Big 12: Colorado Buffaloes

The Early Offer: Don't worry TCU fans 

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Despite a cryptic tweet that worried TCU fans, four-star linebacker Jimmie Swain IV has good news for Horned Frog faithful; Pittsburgh scores a nice recruiting victory over Penn State; and Oregon State and Washington State commits and an ESPN Junior 300 prospect will be on display Friday on ESPNU.

Did you hear that on Monday? The sweet sound of silence? Not a single goodbye or hello for a conference that's gotten used to those over the past three years.

The ACC held a special celebration in New York City to welcome Pitt and Syracuse, while the old Big East officially died and gave birth to The American, an aptly named league stretching from Connecticut to SMU in Dallas, though San Diego State and Boise State bailed before the doors were open.

Around the Big 12, though? July 1 was exactly what it's supposed to be: The beginning of a holiday-shortened week with no real news to fill the no-man's land of early July in college sports. That's a welcome development for the Big 12, which hasn't enjoyed that kind of quiet in July since all the way back in 2009.

In 2010, Nebraska had already announced plans to leave for the Big Ten and Colorado for the Pac-12, leading to an awkward Big 12 Media Days in late July and an even more awkward farewell season. July 1, 2011 was the day the Huskers and Buffaloes were officially gone. Later that month, the Big 12 members played nice and put on an, uh, interesting show at Media Days while working on a grant of rights deal.

Before conference play even heated up, Missouri and Texas A&M were gone, leaving the Big 12 to hand out invites to TCU and West Virginia. The moves became official on July 1, 2012.

Which leaves us to this week. The Big 12 sees itself in a position of strength after signing a 13-year grant of rights deal, and the ACC signing a similar deal took attractive options like Florida State, Clemson or Louisville mostly off the Big 12's radar.

At Big 12 meetings in Dallas last month, every league administrator I talked to couldn't help but smile at how little (which is to say, almost nil) conversation centered around expansion. That was a new development for the Big 12, which has been largely centered on the issue for the past three years.

The Big 12 can't replace the tradition, proximity and quality that programs like Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri and Colorado left behind, but handed out $22 million to members this year and the league's meeting table is as cordial as it's ever been.

There's no denying the Big 12 suffered major losses in realignment and now sits with a name that doesn't match its membership. Still, for a conference a few steps away from death on two occasions, stability, big money and success on the field (90 percent of the league qualifying for a bowl in 2012 was the highest in CFB history) have changed the perception of a conference most viewed as doing little more than stalling on its deathbed.

TCU and West Virginia relished lifesavers out of a dying Big East and for TCU, a reunion with old Southwest Conference rivals. It was a rough first year for both programs, but the Big 12 is unlikely to add any members any time soon as college football exits the BCS era and enters the playoff era.

Travel issues have provided hiccups for the Mountaineers, and a leaky defense showed the transition would look a lot different than it did in WVU's dreams. A drug scandal at TCU wasn't a good look for the newcomers, and quarterback Casey Pachall's off-field troubles assured the Frogs a disappointing debut.

It wasn't perfect, but it worked. Those problems were microscopic compared to the major fractures that led to four members' departures. Those departures were major blows for the Big 12, but it survived, and this July, enjoyed the tranquility of a league with good football, big money and the knowledge of who'll be in its league for the foreseeable future.

That's a plot pretty close to the Big 12's best-case scenario for a league that lost four founding members in two years.
Former Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb beat out former Texas QB Connor Wood to win the starting QB job at Colorado, who left the Big 12 after the 2010 season.

That season, the Buffs fired coach Dan Hawkins after his team blew a 45-17 lead in just over 11 minutes to lose to Webb and Kansas, 52-45. That was the only Big 12 win of the season for three-win Kansas, but in Webb's bio on Colorado's site, it holds a special place.

Under the section about the 2010 season, it reads:
He started seven games and played in nine overall, missing games eight through 10 after being injured against Texas A&M (which included the Colorado game where KU rallied with the aid of terrible Big 12 officiating for a 52-45 win). He completed 121-of-214 passes for 1,195 yards (7 TD/8 INT); in his first career start against Georgia Tech, he completed 18-of-29 for 179 yards and three touchdowns.

