NCF Nation: Mike Bohn

The Pac-12 features three new coaches: California's Sonny Dykes, Colorado's Mike MacIntyre and Oregon's Mark Helfrich.

Each faces distinct challenges. We break those challenges down.

CALIFORNIA: Sonny Dykes

Who he replaced: Jeff Tedford (82-57, 11 years)

Who is he? Dykes, 43, went 22-15 in three years at Louisiana Tech, where he was hired after coordinating Arizona's offense for three seasons.

Why he's there: After Tedford built Cal into a Pac-12 and national power, the Bears plateaued and then regressed his final three seasons, going 15-22. It's also noteworthy that the team declined significantly on the academic side of things.

What's the good news? Dykes didn't inherit a team devoid of talent or one that can't remember winning. Further, he's going to benefit from massive facilities upgrades that were only completed last year. The Bay Area is a pretty fair place to live.

What's the bad news? Well, Dykes inherited perhaps the nation's toughest schedule, which will make it tough to produce an immediate turnaround, even if the Bears play much better. It's also tough playing in the Pac-12 North where Oregon and Stanford have dominated play of late. Oh, and it's an issue that Big Game partner, Stanford, shows no signs of slowing down.

How can he make fans happy in 2013? If Dykes can somehow squeeze six wins out of this schedule, thereby earning a bowl berth, his fans should be thrilled.

COLORADO: Mike MacIntyre

Who he replaced: Jon Embree (4-21, 2 years)

Who is he? MacIntyre, 48, went 16-21 in three years at San Jose State, resurrecting the Spartans to a 10-2 finish in 2012. Before that, he was defensive coordinator at Duke for two years.

Why he's there: Look at Embree's record.

What's the good news? Sorry for saying this again, Buffs, but MacIntyre would be hard-pressed to make things any worse. The roster also looks stronger than the 2012 version, most notably the return of receiver Paul Richardson. Last year, the Buffs played a lot of young players, who weren't ready for Pac-12 play. Those youngsters should be better and more prepared this fall.

What's the bad news? This team isn't big enough or fast enough to compete in the Pac-12. The fan base is put off by the program's slide over the past decade. Oh, and athletic director Mike Bohn was just controversially fired.

How can he make fans happy in 2013? The bar isn't very high for MacIntyre in Year 1. He could double the Buffs' win total and that would just mean two victories. The biggest thing is being more competitive. Going 3-9 wouldn't be a disaster if those nine games aren't dropped by an average of 30 points. It's also important to win at least one conference game.

OREGON: Mark Helfrich

Who he replaced: Chip Kelly (46-7, 4 years)

Who is he? Helfrich, 39, was the Ducks' offensive coordinator for the past four years under Kelly. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at Colorado.

Why he's there: After leading the best run in school history -- four consecutive BCS bowl games and three Pac-12 titles -- Kelly bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles. Helfrich then was promoted, as Kelly had been under Mike Bellotti, and Bellotti had been under Rich Brooks.

What's the good news? Helfrich inherited a well-oiled machine with a lot of talent, starting with quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Ducks are widely viewed as national title contenders, even without Kelly. They are favored to win every game. Further, Helfrich knows his school, his team and his staff, considering eight of nine assistant coaches are back.

What's the bad news? The bar couldn't be higher. A disappointing season for Oregon now is two losses. The only way Helfrich can exceed Kelly is by winning a national title. He falls short by going 11-2 and winning the Alamo Bowl. Oh, and there's the pending ruling from the NCAA on L'Affair de Willie Lyles.

How can he make fans happy in 2013? There's only one way he can thrill them: 14-0. They'd settle for 13-1 if that includes a national title. A Rose Bowl win would be considered OK.
1. Make no mistake -- the SEC will go to a nine-game conference schedule shortly. It won’t happen in 2014. And it’s not because Alabama coach Nick Saban wants it and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin doesn’t. As my SEC blogging colleague Chris Low explained Wednesday on the ESPNU College Football Podcast, SEC commissioner Mike Slive is for it. And in the long run, what Slive wants, the SEC gets. Most prominently, the College Football Playoff.

