Dallas Colleges: Bob Bowlsby

Big 12 spring meetings notebook

May, 29, 2014
May 29
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IRVING, Texas -- Despite the dissolution of the BCS, the Big 12 leadership decided during the first day of spring meetings Wednesday that it would keep the same formula for breaking three- and four-way ties.

[+] EnlargeBob Bowlsby
AP Photo/Tim SharpBig 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed several topics during the first day of spring meetings, including a tiebreaker tweak and unlimited meals for student-athletes.
With one slight tweak.

The BCS standings previously determined the third step of the tiebreaker. Beginning this season, it will be the College Football Playoff committee that will do the tie breaking.

“The biggest change we made was we struck the places where it said BCS and inserted CFB poll,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “So there really wasn’t much of a change to it.”

Going forward, in the event of a three- or four-way tie, the highest-ranked team in the College Football Playoff poll (that does not advance to the playoffs) will be the Big 12 representative in the Champions Bowl (aka, the Sugar Bowl) against the SEC.

Everything else in the three-way tiebreaker will remain the same, including the head-to-head clause that was added following the 2008 season.

That year, Oklahoma emerged out of a Big 12 South Division three-way tie with Texas Tech and Texas despite losing to the Longhorns earlier that season. The Sooners were ranked one spot ahead of Texas in the BCS standing and thus advanced to the Big 12 title game.

Spearheaded by former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, the Big 12 amended the three-way tiebreaker to allow head-to-head to come back into play should the top two teams be ranked within one spot of one another. Had the clause been in effect in 2008, Texas would have played for the Big 12 title instead of the Sooners.

"DeLoss' lasting legacy," Kansas State athletic director John Currie joked of the amendment.

Currie added that the three-way tiebreaker would be on the agenda during the athletic directors’ meeting in August in case “something developed” within the College Football Playoff ranking system.

No momentum for early signing period

Two weeks ago, the ACC concluded it would recommend an early signing period in college football to the College Commissioners Association.

The Big 12, conversely, was far from reaching a consensus on the issue on Wednesday.

“I don’t perceive any extreme momentum for that,” Currie said of the Big 12 opinion. “For every argument for that, there’s a big stack of arguments against it. Whether or not the intended result of an early signing period would reduce chaos on the back end, does that really offset? Is an early signing period going to drive more early recruiting and more early decisions? I personally believe those decisions are being made far too early in many cases.”

An early signing period is on the agenda for the College Commissioners Association’s June meeting. The ACC wants the early signing period to begin Aug. 1.

“The biggest challenge we have is a lot of people are in support of it, but there are a multitude of different options out there,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. “The football recruiting subcommittee is going to gather feedback from high school coaches, student-athletes, coaches and try to make a determination on a date that makes sense. It’s something that will be looked at extensively.”

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt is actually chair of the NCAA football recruiting subcommittee.

Feeding the monster

Last month, the NCAA's legislative council approved a proposal to allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons.

A chunk of Wednesday’s meeting in Irving was spent discussing how the Big 12 would implement the new legislation, which takes effect Aug. 1.

“I was really surprised during the meetings at how much variance there was among schools,” Bowlsby said. “And yet there was a fairly high comfort level that although there were uniqueness, that institutions could deal with them in their own way without others thinking, ‘Oh gosh, they’re going to get an advantage on us.’

“It was an interesting discussion that we maybe we can move into an era where all of us don’t have to do exactly the same things.”

One possible area of variance? How much each institution might spend on the unlimited meal plan.

Currie said he expects Kansas State to spend somewhere between $700,000 and $1 million a year. Texas athletic director Steve Patterson, meanwhile, estimated Texas’ cost could soar “north of $2 million.”

While the details are still being worked out across the board, Currie said Kansas State would add a morning snack to its student-athlete training table, as well as “fueling stations” in different facilities for before and after practices. Currie also said inside Kansas State’s new $65 million Vanier Football Complex will be a “significant nutrition area” that will give Kansas State's student-athletes access to items like banana smoothies into the night.

“This is going to be very positive,” Currie said. “One of the best things we’ve done.”

Bowlsby has ally in Texas' Mack Brown

July, 24, 2013
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Bob Bowlsby's delivery isn't flashy, but the content of his opening address at Day 1 of Big 12 media days turned heads across the country. His was one of the sharpest criticisms of the NCAA's enforcement and structure in some time, arguing that the big five conferences -- the Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 -- should explore creating a fourth division within the NCAA.

Changing rules and the inability to offer full-cost scholarships -- most major schools can afford it and most lower-division programs cannot -- are the main motivations, but Texas coach Mack Brown is fully on board with Bowlsby's proposal.

