It was probably only a matter of time before some conference hopped on the hard seltzer bandwagon. The Big 12 became the first conference to adopt an official hard seltzer when it announced a new partnership with Anheuser-Busch. The two have come together to make Natural Light Seltzer the official hard seltzer of the Big 12 Conference.
The sponsorship will be spread across big 12 championship events, including the Big 12 Championship Game, although Dr. Pepper will remain the corporate naming sponsor of the Big 12 championship game.
“The Big 12 welcomes Anheuser-Busch to its sponsorship program,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a released statement. “We are very pleased as part of this sponsorship to work with A-B to help foster a culture of responsible drinking and making every experience with its products a positive one.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the Big 12 land the first hard seltzer sponsor. After all, the Big 12 is home to West Virginia, the school that helped pioneer the push to allow alcohol sales at football games in college football. To date, Baylor is the only Big 12 school with no alcoholic sales on campus. every other big 12 school offers alcohol in some capacity, with a majority of those offering only to suite and premium seating areas for now.
The college football bowl schedule may see some new bowl games beginning with the 2020 season, but Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more bowl games on the schedule. In a podcast interview with the Associated Press, Bowlsby noted the bowl structure is being worked on in order to raise the standards for a bowl game to exist and reflected on how recent changes to the bowl system could impact the current or future bowl line-up.
“We want ti to be an open marketplace. We want the market to dictate how many bowl games there are,” Bowlsby said to AP college football writer and AP Top 25 College Football Podcast host Ralph Russo. “We think it will arrive at a place of equilibrium. I think it a local organizing committee of a bowl would be very poorly advised to go into a season with one side of their game or both sides of their game open, but there are some circumstances under which that could exist.
It was recently reported three new bowl games could be added to the 2020 bowl calendar, including potential bowl games in Chicago and Myrtle Beach. As Bowlsby explains, just because a bowl game or two (or three) could be added, that won’t necessarily mean the number of bowl games will increase. Some bowl games currently in existence could cease to operate in the future due to the NCAA’s modified bowl certification process.
Bowlsby stressed the changes being made to ensure a bowl game is able to operate without digging any holes for the bowl committee and local community. Bowlsby also emphasized the recent limits on how many bowl tie-ins a conference can lock down and how that may impact how a bowl game manages itself.
The ACC and SEC are limited to 10 bowl tie-ins, the Big Ten limited to eight, and Pac-12 gets seven and the Big 12 is restricted to six bowl tie-ins. Limits for the non-power conferences have also been established. On top of that, the Pac-12 recently made a conference rule that will prohibit 5-7 teams from participating in a postseason bowl game even if a school would be invited due to APR scores to fill any vacancies.
“We think we are going to be less likely to go into the 5-7 pool than we’ve been in the past.”
Basically, if you see a bowl game struggling to draw ratings and sell tickets, it could be in some danger.
You can listen to the full interview to hear Bowlsby discuss the bowl future as well as the new transfer rule HERE.
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.