The guys and gals at Fox Sports Southwest conducted an anonymous player poll of all Big 12 football players in attendance at Big 12 media days earlier this week in Dallas.
The results, which they published Tuesday, had a little more KU football flavor than I expected.
Here's a quick look at the questions and the noteworthy KU answers. Check out the link for the rest of the answers.
1. Who is the Big 12's best team?
Not surprisingly, KU received no votes.
2. Who is the Big 12's most overrated team entering 2014?
Somewhat surprisingly, KU received 3 percent of the votes here, which means exactly one of the 39 players polled mentioned KU. If there's one thing I would think Kansas would avoid being called it's overrated. But, hey, to each his own. No explanation was given.
3. Which Big 12 coach would you most like to play for?
Players were not allowed to say their own coach here and KU coach Charlie Weis received 3 percent of the votes, with one player saying: "The first game we played KU, he was the first coach who ever found his way through the crowd and found me. He shook my hand and told me I did a good job and it was just shocking."
4. Which coach would you least like to play for?
Weis tied with TCU coach Gary Patterson for the top honor here, with each receiving 18 percent of the votes, or the nod from seven different players. The lone explanation here was brief: "He just hasn't been that successful."
5. Which Big 12 school has the best fans?
As you might have guessed, KU received no votes.
6. Which Big 12 school has the worst fans?
This one might sting a little for some of you, as 40 percent (16 players) voted Kansas in a runaway. It doesn't sound like KU's reputation for having the Big 12's worst football fans came from their vulgar behavior or nasty ways. Quite the opposite, in fact. Said one player: "Their fans don't show up. They're a basketball school." ... "They're too into basketball." ... "The stands were like half full."
Check out the full results for more on which programs the players themselves think have the best, and worst, players, coaches and fans in the Big 12.
During the past couple of weeks, I've been asked a few times when I was going to do another conference realignment update in the wake of the ACC announcing its granting of rights agreement that will run through 2026-27.
I certainly understand the interest, and, yes, the ACC news was huge for the realignment landscape. But by huge we're talking huge in the sense that it may have put an end to the movement for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the wild and crazy past three years of realignment, we've talked a lot about how this move or that response might be the key to realignment and full-on pandemonium. But it seems clear to me that the ACC locking up its members for such a long period of time makes things as stable as they have been in years, at least throughout college athletics' major conferences.
Could something still happen? Sure. Anything's possible. We've seen and experienced that too many times throughout the past few summers to sit here and say that this means, with 100 percent certainty, that things are done. But while it might not be 100 percent certain, it seems as if it's as close as it can get – maybe 99.9 percent.
There are those out there who believe that the granting of rights agreements don't mean jack. I've heard from them countless times throughout my coverage of conference realignment and, while I understand where they're coming from, I'm much more inclined to believe the college administrators in multiple conferences who have told me that such agreements are worth their weight in gold.
With that thought in mind, it makes sense to deduce that things will be quiet for a while now that the ACC is solid again. And I gotta admit, my hat's off to that conference for getting it done. I really believed the ACC was flirting with disaster.
After all, for the past year or so the ACC's vulnerability has been seen as the one domino that could send the whole thing tumbling once again. If this ACC school or that one left for this conference or that one, then others would be forced to react, both those schools left in the ACC and the other conferences trying to keep up.
Finally, it looks as if the Big 12 can tell people it's happy at 10 teams and the rest of the world can actually believe them.
So what does that mean for the future? Well, from what I can gather it means this: Proceed with caution.
I've had enough talks with enough people throughout the Big 12 to understand that the league will never again be caught off guard. Every time the conference's athletic directors get together or every time its governing body meets, the topic of realignment and/or expansion comes up. Sometimes it's just for 2 minutes to make sure things are still on track and other times it's for a little longer, with conference officials bringing key questions or concerns to the table for discussion. Consider it Big 12 officials staying on top of things rather than waiting for things to play out before rolling up their sleeves.
And consider that yet another legit sign of the strength and vitality of the Big 12.
A recent article from CBS Sports indicates that the Big Ten and commissioner Jim Delany had talked to as many as six schools during recent months about the idea of expansion. The article claims that the talks were of a serious nature and that things may have heated up considerably had the ACC not locked up its members with the GOR.
Who knows? It's very possible that there's some truth to that and also possible that the whole thing is just more posturing by the man who many believe started the realignment madness in the first place.
Either way, thanks to the ACC, we don't have to find out.
