Big 12: Mike Slive



The BCS presidential oversight committee meets Tuesday afternoon in Washington D.C. to discuss college football's future postseason. The 12 presidents will hear from the FBS commissioners who last week endorsed a seeded four-team playoff beginning in 2014, which would have semifinals at bowl sites and bid out the championship game nationally. The commissioners are expected to present multiple models and discuss the evolution of their discussion, which came to a head last week in Chicago. Although the commissioners are unified, they’ve made it clear the presidents have the final say here.

The oversight committee begins its meetings at 3 p.m. ET, and while initially scheduled to meet four hours, the session likely will last well into Tuesday night.

To get you prepared for a long day and night, here's a primer, in question-and-answer form.

What action will the presidents take Tuesday?

It's likely they'll approve the four-team playoff model endorsed by the commissioners. ESPN.com has learned that the two most evolved elements of the playoff are the basic four-team model and the use of a selection committee to determine the four teams. Two elements that still must be discussed further and likely won't be resolved Tuesday: understanding playoff access and revenue distribution. Although there's an agreement in principle among the commissioners for how the revenue should be divided, the presidents want to have a thorough discussion on this topic.

What elements unified the commissioners in Chicago?

The two big ones were the selection committee and having the semifinals played inside the bowls. Commissioners who have chaired the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee -- such as the SEC's Mike Slive, the Big Ten's Jim Delany and the Big 12's Bob Bowlsby -- strongly advocated for it, and others, like the Pac-12's Larry Scott, warmed up to the idea. They see the committee as more transparent, more rational and having fewer conflicts of interest than the current polls used in the BCS formula.

The commissioners emerged from their April meetings in Hollywood, Fla., with two models: a four-team playoff inside the bowls and a four-team playoff at neutral sites outside the bowls. ESPN.com has learned three leagues -- the SEC, Big 12 and Conference USA -- advocated neutral sites for semifinal games, which likely would bring in more revenue but devalue the top bowl games. The Big Ten and Pac-12 didn't want to see the Rose Bowl drop down several notches (think NIT) and endanger the other bowls. This was a deal breaker, and it eventually pushed the group toward an inside-the-bowls model.

How will the model work inside the bowls and with access?

It's very likely that five or six bowls, not just the four BCS bowls, will be part of the playoff structure. There will be the familiar four -- Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta -- as well as one or two yet-to-be-determined bowls (Cotton, Capital One, etc.). Although the commissioners spent a lot of time discussing an anchor plan -- where the No. 1 and No. 2 playoff participants would play at regional sites -- they determined it would be too difficult because of television sponsorships, ticket distribution and other factors. So the semifinal games will be predetermined and rotate between the bowls. For example, if the TV contract is for 12 years and the rotation includes six bowls, each game could host a semifinal four times.

The selection committee could end up selecting participants for more than just the four-team playoff, especially because the additional bowls will provide access for champions from smaller conferences. The same guidelines applied to selecting the playoff participants – strength of schedule, valuing conference championships -- also will be used to determine who appears in some of the additional bowls. For example, if the Mountain West champion and the Big Ten's No. 2 team have comparable profiles, including strength of schedules, and are ranked 12th and 13th, the Mountain West champion likely would get the nod to a big bowl because of its championship.

While there will be access for smaller-conference champions, the bowls who have contracts with certain leagues will continue to feature teams from those leagues. If the Rose Bowl isn't a national semifinal and loses the Pac-12 and/or Big Ten champion to a semifinal game, it will replace them with Pac-12 and Big Ten teams. The only way the Rose Bowl features teams not from the Big Ten or Pac-12 is if it's a semifinal.

How much traction does the plus-one model have?

None. It will be discussed Tuesday because the presidents want to look at multiple models, but everyone is so far down the road toward a four-team playoff and they're highly unlikely to turn back. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman, a playoff opponent who prefers the status quo and a plus-one over a four-team playoff -- as do the Big Ten colleagues he represents and some Pac-12 presidents -- will have his say, but he also understands where this is headed. Perlman realizes he can't be Mr. Davis in "12 Angry Men" and sway everyone else in the room.

How would the selection committee operate?

The group will have certain guidelines for selection, such as valuing strength of schedule conference championships. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but these guidelines will help break ties. Expect the committee to be around 15 members, and it will meet throughout the season. It's unclear who will serve on it, although former coaches as well as school and league administrators are the likeliest candidates.

According to a source, the committee could reveal a poll midway through the season to let the public know where things stand with certain teams. Such a poll likely would debut around the time the initial BCS standings do (Week 8 or so).

When would the playoffs take place?

The five or six bowls in the playoff rotation likely will take place around Jan. 1. The Rose Bowl will keep its traditional New Year's Day afternoon time slot, whether or not it's a national semifinal. A new contract for the Rose Bowl is expected this week and will last through the 2026 game. The Rose Bowl contract always has been completed before the BCS contract.