From colleague Mark Schlabach:
"I agree with it," Brown said. "I think that at some point we need to realize that's where we're headed. We've always tried to make rules for every level and have it under one umbrella, and it's never worked. When we tried to get instant replay, we couldn't because some [schools] couldn't afford it. When we tried to go to the 40-second [play] clock, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it. When we wanted to put the microphones in the helmets for quarterbacks, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it."

Very good points from Brown, who drew on examples fans could understand and remember to illustrate his points. All of those things clearly improve the quality of the game, but are hardly fundamental changes. Their progress was slowed because of the voting power of lower-division schools, which far outnumber schools that can afford relatively minor changes.

When it comes to passing legislation, any school that plays an NCAA sport has a vote. Each school is going to vote to protect its interests, and those will obviously be different based on budgets.

"You have to say, 'Here's the minimum. If you can't live up to that, go do something else.' I think that's the only way to do it," Brown told Schlabach. "It sounds harsh, but really and truly we're putting too much pressure on those that can't live in this world. If we pay them all and let them live in their own world, who cares? Make it a good league and make it fun."

Not everybody has the luxury of a $163 million budget like Texas, but I'd like to live in a college football world that covers more costs for players and features more high-quality games between major conference teams.

So, apparently, do Brown and Bowlsby.

The best of Big 12 media days

July, 24, 2013
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Let's take a look back at the week that was at Big 12 media days.

Best overall performance: Art Briles, Baylor. Briles has a reputation as the king of the podium, and he delivered during his 20 minutes in front of the few hundred print media in the room, and kept going during his two hours of breakout interviews. A few choice cuts:
  • On having two first-place votes in the Big 12 media poll for the first time ever: "I don't know how many people vote, I guess 25. I was wondering why those other 23 didn't believe in us."
  • On Baylor's all-gold helmet on stage: "There's two shiny things up here, that helmet and my head, probably."
  • Also on the gold helmets: "If it was made of actual gold, it probably wouldn't still be here because somebody would conveniently put it in their bag."
  • On expectations of QB Bryce Petty: "Break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do."
  • On the final score of Baylor's bowl game: "4914. 4919. I'm sorry. I don't want to cheat them out of five points. 4919, Baylor. "
  • On the Big 12 title race: "It's wide open and the wind is blowin'."
  • On his preferred playoff format: "One with Baylor."
That, folks, is how you win media days. Truth. Wit. Optimism. Self-deprecating humor that doesn't lessen your accomplishments.

Second-best overall performance: Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner. Bowlsby delivered a solid blow to the NCAA structure, but did so with a good mixture of class and memorable quotes that will stick out while this debate rages in the months to come. He campaigned for NCAA transformation and better enforcement, while stopping short of an unrealistic split from the organization. Considering past Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's poor national perception, that was good news for the Big 12 as a whole.

Best trash talk: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia. Asked about Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema's complaints about up-tempo offenses in college football, Holgorsen lobbed some strong words in the direction of the SEC. "I'd tell him to get over it because it's not going to change. It's going into the NFL, for crying out loud," he said. "Don't see it changing any time soon. So you'd better learn to adapt to it." We'll get a chance to see it on the field soon. WVU faces Alabama to kick off the 2014 season.

Best quote: Charlie Weis, Kansas. Weis made all kinds of headlines when he talked about his recruiting pitch. "Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don't think you can play here, where do you think you can play?"

Best dressed: Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech. Kingsbury's gray suit fit him perfectly, and the lavender touches were a nice accent. I was always partial to Tommy Tuberville's red and black look and suits for his players as well, but Kingsbury lived up to the hype when it came to his fashion sense.

Best one-liner: Mack Brown, Texas coach on preseason expectations. Asked about being picked fourth by national pundit Phil Steele versus the Big 12 media picking his Longhorns fourth in the league, Brown didn't mince words. "I really like the first guy better," he said.

Best anecdote: Bill Snyder, Kansas State. Asked about his first coaching job, Snyder revealed that when he was an assistant at Gallatin High School in Missouri, he thought he'd "died and gone to heaven," despite a mountain of responsibilities. "I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women's basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year."

Eight-team playoff? Not so fast, my friend

May, 31, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds made headlines when he championed an eight-team college football playoff Thursday at the Big 12's spring meetings, despite the four-team version still being more than a year away.

"It's a baby step. It's a good step," Dodds said. "I'm kind of an eight-team person."

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby wasn't biting on the possibility of Dodds' preference becoming reality.

"I don’t see us expanding to eight any time soon," he said.

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck was also asked about Dodds' comments, but he's not looking for any bracket expansion, either.

"Let’s give four a shot and see," Luck said.

Luck agreed with Dodds' assertion that the debate about the No. 5 team -- aka the first team not invited to the playoff -- would carry more weight and be more heated than a debate about a No. 9 team, but stopped short of saying that would be enough to expand the playoff.