2. The family of the late Joe Paterno announced Wednesday night that it, too, is suing the NCAA regarding its punishment of Penn State, to which I say, the more the merrier. NCAA president Mark Emmert ignored NCAA procedure and rushed to the front of the parade of people who condemned the university. He depended on a rush job of a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh. The longer view has exposed Emmert’s rush to judgment as a textbook case of grandstanding. As if the NCAA didn’t have enough problems.

3. Colorado forced athletic director Mike Bohn to resign, and supposedly the university wants to hire a replacement who can raise the funds the Buffaloes need to catch up to the rest of the Pac-12 in the athletic arms race. Good luck -- the Colorado fan base has not been a generous one, at least by FBS standards, and the Buffs remain no better than a distant second behind the NFL's Denver Broncos in local fan interest. That Pac-12 Network money can’t start flowing soon enough.

Mike Bohn out as Colorado's AD

May, 28, 2013
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Mike Bohn's sudden resignation as Colorado's athletic director Tuesday is a bit of a surprise. Apparently it was even to Bohn himself, who texted Denver sportscaster Vic Lombardio that he was "floored."

Mark Johnson of 850 KOA first reported Bohn's departure.

So resignation or firing -- semantics! -- the end-result is Colorado is looking for a new athletic director after: 1. Colorado gave Bohn a five-year contract extension in 2011 that ran through 2017; 2. Bohn fired coach Jon Embree after just two seasons and hired Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State to replace him; 3. The school announced a $50 million facilities fundraising campaign for a $170 million multiyear upgrade of the school's -- read: football's -- athletics facilities.

So a lot is going on at Colorado as it concludes its second year in the Pac-12.

“Mike Bohn led CU-Boulder athletics in a time of great transition and change,” Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a statement released by the school. “We are grateful to him for his vision, passion and commitment, and for his key role in revitalizing men’s and women’s basketball, helping us to join the Pac-12 Conference, and in taking important steps to upgrade athletic facilities at CU-Boulder. We wish him well.”

Bohn's resignation is effective June 3. DiStefano said he will in the coming days appoint a search committee to conduct a national search for Bohn’s successor.

What will Colorado be looking for? Here's a guess, inferring a subtext within the school's official release, is there's a major sense of urgency about fundraising.

From the release:
DiStefano said the university will be seeking “a dynamic leader” as athletic director -- someone who, he said, “can focus on our key goals of fundraising, building a dynamic organization, and creating long-term sustainability in the athletics mission.”

A couple of take-aways here.

First, football rules. While Bohn made a seemingly savvy hire of Tad Boyle to resurrect a poor-to-middling men's basketball program, his two football choices before MacIntyre -- Embree and Dan Hawkins -- produced a 23-60 record.

Second, now MacIntyre will be working for an athletic director who didn't hire him. Most coaches find that worrisome, though that connection failed to help Embree. And winning solves everything.

The timing here, of course, feels strange. Perhaps there's more to the story that will come out in the next few days.

Pac-12 athletic director salaries

March, 12, 2013
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UCLA's Dan Guerrero is the Pac-12's top paid athletic director, according to recently released figures from USA Today, while Colorado's Mike Bohn ranked last in the conference among the public schools that are required to disclose salaries.

The salaries for Stanford’s Bernard Muir or USC’s Pat Haden are unavailable because they work for private schools.

Vanderbilt's David Williams tops the list at $3.24 million, but he's a special case. The "true" leader is Louisville's Tom Jurich at $1.412 million.

Nine athletic directors make more than $1 million a year, though none in the Pac-12. It's also notable that the cost of living is much higher in Pac-12 cities compared to cities in just about every other conference.