We could end up seeing three of the bowls take place Dec. 31 and the other three, including the Rose, on Jan. 1. The championship game then would take place about 10 days later.

Colleagues Mark Schlabach and Heather Dinich will be in D.C. for the presidential oversight committee meeting, so be sure and check in with ESPN.com throughout Tuesday afternoon and night.

Where does the Big 12 commish rank?

May, 24, 2012
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Earlier today, we looked at the pay for athletic directors around the league, but what about the men up top?

USA Today researched and released the pay for each conference commissioner, and former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe earned $1.7 million in 2010 after receiving a 70 percent raise.

He was relieved of his duties in fall 2011.

Here's how he ranked among his peers:
  • Larry Scott, Pac-12: $1.9 million
  • Jim Delany, Big Ten: $1.8 million
  • Beebe: $1.7 million
  • John Swofford, ACC: $1.5 million
  • Mike Slive, SEC: $1 million
  • John Marinatto, Big East: $600,000

The Big 12 has since moved on from Beebe, and no salary information was available for interim commissioner Chuck Neinas.

In USA Today's survey of athletic director salaries, new commissioner Bob Bowlsby's salary was unavailable, because Stanford is a private institution.

Either way, I'd expect the first-time commissioner to easily clear a seven-digit salary in his new gig.

For reference, Texas AD DeLoss Dodds made just under 1.1 million last year. Not exactly helping that whole "Texas runs the Big 12" perception if he makes more than the Big 12 commish, no?
The days of the Rose Bowl being the bowl of bowls could soon be coming to an end now that the SEC and the Big 12 have agreed on a five-year bowl partnership.

The new deal, announced Friday, will have the champions of the Big 12 and SEC meet in a New Year's Day bowl game annually beginning with the 2014 season. So while it won’t have the tradition of the Rose Bowl, it’ll have the viewers and it’ll have the popularity.

We’re seeing more and more how power is truly the most important component in college football, and this is a great example. Soon, we’ll have the two best BCS conferences going at it in their own special bowl competing with the beloved Rose Bowl.

We’re joined on the SEC blog by Big 12 blogger David Ubben to get his thoughts on what this means for the Big 12. We’re gentlemen down here in SEC country, so we’ll let him go first:

David Ubben: Rose Bowl, we love you. Not as much as Jim Delany does, but I'm not sure anyone can stake that claim. Anyway, it's time to face an unfortunate truth: You've been one-upped. The unnamed, unplaced bowl partnership between the Big 12 and SEC won't have the same level of tradition, but it will feature better teams. That's a powerful draw.
The BCS has played 14 national title games since its birth. The Big 12 or SEC have participated in 12 of them. Teams from the league have met in the game twice.

Now, they'll have another big stage to showcase their top teams. If a Big 12 or SEC champion is in the four-team playoff that will likely begin in the 2014 season, the next-best team will fill their place in the annual game. Deciding who plays in that game is up to each conference. The nation's two best conferences will get a much-needed opportunity to face one another on the field and test the hotly debated offense vs. defense theories on the field annually. The nation's college football fans were robbed of that when Oklahoma State was squeezed out of the national title game for SEC West second-place finisher Alabama. This year, the SEC and Big 12 only play once, when eight-win Texas travels to face two-win Ole Miss in September. Not exactly must-see TV.

This will be.

It assures the Big 12 a place at the adults' table of college football, further extending the distance between college football's top four leagues -- the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten, in that order -- and the ACC and Big East. The ACC and Big East have the Orange Bowl, but any game like the SEC and Big 12 put together will pale in comparison when it comes to TV ratings and more importantly, TV money.

Only a few months ago, the Big 12 had eight teams, with half the league considering a move to the Pac-12 and the conference on life support. Things are looking very different now. It's about to sign a giant television deal, likely extending the grant of rights into the next decade and assuring stability at least through then, and probably beyond.

Tired of getting stuck playing Boise State and UConn in everything to lose, nothing to gain BCS bowl matchups? Seven-time Big 12 champion Oklahoma won't have to worry about that anymore, and even if the Sooners are in the forthcoming national championship playoff, the next-best Big 12 team will have a quality opponent to prove itself against.

Another plus for the Big 12? The Cotton Bowl's odds of getting into the BCS as it stood were minimal. Now? It's still in flux, but does anyone want to bet against Jerry Jones and his wallet to get this game in his Dallas palace at some point? That's a big game in the Big 12 footprint, something that's never happened on the BCS bowl stage.

How will this affect Florida State, too? News has surely reached Tallahassee by now, and the Florida State spear-toting brass have to be wondering how much this factors into their wandering eye toward the Big 12. Is the ACC the place to be?

We'll find out soon, but on Jan. 1, 2015, there will be only one place to be.

This game.

