- David Ubben, College Football
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Next Monday, start the countdown.
Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas will have two months left as the boss of a league that's seen plenty of tumultuous times over the past two years.
"We were kind of saved by the bell by Chuck Neinas. He kept it going in terms of getting us on the right track and getting everybody involved, all the teams in the conference," Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference this week. "We had lost two teams each of the last two years, which has been devastating to this league, but with Chuck’s leadership, it’s come on pretty good."
TCU and West Virginia replaced Texas A&M and Missouri to bring the Big 12 back to 10 members, but now it's Neinas who must be replaced.
He agreed to stay on in an interim role through June 30, but his replacement could be named before then. What do the league's coaches want to see?
"The answer is very obvious. You’d like to have a good person. You’d like to have a very honest, forthright person, with a balance in how he operates the conference itself, with the idea that everybody is treated equally and what he would do would be in the very, very best interest of the 10-12 teams that would make up the conference itself," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "Somebody that’s highly respected across the country and well-known across the country as well, has a reputation that would be very, very prominent as it relates to conference commissioners across the country."
For Tuberville, the new guy needs experience.
"Hopefully we get a strong-personality guy that can work with everybody, put their touch on it, somebody with experience, somebody that has maybe been a commissioner or a deputy commissioner for one of the other leagues," Tuberville said. "I think experience is going to be key for us, somebody that’s been there, done that, seen all the problems. It’s no different than coaching a football team in that experience usually pays off for you."
He added: "We’ve obviously had some setbacks the past few years, if we can get somebody who understands our league, maybe somebody from another conference looking from the outside in, understanding what’s going on and bringing their philosophy in would really help us."
For Texas coach Mack Brown, it's simple: He wants someone who can maintain stability, and unity is the first way to help establish it.
"We’ve been through so much turmoil over the past two years in the Big 12. I think what I would like to see is stability. I’d like to see someone come with confidence and new ideas and making sure that it sounds like our league is really stable at 10. I know some are looking at the possibility of 12," he said. "I’d like to see somebody who can really lead the group and get everybody on the same page, because it’s a wonderful conference. I love the additions that we’ve made, and I think it can be again, one of the top conferences in the country because the teams are all winning. But you gotta have a boss."
3hMax Olson and Jake Trotter
5dJake Trotter, Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson