Cancer Center Dedication

Boren praises Neinas for keeping the Big 12 together


It’s like Oklahoma and Kansas got together with the eight other Big 12 institutions and decided to spin the loss of the conference’s fourth member in just over a year (Missouri) into an addition by subtraction cliche or something.

At a Barry Switzer statue dedication on Saturday, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas was introduced by Oklahoma president David Boren with the following laud that would only be fit for Michael Scott from “The Office”:

“I want to tell you the Big 12 today is here, it is stronger, it is stable. There is no doubt the Big 12 is going to be here next year and the year after and for many, many years to come. Because the heartland of this country deserves a great football conference, and the heartland is going to be a great football conference.

“A lot of people played a role in turning this thing around and reestablishing trust and reestablishing harmony and reestablishing stability. I simply want to tell you, and I’ll tell you one story in particular…

“There were several reforms we wanted to put in place in terms of grant of rights, handcuffs, to keep members of the conference together. Long-term commitment. Sharing of revenue. Not letting anyone that shall not be named today use their own network to play high school highlights of possible recruits.

“I may not know much. I know those athletic experts always smile when I speak at these events. But I do know how to count votes. And I will tell you when it came time to count the votes about those high school highlights, it was 9-0 with one abstention. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which one abstained.

“But this man brought us together. One of the most unusual things that’s ever happened, these basic reforms that we’ve been working on for 10 years to stabilize the conference… In two weeks he came and joined us as our commissioner, and in two weeks he hammered out an agreement that resulted in a joint motion, a joint motion, of the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, to enact all of these reforms to provide long-term stability for our conference.

I’ll preface the following display of cynicism with this: of course Boren and every other Big 12 official is going to paint the current foundation as structurally sound. That’s their job — to be Chip Diller of “Animal House” and exclaim that all is well.

But enough with the TV and movie references.

While some may continue to scoff at Missouri’s departure to the SEC as nothing more than a geographical gerrymandering for TV markets, the fact is that Mizzou left the Big 12 for a reason.  “When people start talking about limits, that doesn’t indicate something that’s really strong,” Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden said about the Big 12’s six-year grant of rights for equal revenue distribution.

But in today’s college football landscape? Maybe six years is the new definition of long-term. Coaches come and go from jobs at alarming rates; heck, TCU switched conferences twice without ever having played a game in one. I’m not sure the possibility doesn’t exist of Mizzou leaving the SEC for the Big Ten if that phone call ever came.

“Long-term” is now a saturated phrase with interpretive meaning. It could indicate six years and not a moment more for Texas and Oklahoma, who despite what the Sooners say, were ready to leave their conference on the side of the highway (again) as they headed west.

Think about it: West Virginia is willing to sue the Big East to get into a conference next year that apparently (at least it was felt on WVU’s end) was all good to include them, then spent the couple of days tapping the brakes, before officially extending the invite.

As my father told me once in his advice about relationships: “If it’s not yes, it’s no.”

Boren can spin this how he wants, although his remarks and shots at Texas don’t induce a ton of confidence, but the questions that remain about the long-term security of the Big 12 don’t give us a solid “yes.”

Big changes in AP poll, but Ohio State still comfortable on top

Ezekiel Elliott, Cardale Jones

The Ohio State Buckeyes remain atop the AP Top 25 this week, but the Big 12’s top contenders have bumped Michigan State down two spots. No. 2 TCU picked up five first-place votes and managed to stay ahead of No. 3 Baylor despite the Bears getting 10 first-place votes.

No. 5 Utah picked up seven first-place votes and No. 9 Texas A&M received the last first-place vote available. The big mover in this week’s AP poll was No. 11 Florida, with the Gators jumping 14 spots in the poll after dismantling Ole Miss Saturday night. The Rebels dropped from No. 3 down to No. 14. No. 15 Notre Dame fell nine spots after losing at No. 6 Clemson. No. 19 Georgia also tumbled this week, down 11 spots after being blown out at home by Alabama. It was also a rough week for No. 20 UCLA, falling 13 spots after losing to Arizona State at home.