Guerrero's total pay of $715,211 ranks 18th in the nation.

CU needs MacIntyre's passion, enthusiasm

December, 10, 2012
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Mike MacIntyre's first news conference as Colorado's coach wasn't filled with details and information -- few introductory pressers are -- but it did present a man who is clearly thrilled to be in Boulder. His enthusiasm probably matters more than it would at most places because things have been pretty dreary for the Buffaloes for some time now.

"I think as you get to know me, you'll say one thing about Mike MacIntyre," he said. "He has passion."

That passion was one of the big reasons he got hired to be San Jose State's head coach three years ago. The reason he's in Boulder now is his plan to transform the Spartans from a college football afterthought into a ranked team worked.

Said Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn, "There is no question that we have hired a football coach that all Buffs can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with."

MacIntyre, 47, whose San Jose State team finished 10-2 and is preparing to face Bowling Green in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Washington, D.C., acknowledged that Colorado has a ways to go to become competitive in the Pac-12. Colorado hasn't posted a winning record since 2005. It has won three or fewer games four times since 2006. And the program has been doing a bit of morose navel gazing since it controversially fired Jon Embree, a former Buff player, after just two seasons and then was publicly spurned by its first choice, former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, who's now at Tennessee.

MacIntyre's enthusiasm might part some of those dark clouds.

"Yes, we've got a long way to go," he said. "But I've been there before and I know what to do."

Some hits from the news conference.
  • MacIntyre said he's going to run a pistol offense and a 4-3 defense that spends a lot of time in a 4-2-5 set against spread teams. He said the offense wants to incorporate a downhill running game that facilities an effective play-action package, and he compared his defensive scheme to TCU's.
  • He said he's going to bring a number of his coaches from San Jose State, but he will also interview the Buffs' current staff left behind after Embree's firing. He left open the option of retaining coaches who were with the program this year. He also strongly implied he's got some guys in mind who aren't on either staff.
  • He met with the current team for the first time on Monday. "I could tell they are hurting," he said. "And they should be."
  • He signed a five-year deal to coach the Buffaloes. He will make $2 million a season, which is more in line with Pac-12 coaches. Embree was the Pac-12's lowest paid coach at about $750,000.
  • MacIntyre also said that certain guarantees were made about facilities upgrades, though he provided no specifics. "Everything is in [his contract]," he said. "There has been a commitment made to do that and it will happen."
  • He said his recruiting focus will be in Colorado and California. He was less enthusiastic about Texas.

Colorado, Embree have awkward goodbye

November, 26, 2012
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Jon Embree didn't win many games as Colorado's football coach, but he won the news conference Monday that formalized his termination.

Fired after just two years leading the Buffaloes, Embree, fighting off tears throughout and picking his words carefully, cut an effectively defiant and sympathetic posture, while athletic director Mike Bohn and chancellor Phil DiStefano struggled to articulate not only their reasons for firing Embree but also why anyone would want to replace him.

The latter part is the biggest issue going forward. Colorado will be hard-pressed to lure a top candidate to Boulder, and not only because of its quick trigger here. Colorado lags behind other Pac-12 teams in terms of facilities and has limits on multi-year contracts for assistant coaches due to state law. Further, Embree was the conference's lowest paid coach by a wide margin, his $725,000 being pretty much less than half of what every other coach in the conference was making annually.

And it was less than a third of what the top coaches were making.

Further, Bohn, aggressively cross examined by reporters, struggled to avoid making the job sound like an uninviting one.

"We've had headwinds with this program for quite some time, and we continue to have them," Bohn said.

Embree said stories that he was fired because he wouldn't let go members of his coaching staff were untrue.

"That's one of those Internet rumors," he said, adding that six assistants had offered to resign if that helped Embree's own cause.

Embree, who went 4-21 over the past two season, repeatedly defended his rebuilding job, saying that the program was vastly improved in every way but the scoreboard. He talked about "doing things right" versus going for the quick fix.

