It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.
The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.
“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”
This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.
Remember when the Big 12 was flirting with possible expansion and toying with the minds of alleged Big 12 candidates before ultimately sweeping the rug out from under the schools lobbying for inclusion in the conference? Among the list of potential targets were UCF and USF, and now a Florida politician is looking to capitalize on the success of each school’s recent football season in an attempt to win some brownie points from voters.
Republican Representative Bobby Olszewski has written a letter to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, making sure the commissioner of the conference has not forgotten just how valuable the additions of UCF and USF could, in theory, be for the Big 12. The focus, of course, comes in with the all-important television ratings.
“More than ever during the college football season, we saw how important television ratings are to bowl games, the conferences, and the College Football Playoff,” Olszewski writes. “With UCF and USF representing the greater Central Florida and Tampa Bay media markets, our annual “War on I-4″ was one of the top television rated games this season en route to a 123 and 10 win season respectively for the UCF Knights and USF Bulls as well as both with top 25 final rankings.”
There have been no hints of possible expansion for the Big 12 on the horizon since the conference last openly discussed the idea, and the success of UCF and USF is not going to be enough to attract the Big 12 to re-opening the discussion again just yet. There may come a time when the Big 12 feels the itch to expand again, but the last time it discussed the idea it led to a complete meltdown. The Big 12 is doing just fine right now, but it could also be the conference in most need of some upgrades if the realignment fun does kick up again. And when it does, expect UCF and USF lobbyists pushing for the elusive Big 12 invite once again.
Helmet sticker to SB Nation.
The Big 12 looks ready to leave this week no closer to expansion than it arrived. Such is life in the Big 12, where the conference reportedly did discuss expansion during regularly scheduled meetings but did so without mentioning specific candidates or moving anywhere closer to holding any formal vote on whether or not to expand. No conference deliberates quite like the Big 12, and it appears there will be even more discussions on expansion in the months to come.
“I think this is a dialogue that could continue several years,” Texas Athletics Director Mike Perrin said. “The prudent thing is to stay where we are.”
Where the Big 12 is now is a 10-member league that struggles to get everyone on the same page on almost any topic of discussion while continuing to lag behind power conference peers like the Big Ten and SEC without a conference-branded network and plenty of wishful candidates lining up just waiting for any reason to believe an invitation may be coming their way. Schools like BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, UCF and UConn are Charlie Brown and the Big 12 is the Little Red-Haired Girl that will never send a valentine.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is getting e though. With no visible progress made this week, Bowlsby is hoping to have some sort of vote held on expansion by the end of the summer.
“I’m going to push for decisions to be made one way or another by the end of the summer,” Bowlsby said. If that is true, fans of those programs listed above will be watching closely as the media days play out, although expansion decisions could be more likely to come after the media day circuit is wrapped up.
The topic of Big 12 expansion has been floating around for years now, since the league dropped in membership following the departures of Colorado (Pac-12), Nebraska (Big Ten, Texas A&M and Missouri (SEC). The Big 12 has added West Virginia and TCU to maintain a 10-member conference lineup, but the discussions about returning to a 12-member conference have never dissipated. Keeping the Big 12 name is its brand has helped fuel the talk about getting back to 12. So has missing out on the College Football Playoff one year and the lack of a conference championship game.
The Big 12 might expand, or it might not. One thing we know for sure is they will discuss it at length time and time again.
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.
Every year it seems there are new measures being taken in college football to help preserve the safety of the student-athletes. On Monday the Big 12 took a step forward in that effort by announcing it will limit the number of live contact opportunities per week to two. That includes games on the football schedule.
“The Big 12 Conference continues to take the lead in the area of player safety as the first conference to enact more restrictive contact policies than currently permitted,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Our policy is a 33-percent reduction in the number of contact opportunities allowed under NCAA guidelines. Limiting the number of live contact practices and giving medical practitioners unchallengeable authority on return to play decisions unequivocally demonstrates the commitment of our membership to the health and safety of Big 12 student-athletes. I applaud our athletics directors on implementing an industry leading approach.”
The current NCAA model allows for two live contact practices in addition to game day each week. Teams on a bye week during the regular season would, by rule, be able to hold two live contact practices. The rule is also designated by student-athlete, so a player not competing in a game would be eligible for a second live contact practice during the week. This would also mean a player participating in multiple live contact practices would not be eligible to play during a game the same week.
It is a bold move by the Big 12, and one that should receive plenty of praise and attention. It is one that should be used as a recruiting pitch by coaches, but also should improve the overall health of players through the course of the season, leaving fewer battered bodies limping to the finish line of the football season.
On another note somewhat related to safety, Bowlsby said the Big 12 will not prevent students from rushing the field after big wins (or the basketball court), but it will require schools to allow for rushing in a controlled environment. How that is enforced probably varies by school, but the Big 12 will monitor how schools handle the situations that could arise and fine when deemed necessary.