Edward Aschoff: I couldn’t agree more with pretty much everything you said. There’s no question that both of these leagues have dominated the BCS since its first year in 1998. The conferences have been left out of the national championship just twice in the last 14 years and the SEC has participated in -- and won -- eight. The Big 12 has won two of its seven appearances.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has just about everything he wants in his conference, but he hasn’t had the Rose Bowl. Sure, all those national championship trophies are nice, but an annual game like the Rose Bowl commands respect. The game that the Big Ten and Pac-12 covet so much, and is watched by millions annually, will now get a major run for its money. While they’ll be played in different time slots, there’s no question that this will turn into the ultimate popularity contest. If you could sense that Big Ten-SEC tension before, just wait. Now, the SEC will be looking down on the Big Ten and picking at the game it holds so dear. Don’t think that didn’t cross the commissioner’s mind when he was thinking about this deal.

The SEC has truly been front and center in the college football world for the past six years with its 6-0 record in BCS championships, and now it will pursue a game it thinks can have the gusto of the Rose. This is a great opportunity for the SEC to build another fine tradition for the country’s top college football conference. And fans/the media want to see more of these matchups. For the most part, we're all deprived of them during the regular season, so here's a chance for us to win something as well. These two conferences need to play more. The best should always play the best, and as David said, we can finally settle the whole offense-defense debate.

This also means that more SEC teams have the chance to play in a primetime, marquee matchup in January. If this had been in place last season, Arkansas, which certainly had a BCS-caliber team, would have played in a BCS-like bowl, since Alabama and LSU met in the title game. The Cotton Bowl got the matchup this game would have received, but it would have been on a much grander scale and much more attention would have been paid to it. Oh, and much more money would have come out of it.

It would likely help the SEC this year too, as there could be as many as five teams jockeying for BCS position. Imagine if the four-team playoff took place this season? You might have two more SEC teams fighting for a chance at a national championship, meaning this game would give No. 3 a chance strut its stuff in front of its own grand audience.

There’s no question that with a four-team playoff, the SEC will have more opportunities to put teams in the national championship, continuing its dominance. Now, Slive has helped to ensure that a high-caliber team left out of the championship hunt will still play in a game that will command the type of attention that comes with a BCS bowl.
Kevin SumlinCal Sport Media/AP ImagesBetween a young team and a tough new conference, coach Kevin Sumlin has his work cut out for him.
It's Moving Day No. 2 on the blog network today, and the Aggies are following Missouri out the door into the SEC blog today. We introduced the Aggies to the SEC earlier, but now it's time to debate.

The Aggies' move to the SEC was more about having the program grow in brand-new soil, whereas Missouri's move was more about conference stability.

Will the Aggies thrive? SEC blogger Chris Low and Big 12 blogger David Ubben go head to head to find out.

Chris Low: OK, David, let's not tiptoe around. This is a big-boy conference in the SEC with big-boy stakes. I know everything is supposedly bigger in the state of Texas, but do the Aggies really know what they're getting themselves into? For one, they tend to play all four quarters in the SEC. Judging by what I saw from the Aggies last season, somebody might want to remind them that there is a second half. Come to think of it, that's not very hospitable of me. I take that back. But, honestly, how do you think the Aggies will handle the grind of this league?

David Ubben: Now, now, Chris, that's not very nice. The Aggies are ...

As one final tribute to Texas A&M, I elected to forfeit the second half of that sentence.

In the early running, Texas A&M's going to have a lot of issues. Losing the volume and quality of talent they did in 2011 will hurt, especially on offense, as the program moves into a league -- and, particularly, a division -- known for defense. Ryan Tannehill wasn't great last year, but his experience helped, and Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray are a pair of NFL players that don't roll around every year.

I like the talent on campus at A&M a lot, though. They're just going to be young for now. With what they have now, they'll get better and better, as long as Kevin Sumlin does well. Based on what we've seen from his career, I think he will.

[+] EnlargeSean Porter
Troy Taormina/US PresswireLinebacker Sean Porter tallied 9 sacks for A&M last season, but the Aggies will need more from their defensive line.
Beyond these first three to four years, how well they progress will depend on recruiting. The Aggies think the SEC will be a big draw for Texas recruits who want to play in the best conference in college football. Being able to offer that could help them surpass Texas on the recruiting trail and on the field.

Are you buying that? I strongly lean toward no, but I could see it happening. What do you think? Is playing in the SEC going to be a draw for Texas kids? Why or why not?

CL: I absolutely think the SEC will be a draw for some Texas recruits who see it as a chance to stay in the state and still play their college football and also be able to do it against SEC competition. That's a pretty sweet proposition: Stay close to home in the football-crazed state of Texas and compete in the football-crazed SEC, which has a standing order with the sculptor who designs that crystal trophy every year for the BCS national champion.