Delany did not disclose the names of the schools he talked to and I can't imagine that he ever will. Was KU one of them? I suppose it's possible, perhaps even likely, but from everything I've been told, it sure doesn't sound like KU had any kind of contact with the Big Ten about realignment.
Now, it's important to remember that contact can be made in both official and unofficial manners. Maybe KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger never talked to Delany about realignment, but maybe a friend of a friend of a friend at KU did.
Again, we'll probably never know and we'll probably never need to.
From where I sit, that's the best news to come from realignment in years.
I didn't write this to proclaim that realignment is over once and for all. None of us are naïve enough — any more — to actually think we're done with this demon for good. It'll come up again, most likely whenever someone gets upset with the way things are run in their conference and certainly whenever these various granting of rights agreements close in on expiration. But for now, it seems as if we can safely get back to mowing the lawn, enjoying cook outs and diving into other elements of sports coverage in the summer instead of tracking the madness of conference realignment.
Time will tell. And you know we'll stay on top of it.
Now, get out there and enjoy this weather.... Oh, wait.
During the past couple of weeks, I've been approached by dozens of people who have asked me why I haven't written much lately about conference realignment, or at least what's left of this latest round.
The reason is simple: Nothing's happening.
Now when I say nothing, I mean nothing of any substance. Sure Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 officials are constantly keeping one eye glued to the realignment landscape and, as any wise person knows, all of these groups (and more) are developing ever-evolving contingency plans, you know, just in case.
The Big 12 Conference is no different, which makes perfect sense considering the conference's stance is no different today than it was two weeks ago or two weeks before that or two months before that.
The league is happy with 10. It likes the round-robin scheduling set-up and enjoys watching the cash register ring and ding a little longer and louder when it's time to dish out money to its members.
Could this change? You bet. Could it change sometime soon? Sure. Has it changed at any level or in any way yet? Nope.
As anyone reading this update probably already knows, the one thing standing in the way of national conference stability and another mudslide is the Big Ten and it's intentions regarding the ACC. If the Big Ten moves to poach a couple more teams from the ACC — say, in this case, North Carolina and Georgia Tech — that almost certainly will trigger a response from the SEC and the Big 12. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know there, but it is worth noting because I feel strongly that it's the only way (at least right now) that more movement occurs.
Remember, at one point, when the Big 12 looked vulnerable and appeared to be falling apart, even those teams in the league that were on the outside looking in were working their butts off to line up a soft landing. I've been told that if the ball starts rolling, several ACC schools in that same position would do the same thing, perhaps even more aggressively. If that were to become the case and movement did happen, you could probably kiss the ACC goodbye. No hail mary. No last-minute save by league commissioner John Swofford. Just a bunch of new divisions and new rivalries and odd travel.
So if we all know that already, what's the point of this specific post? I guess it's to remind you — or perhaps caution you — that just because someone (even a very powerful someone) comes out and says something regarding realignment that does not mean anything's actually new.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's statements last week in Dallas about the league were interesting and certainly served as good conversation starters, but they weren't really anything new.
Here’s the complete recap from CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd, who does a good job of looking at this thing from all sides. But for those of you not interested in sifting through the whole story, here's a quick look at the key quotes.
1.“We could be proactive, I think,” Bowlsby said.
2.“We continue to watch the landscape,” Bowlsby said. “Until we're persuaded that larger is better we feel pretty good about right where we are.”
3.“That's exactly one of the questions we'll be asking ourselves,” Bowlsby said.
What do all of those quotes have in common? Easy. They all continue to speak of a conference that's happy with its current set-up but wise enough (this time around) to not get caught off guard if something were to happen.
In the past few weeks, rumors have run wild about the Big 12 being in line to add four ACC schools and it just being a matter of which ones the league wants. There also has been more talk about KU and the Big Ten — I can tell you that no conversations have taken place on that front — and, of course, there continues to be discussion about the Big 12 being vulnerable and the Grant of Rights agreement not being as strong as many conference officials suggest.
The rumors will always be there. And a few of them will even be fun to read. Who doesn't like the idea of traveling to Miami or Tallahassee, Fl., in the middle of the Kansas winter?
The Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to meet Jan. 28-29 in Dallas and what is to take place at those meetings varies depending upon whom you're talking to. Some in the league say realignment will be the top item on the agenda and that they believe it's time for the league to get serious about a plan to expand. Others, including multiple league sources whom I spoke with this week, say realignment will likely be kicked around — as it always is — but that issues such as scheduling, future championships and other financial matters will garner just as much attention.