Whoa, really? The officiating wasn't great in that game but there's a handful of things wrong with this. One, who calls out officials in a player bio? Never seen anything like that before.

Two, he's your new quarterback. By calling out the refs, aren't you also diminishing the efforts of your new starting quarterback at his former school? Classy.

Webb's got to be making some kind of history here. He was a big part of Colorado's last coach getting fired, then transferred to that school and now starts for that team?

A little awkward, no?

Still. Give me a break on this one, Colorado. Refs might be powerful people, but even the worst of officials can't erase a four-touchdown lead in less than 12 minutes. The Buffs helped out a lot with that one.

I have to wonder how many people signed off on including that little jab in Webb's bio, and how many people had seen it before Webb made front-page news last night.

Additionally, I wonder how long it'll remain a part of his bio.

UPDATE (11:33 a.m. ET): Webb's bio has already been changed. It now reads: "He started seven games and played in nine overall, missing games eight through 10 after being injured against Texas A&M (which included the Colorado game; he never played against the Buffs)."

The Big 12 Blog chat returns today

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
2:30
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Have you missed our weekly chats? Today is your lucky day, my friends. The season is nearing, and the Big 12 blog weekly chat is back.

We'll start it back up at 3 p.m. ET today.

Here's the link.

As always, you can leave your questions there before we start, and I'll get to them once I arrive at 3 p.m. ET on the dot. Keep them coming once we start, and I'll see you there.

Can't wait.

Big 12's APR scores strong

June, 21, 2012
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The NCAA released the Academic Progress Rate numbers for the 2010-11 school year this week, and the Big 12 did well, even though one school is flirting with some trouble in the future.

APR is a complex formula that's difficult to explain, but here's the explanation from the NCAA's website.
A Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team awards the full complement of 85 grants-in-aid. If 80 student-athletes remain in school and academically eligible, three remain in school but are academically ineligible and two drop out academically ineligible, the team earns 163 of 170 possible points for that term. Divide 163 by 170 and multiply by 1,000 to determine that the team’s Academic Progress Rate for that term is 959.

Yes, that's as unnecessarily complex as it sounds. Oh well. Anyway, it's a rolling four-year figure that's released each year, and teams that score below 925 and have a player who failed academically and left school can lose scholarships. Teams whose APR score drops below 900 face additional sanctions.

Here's how the Big 12's football teams did for the 2010-11 school year, courtesy of the NCAA website (includes Big 12 expats, because they were in the league at the time).

1. Missouri: 972

2. Kansas: 971

3. Oklahoma: 970

4. Nebraska: 966

5. Baylor: 956

T-6. Texas A&M: 946

T-6. Texas Tech: 946

8. Kansas State: 943

T-9. Colorado: 938

T-9. Iowa State: 938

11. Texas: 937

12. Oklahoma State: 928

Careful, Cowboys. Either way, everybody's safe this year.

If you're curious, West Virginia checked in with a score of 953, which would have ranked sixth in the Big 12. TCU, though, had a score of 973, which topped every Big 12 school. Very nice, Frogs.

You can see more data here.

What did Big 12 lose in Top 25 wins?

June, 20, 2012
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Earlier this week, we examined how the Big 12 teams had done against Top 25 competition, as well as tallying wins against top-10 teams.

That stemmed from an email questioning West Virginia's on-field credentials, and the latest post brought an onslaught of new emails.

How did the old Big 12 teams do? Well, I'm glad you asked. TCU shockingly had the best record of any Big 12 team against Top 25 competition, but how did the Big 12 expats do? We'll include Nebraska and Colorado's 2011 seasons.

Nebraska: 7-10 (.412)
  • Wins vs. top 10 (1): vs. No. 6 Missouri (2010)

Nebraska went 3-2 against the Top 25 in 2009, capped by a 33-0 beatdown of No. 20 Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. That's the only season of the four the Huskers were above .500 against the top 25. NU also beat No. 6 Missouri and No. 14 Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks in 2010.

Missouri: 6-10 (.375)
  • Wins vs. top 10 (1): vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (2010)

The Tigers memorably knocked off OU for the first time under Gary Pinkel to reach 7-0 in 2010, but the next best wins since 2008 were a win over No. 20 Illinois in 2008 and a win over No. 16 Texas in 2011.