"It’d be interesting to go back and look the last 10 years at who would have qualified and how big of a gap there was between 4 and 5, and then 5, 6, 7, 8. Is there a discussion about 8 and 9?" he said. "A lot of years, it seems like there’s three or four really good teams, and then there’s a little bit of a dropoff, but I’m not sure I’d advocate eight at this point."

Bowlsby, meanwhile, argued that now -- just as the game's power brokers have become comfortable with altering the postseason again -- wasn't the time for further tinkering that might have far-reaching implications.

"One of the reasons why the playoff was eventually voted in was because people who had been opposed to the playoff got comfortable around the fact that it could be accomplished without decimating the bowl environment that has been so good to us over the years," Bowlsby said. "And if you add another four games to this, then you’re going to be playing into the middle of December and over the holidays and irreversibly change the bowl environment and therefore, the postseason."

Bowlsby, Beebe team up to talk Big 12

April, 17, 2013
4/17/13
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We haven't heard much from ex-Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe lately, who now does some consulting and is working with the new Big East. He joined his permanent replacement, former Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby at a panel in front of 200 students at the University of Texas on Wednesday, and both had a few interesting nuggets to share.

Poor Bowlsby was forced to reiterate his stance that the Big 12 was staying at 10 teams, but by far the most interesting thing of the day was Beebe talking about feeling validated once the Big 12 executed the grant of rights. I've long contended that Beebe was the most unfairly maligned persona throughout the realignment saga, and the grant of rights is one of the big reasons why.

Beebe had long campaigned for the grant of rights to secure the Big 12's future, but the league's members could never agree to make it happen. It took Nebraska and Colorado leaving before they seemed to listen to the idea of a grant of rights, which wasn't officially executed until two more teams, Texas A&M and Missouri, left the conference.

"I feel like the conference was driving over a cliff, and they turned the bus around and ran me over," Beebe said.

Ouch. Beebe's biggest negative was either an ignorance of public opinion or a refusal to acknowledge reality when speaking publicly. I felt embarrassed for him when he told me in August 2011 that he disagreed with an A&M official that told me about "60 percent" of the A&M fan base would support a move to the SEC. Truth be told, the A&M official's estimate was probably quite conservative. Still, the biggest problems that led to the Big 12's forced metamorphosis predated Beebe, and he worked to change them. Expanding wasn't the answer until the league was trimmed to just eight teams. The perception that the Big 12 was "reactive, not proactive" is overly simplistic and not really true. Beebe worked hard to keep the league together behind the scenes.

Bowlsby was also asked about paying student-athletes a "cost of attendance" stipend, and he's in favor, but only if it's for all athletes. I'd agree with that sentiment, but I also believe football and basketball players should be paid. In that same breath, I also recognize that there's no simple or realistic way to make that happen and keep the situation relatively fair in both sports, so you won't see me campaigning for it.

Really interesting stuff, but for folks hoping the Big 12 reaches out and poaches a few more Big East members or some programs from the ACC in the future, Bowlsby doesn't sound very interested.

"Engulf and devour doesn’t work,” he said, adding that it was a "zero-sum game."

I do think once the playoff arrives, the Big 12 will seriously reassess where it sits in the expansion discussion, but don't expect any real talk about expansion until then, and only if the Big 12 somehow finds itself at a competitive disadvantage with 10 teams in the post-playoff college football world.

Commish: Big 12 holding off on title game

February, 21, 2013
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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby turned heads when he revealed the Big 12 was petitioning the NCAA for the right to bring back the Big 12 title game, despite the league having only 10 teams.

On Wednesday, he confirmed what many assumed at the time: The Big 12 only wants the right to hold a title game. Actually bringing it back isn't in the league's plans.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the conference has no immediate plans to hold a football championship game, though he wants that option.

Bowlsby spoke Wednesday at a function for Oklahoma State's Spears School of Business. He says the television ratings and attendance at other conference championship games would indicate that such an event might not be such a wise idea for the Big 12 at this point.

If you've read this blog long, you know I think there's no question it's the right move for the Big 12 to stay far, far away from a title game unless it expands to 12 teams. But the petition was definitely an interesting move for the league, though one that may end up being pointless.

It doesn't offer any indication on the likelihood of expansion, since a 12-team league wouldn't need a petition to hold a championship game, though perhaps making the Big 12 an 11-team league might make that title game waiver come in handy.

That would ruin the whole "round-robin, one true champion" thing the Big 12 has going these days, though. There's nothing wrong with having options, and the Big 12 should have them, but Bowlsby's exercising the right one here in holding off on a title game.

The only way that changes is if the upcoming playoff system in the 2014 season vastly alters the landscape and, by default, changes the Big 12's position.

Until then, Bowlsby can keep repeating his stance on reviving the Big 12 championship game.

Keeping Big 12 title game away is right call

January, 31, 2013
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The folks in control of the Big 12's future have two responsibilities: Set up the conference for success on the field and off it. The first means championships. The second means money. Maintaining that balance isn't easy.