Without being in the meetings and without those meetings taking place yet, it's hard to know exactly what will or even should happen. Perhaps we'll know more when they're behind us. Or perhaps it will be more of the same, with the Big 12 sitting pretty at 10 and the rest of the world around it debating whether the league should expand to 12, 14 or 16.
Either way, it looks as if the Big 12 has options. And, in this game, that's a good thing.
I'll leave you with a new installment of the sacred percentage wheel, which, based on my conversations with people around the league, gauges (at this point) how likely the Big 12 is to move to expand in the next several months:
Here's a look at a few other articles that might be of interest, at least to those of you who, like me, find all of this equal parts fascinating, maddening and twisted. Enjoy!
This report from The Washington Post brings us up to speed on the legal activity involving Maryland and the ACC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/terrapins-insider/wp/2013/01/18/maryland-attorney-general-moves-to-dismiss-accs-lawsuit-against-maryland/
This update, from Orangebloods.com's Chip Brown, paints a picture of some more serious discussions at the AD's meetings next week: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1463673
Here's another post on Bowlsby's comments from Dave Miller of the National Football Post, who says the Big 12 is on the clock: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/big-12-clock-conference-realignment-103000567--nfl.html
This report, from Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, explores the possibility that the Big Ten might not stop expanding until it reaches 18 teams: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-05/sports/ct-spt-0106-northwestern-football--20130106_1_brian-arnfelt-big-ten-nu-fans
Finally, here's a nice way to keep track of all of realignment's moving pieces, put together by collegesportsinfo.com. Take a look when you've found a comfortable setting and have got your mind right: http://collegesportsinfo.com/conference-realignment-grid/
3:02 p.m. Update:
Well, by now I'm sure many of you have heard that the ACC issued a joint statement which indicated that the rumors about ACC schools going to other conferences are false.
That's what they're saying, anyway.
Here's the link:
I applaud the ACC for saying something, even if it is somewhat laughable, but I can assure you that this statement means very little in all of this. If you're in the ACC's shoes, it's much better to have something like this exist than not. But it hardly means things are sunny in ACC land right now.
Let's face it, they upped the exit fee to $50 million — an astronomical number at the time it happened — and even that didn't keep schools from leaving. If a school wants to leave and another conference wants to take them, they're gone. That's still at least a decent sized "if" at the moment, as we're simply waiting to see if the Big Ten really wants to take its power play all the way.
A couple of quick things to share before I move on to the rest of my day and get back to wrapping up the Kansas University football season and working on that Granting of Rights story. It’s coming... I promise. And it’s going to give you a real thorough look at what that thing’s all about.
Just quickly, though, I noticed that there has been a lot more talk out there about Big Ten expansion in the past 24 hours and I wanted to touch on that a little more.
Popular opinion right now says that as soon as the Big Ten adds two more to get to 16 that will open the floodgates for the ACC, SEC and Big 12 to jump on the bandwagon and start adding to their member lists as well. That makes sense. But I’m not so sure it’s going to go that way.
I know a lot of people out there believe that such a move would force the Big 12 to act, but you have to remember that, at its core, this thing is all about television dollars. If the Big 12 can add a couple of teams — say Florida State and Clemson — and increase its value in the eyes of the league’s television partners then it becomes a no-brainer to expand. Do it yesterday. But if not, why do it at all?
It’s not as if this is a guessing game either. The TV execs would gladly enter (and may already have) into any discussions or negotiations about the potential to make more money (from their advertisers and corporate sponsors) but also would be very blunt in explaining to any conference whether moves A, B or C would actually bring increased value. If they say no, I don’t think you can expand. If they say yes, poach away.
One Big 12 administrator with knowledge of the league’s television deals I spoke with yesterday said he did not think college athletics was headed toward four 16-team super conferences any time soon and also said he thought both the ACC and Big 12 were in good shape and did not need to panic and expand for the sake of expansion.
Another league source told me recently that he thought if the Big 12 wanted to expand it likely would have done so already.
I know many reports have indicated that there is some division within the Big 12 about the issue of staying at 10 or expanding. While that may be true on a small level, I don’t believe the members who are open to expansion have reached the point where they are adamant about it happening. I think all 10 still see the value in staying at the current number and are content to remain there.
I’m not sure the same can be said for the Big Ten.
This recent report features Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis pointing out the advantages of expanding to 16....
... And this report quotes Illinois chancellor Phyllis Wise saying that the league did not discuss any other schools when it unanimously voted to approve the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-12-06/no-other-universities-considered-big-ten-when-maryland-rutgers-joined.html
The articles above do not necessarily indicate that Big Ten officials have differing viewpoints on further expansion, and it’s clear in both of them that the league is planning to evaluate the landscape on a daily basis and will act accordingly.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and company are certainly worth keeping an eye on but it may be possible that the Big Ten is not the key piece in all of this after all.
I know I’ll be watching just as closely for news from the ACC’s lawsuit against Maryland and Rutgers’ lawsuit against the Big East. Both are intriguing, potentially game-changing moves and the outcome of either could have just as big of an impact on conference realignment as any expansion talks.
Time will tell.
While we wait, here's an updated percentage wheel with my thoughts on what the Big 12 will do in the near future...
I’m still working on that granting of rights story to help bring a little clarity to the issue of why KU and the rest of the Big 12 schools can’t or, more likely, won’t leave for another conference any time soon.
I’ll make sure you all see that when it’s finished.
For now, though, let’s shift gears back to the concept of the Big 12 adding schools as opposed to any of the current members leaving.
If we’ve learned nothing else through this whole realignment mess it’s that things change quickly and sometimes turn 180 degrees on the same day.
That seems to be the case currently, as the hottest rumors regarding the Big 12 today center on the possible addition of Florida State and perhaps even one or more other ACC schools.
Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and, possibly even Georgia Tech could be included if something were to take place. But right now the whole thing seems to be stuck in a holding pattern featuring heads on swivels.
Curt Popejoy of RantSports.com released a recap late Tuesday night that said Tampa radio stations have been reporting that FSU has accepted an invitation to the Big 12 and that an announcement could come as soon as next week.
I don’t think we’re there yet. There are too many elements of this thing still up in the air, whether that’s the result of the ACC’s lawsuit against Maryland to enforce full payment of the $50 million exit fee or the fact that the Big Ten may still be looking to expand its membership, which, if it did, would have a major impact on the rest of the realignment rodeo.
Multiple sources have told me recently that very few people/schools involved in this mess actually enjoy the idea of realignment but are forced to act or at least prepare to act out of a sense of self preservation.
It’s my belief that the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12 all have been working hard behind the scenes on ways to not only strengthen their conference through proactive movement, but also to ensure that their current lineups will not be harmed by movement elsewhere.
It’s a sticky situation and could spin out of control just as quickly as it could once again calm down.
If there’s one final thing I’ll emphasize (again) it’s that the Big 12 is happy at 10 teams but is not choosing not to be foolish this time around and won’t simply sit around and wait for the rest of the world to act. That does not mean the league will add BYU or Cincinnati just to expand, but it does mean it could give a serious look at some serious candidates, with Florida State being the top priority among them all.
Here are a few links for you to look over while I wait to hear back from some more folks. I’ll try to update this later today and throughout the week.
Here’s the latest from realignment guru Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com, who offers some great insight from the Texas point of view: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1445262
The Pac-12 continues to stand by the claim that realignment is not on the horizon, but that’s largely because the league does not have as many attractive options as the others should it choose to expand. Here’s the latest from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who recently said San Diego State and Boise State would be on the league’s list of candidates if it were to expand: http://www.pacifictakes.com/2012/12/4/3721260/conference-realignment-pac-12-boise-state-san-diego-bsu-sdsu
Most of this is common knowledge, but it’s laid out very nicely here: http://www.bloguin.com/crystalballrun/2012-articles/november/the-big-picture-of-conference-realignment.html
Finally, this is a couple of weeks old now (and, in realignment that’s ancient) but here’s what a member of Florida State’s board of trustees had to say recently regarding FSU’s plans: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2012/11/19/maryland-florida-state-fsu-trustee-andy-haggard-college-conference-expansion-realignment/1715537/
3:44 p.m. Update:
Still working on a few things and waiting on a few calls to see if I can get some more info on all of this, but nearly all of the people I have talked to continue to point to the Big 12's comfort at 10 teams as a very real thing and something that does not put the conference in any danger.
Here's a column from Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com that essentially spells out why. Most of it you've heard here, but it's still a good read.
Also, in case you didn't check out the audio from KU men's basketball coach Bill Self's news conference today, here's a look at some of Self's thoughts on the current state of conference realignment:
“Everybody thought it was pretty much status quo, and there’s one guy working behind the scenes that’s really good that has now changed the entire landscape of what’s going on, and that’s (Big Ten commissioner) Jim Delany,” Self said. “With what he’s done with the Big Ten, it’s now caused a trickle down.”
“The SEC is going to poach somebody now,” Self said. “They’re going to go to 16. The ACC is going to have 16. But, the SEC may poach the ACC, so now that’s going to screw that number up. So where are we on this stuff? I don’t know that we could be on more solid footing right now,” Self said. “With the situation with the SEC and the Big 12 in football, the alliance, the new television deal, we are in great shape. I don’t think there’s any need to rush to do anything.”
