Bob Bowlsby

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Lincoln Riley says Big 12 teams at disadvantage compared to other P5s in wake of coronavirus


Spring football was put on the shelf as conferences responded to the COVID-19 pandemic stretching throughout the country. While the NCAA did its part to shut down all spring competition and tournaments, as well as college football recruiting, it has been pretty much up to each individual conference to allow what is and is not allowed when it comes to spring football practices and how programs can be run within their conferences. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has expressed his concerns about how the Big 12 has handled things so far, suggesting it puts the Sooners and every other Big 12 team at a disadvantage.

“Our conference has been more stringent on it,” Riley said in a radio interview with KREF on Thursday (according to a Norman Transcript report. “So that hasn’t been a positive in that it hasn’t really been an equal playing field.”

Riley made note that coaches in the ACC, for example, have been able to stay in somewhat direct communication with their players through the use of video conferencing technology. The ACC has also allowed for players to receive gear for training through the mail, while the Big 12 has not yet made that option available. Coaches in the Big Ten have also been able to hold conference video calls with players during this abrupt stoppage in spring.

If Riley is hoping the playing field can be evened out soon as the pandemic continues to shut everything down, he may not have to wait too much longer.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby suggested some changes could be made in the coming week after leaders from around the conference have a chance to hold a meeting. Bowlsby stressed the importance of making sure players are able to get the proper nutrition and any medical needs from their schools that are a part of the football program. But, logistically, so much is still up in the air without much certainty on the horizon.

“How long does it all go? When do we get a look in? How do we go about revisiting things?” Bowlsby asked, again according to the Norman Transcript report. “The things we have already agreed upon is that we need to make sure sports medicine, physical therapy and rehabilitation are taken care of. We need to make sure we keep up with academic support. And we need to give support to kids in mental health and wellness ways.”

Bowlsby may have some allies in the push to clarify just what exactly players should be able to receive. The SEC is reportedly set to offer football instruction via remote technology, according to 247 Sports. In addition, the University of Florida is looking to endorse regulation of what a program is allowed to provide players with respect to nutrition.

“Nutritionally, right now the biggest thing we have in place is the education,” Florida strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage told 247 Sports. “Our job is to coach them, teach them, show them, educate them, all those things. Now behind the scenes we’re working on a few things that we’re trying to get accomplished, but obviously we’re waiting to hear back if it’s all approved and things like that.”

The longer this pandemic continues, the more important it will be for the NCAA to set the standard and for the conferences to find any sort of uniformity on certain issues important to the student-athletes.

Big 12 is first conference to have official hard seltzer

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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.

Bowlsby suggests we may not actually be getting “more” bowls in 2020

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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.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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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.

Florida politician stumps for UCF and USF to the Big 12

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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.

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