A single school could play three top-15 teams in nonconference play and make a whole bunch of TV money. It also wouldn't spend much time in the BCS.

On Wednesday night, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told reporters in Stillwater, Okla., that the Big 12 will "probably ask" the NCAA for a waiver that allows the league to host a Big 12 title game for the first time since 2010.

Earlier, Bowlsby told the Austin American-Statesman that "we have no plans to implement a championship game." The move is likely a precaution, but if it's granted, it would afford the Big 12 the possibility to do something that would hurt the league in the big picture. For now, the league has made it clear it doesn't have any desire to play a title game in the current climate.

In the event that changes, the Big 12 would be focusing too much on off-the-field success (read: cash) at the cost of the league's on-field product. After the 2010 season, the Big 12 moved to a nine-game conference schedule, rather than the eight-game version that the league used in the first decade and a half of its existence.

In both years with a nine-game schedule, a late-season road game against a sub-.500 team spelled disaster for the Big 12's national title contender. Iowa State downed Oklahoma State in double overtime in 2011, and this year, Kansas State got rocked in Waco by Baylor before the Bears keyed off a late-season run to a bowl game and an 8-5 season.

If they somehow actually bring back the Big 12 title game, they would be asking the league's members to weather one of the most difficult roads of any conference in the country to win a national title. The league earned its status this season as the nation's deepest conference when it sent 90 percent of its teams to a bowl game, the highest percentage of any conference in college football history.

There has been a lack of top-tier teams in the Big 12 in recent years (where, oh where, did 2008 go?), but there has been a surplus of teams who could beat anyone in the league. That has been proved with the league's late-season slip-ups -- losses that cost the conference a chance at its third national title of the BCS era and the first since Vince Young and Texas were the last non-SEC team to win a title in 2005.

To win a national title, Big 12 teams would have to beat every single one of those teams. Then on the final week of the season, with the pressure and stakes at their highest point, they'd have to play the league's No. 2 team, possibly on a neutral field. That's 10 quality opponents on a 13-game schedule, and maybe 11 or 12, depending on how that team scheduled teams from out of the conference.

The Pac-12 is the only other league with a nine-game schedule. The conference championship, however, is played between divisions and UCLA was only 6-6 when it lost the first title match in 2011, and was outside the top 15 when it lost last season's game to Stanford.

A hard road might satisfy the the Big 12's most macho fans -- who will play "anyone! anywhere! any time!" -- and might satisfy TV networks looking to write a check for a tantalizing conference schedule.

It won't, however, satisfy the fans who want to see the Big 12 compete for, and win, national titles as often as possible. That's a shame, and the Big 12 would be well-suited to stick to Bowlsby's insistence that the league won't be pursuing a title game, even though it will apply for a waiver to do so.

Big 12 Championship ready to return?

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
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Bob Bowlsby was in Stillwater on Wednesday for Oklahoma State's game against Iowa State, but turned a whole lot of heads when he told the Associated Press of the Big 12's plans to continue to move toward re-instituting the Big 12 Championship game. The Big 12 will seek a waiver from the NCAA to hold a title game with just 10 teams in the league.
"At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions," Bowlsby said Wednesday night, when he watched the Iowa State-Oklahoma State men's basketball game.

"I think it's reasonable to say if you're going to have a champion that you're going to have to designate it in one fashion or another. But to say it has to be between 12 schools or that there has to be divisional play or there has to be a round-robin, we're deregulating lots of things and that certainly is a candidate."

Bowlsby's news is surprising considering it never came up in his meetings with the media during this week's Big 12 athletic directors' meetings.

Reports leaked out this month that Bowlsby had planned to explore the waiver, but this latest news makes it clear that he's serious about bringing back the Big 12 title game, which hasn't been played since Oklahoma beat Nebraska in 2010. Oklahoma State won the outright title in Stillwater in 2011, and Kansas State shared the 2012 title with Oklahoma after both teams went 8-1 in Big 12 play this season.

More on this later today.

Could the Big 12 add a Florida bowl game?

January, 30, 2013
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The current Big 12 bowl lineup features three games in Texas, two in Arizona, one in California and one in New York. Could it trade one game off and swipe a game in Florida when the league's bowl alliances change?

The topic was on the docket at Day 2 of the Big 12 athletic directors' meetings, and with the Cotton Bowl likely to join the playoff rotation -- thus closing the Big 12's automatic bid to the game -- it may need a new home for a new bowl tie-in.

Florida makes as much sense as any, and would add some pizazz to the Big 12's bowl lineup, which is admittedly a bit limited in destinations.

Additionally, this little nugget emerged from Tuesday's meetings.
Bob Bowlsby said Tuesday started with a quick recap of what was discussed the first day to make sure there was nothing else the ADs wanted to talk about after thinking about it overnight. There was none.

