Big 12: Mike Bohn

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn says comments made by Missouri's governor expedited the Buffs' move to the Pac-10.

After the Big Ten announced in December of 2009 that it planned to explore expanding the league's membership, Missouri governor Jay Nixon was outspoken in support of Missouri exploring the possibilities of a move to the Big Ten.

[+] EnlargeJay Nixon
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonComments in 2009 by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, shown in April, hastened the decision of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn to get the Buffaloes out of the Big 12.
His comments, though, caused Bohn to assess what lied ahead in Colorado's future.

"The governor's remarks got me going. We had to do something, and fast," Bohn told the Denver Post's Woody Paige.
The Pac-10 had hired former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as chief operating officer. Bohn and Weiberg fast-tracked private talks, and the Buffaloes announced intentions in mid-June to join the Pac-10. The next day, Nebraska turned to the Big Ten. Missouri was left behind.

In December of 2009, Nixon made the first of several comments in support of Missouri exploring a move.

"This is not something that should be kept on the sports page and treated with the back of the hand," he said. "We have an obligation to make our schools as excellent as they can be."

Speaking explicitly of a move to the Big Ten, he said, "It's worth looking at."

Bohn didn't say which of Nixon's comments got him going, but the governor's most controversial comments came days later.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about the Big 12, but when you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at," Nixon said.

Nixon's hilariously ineffective, misguided clarifier that preceded his inflammatory comments didn't earn Missouri any friends across the conference, but I doubt anyone thought it could have accelerated the process of expansion during the summer. Nevermind that his comments were dealing with Big Ten expansion. His comments appeared to have the biggest effect on Pac-10 expansion.

With half the Big 12 still mulling a move to the Pac-10, Colorado booked its ticket west to try and connect with its large alumni base in California, leaving Baylor likely without a home and the Big 12 South's other five teams with a decision to make.

Ultimately, they decided to stay in the Big 12, which is why you aren't reading this post on the Pac-16 blog.

Had Nixon kept quiet, who knows what would have happened. But at the very least, it seems Colorado's move to the Pac-10 might have come a bit later, if at all.

Lunch links: Mark Mangino to Nebraska?

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
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They call me the Hiphopopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless.

Lunch links: Gauging GameDay importance

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
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She's a deep Googler.

Mailbag: Colorado edition

August, 26, 2010
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We'll finish off with Baylor next week, but here are the rest of the team-themed mailbags. Andrew White in Boulder, Colo., asks: Hi David, cautiously optimistic for the Buffs in 2010. We've actually got the most experience and talent in this squad since the Barnett days, but do we have the coaching? (rhetorical) My question to you regards the recent news that CU is planning to stay in the Big 12 thru 2012. I think AD Mike Bohn is calling Beebe's bluff here. The Big 12 does not want CU sticking around for two seasons and having to navigate an 11 team slate in '12. My guess is you'll see the Buffs leave after '11, but having to pay much less of a buyout than previously stated. Thoughts?Thanks and Go Buffs!

DU: Bohn can call all the bluffs he want. I don't see the Big 12 lowering the withdrawal fees for any of the teams leaving. That sets a dangerous precedent. Dan Beebe already has a reputation (an untrue one, I might add) of being a pushover, and this would add some pretty legitimate evidence to support that. He doesn't need that. But this is about more than the reputation of a commissioner. The Big 12 can't be letting teams off easy because they don't want to/can't pay the full price to go when they want, when all it takes is one awkward year and some obnoxious rescheduling. The Buffs may end up staying until 2012, but I'd be very surprised if their withdrawal fees are lowered so that date moves to 2011. All indications so far from the conference suggest they'll do nothing to change that.


Eric of Green Mountain, Colo., asks: David - Colorado has not won a true road game since October of 2007 (over two seasons ago). Which game this year (if any) will the Buffs break the away-game losing streak?

DU: Wow, I didn't realize that. That would explain why winning seasons have been so elusive lately. The obvious choice this year is at Kansas on Nov. 6, for a game that may decide how the bottom few teams in the Big 12 shake out.


Dave in Missoula, Mont., asks: I know its popular to undervalue and underrate Colorado these days, but have you noticed that they have quietly put together the best WR corps in the conference? Add to that the best CB tandem, and the Buffs should surprise this season, that is, if they can overcome their coaching.

DU: Somebody in my chat yesterday referred to the Buffaloes' receivers as the best in the conference, too. Easy, folks. Eaaaasy. Are Paul Richardson, Travon Patterson and Toney Clemons better than the guys Colorado had last year? Sure ... we think so. But do we know? Absolutely not. Those guys have a lot of potential, but most of that potential stems from a) playing at USC or Michigan and b) recruiting stars. A lot of guys transfer and revitalize their careers. It happens a lot. But if these guys were major impact guys immediately, they wouldn't have transferred. Patterson had 10 catches in four years at USC. Richardson has still never played a down of college football and got kicked off his last team. Clemons had 12 catches in two years a Michigan. These guys could be good, and they're definitely underrated across the conference and nation, but they're not the best in the Big 12. If you want to see the conference's best receivers, watch a Texas A&M or Texas Tech game sometime.