“I think with the movement that’s going on, the landscape will change and feelings will change,” Self said. “Now maybe the way we thought it was isn’t exactly the way it could be two or three, five years from now.”
9:51 a.m. Update:
Here's a nice assessment of things from Matt Hayes, of the Sporting News, who spells out more clearly what the result of the ACC's lawsuit against Maryland (for full payment of the $50 million exit fee) could mean for the future of the ACC and the future of expansion and realignment.
8:56 a.m. Update:
As expected, the ACC woke up bright and early this morning to vote to add Louisville starting in 2014. Here's a nice recap on the whole thing from ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.
It'll be interested to see where things go from here. Even though the move to grab Louisville would seem to indicate that the ACC is going to survive, it actually could wind up being a move that makes their situation more precarious, as the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC all could see it as a sign that they should get going with their expansion plans (not that the Big Ten needs the nudge) which could lead all three to look toward other ACC schools as outlined below.
Now that this has become official, I'll do a little checking around to see if anyone in the Big 12 or at KU has any kind of reaction.
It's interesting, because people assumed for months that Louisville would jump at the chance to join the Big 12. And they probably would have. But, as I outline below, I don't think the Big 12 is crying over this one. If it truly wanted the Cardinals, it would've signed them up long before getting to this point.
I also thought this Tweet that just came through from ESPN's Joe Schad was pretty interesting:
ACC Presidents have agreement to disclose any contact from other conferences and source says it hasn't happened outside of Maryland — Joe Schad via Twitter
Doesn't mean much for the news from today, but could mean a lot moving forward if other leagues try to poach more ACC members.
Original Post, 11:49 p.m. CST 11/27
A couple of quick conference realignment notes to get your Wednesday morning started off right (or cap off your Tuesday night depending upon in which time zone you’re reading this).
First, let’s look at what’s new in the ACC, where news broke this week that the league officially has filed a lawsuit against Maryland requesting the entire $50 million buyout and, while that was going on, decided to call a meeting for Wednesday morning (Nov. 28, a.k.a. today) to talk about expansion.
If universities hopping three time zones and not batting an eye at multi-million dollar penalties to play in new leagues didn’t lead you to the conclusion that this whole thing’s a mess, maybe that last part will. You read it right. The most vulnerable of all the current BCS leagues, the one in danger of having the rest of its teams plucked away by the Big Ten, SEC and, yes, even the Big 12, is actually looking to expand.
Hey, they could be onto something and it may very well be the only way for the league to survive. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
Anyway, one of the hottest expansion targets for the suddenly scrambling ACC is Louisville. Louisville, you may recall, has long been rumored to be a potential target for the Big 12 should it choose to expand. Wonderful.
Here’s my take on the Louisville component. If the Big 12 wanted Louisville — and I mean truly wanted it, not just thought it would be a decent option if other parts fell into place — it would have signed them up by now. I’m not knocking the Ville or saying it would or would not be a good option for the Big 12. I’m simply saying that those who think the league would cry over losing out on Louisville may be mistaken.
Here’s an outstanding breakdown of what’s going on in the ACC at the moment. Although it’s clear from this report that there may be some serious movement here, the report also makes it clear that the potential additions of Navy, UConn, South Florida and Cincinnati, along with Louisville, hardly would represent a coup for the ACC. Survival, perhaps, but certainly nothing to celebrate with a parade or national holiday.
Evidently, today’s ACC conference call to discuss handing out official invitations is set for 7 a.m., so by the time many of you are reading this, things could be well on their way. Even if that’s the case, there’s still plenty of interesting stuff here and plenty to talk about.
Now, let’s look at things from the point of view of the anti-realignment crowd, the group that’s tired of all the moving and shaking and nonsense and just wishes this whole thing would come to an end once and for all.
After news hit that Maryland and Rutgers were leaving the ACC and Big East to join the Big Ten, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was asked how the move would impact the Pac-12. In short, he said it wouldn’t and he reaffirmed that stance this week by saying that recent expansion talks within the conference produced the same conclusion that the league came to toward the end of the last round — there is no need, at this time, for the Pac-12 to go beyond 12 schools and the league is happy with its current number.
Kind of sounds like another conference I know.
Anyway, here’s a report from Nov. 19 from Chris Dufresne of the L.A. Times, who details Scott’s thoughts.