"There was nothing more on conference composition today at all," Bowlsby said.

No surprise there, but the bowl picture in the post-playoff world was clearly the top priority for the athletic directors on Tuesday, as well as football scheduling.

"Once we know the (playoff) host bowls, we're going to be anxious after that to put some deals together and we've got to go to that bowl which we think we want to have first after the so-called system, and try and get a deal with them, and then go to the second one after the system," Bowlsby said. "This was just a way to sort of identify our priorities."

Bowlsby called the Valero Alamo Bowl of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas moving up in the selection order a "fair projection" if the Cotton Bowl indeed joins the rotation of access bowls for the new playoff, as expected.

"Once we know the host bowls, we're going to be anxious after that to put some deals together and we've got to go to that bowl which we think we want to have first after the so-called system, and try and get a deal with them, and then go to the second one after the system," Bowlsby told reporters. "This was just a way to sort of identify our priorities."

The biggest Big 12 offseason storylines

January, 17, 2013
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The offseason is under way, but offseasons are fun, too. Here are the storylines to keep an eye on until the teams are back on the field in 2013.

1. Can Casey Pachall get back on track? TCU's quarterback is officially back with the team after leaving school to go to an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment facility. Most people want to know if he'll be the same player, but what's even more important is whether he can avoid the same pitfalls and get his life back on track.

2. Expansion junction, what's your function? The odds seem strongly against it, but you know we're not getting through a college football offseason without talking expansion at some point. How much will it heat up? Will Florida State re-emerge as a Big 12 candidate?

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin and Art Briles
AP Photo/Darren AbateArt Briles, left, has done a great job developing quarterbacks at Houston and at Baylor.
3. Will the 'Quarterback Whisperer' do it again? Baylor coach Art Briles' last four quarterbacks have been absurd. Kevin Kolb and Case Keenum got it done at Houston, and Robert Griffin III won a Heisman as the best of the bunch at Baylor. Nick Florence led the Big 12 in passing yards last year. What does Briles have in store this season? Bryce Petty has better measurables than Florence, but can the redshirt junior show off his experience in the system and make good decisions?

4. Striking the fear back in Lubbock. Kliff Kingsbury is looking to bring swagger back to Lubbock. He's still piecing together his staff, but the 33-year-old has the pieces to put together a solid team on the field, too. Can Texas Tech break the string of late-season collapses the past two years?

5. Charlie Weis' juco revolution. Weis has made it clear that he wants quick fixes and to win now at KU. Will his juco recruiting haul do it? Defensive lineman Marquel Combs was the nation's No. 1 juco recruit, and Weis has done a heck of a job selling immediate playing time to these guys. The current recruiting class has 17 juco transfers among 25 commits. Will it pay off, and how will these guys look once they get on campus? Are wins just around the corner?

6. A quarterback competition for the ages. Was Oklahoma State the first team ever to have three 1,000-yard passers? Two of them were freshmen, too. The QB derby last spring was good. This year's will be even better, with all three showing they could win games in Big 12 play. Clint Chelf will have the inside track, but Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh will try to swipe it away. Could one transfer be imminent after the spring?

7. Are the Longhorns finally, officially, certifiably back? Texas looked like it was back after going up to Stillwater and winning a dramatic game that helped the Longhorns ascend to No. 11 in the polls. Then consecutive losses capped by a Red River Blowout made it obvious the Horns weren't quite back yet. David Ash's development and fixing Manny Diaz's surprisingly vulnerable defense will decide whether 2013 is the season Texas returns to the BCS stage.

8. What about the championship game? Bob Bowlsby turned some heads when he inquired with the NCAA about a waiver to hold a championship game with just 10 teams. I don't think there's much fire around that smoke, but how serious will any talk of a return of the Big 12 title game get? The coaches would hate it.

Bold predictions for the Big 12 in 2013

January, 15, 2013
1/15/13
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As we continue our season wrap, we'll be looking to 2013 today. Let's take a look with some bold predictions in 2013.

1. The Big 12 will not expand or institute a championship game. I get the questions every day, but I simply don't believe the Big 12 will seriously consider expansion before the new college football playoff is in place, and the Big 12 gets an idea for where it stands in the college football landscape. Bob Bowlsby turned heads when a report surfaced that he'd inquired to the NCAA about bringing back the championship game, but that's a long way from actually doing so. Bringing back a No. 1 vs. No. 2 league title game unless the Big 12 is a 12-team league with divisions is the surest way for the Big 12 to find it difficult to crack the four-team playoff.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireTexas could face a difficult decision should coach Mack Brown and the Longhorns fall short of expectations in 2013.
2. Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will win the Big 12's automatic BCS bid. Simply put, TCU and Oklahoma State are likely better teams. One of those two will win the league and represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl as its BCS representative. Texas is good, but not quite good enough and will have a difficult decision to make about Mack Brown's future after falling short. Oklahoma is just losing too much on defense and trying to live without Landry Jones, which fans will find more difficult than they imagined.

