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Big 12 Conference

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A year later, Bowlsby proven prophetic about Big 12


Bob Bowlsby was only a few weeks into his new job as Big 12 commissioner when at the league’s football media days last July he kept repeating the same thing to all who would listen.

“Our message was, ‘We’re stable, we’re strong, and we’re successful,’” Bowlsby recalled a year later. “Those were the three watch-words. ... I uttered them a whole bunch of times.”

Bowlsby won’t have to work too hard to convince people of that when he takes the podium Monday at a downtown Dallas hotel to kick off this year’s football media days.

The league’s 10 schools shared a record $198 million in revenue for the 2012-13 school year, a total that could easily double because of a new TV deal and a Sugar Bowl partnership with the powerhouse SEC. Nine of 10 teams went to bowl games, making the Big 12 the first league ever to send 90 percent of its teams to the postseason in the same season.

“This year, I think people know that we are those three things, and I think the message is we’re looking forward” Bowlsby said in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’re excited about the future, we’re all about winning national championships, and we’re going to do what we need to try and make all the boats rise.”

No longer is the Big 12 just trying to survive, like it was during the seismic shifts of conference affiliation in previous summers when the league lost four schools and added two others to settle into its 10-team configuration.

Bowlsby, the former Stanford and Iowa athletic director, acknowledged that much of what has been accomplished in his first year leading the Big 12 was the result of things that were already in motion when he got there. That included the framework of the $2.6 billion TV deal with ESPN and Fox Sports that goes through 2024-25 with each school granting its TV rights to the league.

“We got done the things that needed to be done in the first year, most of them were previously started,” Bowlsby said. “This year may be a little more ground-level logistics and tactical things, as opposed to some of the high-level things we had to deal with.”

This time, it’s putting the finishing details on items such as potential scheduling alliances with other leagues that would include neutral-site games, the Sugar Bowl setup that begins with the 2014 season and their bowl lineup in the post-BCS era.

The Big 12 is also hosting college basketball’s biggest event, with the NCAA Final Four at Cowboys Stadium next April.

Among items on Bowlsby’s agenda is a branding initiative to build a national identity for the 10-team league known as the Big 12.

“One of the reasons we’ve decided to go forward with it is because we wanted to put a stake in the ground. We’re here for the long haul ... we have members in perpetuity,” Bowlsby said. “There isn’t any belief that there are decision-times coming up where you have to decide to be in the league or not be in the league.”

That wasn’t necessarily the case when the Big 12 was planning a similar branding campaign a couple years ago before Bowlsby arrived. Then came talk about Texas A&M’s possible departure from the league, and the Aggies then moving to the SEC with Missouri.

While Bowlsby expects the Big 12 to get stronger, that doesn’t mean getting bigger.

Without being prompted, Bowlsby said he believes that the current conference members consider 10 schools “as the right number for us.” That comes at a time when all the other power conferences have 12-14 teams.

“There hasn’t been anything that has been empirically able to demonstrate that larger is better,” he said. “Our distributable revenue per institution is right there at the top of the country. I think time will tell whether our size is the optimal size or whether something bigger is optimal. But we like our dog in the fight.”

The eight continuing members of the Big 12 — Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech — each got about $22 million from revenue. While newcomers TCU and West Virginia got half-shares of about $11 million for their first year in the Big 12, that was more than either got in their old leagues.

With $289 million in revenue for 2012-13, the SEC distributed just less than $21 million per team to its 14 schools. That league has won the last seven national championships in football.


jgkojak 9 months ago

I always thought we should have had BYU - they bring in more TV viewers than WVU, are about even in athletics, and better in academics. It would also have taken us completely out of the ACC/B10/SEC shuffle and would have made the 10 teams sustainable -

I always thought we brought in WVU to pre-emptively expand east (i.e. FSU, Clemson, Ga Tech, Lousiville). If we weren't gonna do that it makes no sense to have WVU, which is worthless from a market and academic partner, over BYU or Louisville.


Jeff Kilgore 9 months ago

It may be that the new Big12 TV contracts satisfy UT and OU, but if these two are offered, I wouldn't be surprised if they bolted. My memory is longer than that and the Pac12 is a very attractive conference. The SEC would love to add UT or OU.

Does KU have a contingency plan in place if it happens? This is what I would be concerned about if I owned a business downtown.


Kyle Rohde 9 months ago

The stability and the $ are indeed fantastic. However, not adding Louisville when they were begging to join was a huge mistake. They're a better athletic program than maybe anybody in the conference over the past year, were a great geographic fit and would have put at least someone a little closer to Morgantown. Who would be #12 is still up in the air, but not taking Louisville was idiotic.


hotrodm 9 months ago

The Big 12 should have grabbed Louisville instead of either TCU, or WVU.