"There are a lot of things you can do that circumvent doing it the right way," he said, noting that some coach would resort to recruiting "mercenaries."

The issue of race also was part of the news conference. Embree said he noted to Bohn, "[Black head coaches] don't get second chances."

As for what reason he was given for his firing, Embree said, "All I was told was the trajectory of the program wasn't what they wanted."

In his opening statement, Bohn, after a heartfelt acknowledgement of the difficulty of the decision -- "We desperately wanted it to work," he said -- then awkwardly described the decision in business school jargon.

"In the end, it's about our functionality and the way our enterprise is run and the proactive approach we are trying to take to try to be competitive," he said.

He also spoke about the program's lack of momentum and the erosion of the fan base.

Awkward, in fact, describes the news conference perfectly.

Embree is a former Colorado player, yet he was coldly cast aside after being told that his job was safe. He feels wronged. And for good reason. He clearly has the sympathy of his current players, many of who attended the news conference to show support, according to reports.

Now the pressure moves to Bohn, who will be hiring a third coach since 2005. One side of the Buffaloes fan base is angry at him for dumping Embree after just two years, and the other half is angry at him for hiring a coach he'd have to fire after just two years, thereby inviting nationwide criticism.

Embree, of all people, perhaps provided the most optimistic footnote to the uncomfortable afternoon.

He said, "We're going to be -- I still say we -- we're going to be a good team next year."
Scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance is the answer, not pay-for-play, according to a polling of a handful of Pac-12 athletic directors.

[+] EnlargePat Haden
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireUSC athletic director Pat Haden on current scholarship rules: "It is not right to have a student-athlete tell me he or she is going hungry."
USC's Pat Haden felt so strongly about the issue that he has a post on the matter on the school's official website.

"The NCAA formulas used to determine student-athlete stipends are not appropriate," Haden said in the post. "Having interviewed 15 different athletes and broken down their stipend against their bills, they are left with about $5 per day for food. I just do not think that is right."

Haden is not alone. Across town at UCLA, Dan Guerrero feels the same way.

“I would much prefer to see the NCAA pursue the notion of allowing athletic scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance at an institution," he said.

In fact, six conference athletic directors said the same thing. None who were asked for their take -- a number of ADs were on vacation -- said they were against increasing the value of scholarships to cover cost of attendance.

But paying athletes for their services beyond a full-cost scholarship also was panned.

"I am not in favor of any 'stipend' that would exceed that amount," Stanford's Bob Bowlsby said.

Why not? Well, while a few ADs sounded at least lukewarm to a revolutionary idea in which athletes in revenue sports -- football and men's basketball -- could receive a stipend, none said they'd heard of a way to do that and not step afoul of Title IX laws on gender equity.

"I haven't heard of one yet," Arizona's Greg Byrne said. "It would have to be a group effort to see if that's even feasible."

And even if someone produced a revolutionary idea that circumvented Title IX, the notion didn't generate much support.

"I'm not for pay-for-play," Washington's Scott Woodward said. "I think it's a great structure the way it is."

So cost of attendance it is.

"Cost of attendance," in fact, is the new catch phrase. It means covering all reasonable expenses a college athlete might have. That would mean an extra $2,500 to $3,500 per athlete. That doesn't sound like much, but when you multiply it across an entire athletic department with, say, 400 or so scholarship athletes, it gets pretty pricey. Woodward estimated it would cost Washington an extra $1 million a year.

Still, that doesn't sound like too much when automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS are signing billion-dollar TV contracts.

Ah, but that's part of the problem. Non-AQ schools would struggle to pick up the extra tab. Many already are losing money on college sports. If AQ programs started to provide "better" scholarships and non-AQ programs didn't, then it would increase an already sizable competitive advantage.

Colorado's Mike Bohn has been an athletic director in non-AQ conferences -- San Diego State and Idaho -- so he understands why the idea isn't generating much traction outside of AQ conferences.