3. The Big 12 will have a Davey O'Brien Trophy finalist. The Big 12 is reloading at quarterback, and will likely have only one starting quarterback in 2013 (barring what happens at TCU) who started at least half of his team's games in 2012: Texas' David Ash. It won't necessarily be him at the awards ceremony, but I believe in the Big 12's quarterback development, and we'll see a breakout star next year. Will it be Michael Brewer at Tech? Bryce Petty at Baylor? Ford Childress/Paul Millard in Morgantown or Blake Bell in Norman? What about Daniel Sams or Jake Waters at K-State?

4. Three Big 12 teams will finish in the national top 35 in total defense. This year, the Big 12 only had one team (TCU) crack the top 35. There will be great defenses coming back. Look for Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State to grab this accomplishment, and Texas Tech might not be far off, too. Offenses as a whole will be down from their crazy pace next year, and that's an opportunity for some experienced defenses.

5. The Big 12 will not play for a national title ... again. It's getting old for the league these days. Texas and Oklahoma both played a part in the SEC capturing seven consecutive national titles, but the Big 12's sat on the sidelines on that Monday night in January for each of the past three seasons. Make it four next year.

6. Texas Tech will be the Big 12's biggest overachiever. They'll do it on the back of Brewer, who I buy as the most likely breakout star for the Big 12 next year. He's got great running backs, a great system and great, experienced receivers. Having Eric Ward back will be huge, and Jace Amaro and Jakeem Grant will continue to grow. I'm a little cautious on picking them in the top half of the league in the preseason, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Red Raiders finish in the top three or four next year.

7. Baylor will win at least eight games again. The Bears' offense will be back, and the defense will be a little bit improved. It'll be enough to win eight games in three consecutive seasons with three different quarterbacks. That's crazy, and yet another testament to what Art Briles has done in Waco.

8. Kansas will win a Big 12 game. It has to happen eventually, doesn't it? The Big 12 losing streak now stands at 21 games. It won't reach 30 this time last year.

Part 2: Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby Q&A

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby took some time today to talk with ESPN.com. Read Part 1 of his Q&A today to see his thoughts on Notre Dame's move to the ACC, the Big 12's current attitude toward expansion, and more.

Here's the rest of what he had to say.

I haven't seen the physical TV contract the Big 12 just signed with Fox and ABC/ESPN for $2.6 billion over 13 years, but does it give you the flexibility to renegotiate for more money if you were to expand at some point?

Yes. It certainly accomodates that. It also references departures. That's just good business on our part, and good business on the part of Fox and ESPN.

We've heard so much from you and others about how much this league loves the 10-member set up and round-robin scheduling in football, but what's the chief argument you've heard against having an 11 or 12-member league?

One of the things we've committed to is playing a nine-game league schedule. With 10 members, it's a round-robin, but a nine-game league schedule goes right to the heart of our agreements with ESPN and Fox. We have promised them that we would have the inventory that's available with a nine-game season. One way or the other we would have to do that, and it's mathematically impossible to play a nine-game schedule with 11 members over the number of weeks that we have during the fall. You end up with multiple byes during the course of the season.

Statistically, that's just not feasible.

Going to 12 certainly gives you the opportunity to have a postseason football championship game and playing in divisions, but given what we're doing with the BCS right now, or whatever it's successor organization is called, the opportunity to mow through to one of those four slots without playing a postseason championship game, we think, is a better path to the national championship.

As far as 10 vs. 12 talk, is the league unanimous on wanting to stay at 10 right now?

I haven't had anybody come to me and say, "I know this is a minority position, but we need to keep thinking about expansion." I know it's a majority, if it came to a vote, that would say "We'd like to stay where we're at." Would there be some institution that would say, "Ah, I might consider expansion?" There could be. They haven't expressed it to me.

You've already acknowledged talks between the Big 12 and Notre Dame. How would you describe how close Notre Dame was to coming to your league, vs. the ACC?

We never got to the point of any negotiations at all. We talked conceptually about it, and agreed that it was going to be very difficult for us to do anything until after our television contract was put to bed.

We haven't heard much from the Big 12 about it, but people from Florida State and Clemson at least addressed the possibility of Big 12 membership on the record. What was your reaction to the ACC's new exit fees of $50 million?

I don't know enough about it to comment on it.

What would you tell fans who believe the Big 12 missed out on adding Notre Dame or an ACC power to the league?

I think our strategy is sound. I think the thinking of our presidents and athletic directors is unified, and I'm convinced that larger is not better than status quo.

We've already seen Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma all announce individual third-tier media deals with Fox. More could be coming. Can you explain to fans what's going to change for their school and what they can expect from these endeavors?