Dave in Denver, Colo., asks: Hey David, love the blog.If the former UCLA chancelor is successful in blocking Colorado and Utah from the Pac-10, do you think the Big 12 would take them back? And if so, would they continue on with 11 teams or try to round out with another. If so, who do you see them offering to? Thanks.

DU: First off, the guy you're referencing, Chuck Young, is not going to be successful. This wasn't a hastily made decision. If the Pac-10's current chancellors legitimately try to block those teams' entrances, it would be a PR disaster for the conference. It's not going to happen. But the Big 12 wouldn't let them come back if it did. They'd have a better chance if there was a home-run 12th team hanging around, waiting for an invite. There isn't, and everyone in the conference sounds like they love the idea of a round-robin schedule in football and double round-robin in basketball.

As for future members, it looks like BYU is off the table now. Air Force might not be competitive enough. TCU and Houston make tons of competitive sense, but not enough fiscal sense. Get used to a 10-team Big 12.


Andy Baker in Grand Junction asks: Hey David,Do you think the fact that the caoches are not trying to establish an 'offensive identity' is a posititve in looking at this season?Also, do you think the denfensive backfield has a chance to be the best in the nation this year?

DU: You can make a case for either side. Last year, they tried to come into the season with that so-called "smashmouth" mentality, and they clearly didn't have the personnel to make it a reality. Colorado can do whatever it wants on offense. None of it will look good unless the offensive line gets better. If it gives up 43 sacks again and can't top 90 yards a game in rushing offense, the Buffaloes can forget about a bowl. Improve up front, and then they can start talking about a winning season.

Lunch links: Big 12's expiration date

July, 13, 2010
7/13/10
12:30
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Buffs to Pac-10 'done deal'

June, 10, 2010
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Colorado is officially leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10 as early as Thursday, according to ESPN's Joe Schad.

The Boulder Daily Camera, citing multiple sources, said an announcement was scheduled for Friday with league officials scheduled to be in attendance. Athletic director Mike Bohn secured an invitation during a meeting in Denver on Tuesday.
While Baylor took its case to the public, CU officials quietly worked behind the scenes to procure an invitation from the Pac-10 and were successful.
Though the move is doubtful to be the Big 12's official end, a possible announcement by Nebraska later this week could do it.
A Big 12 coach said Wednesday night that an anticipated Nebraska announcement of moving toward the Big Ten Thursday would indeed trigger the death of the Big 12 and a mass migration west.

"If Nebraska leaves," the coach said, "everyone has to look."

Rumors of Colorado's interest in the Big 12 had been rampant for months. Today's news makes those an apparent reality. Meanwhile, in Waco, the future looks grim for Baylor, who may be left shopping for membership in a league without an automatic BCS bid, which would have a significant negative impact on the conference revenue given to the school.

UPDATE (12:20 p.m.): The Pac-10 has issued a release announcing Colorado's Pac-10 membership.
“This is an historic moment for the Conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth. The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference both academically and athletically and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10,” said Commissioner Larry Scott.

A press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Friday at Folsom Field.

Little is clear at Big 12 meetings

June, 3, 2010
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KANSAS CITY -- Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took one route, outrunning the gaggle of cameras and microphones into a hotel elevator. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn went another without answering a question. But reached on his cell phone by the Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo, it was Bohn's brief words that made the biggest splash at the close of the Big 12 spring meetings' third day.

"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn said, lending credence to an earlier report from Texas' Rivals.com website Orangebloods.com that said five South schools -- minus Baylor -- and Colorado were being targeted by the Pac-10 for a group invitation.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott swiftly issued a statement shooting down the report.

"We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term," Scott said in the release.

But truth or fiction, one thing is clear: Thursday did not go as planned for the first day of meetings with university heads. Beebe emerged after 10 hours of meetings with plans to deviate from the day's schedule, canceling a post-meeting Q&A with reporters alongside University of Texas president William Powers, who is also the chairman of the conference's board of directors.

But other than the general, vague conflicts foreshadowed in earlier comments by Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, the why is unknown.

The only thing that's clear is that nothing is clear. A unified front and clear consensus would have made answering questions a reasonably simple exercise for two men with backgrounds in law. But that front never materialized on Thursday, leading to the postponement of Powers' and Beebe's comments until late Friday morning.

And the reports about the Pac-10's shockingly proactive move -- which sounds far closer to a possibility than a probability -- obviously contributed to that delay.