"I recognize the challenges it would put on those types of institutions," he said. "They would have to evaluate that and make decisions on what's best for themselves."

Bohn also feels like many people don't recognize just how valuable a full ride is -- cost of attendance or not. He points out it pays not only tuition plus room and board, but also health care, tutoring and other academic services and summer school. And the experience of a major college athlete is a fairly privileged one.

"It's important to accurately portray the investment each institution is putting into each student-athlete," he said. "The investment in these men and women goes far beyond the scholarship commitment."

Still, there's plenty of momentum behind the idea of improving scholarships and taking further financial burdens off athletes.

Writes Haden: "In a year from now, our new TV contract is going to kick in with $20 million per year in revenue and it is not right to have a student-athlete tell me he or she is going hungry. It is unconscionable."
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn says comments made by Missouri's governor expedited the Buffs' move to the Pac-10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has Colorado found its man?

December, 2, 2010
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Colorado might have picked the man to lead it into the Pac-12.

Washington Redskins tight ends coach Jon Embree has been offered the Buffaloes' head coaching job, according to a report in the Denver Post.

The newspaper named its source as former Colorado coach Bill McCartney, who has publicly stated he wanted to return to his old job.

Colorado spokesman Dave Plati denied the report to ESPN.com's David Ubben. "[Athletic director] Mike [Bohn] has not offered the job to anyone at this point. Rumors, everyone wanting to be first."

Reports earlier Thursday said that Embree, former Buffaloes running back Eric Bieniemy, and Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain topped the list of candidates.
The Post reported that the school is hoping to hire Embree, who could then lure Bieniemy back to Boulder as his offensive coordinator.

Cal and Stanford to the North?

October, 14, 2010
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New USC athletic director Pat Haden told Trojans boosters this week that the athletic directors voted 7-5 in favor splitting the new Pac-12 into North and South divisions in 2011, with California and Stanford joining the Northwest schools in the North and new members Utah and Colorado grouping with the LA and Arizona schools in the South, according to WeAreSC.com.

Here's the relevant quote from Haden when he was asked about expansion:
We’re going for the money, sadly, that’s what it is. We need a conference title game. I went to my first athletic directors meeting last week and we discussed expansion. We made a recommendation that passed 7 to 5 and the presidents of the schools will vote on it later this month. There’s no guarantee it will pass, it was only a 7 to 5 vote, certainly not unanimous. The alignment that got 7 votes was one that puts USC/UCLA, the Arizona schools and Col/Utah in the same division. I told them my alumni will kill me if we don’t play the Northern California schools and have the weekender every year. I proposed a 5-2-2 model that has us playing the five schools (UCLA, AZ schools and Co/Ut) every year and then have the Northern California schools as part of our regular 2 and then rotate the other two. We need to play Stanford and Cal.

The Pac-10 blog became aware of the item because of a post from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News.

What this means is commissioner Larry Scott has convinced a majority of athletic directors to go along with his original plan, the one Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn revealed in June. And you'd have to say new members Colorado and Utah are big winners with this plan, due to the immediate connection to Southern California.

Here's an interesting idea to think about: Assuming the four California schools voted AGAINST this plan -- they'd favor a California-Arizona division -- and the four Northwest schools plus the two new members voted for it, then it appears the Arizona schools split their vote.

The Pac-12 presidents meet on Oct. 21 in San Francisco to vote on this and also on a revenue sharing plan, and those two items are linked. Scott and most ADs favor equal revenue sharing with TV money, which is what the Big Ten and SEC do. The model used at present -- appearance-based -- favors the LA schools, particularly USC.

Haden obviously wants to preserve an annual game with Stanford and California. His 5-2-2 model, though, limits the number of visits to the rich recruiting grounds of Southern California for the Northwest schools. So you'd expect the Northwest presidents to counter with, "Fine, but equal revenue sharing then starts in 2012 with the new TV contracts."

