Big 12: Walt Anderson

IRVING, Texas -- The big topic of conversation at the Big 12's spring meetings Wednesday was doing the league's part to help piece together the College Football Playoff selection committee, but plenty more took place inside the meeting room, too. Here are a few notes from the Big 12's business this week.

Big 12 plays officiating guinea pig

Conference officials approved the use of eight-man officiating crews for the 2013 season. It'll be a one-year experiment that's revisited at the end of the season, and the Big 12 will be the only league in college football to use the additional official, who will be located in the offensive backfield, on the side of the quarterback, opposite the referee.

The crews, which will cost an additional $2,000 per school, will be used for all conference games and four selected nonconference games.

"Most people think our officials are as good as any in the country, and [Big 12 coordinator of officials] Walt [Anderson] is a seasoned and successful coordinator and an innovative guy. I think that's why [the national coordinator and other league coordinators] thought the Big 12 was a pretty good place to try it out."

Bowl tie-ins getting straightened out

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the Big 12 won't officially announce its bowl tie-ins this week, but the picture is coming into shape during the week of meetings, and the Alamo Bowl could replace the Cotton Bowl as the top Big 12 game for teams who don't qualify for the four-team playoff.

"We're not finished with that yet, but it looks like it's going to work that way," Bowlsby said. "We're not quite there, but we're not far."

He reiterated his stance that the Big 12 wants its bowl games to remain anchored in Texas but also have games out west (i.e., Arizona and/or California) and a game in Florida (possibly the Russell Athletic Bowl or Gator Bowl), as well as a game with a destination within driving distance for fans. That sentiment was driven in part by 25,000 Iowa State fans showing up at last year's Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

NCAA briefs Big 12 on lawsuits

NCAA attorney Donald Remy updated Big 12 officials on class-action lawsuits filed by former players claiming the NCAA used their images in video games without their permission. Former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller and former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon are among the plaintiffs.

"This is years away from being resolved, and there’s probably an appeals process after that," Bowlsby said.

He declined to speculate on what a loss for the NCAA might mean, citing "too many moving parts" in any fallout from the lawsuits.
It won't change the result, but a Big 12 official apologized privately to Mike Gundy this week.

From our news story:
The Big 12's coordinator of officials "apologized profusely" to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy for his official's botched call at the end of the Cowboys' 41-36 loss to Texas, according to a report in The Oklahoman.

Walt Anderson told Gundy that head linesman Brad Edwards signaled touchdown too soon without a proper view of the ball on the play that put the Longhorns ahead, according to the report. Texas running back Joe Bergeron fumbled, and the question was whether it happened before he crossed the goal line.

... An officiating source told the paper that once the ball gets lost in the pile, clear recovery goes away. In order to earn possession, Oklahoma State would have had to demonstrate clear recovery.

The Big 12 did the right thing here even though the private apology went public pretty quickly. I offered a few thoughts on Twitter earlier this week, but I doubt Anderson's apology did much to appease Gundy.

Anderson's interpretation was the same as mine: Yes, it was a fumble. No, it wasn't a touchdown. However, based on the rules of clear recovery, Texas should have maintained possession.

The odds for punching it in on the next down favor Texas, but you know Oklahoma State would have loved another chance to make a game-winning goal line stand.

If you're an Oklahoma State fan, does this make the Texas loss easier or more difficult to swallow?

Snyder weighs in on rules change

July, 27, 2011
7/27/11
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DALLAS -- Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson opened up a presentation on Monday morning with one of the most infamous plays of the college football season in 2010: The Bronx Salute. Adrian Hilburn's salute to a group of Kansas State fans that had traveled from the Little Apple to the Big Apple drew a flag, leaving the Wildcats 18 yards from a 36-all tie instead of 3, and an eventual loss.

Wildcats coach Bill Snyder, however, isn't complaining, though the example has been used as an incorrect interpretation of the new celebration rules preparing to hit college football this fall.

"There was an awful lot of media attention paid to it, talk shows, etc., etc., across the nation. So that perhaps had some impact on [the change]," Snyder said. "But it certainly wasn't anything that I said or -- it happened. And what do we say? It is what it is or it was what it was."

