Realignment Today: 10:08 p.m. - The Big 12 lives; Zenger, Gray-Little release statement; Beebe's out; and Mizzou luke warm in commitment
10:08 p.m. Update:
Still some confusion regarding the Big 12's long-term future and Missouri's role in it, but it seems like it's just a matter of time before that gets cleared up. May take some work and may remain precarious for a while, but the work will be done. More on that tomorrow.
With that said, here's a statement from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger and chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, released a little before 10 p.m. It confirms that all nine remaining members of the conference committed to the league.
“Tonight, nine members of the Big 12 Conference affirmed their solidarity and agreed to measures that will ensure the stability of the conference moving forward.
“The preservation of the Big 12 has been our primary objective as we worked to uphold the interests of KU, our student-athletes and fans. Tonight’s agreement will enable us to again look at expansion as a way to solidify the conference’s national standing. We look forward to working with interim commissioner Chuck Neinas in that effort.
“We want to thank Jayhawks for their patience as we have worked aggressively toward this outcome. We would have liked to have shared details of the various discussions with you, but it better served our common objective to proceed with the utmost discretion.
“While details remain to be worked out, this agreement points to a bright future for the Big 12 and allows us all to begin to turn our attention back to the accomplishments of our student-athletes in the classroom and on the field of competition.”
8:18 p.m. Update:
Just when you thought everything was peachy, Missouri's news conference dragged on and people are up in arms about the Tigers' long-term commitment to the Big 12.
Can't blame 'em.
MU chancellor Brady Deaton and AD Mike Alden had every chance to say they were proud members of the league — which Deaton spent the last two weeks fighting for — yet they did not say that and did not pledge long-term commitment.
It's things like these that have made this conference a laughing stock around the country and until it stops the Big 12 will continue to be synonymous with bad jokes.
The bottom line is this: Missouri said they're in TODAY and the Big 12 will live on. There's a chance that the Tigers are still talking to the SEC and/or still have their eyes on making a move at some point in the future.
While that may be true — and may someday happen — the league most definitely can handle the loss of Missouri. The sooner the Tigers realize that and act like it, the sooner this league can move on together and focus on becoming the great league it should be.
For now, though, the key players, Oklahoma and Texas, appear to be 100 percent committed and the focus shifts to putting the pieces back together and moving on.
6:53 p.m. Update:
It's a little tough to track down right now but here's the gist of what we've learned from the OU and MU news conferences.
All nine schools have committed to staying in the Big 12 and they're kicking around a new 6-year grant of television rights tied to the agreement. All nine presidents signed off on the deal and the respective boards must now approve it. That'll come in time.
If approved, the deal would mean the Big 12 will go a year beyond their media rights. Boren: "That really has teeth in it."
A couple of notes:
• Expansion committee has been put in place...
• Texas A&M free to go...
• OU president David Boren: "It shows that we fully intend to stay together. It shows we're going to be stable and not have year to year dramas like we've had."
• Chuck Neinas will be the league's interim commissioner. He will begin immediately and will start visiting the nine Big 12 schools in the very near future.
I'll try to post some links later.
6:40 p.m. Update:
Watch the Missouri news conference live here: http://www.kmbc.com/video/26120659/detail.html
6:16 p.m. Update:
Here's an official report of Dan Beebe's last days.
Just waiting on the Oklahoma (6:30) and Missouri (6:45) press conferences to get started right now.
Evidently, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been on Seattle radio for the last several minutes sharing more about Oklahoma's near move to the Pac-12.
I'd bet OU's press conference is all about them saving face tonight. Of course, with the Sooners jumping in front of Mizzou by 15 minutes, it's also possible that they will use this as an opportunity to steal the league's thunder by announcing the reform that MU chancellor Brady Deaton is expected to announce later.
Here's a link to the podcast of that interview, in which Scott said OU wanted in but without Texas.
Go figure. Seems like a fitting end to all this, doesn't it? Sure sounds like the perfect launching point for OU and UT to move forward together as brothers. Good grief.
5:18 p.m. Update:
Sources have told the Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has tendered his resignation.
An official announcement could come tonight, when Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, the chair of the Big 12's board of directors, addresses the media at 6:45 p.m.
Earlier this afternoon, speculation and fears about what Deaton might say or do tonight ran wild. But sources have indicated to me as well as several others who cover the conference that tonight's news conference is most likely going to be a forum for Deaton to announce some major changes for the Big 12.
Included among them are a change in leadership, with Beebe stepping down; a change in the way revenue-sharing is handled by the league; and talk of what direction the Big 12 will lean in expansion, should they explore moving back to 10 or even 12 teams.
Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, Tweeted just moments ago that Texas appears to be softening on its stance of not wanting TCU in the league and the Horned Frogs now may be the Big 12's top target for expansion.