Jim Erickson 9 months ago

I still hate WVU being in the Big 12. I'd love to send an ACC/Big East area team packing in favor of a more local team. I get that options are limited, but something just feels wrong about the geographic distribution of the conferences.


Bryce Landon 9 months ago

The Big 12 is stable because all the jealous crybabies are gone. Simple as that.


Jeff Kilgore 9 months ago

Uh, one year has passed. One year. Stable? Is stability the sign of the two biggest schools in the conference trying to broker a deal with the Pac12? No, the Big12 may appear stable, but it's not. Money talks and will not be ignored. I'd say we're in the middle of the final movement, and it will be huge.

If the Big12 remains as it is now through the decade, I'd be surprised, and in the next 10-15 years, WV will tire of the travel and jump ship. My hope is that we land in the B!G 10.


Randy Bombardier 9 months ago

Strikes me that the whole mega conference thing was a bad idea that was media driven with no thought to geography, old rivalries or anything other than tv sets. I think 10 does work. It would have worked better with Nebraska and Colorado, but TCU is a good add. WVU? A member closer in geography would have been better. Otherwise, we become the only major conference whose members play every other member every year. That makes the other conference champs just a little suspect. Didn't we hear that in 07 even though we werent the champ, it made us suspect for a BCS bowl.


BPSkelly 9 months ago

I think 10 is good. Not because more is better or isnt. But let's be honest about all this. Nebraska and A&M leaving wasn't good in anyway shape or form. There's no way to spin that as a plus. Mizzou and Colorado leaving wasnt good either, but because of their places in total revenues for the Athletic Departments -- and support thereof -- in my opinion its more of a wash with the additions of TCU and WVU.

If all of this "Conference Shuffle" is seen through the prism of number of TV sets to charge for their own conference network -- then the Big 12 is without question the biggest loser of the big 5. Again, no grey area here. If im correct like 80% of the population base is in one state -- granted its the one with the most schools as well -- it's hard to see how we end up on top. If SEC schools start getting 50 million per year to our 35 mil lets not pretend all is well. So lets not pretend the whole "were happy at 10" talk isnt just that at all times.

Im also done worry/debating/thinking/kaputzing about why it all happened. We're well past that point now. We're here. The round robin format is huge. Sorry, it just is. I think the other Big 5 conferences are going to head to 9 games in conference as well, but still wont see certain teams at certain points sometimes for years. I'd think if you were a bottom feeder for one of those conferences, that wouldnt be a plus.

With all the Tier 3 stuff essentially paired up in some way, shape or form with ESPN and Fox along with them being primary T1/T2 carriers, it's hard to envision a point where most conference football games, and many (if not most) men's hoops games will end up on national tv over the length of this contract. If ESPN is going to push SEC and ACC games to the sidelines over to conference networks (which may increase $$$ but likely lessen exposure nationwide) it seems by sheer numbers (hours of content) it improves the odds of this greatly. Remember, it'll only take 5 'game time slots' between FS1, ESPN, ESPN2,ESPNU, ABC, Fox, and Fox's regional sports networks. If more content from the Big 10, SEC, ACC are on their conference networks it seems impossible that this wont mean more time for the Big 12 on national tv. Having 6,7,8 time slots for those games makes that harder to do.

At this point worrying about what should have been strikes me as foolish. KU (and the rest of the Big 12) will have more national exposure in the next 13-15 years than any of the schools involved have ever had previously. Being a chicken little about it it strikes me as disingenuous.


Rock_Chalk_NYC 9 months ago

It is an AP article. Read it on ESPN yesterday. Clearly states that at the outset of the article.

That said, Bowlsby isn't impressive at all. He's actually done nothing other than let 2-4 schools go that could have made the Little 12 a truly powerful conference. He is another Texas puppet. If anyone doesn't realize that, let me sell you my Obamacare Health Plan... Don't worry, you'll keep your doctor.

Just hope in 2-5 years when the Big 10 makes a move, we end up there.


kuilander 9 months, 1 week ago

I only visit this site on my iPad now .. Which means I view about a third of the time i used to ...


Janet Scott 9 months, 1 week ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


actorman 9 months, 1 week ago

Shh. Don't tell Misuse. They might realize they'd made a mistake and try to come back.


ahpersecoachingexperience 9 months, 1 week ago

So reading through the bs...once TCU and WVU get their full shares and the SEC gets their new TV deal and network with the payouts be similar?!?


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