It varies from place to place and from contract to contract. But, generally speaking, the amount of exposure, the ease of access and the frequency of being able to get access to non-football, men's and women's basketball programming is going to be greatly enhanced. Institutions will have up to eight basketball games, including exhibition games, that could be available.

As a general statement, the exposure of each of those programs will be significantly enhanced.

Q&A: Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
4:24
PM CT
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be making his way to Lawrence, Kan. this week for new member TCU's first Big 12 conference game.

He's visited three campuses in each of the past two weeks, and has been to all 10 campus since July 1, but finally had some time back in the office this week.

Before heading north to KU, Bowlsby took some time with ESPN.com to talk Notre Dame, expansion, his conference's new individual school media deals with Fox, the Champions Bowl, and more. Be sure to check out part 2 of his Q&A this afternoon.

[+] EnlargeBowlsby
Kevin Jairaj/US PresswireBob Bowlsby says the Big 12's new television contract has provided a sense of relief around the conference.
Note: Parts of this interview were edited for length.

What were some of your major takeaways from this recent tour across the Big 12?

I think there are a lot of projects going on on campus, so I think the administrations are making good use of the revenue that we're going to be generating. I found a feeling of tremendous optimism and probably, in fairness, some relief that things have calmed down. Now, with the completion of the television contract and the grant of rights, it gives people a little more confidence that the 10 of us are moving forward together. It gets everyone thinking innovatively about what the future looks like.

You're getting together soon with (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive to talk about the Champions Bowl, right?

We've got a call on the TV deal on Monday and the following week, we're getting together in person. And it's not just Mike and myself. It's several staff members and lawyers on both sides. But we're progressing well on it.

Do you feel like it's something that needs to be in the Big 12 footprint?

No, I don't come into it with any preconceived notions as to where it's going to end up. We sent out 11 requests for (site) proposals. We got five returned, which is kind of what we thought we would get. I think all of the submissions are viable. There are three in the Big 12 footprint [Arlington, Houston, San Antonio] and two in the SEC footprint [New Orleans, Atlanta] and until we get in the room together, it's hard to know where we're headed with it. I think Mike is open-minded about where it can end up, and so am I.

When did you know Notre Dame intended to leave for the ACC?

I found out through media reports, whatever morning that was. I was certainly aware that the folks at Notre Dame and the ACC were having conversations.

What did you think when you first heard it?

I think it's a good fit for them, because of the private schools that are in the league, their past relationships with some of the personnel in the league, the fact they were aligned in the Big East with Pitt and Syracuse and BC and Miami. Those are all things I think that probably made it a little easier to grease the skids for this to happen, so I think it's a good thing for Notre Dame and a good thing for the ACC.

How does that move affect the Big 12's attitude toward possible future expansion?

Well, I think whenever we talked about it within our league, we looked at Notre Dame as being different than others, mostly because they made it clear that they weren't prepared to bring their football program into our conference or any other conference. We didn't consider them in the same offer with anybody else that may have expressed interest. I am unconvinced at this point -- and I can change my mind on it, especially if our members change their thinking on it -- but I'm unconvinced at this point that larger is better. I think there are situations where you could add members where you could get more than pro rata increases in revenue, but there aren't very many that will do that.

In the end, our various business relationships are intended to drive revenue for our members. We're distributing more than $20 million a year right now to each team in the Big 12, and with the Champions Bowl, and some of the other things we have going on, that revenue is going to do nothing but climb, so we feel very good about where we are right now.

More from Bowlsby on the possibility of ACC members jumping to the Big 12, the Big 12's new media deals (both individual and as a conference) and more Notre Dame talk in part 2 of Bowlsby's Q&A.

Conference expansion talk resurfaces

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
10:00
PM CT
Not even the news that 99 percent of this sport's fan base has been waiting for eternity to hear -- that yes, a playoff is coming to college football -- could keep the conference expansion chatter from running wild Wednesday. And while the Notre Dame football program's independence does not appear to be threatened, the Irish are again the subject of much of this chatter.

To recap: Orangebloods.com's Chip Brown wrote a story Wednesday with the headline "Sources: Irish Olympic sports likely headed to to B12."

Later Wednesday in Chicago, after the playoff announcement, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick shot down the report. The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton was on the scene at the InterContinental Chicago Hotel.
"I saw that and I thought (Bob) Bowlsby and I should hold hands up there," Swarbrick joked, alluding to the incoming Big 12 commissioner. "I have no idea what prompted that. It is not based on any discussion, any meeting we have done."

...

"I've said all along that there were three important factors for us," Swarbrick said. "One was the resolution of postseason football, which we are closer to. One is a resolution of our media relationship, which we are in the homestretch of. The third is related to the stability of the Big East, which we get more information on every day. In that sense, pieces of that are starting to fall into place, and that will put us in a time and place where we probably take a look at it and decide what we're doing."