Finally, there’s more smoke coming from Big Ten land that the 14-team conference wants two more and has sent out feelers to Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame and, yep, Kansas.
As I explained last week, it does not make any sense, at least not as things stand right now, for KU to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten. As appealing as some things might be, the financial burden of leaving the Big 12 would cripple KU’s athletic department.
It would not surprise me at all if Jim Delany and the Big Ten became the first league to reach 16 teams. It also would not make me think any more highly of that league or what they have going on. Bigger, we’ve heard time and time again throughout this ordeal, is not always better.
If Delany gets there, look for Virginia and Georgia Tech to be the two teams he does it with, which only adds more meat to the argument that the ACC, though still in existence, is far from a thriving conference. Take Virginia and Tech away and you’re looking at an even less appealing league, with or without expansion.
So there you have it. The Big Ten and ACC are actively looking to expand, the Pac-12 and Big 12 appear content at 12 and 10 schools, respectively, and the SEC seems more concerned with hiring football coaches and seeing if it can make it seven straight BCS champions than adding new members. Don’t think for a second that all three of the quote/unquote quiet conferences in this have their eyes close right now. Heads are on swivels and activity is being tracked.
If we’ve learned anything through realignment it’s that things can move awfully quickly.
Remember when things happened in college athletics without the rest of the world following them up with panic, hysteria and unnecessary — sometimes even awful — reactions?
OK, me neither, but if you stretch your brain really far, you might be able to remember a time when a school or conference anywhere in the country could make a move of any kind and that would be that.
Unfortunately that’s not the case any longer. As soon as the news broke that Maryland and Rutgers were involved in serious talks with the Big Ten, fans and officials in conferences throughout the country stood up and screamed, “We’re next!”
Just because the Terps and Scarlet Knights are willing to leave what could (and perhaps should) be considered dying conferences does not mean that the rest of the country should jump back in and cause a third round of reckless realignment in three years.
It sure sounded to me like all of this mess was behind us when the Big 12 steadfastly proved it was happy at 10 teams — even as others laughed and rolled their eyes insisting that just couldn’t be the case. If that wasn’t enough, it seemed like the nail in the coffin when the ACC bumped its buyout to a whopping $50 million.
Oops. I guess that wasn’t high enough — somehow.
It’s been known for quite some time that Maryland was one of those schools the Big Ten would consider grabbing should it choose to expand. I can remember hearing talk about the Terps to the Ten during the initial round of realignment three summers ago, when Colorado and Nebraska bolted the Big 12. So the move itself, when taken only as a single move in a vacuum immune from the impact of past, present and future moves around it, actually makes some sense.
But it’s a crying shame that officials within the Big Ten and at Maryland chose now as the time to make this move. It does nothing but confirm the hard truth we already know — that money is king in all walks of life, but most certainly in college athletics.
Some reports have indicated that the Big Ten has been dying to reopen its expansion eyes ever since Notre Dame moved its non-football sports to the ACC several months back. Go figure; jealousy and envy played a role here, too.
Can someone, or perhaps some people, please just get it over with and buy out the NCAA and turn it into what it is sadly becoming anyway — a training ground professional sports league driven by dollars?
For goodness sake, it sounds as if Maryland may get out of the $50 million early exit penalty by, first, negotiating it down and, second, having the Big Ten pick up the bulk of the tab. A tip of the cap goes to the Terps for some savvy business moves there, but a slap on the wrist should head the way of the Big Ten, ACC and NCAA for letting that happen if it does, in fact, go down that way.
I know most out there think these moves are the spark that will start another conference realignment wildfire, but I’m not one of them.
For starters, I don’t think this changes anything for the Big 12 Conference. The conference was happy with 10 members before and it will be happy with 10 members after, too.
I know there is some strong interest in adding Florida State if the opportunity presents itself, but, (1) I don’t see the Big 12 footing the bill for the buyout the way the Big Ten may with Maryland, and (2) the league has said all along that any expansion moves would have to be made up of a couple of knock-your-socks-off schools. Florida State certainly is in that category but I don’t think there’s a 12th team out there on that level — not BYU, not Boise State, not Louisville. Who?
The best guess here, particularly because this Maryland/Rutgers thing moved so quickly, is that this will be a big splash for a few days and then the realignment waters will be still again.
The ACC will move on, perhaps by poaching a team like UConn (a willing mover) from the Big East, forcing the Big East to take yet another step toward becoming an all-basketball league, with its football schools playing independent schedules. That’s the only way for that conference to maintain relevance in the changing landscape of college athletics. And who knows if even that will do it?