There's also another side to this story. The boys in the SEC think their chances of going deep into the heart of Texas and landing elite prospects are better than ever with Texas A&M joining the league. Rival coaches can tell mamas and daddies (that's the way the Bear used to say it) that they'll be able to keep up with their sons just like they were in the Big 12 with the Aggies now part of the SEC family, although the recruiting atmosphere in this league isn't very family-oriented. Just ask Urban Meyer. He got so tired of the recruiting shenanigans in the SEC that he's now pulling his own in the Big Ten, according to some of his new brethren there.

That leads me to my next question: Has anybody informed the Aggies that the rules are a little different in the SEC? Unlike the Big 12, it's not the first team to 40 points that wins.

DU: For the record, the league changed those rules for Baylor-Washington in the Alamo Bowl. First to 60 wins now, but that's irrelevant news for the Aggies.

A&M's front seven's actually been really good these past two years, but this year, it was the secondary that let the team down. The Aggies led the nation with 51 sacks, but the team wasn't happy that it took a lot of risky blitzes to get those sacks. The defensive line wasn't the unit applying the pressure most often — it was linebackers and defensive backs. That meant a lot of big plays in the passing game; the Aggies ranked 109th nationally in pass defense, giving up more than 275 yards a game. Now, they won't see the same caliber of quarterbacks in the SEC, but we will see if the front seven can handle the power of teams in the SEC West, which, to their credit, do have a handful of quarterbacks with a lot of potential. Tyler Wilson's great now. AJ McCarron and Kiehl Frazier could be elite soon.

We'll see what new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder can fix.

On the flip side of the recruiting debate, how much do you think SEC teams will try and slide into Texas? Could we see some collateral damage in the Big 12? Will the SEC one day take over the world? I heard Nicolas Sarkozy already has a special security detail in place in case Mike Slive comes after him.

CL: I'm not sure about taking over the world. It's just college football that the SEC one day would like to own. Some might suggest it already does.

Arkansas and LSU will probably be helped the most in terms of going into Texas and getting players. Other schools in the SEC might be more apt to target players in the state of Texas and make a push for those select players, but I don't think you're going to suddenly see a mass of teams in the SEC setting up camp in Texas on the recruiting trail. There's no need to when you look at how bountiful the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina are in most years.

You mention some of the quarterbacks in the Western Division. It's fair to say that this wasn't a quarterback's league this season, and I also realize that the Big 12 has produced some quarterbacks over the last few years who've put up Xbox-type numbers.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireThere's little doubt that the state of Texas and the SEC share a deep passion for football.
But my question for you: Is Texas A&M capable of playing the kind of defense it takes to win big in the SEC?

DU: I think so, eventually. They know they have to, which is huge. They've seen how teams succeed in the SEC, and it's with defense.

If you invest in something, especially with the resources A&M has, good things will happen. Don't forget, the Aggies defense was really, really good last year. The athletes are there. For A&M, it's about putting it together.

CL: With all due respect, "really, really good" on defense in the Big 12 is entirely different than being "really, really good" in the SEC on defense. The more I watch this conference, the more it's ingrained in me that you're never going to win at a high level unless you can run the ball, stop the run and consistently win the turnover battle. Everything else is window dressing. I understand that's not exactly rocket science, but being able to run the ball creates a mindset that positively impacts your entire team. The same goes for playing good run defense.

So if I were offering any advice to the Aggies as they make the big jump, it would be to fortify their offensive backfield and recruit like crazy in the offensive and defensive lines. There's no such thing as too much depth in the SEC.

Having a little Texas flavor in the SEC is exciting. I know you're on record as saying the Aggies might struggle next season. But over time, I think they have what it takes to be an upper-echelon team in the SEC. Of course, that's the beauty of the SEC. So does everybody else in the league.

DU: Oh, there's no respect due when we're talking Big 12 defenses. The best in the SEC are on another stratosphere from the best in the Big 12.

Your game plan sounds like what I'd recommend, but it's easier said than done. Like Mizzou, A&M will have to start mining some of those junior colleges down south like the rest of the SEC West.

Generally, I'd agree with you on A&M's long-term prospects. The Aggies will win less than they did in the Big 12 ... which is to say not much. But they could put it together and have a huge year every now and then. I don't see them surpassing Texas as a program, but they're on their own now.

For some Aggies, that's enough. Next year, the Aggies will struggle, but watching them grow and try to build a new program will be fascinating.

Missouri's move to the SEC is official

November, 6, 2011
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Missouri will join the SEC and plans to be the conference's 14th member in the 2012-13 academic year, according to a Sunday morning announcement.

"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in the news release. "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

But could hurdles to making that happen still lie ahead? West Virginia and the Big 12 announced their plans for the Mountaineers to join the league in 2012, but the school and the Big East are currently embroiled in dueling suits over the league's 27-month notice required in Big East bylaws.

From our news story: "A source recently told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Missouri could have trouble getting out of the Big 12 because the league isn't sure if it can get the Mountaineers in from the Big East next season."

The Big 12 is required to have 10 members to fulfill its television contract.

