues.

There seem to be, then, further economic reasons for the leagues to get together. With the SEC and Big Ten basically controlling 50 percent of the nation's televisions, the chase is on for conferences to grab a share of the remaining 50 percent. A partnership between the Big 12 (16 percent of the TV sets) and Pac-10 (approxinately 23 percent) could present approximately 40 percent of the nation's TVs to potential rightsholders. The two conferences have cable deals with Fox that both expire in 2012 allowing a deal to be made fairly quickly.

"The main thing was the aggregation of our media rights," said Washington AD Scott Woodward who was at the Phoenix meetings, "whether it's a combined network that we do as a JV (joint venture) or anything in between. There's definite interest to go further instead of it being a one-and-done type thing."

The Pac-10 and Big 12 already play the Hardwood Series in men's basketball, a series of non-conference games. A similar cross-scheduling partnership could be developed in football where league teams play non-conference games against each other. The partnership could go beyond non-conference games if you think of it this way: The Big 12 plays 48 conference games per year. The Pac-10 plays 45. Combined, the two leagues could present an inventory of 93 conference games alone to a potential rights holder.

The schools already have a history of playing each other in football. The last team to beat USC in a non-conference game at home remains Kansas State in 2001. In 2010 alone, there are five games between Pac-10 and Big 12 schools. UCLA plays two Big 12 opponents (Kansas State and Texas). The other games are Colorado-Cal, Nebraska-Washington and Oklahoma State-Washington State. 

"You could have a football series that would provide high level inventory in September," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. "It's [partnership with Pac-10] something I've discussed and thought about since I got two months into the job in 2007."

The Big 12 has explored, and the Pac-10 is exploring, the possibility of a conference network similar to the Big Ten Network. There has been talk that the two leagues could even combine on a network (possibly with the ACC as an additional partner).

Former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg supported the idea of a conference network before he left the league in July 2007. However, he could not find agreement among the conference schools. Scott recently brought in Weiberg recently as a deputy commissioner, in part, because of his expertise while working with the Big Ten to launch that network.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has been in the Pac-10 job for less than a year after leaving the Women's Tennis Association as CEO. As that organization's leader, he helped the WTA sign a record TV contract and a $88 million sponsorship deal with Sony.

"I took this role because I sense it has tremendous potential given our geographic scope and our reach," Scott said. "It's going to require a novel approach. We're not copying anyone's playbook."

How much a cross-scheduling/network partnership between the two leagues would be worth is anyone's guess. Big 12 schools currently make $7 million and $12 million per year. Pac-10 teams reportedly make between $7 million and $11 million.

As mentioned, the Pac-10's current deals with ESPN and Fox run through 2012. Scott has said in the past the league will begin new negotiations early next year. The Big 12 deals are staggered. A deal with Fox has two years to run. The ESPN deal has five years to run.

Scott told CBSSports.com in March that his league was exploring staging a conference championship football game with less than the mandated 12 teams. That would involve the Pac-10 splitting into two five-team divisions. There is support among other Division I-A conferences to change the current NCAA legislation. Scott also said he explored the idea of the championship game being played at a team's home stadium. He also said that expansion for the Pac-10 was not tied to a championship game and/or a network.

While three of the Big 12 ADs missed the Phoenix meeting due to scheduling conflicts, according to the paper, (DeLoss Dodds of Texas, Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Lew Perkins of Kansas), it is significant that Missouri's Mike Alden did attend. Missouri is being mentioned prominently as a candidate for Big Ten expansion.


Posted on: April 13, 2010 1:47 pm

Joe Paterno drops a bomb on Big Ten call

I think expansion is coming.

With those words, Joe Paterno just about sealed the deal on Big Ten expansion on Tuesday. That is, if you believe that Joe is one of the driving forces in the conference's expansion talks. Here are his the gist of comments from a Big Ten coaches' spring conference call.

Q: How are you with the progress of expansion talks?

A: "I think expansion is coming. Now, in what form? There's a lot of talk about the Pac-10 getting two or more teams in their conference. I'm not privy to that ...

"I think the trend is there are going to be bigger conferences. I think there are going to be 12-, 14-team conferences and maybe even 16-team conferences. Do I know what I'm talking about, who knows?

"It would appear to me that with the television situation what it is and the great impact that it has on exposure and what that exposure does to recruiting, we're naïve to think ... we can sit back and see everybody else move ahead because they're going to move ahead. We better start thinking about where we're going."

Q: If you did get a say in this, what would you advocate?

