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Big 12 announces new TV deal

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The Big 12 issued a release earlier this afternoon which stated that “commissioner Dan Beebe will be available to the media via teleconference to provide an update on the latest news regarding the Big 12 Conference” at 4 p.m. ET.  Based on the word coming from a writer for the Sports Business Journal, at least some of the latest news will involve a sizable new television contract.

The SBJ‘s John Ourand sent out a tweet shortly after the release stating that the Big 12 will announce a new multi-year deal with FOX Sports.  The SBJ had reported last month that the two sides were putting the finishing touches on what would be a 13-year, $1.17 billion deal for the second-tier rights to football games; apparently, the deal that’s expected to be announced today will be somewhere in the neighborhood of the numbers first reported in March.

The new deal would represent an increase of roughly 350 percent over the previous contract.  However, the previous deal was sliced up amongst 12 schools; with the departures of Colorado and Nebraska for other conferences, each member of the conference will get an even larger slice of the new financial pie.  Not each member of the conference will get an equal slice, however, as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M will receive a greater share than the other seven schools, a stipulation that resulted from their threat to bolt for the then-Pac-10 in the summer of 2010.

The conference’s first-tier TV rights run through 2016, with ESPN and ABC paying a total of $60 million annually.

That $150 million-per-year total falls well short of conference financial behemoths the Big Ten ($214 million) and SEC ($205 million), but is on par with the $155 million the ACC is expected to bring in with their newly-minted deal.  All of the BcS leagues could be looking up to the Pac-12 in the very near future, however, as that conference is expected to sign new deals that would bring in a rumored $222 million annually.

FOX is also believed to be one of the two frontrunners for the Pac-12’s new TV package.

UPDATED 5:18 p.m. ET: The Big 12 confirmed their new 13-year deal with FOX during Beebe’s conference call, although the conference would not confirm the financial numbers being tossed around.  Beebe did reveal that FOX would broadcast 40 games — nearly double the number aired in the previous deal — on their FSN regional networks as well as cable channel F/X.  Beebe also hinted at the possibility of airing Big 12 games in primetime on the FOX network.

Here is Beebe’s official statement as provided by the conference via a press release:

“This landmark agreement positions the Conference with one of the best television arrangements in collegiate sports,” said Beebe. “It exceeds the benchmarks as we move forward with our 10 members by providing significant revenue growth, increased exposure while allowing institutions to retain selected rights. Most importantly, the agreement signifies the long-term commitment of the member institutions to one another. The Conference is delighted to continue its partnership with Fox and build on the momentum the FSN network has generated for the Big 12 brand through our first 15 years. We are excited about extending our presence on other FOX platforms, especially on FX, a top cable network.”

“This agreement extends our relationship with a valued long-time partner and ensures that Fox Sports will have an incredibly strong college football slate to offer viewers well into the next decade,” said Randy Freer, President of FOX Sports Networks.

“These 10 universities in the center of America stand together in their commitment,” University of Missouri Chancellor and Big 12 Conference Board of Directors Chairman Brady Deaton said. “The Big 12 will generate per member television revenue at competitive levels of college athletics, while at the same time increasing exposure for our programs on national and regional platforms, and providing for comprehensive institutional rights retention.”

Western Michigan dismisses pair accused of alleged stick-up

KALAMAZOO, MI - SEPTEMBER 4: Western Michigan Broncos fans get fired up before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Waldo Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Western Michigan has dismissed a pair of players accused of sticking up a female WMU student after committing an on-campus robbery, the program announced Sunday. The players, linebacker Ron George and wide receiver Bryson White, were both freshmen.

The pair are accused of holding the student up with a semi-automatic firearm and a knife. It is not clear which player is accused of holding which weapon. “He had the gun to the back of my head and he slammed the back of my head with the gun,” the woman said.

The woman says the players stole “hundreds of dollars, along with a stereo speaker.”

“I’m so scared. I couldn’t sleep last night,” the woman told WWMT-TV. “I haven’t ate anything since. I’m so scared. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“This has been a difficult time for our University, community and football family,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “With this action we are moving forward and we are focusing our attention on Northwestern.”

George was a three-star signee out of Pittsburgh. White was a walk-on from Ohio.

Western Michigan visits Northwestern Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU).

Texas Tech boss Kirby Hocutt becomes latest million-dollar AD

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 16: Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt answers questions from the media after being named the chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee on January 16, 2016 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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It’s been a good year for Kirby Hocutt. His basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament, then made a nice rebound hire in Chris Beard when Tubby Smith bolted for Memphis. His baseball team won its first-ever game at the College World Series, then held onto head coach Tim Tadlock when Texas came calling. His football program is positioned for a solid year, with rare stability at the defensive coordinator position and perhaps the most talented quarterback in school history in Patrick Mahomes. He reached a new level of professional currency when he was named chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

That last bit has led to a handsome new contract that pushes his salary to north of $1 million a year.