TCU, of course, would not come without baggage. Currently in the Mountain West but scheduled to join the Big East in 2012, Big East officials have said that they would hold TCU to the same standard they're planning to hold Syracuse and Pitt to, who are leaving for the ACC. That standard? A 27-month wait before leaving the conference.
BYU also remains in the running for Big 12 expansion, as do a handful of other Big East schools such as Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virigina.
3:08 p.m. Update:
Quick thought re: Mizzou, as there's starting to be some chatter out there that Brady Deaton could be resigning at tonight's press conference. We'll see.
As for those fearing that they'll announce a move to the SEC, think about the lengths the SEC went to to avoid lawsuits when they were courting Texas A&M. Extensive, right? The SEC wanted this to be about A&M wanting to leave and basically wouldn't even touch them until they had "broken up" with the Big 12.
With that in mind, do you think the SEC's going to throw all that out the window and charge hard after Missouri? No way. They won't be willing to deal with lawsuits — which would come — to grab Mizzou if they weren't willing to do it to get A&M. Just doesn't make sense.
Rest easy. And stay tuned...
2:49 p.m. Update:
Some folks are getting a little nervous about an afternoon meeting of Missouri's curators and a little bit of silence that's come from Columbia today.
I'm working on finding out exactly what's going on over there but here's what I've determined so far.
• One, sources continue to say that the Tigers are all-in for the Big 12.
• Two, the no comment stance from a lot of these guys means nothing more than that. They've learned not to open their mouths for fear of their words getting twisted in a thousand different ways. No comment, in this case, is just precautionary.
• Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, also has sources that have indicated to him that all signs point to Missouri being sold on the Big 12.
• Vahe Gregorian, of the St. Louis Post Dispatch just Tweeted that there will be a 6:45 p.m. press conference in which MU chancellor Brady Deaton will address MU and the Big 12.
Here are some things Deaton may say: Remember, Deaton is the chair of the Big 12 board of directors so his role here is about much more than MU.
• We're all in and we look forward to building a strong Big 12 Conference in the future.
• He may announce that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has stepped down, something that most are expecting to happen any day, perhaps any hour.
• He may address the rumors regarding MU's "deal" with the SEC in a couple of different ways. He may flat-out deny them. He may clear the air. Or he may dance on the fence.
Either way, it seems as if there's not much to be worried about. Think about it this way, even if Missouri were to surprise everyone and leave now, the Big 12 likely would survive their departure. Texas and OU are in and committed. Now it's about putting things back together.
Speaking of..... this report has now surface with an Oklahoma source saying going to the Pac-12 was OU's plan all along. Refutes what a different source said this morning, but, hey, this was bound to come out. Now the only question is if anyone cares.
1:53 p.m. Update:
In digging around for more on the ongoing Dan Beebe/Chuck Neinas saga, this story was brought to my attention.
It's from 2003, when KU hired former athletic director Lew Perkins. The man who helped find Perkins? You guessed it... Neinas.
It's an interesting read and includes some direct quotes from Neinas about the search.
Take a look: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2003/jun...
Elsewhere, no official word yet about Beebe's resignation, but multiple reports, including this one from the Fort Worth Star Telegram indicate that momentum continues to build for Beebe's departure.
Still tracking down my own sources about the Beebe story. Stay tuned...
Oh, one other note while I've got your attention. We'll keep the blog going as much as warranted in the next several days, but it will, no doubt, slow down considerably. At the same time, KU football heats back up after the bye week.
I'll stay on top of the conference stuff and will blog when there's big news but a good chunk of my updates may come via Twitter. If you're not following me now and you'd like to, here's the link: https://twitter.com/#!/mctait
Thanks to all of you for your incredible participation in this blog during the past few weeks. I'm glad you found it to be a useful source and I'm also proud to say we had some of the best discussions out there on conference realignment. All class all the time. Well done!
11:36 a.m. Update:
Yard's mowed, fertilizer's down, lunch is made... Things are starting to get back to normal a little bit.
Anyway, while I was otherwise occupied, a few of you asked for more information about Chuck Neinas. Here's a link that I posted in yesterday's blog that gives you all the info you could want about the man who may be the Big 12's commissioner for the next six months or so. Check it out.
Here are the highlights of Neinas' qualifications, beyond him serving as commissioner of the Big Eight from 1971-80...
• Negotiated television contracts and administered a television plan on behalf of the CFA members from 1984 through 1995 that included ABC, CBS, NBC and ESPN.
• Assumed responsibility for promoting CFA sponsored NCAA legislation that included the improvement of academic standards, the development of the continuing eligibility rule requiring progress toward a degree, establishment of more reasonable and enforceable NCAA rules including the recruiting calendar and elimination of the alumni and boosters from the recruiting process.