Missouri and the SEC plan to have a public celebration and news conference on Sunday afternoon in Columbia.

"The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri," school chancellor Brady J. Deaton said in the SEC statement. "In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success."

Missouri's entrance also gives the SEC a fourth Association of American Universities member, joining Texas A&M, Florida and Vanderbilt.

Missouri preferred Big Ten over SEC

October, 5, 2011
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Missouri handed the right to negotiate and make decisions on behalf of the school's conference affiliation to chancellor Brady Deaton on Tuesday.

With that, it hopes to join the SEC. The conference, though, was Missouri's second choice behind the Big Ten. Remaining in the Big 12 was its last choice. The Big 12 which has lost three members in the last 15 months.
Missouri hoped to join the Big Ten last year but the league instead chose Nebraska. The university official said the Big Ten remains Missouri's top choice but that conference "has no interest."

"That's what's left," the official said, referring to the SEC.

The SEC's athletic directors met on Wednesday, but the possible addition of Missouri was not on the agenda, a source with direct knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.com's Andy Katz. The meeting was called several weeks ago.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive has not ruled out further expansion, and Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart has said the SEC will eventually add members.

No more rumors or covert plane tracking this time.

Mike Slive got off an airplane in College Station and got to tend to his business.

The SEC commissioner made his way to Aggieland and took a seat next to Florida president Bernie Machen, the chairman of the SEC leaders and Texas A&M officials to welcome the Aggies as the SEC's 13th member.

"We were very happy at 12," Slive said. "When Texas A&M came to us and indicated their interest in joining the SEC, we said to ourselves: 'That is a great institution, academically, athletically, culturally and in every way, and a real fit.' So we decided even though we were content with 12, that we had the opportunity to have Texas A&M as part of the SEC was something that we just did not want to give up."

The SEC plans to remain at 13 for the immediate future.

Slive and the Aggies took questions in front of hundreds of Texas A&M fans who showed up to the Zone Club at Kyle Field to celebrate their new home.
Sources told ESPN's Joe Schad on Monday that the school's play in the league next year is "unconditional." If any school, including Baylor, files litigation against A&M, it would be addressed at that time.

Slive said that fear was quelled when Oklahoma decided it would stay in the Big 12 and keep the remaining nine teams together. The SEC was given no assurances that schools would not take legal action, but decided Oklahoma's decision was enough to go ahead with A&M's admission into the conference.

Iowa State officials told the Des Moines Register this week that they have not waived their right to legal action, but the SEC felt comfortable enough with the Big 12's future that it went ahead and made official what the league's presidents unanimously voted to do back on Sept. 6.

The first sign came at a word.

"Uncertainty."

When it came to Texas A&M's relationship with the Big 12, Texas and its Longhorn Network had created it.

Texas A&M's regents met on July 20 before Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin told waiting media of the uncertainty, and a day later, Loftin dialed up his good friend, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who Loftin says he'd last spoken to at the Cotton Bowl months earlier.

The league's board of directors met, and everyone appeared to be on the plane, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry let slip that the Aggies and SEC were engaging in "conversations."

But those conversations couldn't get far unless Loftin had the power to turn them into movement toward the SEC. So, on Aug. 15, the university's board of regents gave it to him.

And with that power, he decided to go for a leisurely "conference exploration."

Call it a nature hike, I suppose, full of wild boars, some new breeds of Tigers, a wild Game or two and some Gators way east.

He asked the Big 12 to let him know, if, by some chance, he wanted his university to leave, what it would take.

The Big 12 responded, and most importantly, agreed to mutual waivers of legal claims. There won't be any drawn out litigation between Texas A&M and the Big 12, regardless of who is the plaintiff and who is the defendant.

But now, with Wednesday's news that Texas A&M plans to withdraw from the Big 12 if its application to a new conference is accepted, the Aggies have taken by far the biggest leap on their road to the SEC.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe released a statement shortly after.

"The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options," he said.

So for now, nobody's hiding intentions and keeping a foot in both camps.

Texas A&M is ready to leave.

The Big 12 is ready to move on.

Texas A&M presumably has gotten some assurance that the necessary nine of 12 votes are accounted for to be accepted into the SEC and officially leave the Big 12.

And now, there's the issue of "exit fees," which is incoming conference revenue withheld from the university as part of the Big 12 bylaws.

Texas A&M has given less than one year's notice of withdrawal and more than six months, which means the league's bylaws state it will be subject to forfeit 90 percent of its revenue from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

That number is somewhere in the ballpark of $28 million to $30 million.

But there's a precedent that it may be less.

Nebraska was due to lose 80 percent of its revenue when it left the league last summer, but settled on 48 percent for a total of $9.255 million.

Could Texas A&M do the same? It's hard to see why it couldn't, but those negotiations may heat up very soon.

Or not. Nebraska announced it was leaving in June 2010. The league and school settled in September 2010.

