Category: Big 12 Conference

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby arrives to speak to reporters after the first day of the conference's meeting Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

Big 12 presidents take vow of public uniformity

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There may be plenty of heated debates and conversations behind closed doors, but when it comes to showing the public their stance, the leaders of the Big 12 have agreed to stand together for the greater good of the Big 12. On Friday, Big 12 presidents and chancellors agreed to defer all comments to commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

The show of uniformity in refraining from comment appears to put Oklahoma president David Boren on notice. Boren had made headlines with his public remarks regarding the stability of the Big 12 by suggesting the conference was psychologically disadvantaged in the power conference landscape, speaking out in favor of expansion and lamenting the missed opportunity to add Louisville to the conference. Boren’s comments have either been echoed by fellow Big 12 leaders or disputed by others. Boren speaking out gave credence to the idea the Big 12 really is not standing on solid ground as a conference, because if Oklahoma is not happy with the state of the Big 12, then there are issues that will continue to be problematic. For the Big 12 to be stable, it likely needs Oklahoma and Texas to be happy. Now, no matter what Boren really thinks, he is essentially muzzled on the big topics for the Big 12.

After two days of meetings, the Big 12 essentially comes out of their meetings silent and without any drastic changes in the works. Expansion was discussed during the recent meetings, but no specific candidates were discussed during the board of directors meeting. Bowlsby did suggest there may not be an ideal number for the conference, which is currently operating with 10 members.

So for now, as has been the case for the last few years, there is no movement on the expansion front for the Big 12, which may be disheartening to fans of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and any other number of programs dreaming and wishing for an invite to the power conference.

Cold Turkey: Big 12 bumps Texas-TCU form Thanksgiving to Black Friday

A Texas fan dressed up as a Thanksgiving turkey shows disappointment over the performance of the Longhorns during the first half of an NCAA college football game against TCU, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis
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The Big 12 announced a pair of adjustments to its 2016 conference schedule this morning. The more notable of the two changes is the move of Texas and TCU’s Thanksgiving night game to the next day, Black Friday. The game scheduled to be played in Austin on Thanksgiving night will now be played the following day as part of a request of television partners ESPN and FOX.

This will mark the second straight season TCU has played on Black Friday. Last season the Horned Frogs defeated Baylor in one of the sloppier weather games of the year. Playing on Thanksgiving had been a long-standing tradition for the Longhorns. Texas squared off with rival Texas A&M 69 times before the Aggies departed the conference for the SEC. Without the Aggies to play on Thanksgiving, Texas has kept that tradition going with games against either Texas Tech or TCU. However, the addition of a third game in primetime to the NFL schedule ahs created a bit of a stir when it comes to television partners. Knowing the NFL will grab the large majority of the football viewers on Thanksgiving night, the Big 12 now avoids being in the NFL’s dark, ominous shadow. Time will tell if this is a one-year deal, and hopefully it is. Some of us actually prefer watching college football on Thursday night.*

Texas Tech’s home game against Kansas has actually been moved up a couple of days to Thursday, September 29. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 1. Now it will get a chance to shine on primetime on either ESPN or FOX Sports 1. The Big 12’s television dates have not been announced, so it remains to be seen if this game will be aired on ESPN or FS1.

*Full disclosure: NBC will begin airing Thursday night NFL games this season, so this statement is voided in the event NBC is airing the Thanksgiving night NFL game because the almighty peacock would not look favorably upon me if I stood by that statement!

Big 12 ADs meet but make no progress on championship game, expansion or TV network

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addresses attendees to Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 20, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Big 12 may one day bring its conference championship back to the conference schedule, but any hope of reviving the game in 2016 appears to be fading quickly. A meeting of Big 12 athletic directors on Thursday in Irving, Texas yielded no movement toward implementing a conference championship for the upcoming college football season.

Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12, confirmed ADs from the conference were presented with information regarding the impact a conference championship game has on sending a Big 12 champion to the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 was represented this past season by Oklahoma, an outright conference champion in regular season play, but the conference was left out of the four-team playoff field in the 2014 season despite co-champions Baylor and TCU having identical 11-1 records. Big Ten champion Ohio State wiggled past the Big 12 co-champs for the fourth and final spot in the inaugural playoff. No votes regarding the conference championship game were held by Big 12 ADs, which was expected to be the case.

The Big 12 ADs also discussed other topics that seem to follow the Big 12 wherever it goes; expansion and a Big 12 network. Like the championship game, no votes were held regarding expansion or a conference-branded sports network similar to networks operated by the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12. But they most certainly were discussed. Bowlsby suggested the discussions were “high-level discussions.”

On Friday the presidents and chancellors from the 10 Big 12 members will meet in Irving, during which time they will be expected to review these same topics and more.