The new rule allows for points to be taken off the board for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the field of play, and though Anderson and his officiating brethren insist they'll be erring on the conservative side -- both in the scope and location of the celebrations -- Snyder is asking for just one thing: consistency.

"When you get outside of the conference, play with officials that come from a different conference, you're not sure if you'll have the same continuity," Snyder said. "The best way for it not to be an issue is to make sure that your youngsters don't do anything that would threaten the letter of the rule itself."

How to do that? What else? Discipline, Snyder says, a trait his teams over the years have ultimately become known for.

"It's hard sometimes because every football coach in the country will tell you -- and you would feel the same way -- that if you were coaching that you would want young people to be passionate about the game and play with great spirit and emotion because it is that kind of a game. And when you do that, you know, sometimes you just show your joy, and it's strictly that," Snyder said. "It's not trying to demean anyone. It's just joy of accomplishing something on the field. And to get penalized, really it's kind of a hard thing for young guys."

Roundup: Rule change, Baylor heat, ESPY

July, 13, 2011
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I'm back in Dallas and the blog is back to full speed after a trip back home to SEC country. Here's a bit of what we missed while I was away:

Bronx Salute was not in vain

Adrian Hilburn is hardly a household name outside of Manhattan, Kansas, but he's helped usher in a change in officiating. The College Football officiating clinic was held in Kansas City this week, and though yours truly wasn't able to attend, I wish I had.

According to a variety of reports, officials have been told to cool it on celebration penalties, welcome news for college football fans who will deal with the possibility of points being taken off the board this year for touchdown celebrations that happen before a player crosses the goal line.

Said Walt Anderson, the Big 12 coordinator of officiating, on the Hilburn flag, now dubbed the "Bronx Salute":

"The rules committee realized the pendulum had swung too far," Anderson, the Big 12's coordinator of officiating, told his crews during a College Football Officiating clinic Saturday. "We ended up becoming the focal point of ‘C'mon, man' (on ESPN). If it's going to get us on ‘C'mon, man,' we don't want to make that call."

(Begrudging note: Somehow I left those officials off my own postseason "C'mon man!")

The bottom line, Ken Rivera, the Mountain West's version of Anderson, told The Oklahoman:

"Most coordinators thought they should not have made that call,” Rivera said. "We swung the pendulum ... officials started looking for things. The pendulum has swung back. Don't inject yourself into the game.

"In the past, the feeling was, when in doubt, call it. Now, it's just the opposite. When in doubt, don't call it."

I'll pause for you all to take some time and give Rivera and his officiating posse a standing ovation. (Until the first questionable call, anyway.)

Wayne Rooney outlasts Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State defenders Brodrick Brown and Shaun Lewis cracked the final eight for the ESPY for Play of the Year, but Wayne Rooney's classic bicycle kick KO'd the Cowboys in the second round of voting.

Rooney was the No. 3 seed in the 16-play tournament, and Brown and Lewis' acrobatic tag-team interception against Oklahoma was the No. 6 seed.

The Cowboys lost in fan voting, but hey, they were still the only college football players to crack the bracket, so that's something, even though the pair missed out on a trip to tonight's ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

Baylor's season ticket promotion turns red-hot

Baylor earned a bit of national attention for its recent season-ticket promotion, which allowed fans to purchase season tickets for the same price as the high temperature in Waco on July 4.

Temperatures reached 101 degrees, so Baylor sold season-ticket packages for a week at $101.

The Bears sold 2,406 tickets at the admittedly gimmicky price, bringing their season-ticket total to over 14,000 for the upcoming season.

What to expect on Day 2 of media days

July, 27, 2010
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IRVING, Texas -- Pretty fun day on Day 1 of Big 12 media days yesterday. Our Day 1 wrap is readily available on the website with dispatches from yours truly and columnist Pat Forde, both in text and video.

Here's the lineup for Day 2: (all times ET)

10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland

10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick

11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall

12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock

You can watch a live feed of the proceedings from Big12Sports.com, and the site also has archived video from earlier in the week. Nebraska, Baylor, Iowa State and Texas A&M took their turn on Monday.