As detailed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hocutt has inked a seven-year contract that pays him a sum of $7.525 million. He’ll earn $1 million in the first year and net raises of $25,000 each year, plus bonuses that could reach as much as $225,000 each year. All told, theoretically, Hocutt could earn $1.4 million by the final year of his contract.

“I couldn’t feel more fortunate to have the support that I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy at Texas Tech University,” Hocutt told the paper. “The leadership continues to be tremendous. I couldn’t be more excited about President Schovanec. The support he provides, that Chancellor (Robert) Duncan provides, I couldn’t be more fortunate as an athletics director.”

Salaries for athletics directors aren’t as easy to track as coaches but, according to the most recent data on file, Hocutt appears to be one of just eight active ADs to earn seven figures — and more than the ADs at both Texas and Texas A&M.

In addition to Tech’s success in the big three sports — the Red Raiders were the only Big 12 program to reach the postseason in football and men’s basketball while also reaching the College World Series — 11 of the school’s 14 other programs also reached the postseason, including Big 12 titles in soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.

Lombardi Award changes criteria so ‘a Johnny Manziel’ can’t win it

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies drops back to pass in the first half during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Lombardi Award had a nice thing going. Run by the Rotary Club of Houston, the award had chugged along since 1970, honoring college football’s best offensive lineman, defensive lineman or linebacker. Past winners include the likes of Lee Roy SelmonSteve EmtmanOrlando PaceAaron Donald and Scooby Wright, to name a few current and future College Football Hall of Famers.

Essentially, the Lombardi Award was the Heisman Trophy for players who never had a snowball’s chance in Tempe to actually win the actual Heisman.

Except the Rotary Club this week announced it will open the Lombardi’s criteria to all players…. exactly like the Heisman, therein rendering itself totally irrelevant. And the reasoning makes even less sense after they explain it.

“If someone were to push me in a corner and ask me, ‘What’s the difference between this award and the Heisman Trophy award?’ I would tell you this. The difficult truth is a Tim Tebow could have won this award, but a Johnny Manziel could not have won this award. That’s the difference,” former Oklahoma running back and longtime college football television analyst Charles Tillman told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Ignoring the brain-melter that Manziel himself wouldn’t have been eligible for the Lombardi Award’s stiffarm under the previous system, the character-based system presents a couple questions:

A) Where is the “character” line drawn, and who draws it? As the Plain-Dealer points out, all we knew of Manziel by the time he collected his Heisman in December 2012 were some viral photos of him (obviously) drinking underage in a Scooby Doo costume and a misdemeanor arrest for being involved in a fight and producing a fake ID. That doesn’t make him Tebow, but it doesn’t make him significantly worse than a lot of other talented players, either.

B) Hasn’t the Jerry SanduskyJoe Paterno saga taught us anything? Sandusky and Paterno were exalted as saints among mere mortals until the passage of time exposed them as something far worse. The same could happen to Tebow. It probably won’t, but it could. And that’s the problem: we don’t know these guys. All we know is the image they project. On-field performance never changes, but our awareness of players’ supposed character could irrevocably flip at any moment.

There are dozens of college football awards, each elbowing for a glimmer of sunshine the Heisman doesn’t grab for itself. The Lombardi Award had some of that sunshine. It had history, it had a niche and it had credibility. To render itself irrelevant is already strange, but to do so for such a dubious reason is even more perplexing.

Report: Pac-12 reaches deal with Fox Sports Australia

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 02:  Larry Scott, CEO of the WTA speaks to the media during the draw for the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships at the Pearl conference centre on Novemeber 2, 2008 in Doha, Qatar. The Championships willl take place in Doha from November 4-9, 2008.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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What, you thought Cal was going all the way to Sydney for…. fun? The student-athlete experience?

No, there was always a pot of gold at the end of that transpacific rainbow.

According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News, a good of a source as there is for all things Pac-12, the league has reached a content agreement with Fox Sports Australia to show Pac-12 football and basketball.

Wilner reports that Fox Sports Australia will show 21 men’s basketball games and 13 football contests, with the possibility of other Pac-12 teams heading Down Under in the near future.

Globalization has been a key charge of Larry Scott‘s commissionership. Washington opened the 2015-16 college basketball season by “hosting” Texas in Shanghai last November and, of course, there was Cal’s game with Hawaii Friday night.