• As assistant executive director of the NCAA from 1961 to 1971, Neinas served as secretary to the NCAA Council (the policy making board of the organization) and Executive Committee (responsible for financial and business affairs). He was supervisor of NCAA Championships including direct responsibility for the National Collegiate Basketball Championship and College World Series, and served as NCAA Congressional liaison.
• Also has experience with the U.S. Olympic Committee as well as experience working with the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
For a full look at his bio, along with a link to his actual resume. They'll search this out but Neinas sounds as good as anybody.
For those who already saw that or have had enough of Chuck Norris, I mean, Neinas, here's a great read from the LA Times that says there are no heroes in conference realignment.
Another good recap that popped up is this one from Yahoo sports entitled, "Stop Superconferences, Start a Playoff."
More to come, I'm sure. And I'm still working the phones to find out what's now and next for the Big 12.
9:49 a.m. Update:
Chuck Neinas formally has applied for the job of interim commissioner of the Big 12 in the event of Dan Beebe's departure.
Here's the link from CBS Sports: http://dennis-dodd.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/6270202/32175771
Story says Neinas expects the job would last 6 months to a year, which should give him plenty of time to help get things reworked and also give the league plenty of time to seek out a suitable permanent replacement.
This is a great step for the Big 12 toward fixing the league's problems and moving forward to bigger and better days.
9:06 a.m. Update:
Reports began to surface late Wednesday night about Big 12 commissioner in exile Dan Beebe possibly working on his exit from the league.
The actual movement on this, however, began days ago.
When Oklahoma went public with its demands that it would return to the Big 12 if Beebe were to be replaced, Beebe's goose was cooked. Here's why. Oklahoma was never going anywhere.
At least that's what sources close to Oklahoma are telling Berry Tramel of The Daily Oklahoman. In Tramel's latest story on conference realignment, a well-placed OU source tells him:
“Frankly, we wanted the impression out there that we might go to the Pac-12 because that gave us some leverage. We were using that as leverage to say, ‘Hey, you want us to stay? Let's have some of these reforms.'”
Here's the rest of the story, which includes a quote about the Sooners being a little disappointed that things ended so quickly. See, they actually enjoyed their position of leverage and were hoping it could drag out a couple more days to further enhance the leverage that they had. It didn't, as Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott put an end to the madness by announcing that his league would not expand. But not before OU was able to create a major shake-up in its conference.
So now we move on. In most instances, someone acting in the way that OU did here would likely be ostracized by its conference mates for being dishonest and creating one heck of a mess that forced everyone to the brink of insanity. Not the Big 12. There will be some talks with OU about what all went down, but, for the most part, they'll be appreciated when all the dust settles.
As one Big 12 source told me: “Some of the demands could strengthen the league. I’m never gonna say this was all worth it. We’re never gonna get back the last three, four weeks of our lives. Two years from now, though, we might say it was worth it.”
Two weeks from now, they might say it was worth it. Until then, talk will continue to fly, rumors will pop up and healing will happen.
Here's what I believe based on what I know:
• Missouri is in. 100 percent.
• Beebe is out. And he should be. Chuck Neinas could be announced as interim commish as soon as today.
• The Big 12 is not yet talking expansion in any official capacity, though that may come to the forefront quickly.
• The rest of the country is moving on, too. Finally.
Here's a great story from the New York Times' Pete Thamel, that outlines exactly what's happening around the rest of the country. Thamel says he does not expect the SEC or ACC to expand again any time soon and also talks about what the Big East will do now.
There is plenty of concern regarding what the Big 12 will do in terms of expansion and it looks like adding one team is likely to happen. But no timetable has been set for such a move and there's also the possibility that the league could look to add three and get back to 12.
There's time for all that, though. For now, it's about putting the pieces back together and taking a long, hard look at some of that reform that OU brought to the table.
Texas will have to make some concessions. And many I've talked to believe they will. OU will have to make some concessions, too. And the rest of the league — dubbed by some as the Forgotten Five and the Two Followers — will have to stand up for itself and for the league. I think they will. The thing about coming out of this on the other side with all limbs in tact is that those schools with less power here now believe they have a say. Thanks to Baylor's bold move with regard to A&M heading to the SEC and the strong plays shown by Missouri and chancellor Brady Deaton, who also chairs the Big 12's board of directors, the other seven schools in this league now feel they have a place.
Don't think for a second that Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and the like didn't have their role in all this. Their parts may not have reached the light of day, but league sources told me that officials at every school in the conference played a key role in saving the Big 12.
I'm going partly off of gut feel here and partly off of what I've been told. But, this time, I think the league may be saved for good.
I'll be tracking the latest developments throughout the day so be sure to check back often. There are a lot of aftermath pieces being written and some newsy stuff, too, such as Neinas' interest in taking the interim commissioner job in the very near future and more.