Here's a look at what to expect on Tuesday:
  • Missouri looks like a solid contender in the North to knock off Nebraska, so expect plenty of questions about that game -- especially since it's the last time it'll be played for awhile. Pinkel might even be peppered with questions about Missouri's historical struggles in Lincoln; its 30-year drought at Memorial Stadium came to an end in 2008. The secondary gave up plenty of big plays in 2009 and will try to improve in 2010. If they do, Rutland -- one of four returning starters in the secondary -- will be a big reason why. Look for questions for Rutland and Pinkel about how they'll do it.
  • For Mike Gundy, it wouldn't shock me if he left the stage without a question about his defense, despite bringing two defenders into the one-on-one interview room next door. Believe it or not, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini accomplished that feat in Monday's formal Q&A. The story for the Cowboys is their new offense: how well Brandon Weeden knows it and can run it, how well Kendall Hunter fits into it, which receivers have meshed into it. I expect Oklahoma State's defense to be solid, probably somewhere in the 5-9 range in points allowed. Call it faith in Bill Young. But my hunch is the offense -- in both yardage and points -- looks like a big-swinging winner or loser in 2010. Top three or bottom three, depending on who figures what out when. I last visited Stillwater on the first day of spring camp. Everyone was still feeling everything out. There's surely been plenty of progression since then, but we won't get a sense of just how much until the first weekend in September.
  • Kansas State is short on big names -- only Daniel Thomas made the media's All-Big 12 team -- but Hartman might be the most well-known defender and one of the best. Snyder will surely be asked his thoughts about the seemingly imminent round-robin schedule he's opposed in favor of two five-team divisions. As one of the vulnerable Forgotten Five in this summer's realignment, expect to revisit the events of June as well.
  • The Red Raiders are probably the most interesting team to take the stage on Tuesday, and they'll end the day for Big 12 teams. Tuberville will hear about plenty on Tuesday, like what his defense getting torched by the team's third and fourth-string QBs this spring means in the big picture and perhaps being asked for general comments about his recent recruiting successes, since coaches can't refer to unsigned recruits by name. This should definitely be an entertaining session, and Tuberville's a pretty compelling speaker. Don't look for an encore of his comments that earned him a reprimand earlier this summer. He's already spoken on the issue a second time, and toned it down significantly.
  • BCS director Bill Hancock, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and the conference's coordinator of football officials, Walt Anderson, will all be answering questions on Tuesday afternoon. Beebe will surely face more questions about realignment--both in the past and future -- and Anderson should hear more questions about the controversial call at the end of the Big 12 championship. In addition, he may get a few questions about the rule changes college football faces after this season. Beyond that is anyone's guess.
  • Internet issues at the Westin Hotel forced some delays for our content on Monday, and there's reason to believe that'll be the case for most of today. But be sure, we will deliver the goods eventually.

Lunch links: Late additions to media days

July, 23, 2010
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If you care about basketball at all, you should read colleague Dana O'Neil's anonymous coaching survey. By far the most interesting college basketball read of the year -- for me, at least.

Big 12 not interested in sitting down struggling officials

May, 22, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It was interesting for me to see that Big 12 athletic directors took no action this week on Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne's plan to sit down struggling game officials for repeated substandard work.

Osborne told the Omaha World-Herald that his idea, which formerly was a part of the Big Eight rules, received little traction among the Big 12's current athletic directors.

"I didn't detect a lot of support from the other A.D.'s," Osborne told the World-Herald. 

Osborne had hoped to reapply an old Big Eight policy that allowed a school to have certain officials not work its games the year after such officials graded poorly.

Big 12 supervisor of football officials, Walt Anderson, told Osborne that officials already are docked for bad performances. They face subsequent reductions in their game schedules or a potential move to a non-BCS conference if they continually struggle.   

"He felt the current system is working well," Osborne said.

I think part of the reason for Osborne's passion in this area is that he is the only current Big 12 athletic director who served as a head college football coach. And as such, he realizes how much officiating can impact the livelihood of the program.

Former basketball coaches like Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers and Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins probably share those concerns when basketball officiating is considered. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds cares the same way about track and its governance. And Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder would have the same concerns about golf.

But I think that Osborne's football experience makes him more cognizant than others about its importance in that sport.

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