That might be the endgame compromise.

How the Pac-10 will be divided

June, 17, 2010
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How the new Pac-12 will be divided is an unresolved issue. Heck, there's even debate among athletic directors whether the new conference should play eight or nine conference games.

And you thought the newsiest June in college football history was over! No way!

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said Thursday evening that no decision will be made on the divisions, the conference championship game or the number of conference games until after Pac-10 media day on July 29. Conference athletic directors meet the following day, when they can -- face-to-face -- hash out these issues with Scott, who is in no rush to resolve them.

"I really want to slow things down now," Scott said. "There's no reason to rush."

Earlier in the week, it appeared a North-South divisional split was the plan. In fact, Colorado AD Mike Bohn apparently believes this lineup -- with Colorado in the South -- was promised to him before the Buffaloes agreed to go west and leave the Big 12. Scott said, however, that no decision has been made on the divisional lineup.

"We know what [Colorado] wants," Scott said. "[The North-South split] is not part of our contract [with Colorado]."

As for a potential Pac-12 TV network, a final decision on that won't come until the spring of 2011, Scott said.

But the most interesting issue going forward is how the divisions will set up. So let's take a look at the top possibilities.

North-South split: This remains the frontrunner. (By the way, Jon Wilner does a good job of speculating what might be going on behind the scenes here.)

  • North: California, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State
  • South: Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Colorado, Utah
Positives: It makes regional sense. It maintains travel partners. Further -- and this is more important than some might think -- as divisional "brands," North and South are easy to figure out. A person in, say, Maine would immediately be able to name which Pac-12 team is in which division. Or put it this way: Name the six teams in the ACC's "Coastal" division. Understand?

Negatives: Even with a nine-game conference schedule -- which would include four non-division games -- teams from the North wouldn't get annual dates in southern California, which is important for recruiting and also is important for some alumni. Further, a home date with USC typically draws a big crowd, so missing the Trojans as an every-other-year home game is a hit. California and Stanford also probably would be irked losing annual games with their in-state rivals.

East-West split: We're splitting hairs on East-West here. Wilner calls this the "zipper" plan, which means we could call the divisions "Slider" and "Teeth".

  • East: Washington State, USC, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado
  • West: Washington, UCLA, California, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah
Positives: This plan insures an LA team is in both divisions, so that means a trip to southern California every other year plus however many times the rotation includes a trip to the team from SoCal that's in the other division. Traditional rivalry games are maintained as annual events by creating designated opponents -- Oregon-Oregon State, Cal-Stanford, USC-UCLA, etc.

Negatives: Less regional, so there would be more long trips. It's likely a person from, say, New Hampshire wouldn't immediately know which team is in which division. We might have our first Pac-12 controversy if Colorado has its heart set on a spot in the South, in a North-South split, and believes it was promised as much.

Other scenarios involve just switching around teams, such has putting Washington and USC and California, etc., in a division. Or putting Oregon and Washington together to honor that rivalry.

Yet here's a telling remark from Scott taken from Lya Wodraska's Utah blog for the Salt Lake Tribune. When asked if Colorado and Utah will be travel partners, Scott said, "Absolutely, that is the DNA of the Pac-10," he said. "There were five natural travel partners and now there will be six."

That would strongly suggest that Colorado and Utah will be in the same division. If that's an "absolutely" then how would the down-the-spine plan work? The Utes and Buffaloes together would mean splitting up at least one natural rivalry. Or, more likely, going with a North-South plan.

In other words -- open up! -- there remains a contentious issue for us to chew on over the coming weeks.

Buffs to Pac-10 'done deal'

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

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

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

Rumors of Colorado's interest in the Big 12 had been rampant for months. Today's news makes those an apparent reality. Meanwhile, in Waco, the future looks grim for Baylor, who may be left shopping for membership in a league without an automatic BCS bid, which would have a significant negative impact on the conference revenue given to the school.
The Big Ten has been viewed as the catalyst for expansion in college sports since Dec. 15, when the league issued a statement that put expansion on the front burner.