Texas A&M: 3-14 (.176)
  • Wins vs. top 10 (2): vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (2010), vs. No. 8 Nebraska (2010)

The Aggies went a brutal 1-5 in 2011, with its only top 25 win coming at home against Baylor. It also went a combined 0-6 in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but staked two huge wins in the latter half of the 2010 season, when the Aggies rallied from a 3-3 start to win a share of the Big 12 South and reach the Cotton Bowl.

Colorado: 2-12 (.143)
  • Wins vs. top 10: None

Colorado's last win was a 34-30 upset of No. 17 Kansas in 2009, but that was the first of a season-ending, seven-game losing streak for the Jayhawks, who finished 5-7. Colorado also knocked off West Virginia in 2008 on a Thursday nighter in September.

So, what did the Big 12 lose in recent results against the Top 25? It's pretty easy to say the league got an upgrade. West Virginia, remember, went 4-4 with one top-10 win.

TCU was the best of any team in the league, going 8-3 against the Top 25 since 2008, including five wins vs. top-10 teams over that span -- the most in the Big 12.

Chat today at 3 p.m. ET

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
2:30
PM ET
We're back chatting in our usual slot this week, so come have fun with us.

We'll get started at 3 p.m. ET.

Here's the link.

We'll start at 3 p.m. sharp, but I'll get to your questions if you send them in early and keep them coming once we start.

See you all there.
After a brief hiatus, it's back.

Want the "ESPN College GameDay" crew comin' to your city to film a commercial?

Vote.

You'll need to log in to Facebook to cast your vote, but the school with the most votes will host Chris, Desmond, Kirk and Erin to shoot the next "GameDay" commercial that will air throughout the next year.

Very cool contest. Voting ends at midnight on May 10, and you can vote once a day until then.

Neutral-site, New Year's games for playoff?

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
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If Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and the sport's other power brokers approve a four-team playoff to determine college football's national champion, the semifinals and the national championship game will be played at neutral sites and the BCS bowl games will be played closer to New Year's Day, a source familiar with the negotiations told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

Commissioners of the 11 FBS conferences, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and other network TV and college football officials are meeting in Hollywood, Fla., this week to discuss the future of the BCS.

See more on this story here.

Lunch links: TCU's odd prep for Big 12

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
12:00
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I'm not fancy like that, Jack. If I get thirsty, I'll just drink the water from lunch I saved in my cheek.

BCS takes steps toward postseason change

March, 27, 2012
3/27/12
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The BCS commissioners met again and they look like they've taken another step toward installing a playoff. Here's the full statement from the 11 commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick:
As part of our continuing discussions about how to decide college football's national champion while maintaining the best regular season in sports, we met today in Dallas. The meeting was constructive and highly detailed.

While no decisions have been made about the overall structure, our talks have entered the "brass tacks" level. For every concept that enjoys broad support, there are a host of intricate details that we're talking through.

For example, if we change the current format, would we play some games on campus or all games on neutral sites? If some games are on campus, is that too much of a competitive advantage? If all games are at neutral sites, would fans be able to travel to two games in a row? How would teams be selected? By a committee, by the current ranking formula, or by a different formula? When exactly would games be scheduled, considering finals, holidays and our desire to avoid mid-January games?

As we discuss the upsides and downsides of our decisions, we are united in our desire to protect our great regular season and honor the bowl tradition, while maintaining the collegiate nature of our sport.

We're making good progress toward our self-imposed goal of making a final recommendation this summer to our governing bodies.

Here's more on Monday's meeting and what it all means.

Like I've said before, it's hard to imagine a four-team playoff not happening now. Discussing specifics is a good sign, too.

Remember: we won't see any changes until after 2014, but I'd say it's safe to get your hopes up about change coming to the game very soon.

If you are interested in participating in a survey on the BCS, here's where you can do it.

Lunch links: A record-setting year for TCU?

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
12:00
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You know there's some things I miss about being with you ... like having somewhere to hook my Sega up to.

I got this new business where I burn your old DVDs onto laser discs.
AUSTIN, Texas -- College football's going to look a little different next year, and Mack Brown isn't so sure the new rule changes are going to benefit the game.

