Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Big 12 and BCS heads align on future
By ESPN.com staff
Dan Beebe has made his opinions clear about a world with four 16-team conferences, a scenario that looked like a real possibility with the looming departure of five of the six teams from the Big 12 South to form a theoretical Pac-16, the nation's first major superconference.
"I think it's a huge disservice to the student-athletes if it grows to a bigger number, where they have to go further and not have as much chance to win championships and have access to championships," Beebe said at June's Big 12 spring meetings.
In an interview earlier this week, BCS director Bill Hancock proved an ally -- at least in thought -- expressing some relief that some recognizable status quo remained, rather than the birth of superconferences. Yet, anyway.
"I was concerned about it because of the unintended consequences. I don’t think any of us knew what might happen. One thing you know about right now, you know what the consequences are. But galactic changes open you up to so many things that you don’t even know about," Hancock said. "And it made me nervous. And I tried to think about, is this making me nervous because I’m a traditionalist, or because I really don’t know what might happen?
And I finally decided it was some of both."
Those concerns were nothing we hadn't heard before, but Hancock worried about one in particular: travel for student-athletes who competed in Olympic sports. Hancock's daughter-in-law coaches soccer at Oklahoma State, so the BCS head was especially empathetic toward their plight.
"And that’s just a tiny blip on the radar screen," he said, adding he didn't want to see regional rivalries disappear, either. "I wondered about scheduling, I wondered what would happen to institutions that were not in those [new] conferences."
Hancock remarked that the realignment saga featured more speculation and erroneous reporting than any time he could remember.
"What we were faced with was a vacuum; there was no information coming out," Hancock said. "And every time that happens, the vacuum gets filled. And in that case it got filled by people speculating, and I think there were people saying things that they really didn't know, just speculating and trying to help people, and the speculation was wrong."
Among the most "galactic" and discussed/feared changes was those four 16-team conferences forming and breaking off from the NCAA. While even the most adventurous fans may have feared the unforeseen repercussions, others favored the idea in hopes of a playoff drawing near without the NCAA or BCS to stop a bracket from forming.
But that idea is bullhockey, to use one of English's most eloquent and imaginary nouns, according to Hancock.
"I thought, probably, that would mean a playoff would be even further away, and I think it’s a long way off anyway," Hancock said. "Because the same presidents who are voting to not have a playoff would still be voting. Now there’s 120 represented, and if there were only 64 represented, I think the vote would be the same at the presidents’ level. I did kind of have to chuckle at that speculation."
Hancock also implied that had a Pac-16 formed, it wouldn't have necessarily earned the second automatic BCS bid that some speculated it would receive.
"The logical thing would have been there would have been more at-large spots available," he said. "As far as contingency plans, we didn’t go any beyond, 'Here are some options.' Right after we sort of internally came up with the options, the whole thing went away."
He declined to speculate on the Big 12's status as an automatic qualifying conference if the five remaining Big 12 North teams had patched together a new Big 12 without the South or Colorado.
"One thing is, if you lose an AQ, then you would run the risk of not being able to fill out all of the 10 slots because of the two-team rule, if that makes sense," he said. "So that was something we were going to have to think about, as to what steps you can take to make sure that there are 10 teams. But again, it never got beyond just scratching our heads and thinking this is something we’re going to have to think about at some point."