The topic of expansion in the Big 12 has continued since the departures of Nebraska (Big Ten, Colorado (Pac-12), Texas A&M and Missouri (SEC) were followed by the additions of West Virginia and TCU. Stuck on 10 members, the Big 12 lost the ability to host a conference championship game under the NCAA rules regarding championship games (conferences must have 12 teams or more to hold a conference title game). The NCAA recently allowed conferences the ability to run a conference championship game without 12 members, but the once believed to be easy choice for the Big 12 has seemed to lose support and momentum from within, and now the conference appears to have a diving line on the subject. On the one hand, a conference championship game hypothetically gives the Big 12 champion one last good, quality matchup to make a final playoff push, which may have benefitted Baylor or TCU in 2014. On the other, Oklahoma just proved it is possible to make the playoff without a championship game. A Big 12 championship game would provide more potential revenue for the conference, which is a nice luxury to have, but it carries a risk of potentially knocking a playoff entrant out of the discussion with a loss on the final weekend. The Big 12 has seen its championship game ruin national title dreams before, so it knows the pros and cons of the debate.

The complications of a Big 12 network also open the door for a stalemate, as it would likely come only if Texas abandoned The Longhorn Network. The Longhorn Network has been a polarizing issue in the Big 12 since its launch, and that is not about to change. Texas has every right to continue to stand by the network if it chooses, which means the rest of the Big 12 is going to have to convince Texas a conference-branded network would be more beneficiaal and valuable to Texas than its own network. For Texas, the ideal situation would be to have both its Longhorn Network and get a cut of a Big 12 network pie. It sounds so simple in theory, but nothing in the Big 12 is ever going to be simple.

Why start now, right?

Iowa bill wants Stanford band to apologize, or else!

The Stanford University Cardinal Marching Band performs in the 127th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker
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Have you ever seen a piece of legislature being discussed in a local, state or federal government and thought to yourself “Don’t they have more important things to worry about?” In the same week Iowa is celebrated for its political involvement on the presidential campaign trail, we must ask that very question today. That is because a piece of state legislature is now threatening to prohibit Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa from associating in any way with Stanford University unless the Pac-12 school’s marching band issues a formal apology to the state of Iowa.

The bill was introduced to the Iowa Capitol by Senator Mark Chelgren (R) as a result of the show of poor sportsmanship from the Stanford marching band’s halftime performance at the Rose Bowl, which poked fun at the state of Iowa and its farming culture.

“I think it’s unfortunate because here in Iowa we try to teach sportsmanship,” Chelgren said, according to Des Moines Register. “We try to teach courtesy, and when someone behaves in a way that is contrary to that, we need to point it out.”

The bill would still allow for sports competitions between Stanford and the three state universities to be held and any contracts between the schools already signed off on will be honored. Basically, this is political grandstanding at the expense of the Stanford marching band, which may just be a waste of time because there is no way the Stanford band is going to apologize for their Rose Bowl performance.

This now being a political issue, one Iowa Democrat says the bill only ends up hurting Iowa universities.

“I think what they did was offensive, but I don’t think you could blame the institution of Stanford University for it,” Sen. Robert Dvorsky (D) said. “I understand that some people were offended. Here is the problem: It is not an official Stanford marching band. They are just a student organization. It is not like the Hawkeye Marching Band and people should be aware of that. It is just some sort of loosely organized student organization.”

The answer to the earlier question is yes, there are more important things to be worried about in the Iowa government than hurt feelings over a halftime show at a bowl game.

For second straight season, Texas lands Big 12’s top recruiting class

Texas head coach Charlie Strong is lifted by his players after their 24-17 win over Oklahoma in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Dallas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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For all the criticisms Charlie Strong has been on the receiving end of during his brief time as head coach of the Texas Longhorns, his process appears to be working according to plan. For the second straight season, Texas will land the Big 12’s top-rated recruiting class, including one of the two five-star players in the Big 12’s Class of 2016.

Despite a late signing day addition of five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly by Oklahoma, Texas still had a strong hold on the top recruiting class in the Big 12, according to the Rivals rankings, with 10 four-star players and a five-star of their own. Baylor has nine four-star players and Oklahoma has eight. TCU has six and no other program in the conference has more than two.

When Strong took over in Austin, he had a significant rebuilding job to get started, but this being Texas meant pressure to turn things around as if he were making instant oatmeal. The problem is Texas boosters want prime rib but with microwave dinner speed. It just does not work that way, even for a program that should have no problem recruiting like Texas. The truth is, compared to its Big 12 peers, the Longhorns have not struggled to keep up in the recruiting rankings. The problem has more been in the development process and staying healthy. For the past decade, Texas and Oklahoma have come in the top two spots of the Big 12 recruiting rankings in one order or another. The overall talent level of the Big 12 may have dipped over that time, but when it comes to the Big 12 the talent is still managing to find its way to Austin. The results on the field, however, have been a different story.

As noted earlier today, seeing Texas land four stud recruits on national signing day was an oddity for the program, but it may have been a sign that things are indeed changing. Texas generated signing day buzz, which can be a stepping stone to building the program moving forward. Strong is trying to move the Longhorns back to the top of the state of Texas, and this latest recruiting class was a giant step forward in that master plan.

For the first time since Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC, the Longhorns finished ranked ahead of the Aggies in the Rivals team rankings (texas actually finished ahead of A&M in the Class of 2012; Texas A&M began play in the SEC later that year). That is significant, as it shows the Longhorns are starting to reclaim their standing in the state. Now it will be about developing the talent Strong is acquiring to mold the team even more to his liking to take the next step. First it must climb the Big 12 standings in the fall. Then it can focus on the next goal of returning to national prominence.