For the past five months and change, everyone has reacted to Jim Delany and his league.

But Thursday, the spotlight shifted to two other conferences, the Big 12 and the Pac-10. A Rivals.com report that stated the Pac-10 would extend invitations to six Big 12 teams, including Texas and Oklahoma, turned the college sports world on its head.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and Texas president Bill Powers canceled a news conference Thursday at the league's spring meetings, and Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione indicated that the unity Beebe wanted to achieve among the institutions this week has not yet been reached. It's really hard to believe the Big 12 is one big happy family right now.

Colleague David Ubben writes:
A unified front and clear consensus would have made answering questions a reasonably simple exercise for two men with backgrounds in law. But that front never materialized on Thursday, leading to the postponement of Powers' and Beebe's comments until late Friday morning. And the reports about the Pac-10's shockingly proactive move -- which sounds far closer to a possibility than a probability -- obviously contributed to that delay.

The Pac-10 tried to put the brakes on things, saying no offers have been extended, and while I highly doubt anything is imminent, Colorado AD Mike Bohn said the report has some legs.

Needless to say, today could be critical for the Big 12, which wraps up its meetings in Kansas City.

What does this all mean for the Big Ten? Is Delany going to get upstaged by a rookie commissioner in Larry Scott?

I'd reiterate that nothing is definite, and the six-team expansion sounds a lot like a best-case situation for the Pac-10. Not saying it can't happen, but much like the Big Ten's expansion study, this will take more time.

Still, Delany and the Big Ten brass can't turn a blind eye to what's happening in Kansas City or what will happen at the Pac-10 meetings, beginning this weekend in San Francisco. The Big Ten presidents and chancellors meet Sunday at league headquarters -- I'll be there -- and you can bet they'll be talking about what has taken place.

Losing Texas to another league would disappoint Big Ten fans, but for Texas, it might make sense. The Big Ten already has its own TV network. It already has established powerhouse programs. The Pac-10's pitch to Texas could be, "Let's build something new together," and Texas could get some of the special concessions from the Pac-10 that I'm told it won't get from the Big Ten.

Aside from Texas, the other schools mentioned in the report aren't Big Ten targets. I'm told the league is more interested in Big 12 North members, specifically Nebraska and Missouri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expansion frenzy gets even crazier

June, 3, 2010
6/03/10
10:21
PM ET
It appears the Big 12 meetings were fairly hectic on Thursday, with reports that the Pac-10 is now looking to expand to 16 teams, with the new six all coming from the Big 12: Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.

Golly. That would be a dramatic change in big-time college sports.

The Pac-10, according to the reports, would then split into two divisions, with Arizona and Arizona State joining the Big 12 six and the old Pac-8 forming the other division.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott released a statement on the matter to The Sporting News:
"We are aware of a story filed today by an Orangebloods.com columnist, speculating about possible expansion plans for the Pac-10 Conference. While many interesting scenarios have been suggested in numerous news reports, around the country, we remain focused on a thorough evaluation process that examines all of the options for increasing the value of the conference for our member institutions, our student athletes and our fans. We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term."

Earlier in the day, Scott told me point blank that no major news would come out of the Pac-10 meetings this weekend. Despite this report, Scott may still prove correct. There are a lot of hoops to jump through before we'd get a "Pac-16".

Another source who will be attending the meetings this weekend in San Francisco said that Scott had presented a variety of expansion scenarios to the Pac-10 presidents, including this 16-team version. It's possible this version will lead the agenda this weekend. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn told the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera that his school and the other five are expecting overtures from the Pac-10.

"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn told the newspaper.

That about sums it up. For weeks we've had lots of speculation. We may not be, in fact, that close to an endgame.

But the speculation may have some legs.

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