New teams in the AP poll this week include No. 22 Iowa, No. 24 Toledo and No. 25 Boise State. Iowa and Boise State also made appearances in the coaches poll earlier today, but Toledo did not. Memphis appears in the coach spill but is the third team in its own conference in the others receiving votes category, behind Houston and Temple. Memphis tied with division foe Navy in that category as well.

  1. Ohio State (38 first-place votes)
  2. TCU (5)
  3. Baylor (10)
  4. Michigan State
  5. Utah (7)
  6. Clemson
  7. LSU
  8. Alabama
  9. Texas A&M (1)
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Florida
  12. Florida State
  13. Northwestern
  14. Ole Miss
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Stanford
  17. USC
  18. Michigan
  19. Georgia
  20. UCLA
  21. Oklahoma State
  22. Iowa
  23. Cal
  24. Toledo
  25. Boise State

Group of Five update: Boise State still going strong, Navy creating a stir

Keenan Reynolds
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With conference play starting to pick up around the country, we should start to see some separation from some of these Group of Five contenders. The three-headed race in the American Athletic Conference’s West Division should be especially fascinating to watch unfold as Memphis, Houston and Navy are all off to undefeated starts and are a combined 13-0. Over the weekend Navy picked up a nice nonconference win against Air Force, which served multiple purposes of coming one step closer to winning the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, scored a nice win for the AAC and also knocked the struggling Mountain West Conference down another peg.

Of course, the Mountain West Conference still has Boise State, and the Broncos have been on fire lately. After the setback against BYU in Provo, Boise State has traveled to Virginia to put up 56 points in a 42-point victory and just blanked Hawaii in conference play, 55-0. Boise State is now locked and loaded for a run through the MWC as some of the perceived threats to the Broncos continue to scuffle. A road game to Colorado State is not as imposing as it may have been last fall, and the same can be said for a road trip to Utah State the following week. Air Force might be the biggest challenge left for Boise State in conference play, but that will be played on the blue turf. And let’s be honest for a moment. In the eyes of the selection committee, a 12-1 Boise State team at the end of the season might be difficult to pass on when it comes time to make a call on the New Years Six bowl spot.

That said, Boise State still has some serious competition completely out of their hands. Toledo continues to put together a solid season and has a pair of victoroes over FBS schools just like Boise State (and a road win at Arkansas likely is better than Boise State’s wins against Washington or at Virginia to some). If the Rockets can run the table in the MAC or even suffer one close loss along the way to a MAC title, Toledo may actually be the frontrunner. That, of course, could also change depending on what happens in that AAC West.

Memphis had a close call at USF this weekend but managed to escape with a win. The offense Memphis has rolling will still be a serious challenge in conference play, but pay attention to what Houston and Navy are also doing. Only one of those three will even be eligible to play for the AAC championship, which makes this the best division race to following the Group of Five. In the AAC East, Temple appears to be in good shape after a blowout win in rainy Charlotte this week. The Owls still have a leg up on Cincinnati, and look to have the best defense in the division. Every other team in Temple’s division has already lost at least one game.

Now with one week of October football under our belts, here is how I would rank the current Group of Five contenders at this moment if I had a seat on the College Football Playoff selection committee.

  1. Toledo: Still owns the best victory over a P5 school in Arkansas
  2. Memphis: Offense still scary despite tight one at USF, gets Ole Miss next after a bye.
  3. Temple: Wins against Penn State and Cincinnati look a little better now, could be undefeated when Notre Dame comes to Philly
  4. Boise State: The best one-loss team in the Group of Five field and surging, but how much will MWC hold Broncos back?
  5. Navy: Midshipmen letting Keenan  Reynolds do his thing, just beat Air Force by 22. Big win for AAC, tough loss for MWC

On the radar: Houston just misses my cut for now, but could easily work into the mix any given week. Keeping an eye on Western Kentucky, who plays LSU later this month. I’ll keep taking a flyer on Bowling Green but with two losses that leaves the Falcons with plenty of ground to make up. Not impossible, but certainly in need of some help in other places. Falcons also need to get by Ohio, who just barely puts a blip on the radar as well. Sorry Sun Belt. I just don’t see it happening yet.