The only people sleeping in Kansas City tonight with an idea of how close -- or how far -- that consensus is from forming spent the day inside the meeting room. And even they might not know.

But no one outside the room knows, and there's no promise that will change after Friday.

Notes, quotes and...a Big 12 Network?

June, 3, 2010
6/03/10
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KANSAS CITY--Everyone's a big, happy family. Everyone's saying the right things.

"“We’re not mad at anybody,” said Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne.

"Missouri's a proud member of the Big 12," said Missouri athletic director Mike Alden. "We have been for some time. We look forward to the future."

And sure, it's believable. It's honest.

But unless they're staring across the table at at $22 million payday (eventually, anyway, even if the Big Ten imposes initial restrictions on their revenue), it doesn't mean a thing. And until the Big Ten formally drags its bags full of cash to the negotiating table, anything anyone from Missouri or Nebraska lacks any real impact. Maybe that meeting never happens and the Big 12 escapes with all 12 members safely on board with seat backs and tray tables in full upright positions. (Are we done with that yet?)

“I think there’s as good a chance, and commissioner Delany has said this, that they’ll not do anything as there is that they’ll do something,” commissioner Dan Beebe said.

I believe the Big Ten will elect to act, but Beebe is right, Delany's left that option on the table and it's clearly the most attractive scenario for the Big 12.

But the Big Ten still holds all the leverage and no amount of public commitments to the Big 12 will keep either school's tune from changing if the Big Ten encourages them to apply.

ACC provides inspiration

The Big 12 brass was extremely encouraged by the ACC's impressive 12-year, $1.86 billion television deal, especially considering it came during an economic downturn. If the economy finally reaches an upswing, more money, combined with a clearly more attractive on-field product, provides Beebe with an attractive case to present to the conference's members as an incentive to remain in the Big 12.

But he stressed that television revenue was only part of the decisions to be made.

"I don't think anybody should judge this as only connected to television. I hope there's so much more value that this association provides to our institutions," Beebe said, providing higher contributions than ever to the universities as an example.

Quotes of the day

"And the connotation of commitment doesn’t involve wondering if someone else is going to come along. I feel like my wife is committed to me and if George Clooney comes by, that commitment means she’s not going to run after him.

“Now another word is maybe obligation. There’s an obligation to this conference based on the long-term relationships and the fact that you’re a member of the conference and all that. What I want to do is convert that obligation into commitment.”

- Commissioner Dan Beebe, on receiving a commitment from the universities

“We’re not at the airport yet. We might be on the shuttle van. … Whether we get to that stage yet remains to be seen.”

- Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who spent most of his time with the media on Wednesday preaching the importance of keeping the Big 12 together

Bohn keeps quiet

One AD who was far from quotable on Wednesday was Colorado's Mike Bohn, who refused to answer any questions dealing in speculation.

"Speculation about other members and how that impacts our league is simply that," he said. "Those hypothetical developments are simply that."

Don't expect a Big 12 Network

One of the driving forces behind the Big Ten's boon and possible expansion has been the success of the Big Ten Network. So why can't the Big 12 try to follow the lead of their neighbors to the North?

"Before I got this role, when I was in the chief operating officer role, we looked carefully at doing that before we did our last television deal," Beebe said. "Part of it was along the same lines of what the SEC concluded, which is that it would too much disrupt--really what you need with a network is you need no distribution of programming from any other source. Everybody's compelled to have to take the network. And so, just like I think the SEC concluded--and maybe the ACC, I don't know--we don't want to pull that back from our institutions. We want to allow other programming and other games to be distributed. And at the time, it was a good deal from ABC and ESPN, so that's what we and our members chose to do."

So, that's that. By "other programming," Beebe means university-produced content either provided by subscription or free on the school's website, or possibly pay-per-view options that schools like Missouri have employed in the past.

I'll have plenty more notes from yesterday's meetings later this morning. So keep checking back.
Here are some lunch links to send you into the afternoon on a cold, blustery day across the Midlands.

Call it my own version of "Chicken Soup for the Big 12 Fan's Soul."

Enjoy them.

Big 12 lunch links: 10 reasons why Texas could beat Bama

December, 16, 2009
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Seasons greetings.

How about a few Big 12 links that celebrate the conference while its original membership remains intact?

I'm not saying there is movement afoot, but Dan Beebe should have a contingency plan for new membership tucked away in case he ever needs it.

Here are some lunch-time morsels. Enjoy them.

Big 12 links: Huskers look to build momentum

November, 27, 2009
11/27/09
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Put down that cold drumstick and settle back into your couch.

We've got some football to play on Friday afternoon.