Texas' coaches spent an hour with officials on Monday, and Brown left with several concerns.

Perhaps his biggest complaint?

The ambiguity of the new helmet rule, which Brown says is "a little gray."

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireMack Brown wants more clarity on some of the season's new football rules.
Next year, if a player loses his helmet, he has to sit out a play, but that's not the only rule change. Depending on the situation, the play can be stopped, or a player who loses his helmet can't continue playing.

When play will be stopped or a player made to quit playing, though, is a difficult judgment call with a 15-yard penalty at stake.

"If I'm a defensive end rushing the passer, supposedly I can rush him, but quarterback steps up, I can't continue to rush or it's a penalty," Brown said. "If you lose your helmet, you have to come out of the game for a play, regardless. So, your quarterback could lose his helmet on the next to the last play of the game and he's out for the last play. And also if you lose your helmet within  in the last minutes of the half at the end of the game, you can have the 10-second runoff rule."

Brown used the example of last year's last-second win over Texas A&M. The game-winning field goal was kicked with three seconds left, but if Texas hadn't had a timeout late, a player's helmet coming off could force a 10-second runoff and end the game.

While Brown, and I would assume most people, agree with the rule's intent -- protecting players -- the regulations could have some troubling consequences.

Brown wants to take some action before the season and get Big 12 Coordinator of Football Officials Walt Anderson involved.

"What you have is about nine coaches from all different divisions that are in a group with Safeguards Committee and they sit and make these rules. I really wish we would have more input instead of just being told, because we didn't even understand some of these until yesterday," Brown said. "What we've done when we make rules and make the official's judgment in a tough spot, I think we're hurting ourselves because how in the world are you going to know when to blow that whistle?"

Brown also took issue with the new, re-instituted halo rule that requires players to provide a one-yard buffer zone in front of players returning punts.

"Now, if [a defender is] covering me and I'm returning the punt and I bobble it and go toward him and he's within a yard of me and doesn't touch me ... it's a 15yard penalty," Brown said. "I really hope that we'll relook at some of those things and try to make a difference."

The halo rule applies to more than just punts now, too. Next year, onside kicks must hit the ground twice, or kick return teams can call fair catches and prevent defenders from trying to retain possession for an onside attempt.

"They're protecting the guy that's standing there getting ready to catch the pop up and everybody's running over him," Brown said. "If it touches the ground once I can call a fair catch now on the kickoff on the onside kick. You'll have to kick the ball on the ground. If you hit it twice, can bounce it twice, get it to jump, then there's no fair catch."

That's a tall order for kickers, and expect to see a lot more onside kicks on the ground next year. But where is the line? What if a player is bent over trying to pick up a kick and suffers a serious neck injury? Do you just ban onside kicks altogether?

Brown made a whole lot of good points and questioned the right things with the new rule changes.

Here's hoping his campaign for clarification, alteration or outright change is successful.

Another Big 12 QB headed to Boulder?

March, 16, 2012
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Texas transfer Connor Wood is fighting to win the starting job at Colorado this spring, but he may soon be joined by another Big 12 quarterback.

Jordan Webb started all 12 games at Kansas last season but left the Jayhawks after Charlie Weis arrived with Dayne Crist (Notre Dame transfer) and Jake Heaps (BYU transfer) in tow.

Webb's opportunity to start looked minimal, and now he tells the Boulder Daily Camera he's looking at Colorado.
Webb told the Camera in an interview today he is interested in the Buffs because he sees opportunity in Boulder. None of the active quarterbacks on the CU roster this spring have ever played in a college game. Sophomore Nick Hirschman is out this spring after undergoing surgery on his broken right foot, but when he returns this summer, he only adds five partial games of experience to the group.

"That's the main reason I'm leaving Kansas because I want playing time or at least an opportunity for it and if I go in and work hard at learning the offense and things like that I could have a good shot," Webb said.

The experience he earned at KU, along with more offensive weapons, could make it a good move for Webb. And what a weird quarterback competition that would be, no?

Two Big 12 transfers vying for a job at an old Big 12 school?

Webb, a Union, Mo., native, said he's planning on spending two days in Boulder. He'll graduate from Kansas in May, which allows him to transfer without sitting out an NCAA-mandated season, as long as he enrolls in a graduate program not offered at Kansas. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Webb threw for 1,884 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2011.
Before a couple years ago, few had much intimate knowledge of the Big 12 bylaws.