A: "When all this happens, I'll probably be out of this thing. I'd like to see our particular conference move East a little bit. It would give us a little broader television market and a little more exposure and if we had 12 teams we'd have a chance to get into some kind of championship [game} ...

"Whether that means you go 12 [teams] or you go 14. I don't know. I don't know all the consequences. The thing you have to do is when you get married, you better get married to somebody you love. We've got to get people in our conference that are AAU [research] schools, the same kind of commitment academically ...

"Along with that bring along some people that have a comprehensive athletic program. That it's going to be a happy marriage and we're all on the same page ... Can you find one, two, three, four, I don't know?"

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Pac-10
Posted on: February 10, 2010 10:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 2:02 pm

More expansion: A proposed new look

The Mountain West is on notice.

The Big East too.

Don’t forget the Big 12 which could be ripped asunder.

One or all of those conferences are going to be impacted if, as expected, the Pac-10 and Big Ten expand in the near future.

After writing about the big picture on Wednesday, we’re here to speculate freely about how other conferences might be impacted.

Mountain West: After leading his league to the brink of BCS automatic qualifying status, commissioner Craig Thompson has to be concerned.

A BYU-Utah defection to the Pac-10 makes a lot of sense. In basketball, the league has travel partners (Washington-Washington State, Arizona-Arizona State). The Utes and Cougars are bitter rivals but would be make ideal additions due to the far-flung nature of the league.

I still don’t know how the Pac-10 views the academic aspect of expansion, so I’m not sure how it views the combination of a state school (Utah) and what amounts to a private school (BYU). If there is a fallback, it could be San Diego State.

If the Big Ten were to take Missouri, that’s a potential three teams ripped from the Mountain West and could mean the end of the league.  The three most likely replacements would be Boise State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso.

The best non-BCS league could find itself teetering on the edge of existence, or at least relevance.

Big 12: The biggest hit comes if both Colorado (Pac-10) and Missouri (Big Ten) leave.

If Missouri or Colorado leave, the Big 12 would go get TCU from the Mountain West. While that would wound the MWC, the league would most likely then invite Boise State.

If both Colorado and Missouri left, the Big 12 would get TCU and, maybe, Houston? Either way, the Big 12’s TV stature would shrink.

Big East: The league was almost wiped out when the ACC expanded five years ago. What happens if Pittsburgh, Syracuse or Rutgers is taken by the Big Ten?

Most likely the Big East would raid Conference USA for Central Florida. That would get the league further into Florida. UCF is third-largest school in the country (53,000) behind Ohio State and Arizona State. There's got to be some football players in there somewhere. Plus, the school has made a huge commitment to facilities.

Sooner or later doesn’t Big East football and basketball have to split? The unwieldy existence between the two sides (16 teams in basketball, only eight of which play football).

After the wounds caused by the ACC, another hit could cause the end of the Big East in football.

My latest look on how the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big 12 and MWC might look in the future.

Schembechler Division

Michigan State

Grange Division
Ohio State
Penn State

BIG 12
North Division
Kansas State
Iowa State

South Division
Texas Tech
Texas A&M
Oklahoma State


North Division
Oregon State
Washington State

South Division
Arizona State

Fresno State
Boise State
Texas-El Paso
Air Force
San Diego State
New Mexico
Colorado State



Posted on: February 10, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2010 12:53 pm

Feel the earth move, college football

Expansion: It's coming and it's coming soon.

The latest round of rearranging the deck chairs on college football's luxury liner. You saw it in December when the Big Ten went out of its way to announce it was looking into expansion. The conservative, staid, reclusive (Walnut Park, Calif.?) Pac-10 then shook things up Tuesday by saying it is ready to "seriously" look at expansion.

I talked to a few people on Wednesday and an analysis piece is forthcoming later today, but suffice to say this comes down to three key elements at the moment:

Missouri to the Big Ten.

Colorado to the Pac-10 (as one of two expansion teams).

The Big 12 to the Rolodex to see who is interested in joining its fractured conference.

If the Large Dozen loses two teams, that damages its chances to negotiate for lucrative contracts when its TV deals come due in the next three years. Then as the Big 12 scrambles to stay together, it robs from the poor (TCU? Houston?) TV consultant Neal Pilson told me this latest round of upheaval means that the core of college football may be limited to 40 schools.

"The colleges better be careful  that they don't get what they're asking for," Pilson said, "that is complete freedom to make TV deals because TV is basically interested in the big schools. I'm talking about the bigger schools within the big conferences. I think the magic number is probably 30 to 40."

That's essentially what Comrade Ratto wrote today, cutting to the chase with machete as usual.

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