The chatter is similar to what was making waves a month ago, when Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told CBSSports.com that he had talked to Notre Dame about a similar scenario. That prompted Swarbrick a day later to say that the Irish were committed to the Big East in their Olympic sports and that he and Dodds are two people who often talk about the business.

All of which brings us to today: A four-team playoff on the table, seemingly with access for conference champions and non-champions alike, leaving Notre Dame, as Swarbrick said Wednesday, with "no obstacle to that for us. If we earn it, we can play in it."

The Big East of today clearly isn't the Big East that Notre Dame signed up for in 1995. But it has been a viable home for the athletic department's other sports. There is a cultural fit there, and the travel is not as difficult as a Big 12 schedule would be.

The men's and women's basketball programs have been conference contenders (and, in the case of Muffet McGraw's squad, then some) in recent years, and men's hoops coach Mike Brey inked a 10-year extension this week. Brey has said that he hopes, if push comes to shove, that the program can end up somewhere east. And we can't forget about other programs, such as men's lacrosse, which is coming off its second final four appearance in the past three seasons. That's one other element, albeit a small one, that would come with such a move, as there is no Big 12 lacrosse conference. (No Big 12 school, in fact, fields a Div. I lacrosse team.)

Of course, this isn't about lacrosse. Or hoops, for that matter. It's about football, and despite recent history, Notre Dame football remains a giant. No conference would turn down the chance to land that program, and the Big 12 would seemingly have little to lose in providing a safe haven for the Irish's Olympic sports as the expansion carousel continues to spin.

Ranking the Big 12 facilities by team

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
11:45
AM CT
Today, we're ranking college football's facilities across each conference, and that means it's time to take stock of the Big 12.

Here's how I'd rank the Big 12's facilities, which include a whole lot more than the stadium. Stadium size is a factor, but it goes much, much deeper. What is your locker room, weight room and practice facility like?

Let me also begin with this: No Big 12 team is painfully lacking behind the others. Every school in the league has what's needed, and nobody in the league has any truly pressing needs, save a practice facility or two. There's no huge shame in being in the league's bottom half. The difference from teams 4-10 isn't all that great. You may infer that it is, but that's not my intention. Finally, this is football facilities only.

1. Texas: The Longhorns are the Joneses. Not just in the Big 12, but in all of college football. That's life when your budget dwarfs all others across the college football landscape. New Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby called UT the "800-pound gorilla" in college athletics, but gorillas don't reach 800 pounds without state-of-the-art facilities at every corner.

2. Oklahoma State: The difference between Nos. 2 and 3 on this list is miniscule, but I see it this way: Just about everything Oklahoma has is bigger, but everything OSU has is newer and nicer. Advantage Cowboys, who are in the process of building an indoor practice facility, leaving Texas Tech as the only Big 12 team without one.

3. Oklahoma: Oklahoma doesn't have a sugar daddy like T. Boone Pickens, but when you've won as much through history as the Sooners have, you don't need one. The Sooners are in the top tier of Big 12 facilities, and like I said, you could make a case for Oklahoma at No. 2 on this list, if only for its stadium.

4. Texas Tech: Don't focus so much on the lack of an indoor practice facility. What Texas Tech does have is extremely modern but also purposely fits the rustic feel of Lubbock on the outside. Tommy Tuberville is campaigning a bit to have that indoor facility eventually built.

5. West Virginia: West Virginia's facilities for football aren't flashy, but they're solid, even if they're due for an upgrade once the Big 12 checks start rolling in. Coach Dana Holgorsen knows what Texas Tech and Oklahoma State look like, and wants WVU on that level.

6. TCU: TCU will shoot up this list by this time next year for sure. The Horned Frogs are unveiling a new $164 million upgrade to Amon G. Carter Stadium, along with a brand-new locker room that will both be ready by season's end. For now, though, the Frogs' facilities are in the middle of the Big 12 road.

7. Kansas State: Kansas State is upgrading the concourse and press box of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, but its biggest need is a place to hold visiting media postgame conferences.

8. Baylor: The biggest thing holding Baylor back is its stadium, which is old and off campus with an outdated concourse. The Bears' on-campus practice facilities, weight rooms and offices are nice, but the new on-campus, riverside stadium that's scheduled to open before the 2014 or 2015 season is a palace and would shoot Baylor up this list.

9. Iowa State: Iowa State just debuted a new JumboTron before last season, which was a great upgrade. The team is getting a new football facility as well, replacing the Jacobson Building.

10. Kansas: Want a good way to say -- intended or not -- that "We don't care enough about football?" Put a track around your football field. Kansas' facilities are nice, and like I said above, it's not all that far behind No. 4 Texas Tech, but the stadium is holding KU back.

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