The league's recent spate of misfortunes and schools leaving has changed all that, particularly in regard to Section 3, which deals with the complicated matters of team exits.

Reads section 3:
Each Member Institution agrees that in the event such Member desires to withdraw from the Conference, that it will in good faith give Notice not less than two (2) years before the end of the Current Term or any Additional Term, as the case may be.

...

If, other than by giving a proper Notice pursuant to Section 3.1, a Member Institution (a “Breaching Member”) withdraws, resigns, or otherwise ceases to participate as a full Member Institution in full compliance with these Rules, or gives notice or otherwise states its intent to so withdraw, resign, or cease to participate in the future (a “Breach”), then the Member Institutions agree that such Breach would cause financial hardship to the remaining Member Institutions of the Conference, and that the financial consequences cannot be measured or estimated with certainty at this time.

Therefore, in recognition of the obligations and responsibilities of each Member Institution to all other Member Institutions of the Conference, each Member Institution agrees that after such Breach, the amount of Conference revenue that would otherwise have been distributed or distributable to the Breaching Member during the two (2) years prior to the end of the Current Term or the then-current Additional Term, as the case may be, shall be reduced by an amount that equals the sum of the aggregate of such revenues times the following percentages (such sum being the “Aggregate Reduction”); ... if Notice is received less than twelve months but on or before six months prior to the Effective Date, 90%.
[+] EnlargeMissouri, SEC
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerMissouri is headed to the SEC after agreeing to pay less than half of what Big 12 bylaws called for.
It's a lot of words. In short, you're supposed to give the conference two years notice before leaving. Nobody's doing that in the Big 12.

If you don't give two years' notice, you're going to pay.

For Texas A&M and Missouri, two years' worth of conference revenue would have been in the ballpark of $30 million. Thus, 90 percent of that money would equal something close to $27 million.

Missouri will see $12.41 million withheld under a settlement announced Tuesday. Texas A&M will have the same amount withheld, but receive considerations from the conference money that leaves just a $9.31 million hole in Texas A&M's bottom line.

Nebraska paid 47.6 percent of the approximately $20 million it would have owed by the letter of the Big 12 bylaws. That totaled $9.25 million.

The precedent had been set.

Like Nebraska and Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri can consider this a win.

I'm no lawyer. I like to think I can make some sense, though. The Big 12 bylaws say to pay one number. Four teams leave the league and all four pay less than half of what the bylaws say?

That is a problem. A big, big problem.

When West Virginia left, the Big East bylaws required schools to pay $5 million and give 27 months' notice. That number has since been raised to $10 million.

West Virginia didn't give 27 months notice, announcing in October that it would join the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. After months of legal wrangling, the Mountaineers announced they'd be leaving on time, but would pay $20 million.

Everyone has their price.

For the Big 12, though, that price seems to be well below what the rules require.

Why don't the laws have teeth? That's for the Big 12 to dig through the legalese and figure out.

Instituting changes to the bylaws after Nebraska and Colorado left had been discussed in the league, but never came to fruition. By the time A&M and Mizzou left, it was too late to make any new changes.

With the recent grant of media rights to the conference, the Big 12 won't have to worry about losing any members for at least six years. After granting the media rights to the Big 12, the league's current 10 members only hold any value for the Big 12 for the next six years. That's plenty of time.

Between now and then, change must happen. Maybe no one leaves the league ever again. No one can say with any certainty whether or not that will happen.

The league better make sure that if it does, its bylaws have the ability to flex.

So far, they've been nothing but steamrolled.

It's not really about preventing teams from leaving the league anyway. If a program wants to move conferences and has a viable new home, it will find a a way to leave. Public demand, among other things, assures that.

Tightening up the league's bylaws is more about getting the money that rightfully belongs to the conference members, according to rules they agreed to when the conference was formed, or in the cases of TCU and West Virginia, when they joined the league.

If the bylaws were tighter, the league's members would have shared just under a combined $100 million from outgoing Texas A&M, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. Instead, it withheld a total of just $37.83 million.

That's unacceptable.

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