I’ve already talked to a couple of people about this latest mess and I’ve got a few more calls out there, so if anything interesting or noteworthy pops up regarding the Big 12, you know where to find it.
Until then, we’re back to our old tried and true catch phrase: Stay tuned...
Here are a few links to peruse for those who might be interested in reading more about what’s going on:
Here are some of the specifics on the Maryland/Rutgers news:
Here’s a blog that includes a take on the Big 12:
And here’s a good read about the ramifications and money ruling everything:
Today’s announcement that Notre Dame will move its non-football sports to the ACC has sent a large faction of Big 12 fans into a frenzy.
Although I understand why this is the case on the surface, I’m not so sure the announcement is worth getting worked up about.
For starters, it seems as if Notre Dame joining the Big 12, either entirely or as a partial member, was a longshot to begin with. There were talks and those talks were extensive, but I’ve been told that there was never a strong indication that the Fighting Irish, as things stand today, were ever really that interested in joining the Big 12.
The reasons for that are plentiful and include everything from academics and athletics to Notre Dame’s desire to maintain control.
As part of the agreement to join the ACC, Notre Dame will play five football games against ACC opponents annually but will continue to operate as an independent, which has been the school’s goal all along. That set-up is not a huge departure from what the Irish have done lately anyway. Just look at this year’s Notre Dame football schedule which includes Miami, Boston College, Wake Forest and Pitt, all schools that are in or will be in the ACC by the time Notre Dame joins.
In maintaining its independent status, the Irish not only will be able to continue their relationship with NBC, but also should be able to continue healthy rivalries with schools such as Navy, USC, Michigan State and others.
It’s a good move for the Irish and an even better move for the ACC. Looks like a win-win for both sides and, whenever that’s the case, it’s certainly hard to argue.
But enough about Notre Dame. What does all this mean for the Big 12?
In my mind, the answer to that is simple — the Big 12, as it has said for quite some time, will be staying at 10 teams for a long, long time.
There was some genuine interest in adding schools like Notre Dame or Florida State, but with those schools now off the table thanks to Notre Dame’s move to the ACC and the ACC’s simultaneous announcement that its exit fee would be increased to $50 million, those schools, along with Virginia Tech, Clemson and others now look to be off limits.
Quick sidenote: I can’t help but be mightily impressed by what the Big 12 and ACC have done in consecutive years in the face of uncertain and very dangerous futures. The Big 12 looked all but dead a year ago yet found a way to bounce back and flourish both in terms of its financial situation and its public image. Shortly after the Big 12 became more stable than ever, the ACC took its place on the chopping block and appeared to be equally as vulnerable, if not more so. Yet, here that conference is today, announcing the addition of Notre Dame and securing its future by agreeing to up its exit fee to an amount that no one would dare tangle with. Impressive.
And hopefully, just maybe, their moves can put an end to conference realignment for the foreseeable future. I won’t hold my breath on that, though.
The Big East, which has been in a tough spot all along, now becomes the most vulnerable league by far, with the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC all positioned to pick up any number of Big East defectors should it come to that. Maybe it won’t. But if the Big 12 were to make a move to expand, that’s likely where it would look.
Again, I don’t expect that to happen. I don’t think the remaining schools “out there” are impressive enough nor profitable enough for the Big 12 to want to bring them in to split the pie 12 ways instead of 10. It just doesn’t make sense to bring in schools for the sake of bringing them in when the schools you’re picking up don’t add much to the pot.
Louisville, UConn and even Rutgers all are intriguing options for various reasons, but neither of them is on par with the Notre Dames and Florida States of the world. And Big 12 leaders have said all along that it would take a special school for them to consider expanding. I don’t think the schools I mentioned above are considered special by anyone outside of their fan bases.
Adding any of those schools or a program like BYU (which isn’t happening) would not be a lucrative enough endeavor to make it worth the Big 12’s while.
I know the concept that bigger is better is tough for people to get past when it comes to realignment, but it’s important to remember that what’s good for one league isn’t necessarily what’s good for another.
The ACC now has 15 teams and the Big 12 has 10. Both appear to be stable and headed toward exciting and profitable futures. What’s wrong with that?
Thursday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made a visit to Lawrence, one of 10 stops the new commish plans to make on conference campuses by the end of September.
It was refreshing to see the league commissioner stand in front of the room and not be peppered with questions about conference realignment, as had been the case during the past two summers.
This summer — after a questionable start — the realignment mess slowed down considerably, something that Bowlsby, the former athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa, said was an encouraging sign for the future of college athletics.