Before Nebraska and Colorado kick off this afternoon, here are some lunch links to get you primed. I guarantee they will go down more smoothly than Aunt Nell's leftover green bean and onion ring casserole will.

Bohn denies he's searching for a head coaching replacement

November, 16, 2009
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Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn told the Boulder Camera that he has not started looking for replacement options for Dan Hawkins, but has made no decision about Hawkins' future with the university.

Bohn told the Camera that "there is no timeline" for making a decision whether the coach will remain at Colorado and return for his fourth season in 2010.

"Our efforts are in creating an environment for him to be successful," Bohn told the Camera. "We are putting every ounce of energy, support and effort into creating an environment for us to be successful. That's where our focus is."



Hawkins said earlier Monday he didn't believe his job was in jeopardy, punctuating the question with a loud, long laugh when asked.

"No, not at all," he said.

Hawkins also said he believes he has support from Bohn and Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano about keeping his job.

"They've been great," Hawkins said. 'They've been awesome. Mike's been great and Phil has been great. They've both been very supportive about the whole deal, very good."

Hawkins also said that the school's administration shares a unified idea about the program and its potential for growth. The Buffaloes are 3-7 and will miss a bowl game for the third time in Hawkins' four years coaching the team.

"These guys are great and I think they understand the nature and scope of the position that we have here and all the things that go on and have gone on," Hawkins said. "Everybody wants to win more games, but I think in terms of helping get this place back on track after what it went through, we've had to take on a number of tasks and done a great job with that."

The Buffaloes are 16-31 in three-plus seasons with Hawkins directing the program. His .340 winning percentage during his tenure ranks as the third-lowest in the history of the Colorado program that has encompassed 23 different coaches who lasted at least a season coaching the team.

The only coaches with lower winning percentages in at least one season are Chuck Fairbanks, who posted a .212 winning percentage from 1979-81, and Bud Davis, who was .200 in 1962.

Big 12 lunch links: How about a Texas-TCU BCS title game?

November, 5, 2009
11/05/09
12:51
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Enjoy munching on these links as we get ready for some Thursday night games without any baseball to clutter our viewing patterns for a change.

I can hardly wait.

Big 12 lunch links: Young Aggies set for prime-time debut

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
12:47
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


This will be the last weekend until the bowls that Big 12 teams will be able to build a little national respect in a majority of nonconference games.

Texas A&M and Oklahoma hope to carry the conference's banner in their games Saturday night with a little more success than Colorado was able to muster last night.

Here are a few links to get you ready for all of the upcoming games.

Hawkins might be safe because of CU's cash-strapped budget

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Despite a disappointing 0-2 start, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins' job might not be immediate jeopardy because of the lack of money in the school's athletic department.

The Boulder Camera reported it would cost nearly $3 million to buyout the remaining three years of Hawkins' contract. And that expense is on top of the cost of hiring a new coach.

Hawkins' contract contains a clause limiting the school's liability to $850,000 per contract year if it should terminate him without cause. Hawkins would have more than three years remaining if he was fired at any point this season. His current contract runs through Jan. 31, 2013.

The school's total liability could approach $3 million under the terms of the deal if any partial year was prorated in a buyout. If the buyout was limited to three years, it would cost CU no more than $2,550,000, the Camera reported.

Hawkins' job status was called into question after embarrassing losses to Colorado State and Toledo to start the season.

The Colorado athletic department remains in deep debt with most of an $8 million loan from the campus and the CU system in 2006 still to be paid off. Part of that debt was caused by the last coaching change when athletic director Mike Bohn fired Gary Barnett at the end of the 2005 season and hired Hawkins.

Colorado was heavily criticized for having to pay Barnett approximately $4 million when it fired him. The terms of Barnett's contract required the settlement.

The department would have to borrow money to buyout Hawkins and it would be hard-pressed to do so in the current economic climate in which state funding to the university system is being significantly trimmed and some Colorado employees and faculty members already have lost their jobs.

Even with pressure mounting on his team as it heads into Saturday's game against Wyoming, Hawkins is confident his team can start winning soon.

"You just have to do what you do better," Hawkins told the Camera. "That's the trick. I've been coaching a long time. I know a lot of coaches. I've had a lot of coaches call me going, 'Hawk, you're fine. You know what you're doing.' And guys that have lost five games in a row. You've just got to keep doing your deal.

"Eventually, you will have a game, and I told our guys this, it will pop at some point."

Coupled with two losses to finish the 2008 season, the Buffaloes currently have a four-game losing streak. That streak is tied for the seventh-longest streak in college football.

Here's a look at the schools across the nation with the longest current losing streaks after last week's games.

10 games: Western Kentucky, Tulane

7 games: Miami (Ohio)

6 games: New Mexico, Virginia

5 games: San Jose State

4 games: Western Michigan, UTEP, Colorado, Ball State

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