The Aggies won't be in limbo that long, but the school says there won't be a news conference to announce a move today. A spokesman also said the focus is on game week.

Which means, for now, this could be all the public hears.

But next week?

Texas A&M is off following its Sunday night opener against SMU.

Look for an announcement during the bye week, before a Sept. 17 date with Idaho.

Until then? The wait may be painful. It might get a bit awkward.

But for Texas A&M, life is good out on the limb.

Another SEC roadblock for Texas A&M?

August, 16, 2011
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Texas A&M appears to be on its way to the SEC, but the process has slowed, and the Aggies may have to clear another hurdle before being able to exit the Big 12.

This one, though, has nothing to do with good, old-fashioned Texan politicking, fits for the SEC's 14th team or votes from any number of board members.

The latest roadblock could be a possible meeting between top college officials, barring clearance from the NCAA.

According to a report in the New York Times, NCAA president Mark Emmert has reached out to officials to suggest a "less canniabalistic and more collegial way to approach conference expansion."
Tension is high among some commissioners, as Texas A&M of the Big 12 appears headed to the Southeastern Conference in the near future. The Big 12’s Dan Beebe and the SEC’s Mike Slive had a heated phone conversation last week about a potential move, according to a high-ranking college official with direct knowledge of the call.

As conferences teeter on the edge of significant realignment, Emmert’s proposal shows the level of concern among major college sports officials. Emmert lacks the authority to make unilateral decisions about realignment, but he can preach common sense.

Beebe disputed the claims to the Dallas Morning News, saying "We have been very direct but have not had any conversations with Mike Slive I would describe as heated, ever."

Texas A&M's exit to the SEC (which I do believe will eventually happen) has no current timeline, but if the NCAA gets seriously involved, any conference move could happen later than sooner.
Dan BeebeAP Photo/Matt StrasenCommissioner Dan Beebe has been dealing with concerns over expansion and the Longhorn Network.
The Longhorn Network doesn't launch until Aug. 26, but it's already been the subject of plenty of discussion and prompted the league's athletic directors to meet last week in Dallas in the midst of more realignment rumors and problems that had to be solved before the launch.

"Oh, you know, just another easy summer," Beebe said with a laugh to begin a recent interview with ESPN.com. "I need a summer where I can be bored for once."

He didn't get it in 2010, when the Big 12 lost a pair of teams.

This one wasn't easy either, but Beebe took some time to talk about the Longhorn Network, Texas, Texas A&M's future in the Big 12, and the league's possible new network.

We’ve seen commissioners take a much bigger role in this world of expansion and realignment, but how has that changed the jobs you, [Big Ten commissioner] Jim Delany and [SEC commissioner] Mike Slive and the rest of you do compared to your predecessors?

Dan Beebe: I think the intensity is ratcheted up enormously. It’s already more intense, and there’s a greater amount of intensity that’s been created between the high-resource conferences and the lower-resource conferences. For the commissioners’ roles themselves, and within the BCS-level conferences, it’s ratcheted up as well.

How much longer do you think we’ll be talking about expansion and realignment in college sports in general?

DB: It’s happened for a while, for 20 to 22 years that I’ve been around. Certainly when it happens at this level, it makes a lot more news. I mean, I brought in five new members when I was in the Ohio Valley Conference, and then you’d have to look back at Penn State and Arkansas and South Carolina and some other movements that have gone on.

I think until we all kind of settle into our new television deals and we play, the Big Ten plays together with its 12 and the Pac-12 plays together and the Big East with its new configuration, until we go through a few years of that, this will always be something that people suspect will occur, and that’s a change in alignment.

What was it like for you to see this stuff bubble up again in recent weeks, a year after it looked like the Big 12 had kind of moved on?

DB: It’s disconcerting. Like I said at media days, we’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt by the media or the public until we go through a couple seasons probably playing each other and everybody gets to see what we’re talking about in terms of our stability and commitment to the future and what’s going on or what we’re about.

We had that athletic directors meeting the other day, and every single athletic director reiterated their commitment to the conference and the fact that they believe the best place for their institution is in this configuration of institutions.

How would you describe the discussions at the meeting last Monday?

DB: Frank. And respectful. But there certainly was -- and I encouraged it -- nobody I think held back from what their feelings were and what their position was.

Look, the one thing that hasn’t gotten out is, especially with the Longhorn Network, how considerate DeLoss Dodds and Texas has been about this. They have said, and it’s made several publications, that they did not want to do anything that was going to create a recruiting advantage or do anything that was going to harm the conference. And DeLoss came to the meetings with that kind of continued attitude about it.

So what was expressed that you would describe as frank?

DB: Well, that kind of sentiment. I don’t want to get into what goes back and forth while ideas are being formulated, because I think you need to have those things done in private, so it was just a matter of where everybody stood on certain issues and it was a good exchange.

Texas A&M has certainly been at the center of a lot of this, so what did they express to you and others in the meeting about their future in this league?