“I don’t usually think much of hope as a strategy, but, on this occasion, I hope that it’s calmed down,” Bowlsby said. “We, we being intercollegiate athletics in general, would be well served by a period of calm. I think some very bad decisions have been made in conjunction with the conference moves and I think history will bear that out.”
For the Big 12, calm has not exactly been the right word. Although the panic and craziness of having teams poached or bringing new teams aboard has subsided, the league appears to have been busier than ever. From reworking its television deals with ESPN and FOX and creating the Champions Bowl with the SEC to continuing to push the league back into a positive light, Bowlsby’s plate has been plenty full during his first couple of months on the job.
With connections and constant contact with people across the country, Bowlsby said he believed that the more stable summer of 2012 could again become the norm for college athletics.
“I think we have a chance to have that,” he said. “But only one institution has to move before the dominoes begin to fall and that possibility is certainly out there.”
With that in mind, Bowlsby said the Big 12 would remain prepared for any and all possibilities.
“(Realignment) gets talked about at every conference meeting in every conference and we’ll have to talk about it, too,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with 10 and I think it needs to be a very high bar if we’re gonna take anybody else in.”
Even though the Big 12 is not actively looking to expand, Bowlsby said he thought it was important for the league to be ready for anything.
“I think you have to have a plan for it, and the plan may be that we like where we’re at and we’re committed to it,” he said of the 10-team Big 12 set-up. “I think we’re closer to that than we are having some strategy or tactical expectation relative to expansion. We’ll likely talk about it at every meeting. I don’t think we’ll talk about it in terms of, ‘Here’s a candidate, should we take ’em or not?’ I think it’s, ‘How are we doing, how does this fit together, what kinds of relationships do we have and are we missing anything by not being 11 or 12 or something larger or are we gaining things by staying smaller?’ We think about it at a strategic level not at an individual decision level.”
If the past two summers were a necessary part of getting the Big 12 to where it stands today, it was worth it. In terms of stability, financial gain and public image, the league certainly appears to be stronger than ever. And with Bowlsby now at the helm, it also appears to have the necessary leadership to move into the next era of college athletics, whether that’s more change, a return to stability or some other path that we haven’t even considered yet.
Either way, Bowlsby seems to be up for the challenge and also projects a great amount of confidence and competence.
“I did come in with some apprehension,” he admitted. “There isn’t any doubt about that. But what I’ve found was the private reality was a lot more stable and a lot more unified than the private perception.... Everyone is forward-looking, everyone is committed and I think everybody is very genuinely enthusiastic about what it is we have going.”
One of the most interesting things about coming home from an event like Big 12 Media Days is logging onto the Internet the following day and doing a simple search for all of the stories about Kansas.
Although there are times and places built into the media days schedule for reporters to gather a little exclusive information, the majority of the week is spent with the same several hundred reporters hearing the same soundbites from the same coaches.
Depending on your angle — and your agenda — different things stand out to different people and what’s written typically falls in line with that concept.
Take this week’s KU team, for example. While many wanted to chronicle their first encounter with new KU coach Charlie Weis, others focused on quarterback Dayne Crist and still others on the low times that have plagued the Jayhawks in recent years.
Many of the topics the local media has written about for months is fresh meat for the rest of the reporters who cover the Big 12, so, with nearly five hours of interview opportunities packed into a single day for each team, there’s plenty to go around.
During the past couple of years, because of the way the things have played out on the field, the rest of the working press generally regarded KU as a joke. Sure, they listened and, yeah, they were courteous, but the Jayhawks did not make the top of anyone’s priority list.
That wasn’t the case this year, a likely sign of what’s to come as the fall arrives and the wins and losses start mounting.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look around the web at some of the initial reactions to the new-look Jayhawks.
Here’s the Associated Press’ KU story from Tuesday’s Big 12 media days:
Here’s ESPN.com blogger David Ubben’s quick-hit wrap up of Day 2 of Media Days in Dallas, which includes a couple of KU mentions:
KU grad Mac Engel, who blogs for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, had this reaction:
John Hoover, columnist for the Tulsa World, was disturbed by Weis linking KU and Notre Dame:
Hoover’s colleague, Guerin Emig, appreciated Weis’ forthcoming nature:
Those are just a few of the stories that were out there, and, again, since the Jayhawks are picked to finish last in the league this season, it’s not as if every reporter there was racing to file his or her story on Kansas.
There surely will be some more that come out during the next couple of weeks, but, by then, we’ll have moved on and will be tracking the changes to the depth chart and the daily happenings around Memorial Stadium.
Ready or not, it’s football season, folks!