Dan Beebe

Illinois calls on good old Dan Beebe for crisis management help

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This should end well.

With Illinois head coach Tim Beckman and members of the football and women’s basketball staff coming under fire for the way student-athletes have been treated, the University of Illinois called on an old friend for more help; good old Dan Beebe.

The former commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and his firm, the Dan Beebe Group, is being paid $50,000 by the University of Illinois for risk management services, according to a report from The News-Gazette. The firm is contracted to 11 months of work, during which time Beebe’s group will be tasked with guiding the university through the aftermath of three separate investigations commissioned in response to allegations of mistreatment of players within the football and women’s basketball programs, including Beckman.

It has been a rough offseason for Beckman in particular after former Illini player Simon Cvijanović dropped a haymaker on Beckman, suggesting Beckman abused his power as head coach and attacking players either physically or emotionally. Another former player of Beckman’s called him the worst coach he ever met. The stories did not end there, causing Illinois to find ways of standing by their football coach during a somewhat tumultuous time.

Whether Beckman was wrong or not in any of his actions, the costs are starting to add up for Illinois one way or the other. In addition to the $50,000 owed to Beebe’s firm, Illinois is on the hook for roughly $20,000 in public relations consultation and more for various hourly internal investigation charges. Beckman somehow managed to hold onto his job after last season because the Illini wiggled into the postseason. Despite some signs of small steps forward on the football field, the margin for error for Beckman may be getting narrower and narrower.

Five years ago today, Nebraska kicked off realignmageddon

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It may be hard to believe, but it was five years ago today Nebraska made the decision to leave the comfortable surroundings of the Big 12 for the Big Ten. A lot has happened in the years since.

Looking back on everything that happened during the realignmageddon (I made that word up, and it fits well in this discussion) phase of college football, it is still crazy to think about how much changed. Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten was just one domino in the process that eventually led to expansion in every conference, the destruction of one in football and the near dismantling of another. It was a crazy time we all lived in, yet here we are to tell the stories of how it all went down.

The Big Ten became a conference with 12 14 members while the Big 12 managed to play with 10. Maryland and Rutgers are now Big Ten members alongside Nebraska.

The Pac-10 was on the verge of becoming the Pac-16, depending on how much you trust some of the reports at the time. But just days after Nebraska joined the Big Ten, Colorado was added to the Pac-10 as the 11th member.

The Big East was a temporary home to three members that never played a single game in the conference; Boise State, San Diego State and TCU. Meanwhile, the conference underwent a complete makeover by becoming the American Athletic Conference after the core of its basketball membership left and took the Big East banner with them.

Texas A&M and Missouri were expected to be nothing in the almighty SEC, but A&M benefitted as Johnny Manziel became a household name and the Tigers reached two straight SEC championship games in short time. It’s even more ironic because Missouri once attempted to take the lead in keeping the Big 12 together and rejected multiple SEC rumors before giving in and accepting their fate.

Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12 never panned out, nor West Virginia to the ACC or SEC. But the Mountaineers did claw their way out of the Big East and to the Big 12. UConn meanwhile, well, at least they have their new rivalry with UCF to look forward to.

We were talking about Congress getting involved with saving the Big 12. Some lawmakers did get involved elsewhere.

The WAC, at least in football, was given an obituary courtesy of their regional neighbors from the Mountain West Conference, which managed to add and hold on to two BCS busters (Boise State and Hawaii — you forgot Hawaii played in a Sugar Bowl, didn’t you?) while losing two others (Utah and TCU). BYU also decided to celebrate its independence as a program as well after being left out of the power conference expansion phases in the west and southwest.

Dan Beebe.

It was a crazy time for college football fans. The realignment era shook the traditional conference molds just about everywhere, tossing geographical ties by the wayside with traditional rivalries in pursuit of increasing television revenue. Many of these moves, quite literally, have paid off as new media deals continue to skyrocket and conference revenue shares continue to increase. Oh, and we got a College Football Playoff out of the whole thing too.

From time to time I will be asked when the next shift in realignment will happen. We may see some subtle changes at times, but the power conferences look to be settled and there is no need for any to expand. That includes the Big 12. But expansion should never be out of the question, and if realignment taught us anything it is simply that anything can happen.

There is always a domino to fall waiting to be lined up.