DB: That they’re very, strongly committed to the conference, just as Bill Byrne stated. They helped make sure it was going forward last summer and believe strongly that this is the place for the institution to be located.

How do you feel the Longhorn Network’s general existence affects the long-term stability of the league?

DB: Well, I think that all of our institutions in five years are going to have delivery systems, whether they be together or some together, some not. We’ve just seen the Pac-10 basically create that for their own members in what, six different networks and a seventh for the conference?

So, I think that’s the wave of the future. There’s going to be an appetite for fans in a local region to see the content in that region that may not be appealing for a wider region or even nationally, and all of our institutions are going to create some sort of delivery system.

The Longhorn Network is just the first one out of the gate. And whenever you have a first venture like that, there’s all sorts of questions and things that need to be ironed out. But I think all of [the other schools] will be there in five years.

(Read full post)

Mailbag: A&M/Pac-12, Texas O, top 25

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
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Thanks for all the questions during the week of media days. It was a busy one, helped by you guys. Short day today, so have a great weekend.

Robert in Salt Lake City: With Scott being aggressive, and implying there is future expansion, on the horizon for the PAC-12, any chance that A&M takes our disgruntled selves and goes there instead of the SEC? Could the original PAC-16 notion from last summer come to pass without Texas?

David Ubben: It's possible, I suppose. Obviously, the SEC is a good fit, and on their end, I'm sure would love to have the Aggies as an addition. However, Mike Slive has kept pretty quiet and you never know what they'll do. If not, I could see the Pac-16 being an option. That said, I still feel pretty confident that this latest dustup in the Big 12 is mostly just a speed bump and once it's settled, the Big 12 will remain at 10 teams for quite awhile, well through the next TV contract. Fans aside, I think each school's decision-makers did their due diligence last summer to really decide what conference suited its university's needs best. The 10 teams all came to the conclusion that it was the Big 12. Not that much has changed.

And, for the 500th time on this blog, my mailbag tells me I need to reiterate that my employment is not contingent on the existence of the Big 12.


Connor in Beaumont, Texas, asked: Ok, here's the dealio. Of course everyone knows about the Longhorn fiasco from last season. I figured i would ask an unbiased expert about a possible theory I have created. Could their offensive lack of production be attributed fully on the offensive line? After the failure of the "Power run-game offense for which they spent most of the pre-season and spring preparing, they seemed to abandon that and revisit the spread which did not function either. Is this a plausible or even a likely cause?

DU: Well, that's hardly a stretch for a theory. Honestly, I think it's the biggest reason. Texas doesn't have skill position guys that make you say "Wow!", but the Longhorns have some athletes. When Garrett Gilbert has had time, he's looked OK. The running backs aren't great, but they got no help last season. I really do believe the O-line was the biggest problem for the offense last year, with Gilbert's decision-making a very close second.

So, to your theory, I'm buying. It's amazing how much better an offense can look behind a good offensive line. If Stacy Searels gets those guys going this year, guys like Gilbert, Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Davis are going to look a whole lot better.


William in De La Playa, Calif., asked: Hi David, One of the most impressive things about DeMarco Murray was his ability to catch swing passes in the flats, and gain tough inside yardage behind an offensive line whose ability to drive block was mediocre. From what you've seen, is there anyone among OU's new crop of backs that has good enough hands to keep the swing pass option viable for next season?

DU: We haven't gotten a chance to see a lot of the young backs at Oklahoma, but my understanding is the best guy in OU's backfield for that part of the job was Brennan Clay. His injury last seaon against Florida State happened on a swing pass. If I'm guessing, I bet Clay leads the team in receptions among running backs.

With Oklahoma though, get ready to see that Diamond, or "Backs" formation plenty next season. The same is true at Oklahoma State. They have so many running backs that can contribute, you've got to find a way to get them on the field. That's a great way to handle them along with fullback Trey Millard. Stoops loves Millard and he should become a quiet star in this league, if only because of the position he plays. He was one of the league's most impressive freshmen last season.


Brandon in Austin, Texas asked: I'm hoping to see Jackson Jeffcoat make the top 25 players list. Doesn't necessarily have the stats to compare to some of the other DL players that will make it (only a sophomore and the ankle injury last season), but his freak athleticism and superior technique made him a powerful weapon last season. Despite Okafor's dominating performance in the spring game, I think Jeffcoat improves on his early season performance from last year and becomes the next big sack machine for Texas.

DU: Well, I'll go ahead and burst your bubble on this one. Jeffcoat's not making it. That said, he may have a great shot at making the postseason list. I loved what he did early in the 2010 season, especially against Texas Tech, but you can't put him on the list when you look at his entire freshman year.

That said, he's got some of the best raw skills of any pass rusher in the league. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he competed with Brad Madison for the league lead in sacks, and even cracked the All-Big 12 first-team by the season's end. I'm not really sold on Ronnell Lewis as a reliable defensive end on that team, and there's really not a lot of great pass rushers in the Big 12 this season.

