Cincinnati Bearcats

WVU vs Marshall
Associated Press

Big 12 reportedly prefers expansion to be settled before start of season

4 Comments

Unlike most goings-on in the conference, it doesn’t appear the Big 12 is going to drag its feet on the biggest issue it’s currently facing.

The Big 12 announced earlier this month that the conference will expand, whether by two teams or four.  Regardless of the final number, CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd, citing three individuals with knowledge of the ongoing process, reported Thursday, the conference “would prefer to wrap up the expansion process before the start of the 2016 football season.” The reasoning for an expedited timeline is simple: the powers-that-be in the league do not want expansion talk and speculation to overshadow actual football.

Such a timeline would also be beneficial for any incoming teams.

If the expansion teams are indeed announced before the season, that conceivably would give the new schools a chance to begin playing in the conference in 2017. For now, the league is in the process of contemplating how it will decide participants for its championship game that has been reinstated for 2017.

“I have not made any comment on time frame and do not plan any such statement,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Dodd in a statement.

It’s believed that any new members for the Big 12 will come from a group that includes teams from both the AAC (Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, UCF, USF) and Mountain West (Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State) as well as football-independent BYU.  More specifically, BYU, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn are considered by some/most observers as the front-runners, with some throwing Cincinnati in as well.

The AAC kicks off its Media Days Monday, and expansion will no doubt dominate the conversation during the two-day event.

With Big 12 expansion oncoming, AAC commish Mike Aresco bracing for the inevitable

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 15: Mike Aresco, Commisioner of the AAC poses with Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals and the tournament MVP trophy after defeating  the Connecticut Huskies during the Championship of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at FedExForum on March 15, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. Louisville defeated Connecticut 71-61. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

The Big 12 is (probably) expanding. Perhaps you’ve heard.

While it’s too early to tell exactly which schools and how many of them will leave their respective homes to join the Big 12, it’s a safe bet to assume the American Athletic Conference will feel the effects of the Big 12’s manifest destiny. In fact, it’d be downright surprising if it didn’t.

In that light, American Athletic Conference Mike Aresco is bracing for his league to be hit by the swirling wave of dollar bills coming his conference’s way.

“We’re going about our business,” Aresco told CBSSports.com. “We have initiatives we’re working on. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’m working hard for this conference, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished with this conference. You just tune out the distractions. We’ve got members here who are relying on the conference to support them. That’s our focus.”

And, really, what else can he say?

The Big 12 pays its members upwards of $20 million a year. The American doesn’t. There’s nothing he can do to change that. Despite the fact that some combination of Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, the Florida outposts and perhaps even Connecticut may leave the league before next season, Aresco will continue to ask his conference to march to the beat he set this spring.

“I keep telling our membership, if we continue to be relevant and get fans interested in what we’re doing and we’re a really scrappy underdog that becomes a competitor, the networks will have an interest in us,” he said earlier this year. “It’s that simple.”

It’s a go: Big 12 to pursue expansion

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 25:  The Big XII logo on a pylon at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
25 Comments

Presidents of American Athletic Conference and Mountain West schools, grab your phones. You’ve got some calls to make.

After a seemingly endless string of “will they or won’t they?” stories, brought on by the league itself, the Big 12 announced following a Board of Directors meeting Tuesday afternoon it has authorized commissioner Bob Bowlsby to pursue expansion candidates.

Not a lot of details are ironed out as of yet — this wouldn’t be the Big 12 if they were — but the concept is a go.

Oklahoma president and board chair David Boren said the Big 12 could become 12 again or balloon all the way up to 14.

While no one’s coming out and saying it now, the top candidates for expansion figure to be Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut, Houston, South and/or Central Florida, BYU and Colorado State in some order.

One thing that differentiates the Big 12 from others: Bowlsby has used the term “negotiate” when discussing the expansion process. With more interested parties than spots to give, the Big 12 can afford to be selective.

While no one attached firm dates to anything, the implication Tuesday was that this would be taken care of sooner rather than later.

One thing is certain: this is the Big 12 we’re talking about. No amount of craziness is off the table here.

 

2015 finalist Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State headlines Butkus Award watch list

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Max Wittek #13 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors looks to elude the defense of Raekwon McMillan #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the third quarter at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Hawaii 38-0.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

I’m running out of ways to lead these things, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

Tuesday, yet another watch list was released, with the Butkus Award unveiling its list of 51 linebackers to watch this season.  The Butkus Award, given out annually since 1985 to the nation’s best linebacker, is named in honor of former Illinois great Dick Butkus.

Last year’s award went to Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith.  Raekwon McMillan, he of the getting-trucked-by-a-woman McMillans, made this year’s watch list after being a finalist for last year’s award.

The SEC led all conferences with 12 selections, followed by the Big Ten’s 10.  The Big 12 and ACC were next with six and five players, respectively, while the AAC and Mountain West led Group of Five leagues with four each.  That’s the same number as the Pac-12.

The Sun Belt was the lone FBS conference without a representative.

Alabama was the only school with three linebackers selected.  Houston, Kansas State, Louisville, Ohio State and Penn State, with two each, were the only other programs with more than one.

There is also one non-FBS watch lister: Nick DeLuca of FCS power North Dakota State.

Below is the complete 2016 Butkus Award preseason watch list:

Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Kendall Beckwith, LSU
Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
Dante Booker, Ohio State
Ben Boulware, Clemson
Tyus Bowser, Houston
Richie Brown, Mississippi State
Riley Bullough, Michigan State
Jason Cabinda, Penn State
Jeff Camilli, Fresno State
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Jermaine Carter, Maryland
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Kevin Davis, Colorado State
Jarrad Davis, Florida
Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State
Brooks Ellis, Arkansas
Jordan Evans, Oklahoma
Devonte’ Fields, Louisville
Salamo Fiso, Arizona State
Reuben Foster, Alabama
T.J. Holloman, South Carolina
Travin Howard, TCU
Shane Huber, UMass
Malik Jefferson, Texas
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Peter Kalambayi, Stanford
Harvey Kangi, BYU
Keith Kelsey, Louisville
Micah Kiser, Virginia
Elijah Lee, Kansas State
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
Matt Milano, Boston College
Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State
Nyles Morgan, Notre Dame
Calvin Munson, San Diego State
Hardy Nickerson, Illinois
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee
T.J. Ricks, Old Dominion
Auggie Sanchez, USF
Michael Scherer, Missouri
Cameron Smith, USC
Steven Taylor, Houston
Austin Valdez, Bowling Green
Tanner Vallejo, Boise State
Azeem Victor, Washington
Anthony Walker, Northwestern
Nyeem Warman-White, Penn State
Tim Williams, Alabama
Eric Wilson, Cincinnati
Taylor Young, Baylor

2015 winner Desmond King of Iowa headlines Thorpe Award watch list

AMES, IA ? SEPTEMBER 14: Defensive back Desmond King #14 of the Iowa Hawkeyes breaks up a pass meant for wide receiver Tad Ecby #6 of the Iowa State Cyclones late in the 4th quarter of play at Jack Trice Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa defeated Iowa State 27-21. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watch list season continues to roll along, with defensive backs getting their turn in the spotlight.

Monday, the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame released the annual preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award.  Given annually to the nation’s top defensive back, this year’s watch list includes 39 players from all 10 FBS conferences.  No players from football independents were included.

Included in the group is Iowa’s Desmond King, the 2015 winner of the Thorpe Award.

The Pac-12 paces all conferences with six selections, followed by five each from the MAC and SEC.  The AAC, ACC, Big Ten and Mountain West all have four apiece, while the Sun Belt has three.  Along with Conference USA, the Big 12 brings up the rear with two.

Air Force (two), LSU (two) and Washington (two) are the only teams with more than one player on the list.

Most of the watch listers are juniors (13) or seniors (23), with the lone exceptions being a trio of sophomores — Florida State’s Derwin James, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead and Wyoming’s Andrew Wingard.

Below is the complete 2016 Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list:

Jamal Adams, LSU, Jr.
Tony Annese, Central Michigan, Sr.
Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado, Sr.
Budda Baker, Washington, Jr.
Bobby Baker, Georgia State, Sr.
Quin Blanding, Virginia, Jr.
Cody Brown, Arkansas State, Sr.
Sean Chandler, Temple, Jr.
Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
Zach Edwards, Cincinnati, Sr.
Nate Gerry, Nebraska, Sr.
Adoree’ Jackson, USC, Jr.
Eddie Jackson, Alabama, Sr.
Derwin James, Florida St., So.
Sidney Jones, Washington, Jr.
Damontae Kazee, San Diego State, Sr.
Desmond King, Iowa, Sr.
Roland Ladipo, Air Force, Sr.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan , Sr.
William Likely, Maryland, Sr.
Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois, Jr.
Marcus Maye, Florida, Sr.
Demetrius Monday, Kent State, Jr.
Deatrick Nichols, USF, Jr.
Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama, Jr.
DeJuan Rogers, Toledo, Sr.
Boise Ross, Buffalo, Sr.
Weston Steelhammer, Air Force, Sr.
Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma State, Sr.
Jamar Summers, UConn, Jr.
Cameron Sutton, Tennessee, Sr.
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, Sr.
Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma, Sr.
Jaleel Wadood, UCLA, Jr.
Tre’Davious White, LSU, Sr.
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh, So.
Marcus Williams, Utah, Jr.
Andrew Wingard, Wyoming, So.
Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech, Sr.