The door's wide open for Jeffcoat to become a star opposite Alex Okafor for the Longhorns. He's got it all. Great size, great speed, great technique, he's smart and every indication from their staff is he's extremely coachable. It helps having a dad like Jim Jeffcoat, a 15-year pro with Dallas and San Francisco who now coaches the defensive line at San Jose State.


Nicholas in Houston asked: Why wasn't Dan Bailey on your March postseason Big 12's best 25 list?

DU: Don't let a Nebraska fan hear you. When Alex Henery wasn't being awesome at punting and kicking 80-yard field goals, he was saving the lives of countless small children across the world.

The uproar about Bailey winning the Groza Award over all-everything Henery aside, my policy is I don't put special teams players on my top 25. I understand their profound impact on games, but I simply don't believe they're on the field for enough plays to be designated as one of the top 25 players in the league. Sorry. Not all of us bloggers agree, but nobody's changing my mind on that.


Husker Nation in Everywhere asked: Dave, is it too early to say we told you so?

DU: Yes.


Zachary Krider in Leonard, Texas, asked: What teams do you see getting upset early on and what games?

DU: All the top teams in the Big 12 better show up in these games against good teams very capable of beating them. Obviously, the Oklahoma-Florida State game will get a lot of attention, but a bad outing for Oklahoma State against Arizona could quickly turn into a loss.

The same is true for Texas A&M against SMU in its opener. And Missouri surely grasps the difficulty of its trip to Tempe to play Arizona State in a Friday night game. Every single one of those games could be an upset and derail big seasons before they even get rolling into October.


James C in College Station asked: Better nickname, C-Mike the Motorbike or Cyrus the Virus?

DU: I gotta go with C-Mike, if only for its versatility. You've got C-Mike the Motorbike, but want the long version? Well, obviously, there's C-Michael the Motorcycle. Can't beat that. Best backs in Beebe's Dozen, right?

A look at Dan Beebe's recent pay raise

June, 21, 2011
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A pay raise from 2008 to 2009 pushed Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's salary to just under $1 million, according to tax records acquired by the Associated Press.

Beebe was paid $661,000 in 2008, but received a raise to $997,000 for 2009.

Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda told the Associated Press that the raise was given by the conference's board of directors to put him on par with the rest of the BCS automatic qualifying leagues.

Here's what college football's other major conference commissioners made in 2009:
  • Jim Delany, Big Ten: $1.6 million
  • John Swofford, ACC, $1.1 million
  • Mike Slive, SEC, $1 million
  • Dan Beebe, Big 12, $997,000

The other two major conference commissioners were hired after the first half of 2009, but here's what they were paid for six months of compensation:
  • Larry Scott, Pac-10/12, $735,000
  • John Marinatto, Big East, $366,000

According to the outlet, "Those figures include base salary and benefits such as health insurance, as well as other forms of pay such as retirement and deferred compensation."

College football's other five leagues that don't receive automatic BCS bids all paid their commissioners less than $600,000.

A&M invite to SEC? Hardly 'open'

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
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Texas' recent announcement of the Longhorn Network has brought the issue of Texas A&M leaving for the SEC back to light, after Aggies fans voiced their displeasure at its creation.

My thoughts on the issue are clear, but SEC commissioner Mike Slive addressed expansion briefly in a Q&A with colleague Chris Low over at the SEC blog.

One of the issues that would be a hangup for a possible move for Texas A&M is whether the invitation that was reportedly issued this summer still stands. Common thought is, without the threat of a Pac-16 forming, it doesn't stand unless future expansion occurs.

But where does the SEC stand?

"It’s hard to answer that," Slive said. "I can’t tell you what other conferences or commissioners are thinking. We can take what they say. But whether it’s the final whistle in the game or just a timeout, I don’t know. I think all of us tried to balance all the issues, and we have an obligation to do things to strengthen our respective conferences. Maybe the best metaphor of all would be to say what was clearly a front-burner issue on high is now a back-burner issue on low for most of the conferences."

That doesn't sound like a commissioner that's very gung-ho in bringing in new blood.

Later in the Q&A, he has this to say:
So are you going to tell us how close you were to getting Texas A&M and Oklahoma?

MS: No [laughing].

Did you ever think it was going to happen?

MS: As I said, I was going to be thoughtful and strategic, and I was both [laughing harder].

Oklahoma's administration and fans sound content on attaching itself to Texas, and as nauseating as that is for some in the crimson-and-cream, it's the right move big picture for the program.

As for the Aggies, that's not necessarily the case. But until a new incident prompts movement, it looks like Texas A&M won't be leaving for the SEC any time soon.

Lunch links: From a refugee camp to the 40 Acres

May, 24, 2010
5/24/10
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College football, unlike LOST, never ends. So give thanks.

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