Category Archives: Big 12 Football

So long and good luck

Yeesh.

But what about the carcass of the Big 12? Just how much will it be losing on the recruiting trail? How do teams like Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State, Baylor, and the rest measure up?

Predictably, the answer is a lot. In fact, without Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12 is closer to the Group of 5 leagues than it is to any of the existing Power 5 conferences.

Eleven recruiting classes have come and gone since Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M left the Big 12. In those 11 classes, Texas and Oklahoma have signed a combined 287 blue-chip players, which is about 13 per team per class. The rest of the league has combined to sign just 165, or slightly less than two per team per class.

Well, maybe it’s not as bad as that sounds.

But even given that the remainder of the Big 12 has significantly out-recruited the AAC in any relevant time frame, it is still well behind its other leagues. The Pac 12’s top eight recruiters have signed 270 four- and five-star recruits over the last five years compared to just 65 by the remaining eight Big 12 schools.

For all intents and purposes, the Big 12’s recruiting level without the Longhorns and Sooners is that of the best Group of 5 league, and far away from a Power 5 league.

Then, again…

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Herbstreit haz a sad.

Shot.

Chaser.

Does somebody want to remind Herbie of the outfit he works for?

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Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

14-zip

It’s all over but the shouting.

But there will be plenty of shouting.

At least Bob managed to toss another gratuitous “doin’ it for the kids” nod.

What’s your over/under on when the two schools actually play SEC ball?

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“We’re just not going to sit still and let somebody… disrupt our business.”

Well now, this is something.

Adding insult to injury, the other conference supposedly is… the AAC.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby alleges conference media rights partner ESPN conspired to damage the league by luring Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC as detailed in a cease and desist letter sent to the network on Wednesday. Bowlsby also tells CBS Sports that ESPN has actively engaged the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to pursue “3-5” Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with “future television proceeds”.

The letter alleges ESPN “has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN.” The network currently shares Big 12 rights with Fox.

Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN’s actions are equal to “tortious interference”.

Ooh, check out the big brain on Bob!  He be mad, peeps.

In response, ESPN yawned.

While Bowlsby was on a roll, he cast a little shade in the direction of his departing members.

… He identified clear enemies in ESPN and the departing schools. Bowlsby only sent that letter with presidential support, which means this will end up bonding the eight schools remaining in the Big 12. And part of that is due to the distrust of Texas and Oklahoma.

“We still don’t have the information we need from them and they’re largely unresponsive,” Bowlsby told Yahoo Sports about OU and Texas. “How many years do they plan to play. When are they planning on transitioning? We can’t get any answers out of them.”

He knows damned well the conference, having already received notice from the two about their departure plans (properly within the bounds of Big 12 rules), isn’t entitled to those answers.  And there’s where we enter the realm of negotiating ploys.  As you might expect, there are wheels within wheels with this.

“I have every expectation that Oklahoma and Texas will do whatever they can to not meet their [contractual] obligations. That’s what they’ve done so far. … One of the ways the two schools and ESPN will seek to absolve themselves of the obligation is to destabilize the league and cause an implosion of the other eight members.

“I am absolutely certain ESPN employees have discussed and provided incentives for at least one conference to raid 3-5 members from the Big 12. In doing so, they are prepared to reward them with future television proceeds. If the conference goes away as an entity, Oklahoma and Texas could be relieved from their exit obligations. Those obligations at this time would include the payment of $70M to $80M — two years full revenue — per school and leaving their media rights with the Big 12.

Is ESPN operating behind the scenes to grease the skids for Oklahoma and Texas?  You’d have to be an idiot to expect otherwise.  Is Mickey doing so in a way to create legal liability for itself?  Well, I’d bet their lawyers are smarter than Bob’s, so whatever they’ve been doing, it’s been carefully crafted.

The money factor cuts both ways here.  Yes, if the conference dissolves, that ends the obligation to pay exit fees.  But Bob’s got a problem, too.

The difference between what the Big 12 is being paid now – more than $35 million in TV – and what it’ll be paid without OU and Texas is an estimated $20 million. Dropping a stinkbomb on the doorstep in Bristol, Connecticut, is a negotiation ploy to assure you will no longer be negotiating. But Bowlsby is too smart to have done this without some type of TV partner fallback.

That strikes me as wishful thinking.  If the broadcast rights drop in value significantly for ESPN, they’re not going to be more valuable for another TV partner.

What is more likely is that Bowlsby is trying to force ESPN to leave the existing contract structure in place after Oklahoma and Texas leave.  If you think about it, there’s probably an exit strategy that saves all sides a little — the schools are allowed a departure earlier than 2025 and ESPN doesn’t penalize the Big 12 when that happens.  It’s not a perfect solution for the conference, but their fate was sealed the moment the schools announced they were hitting the road.  At least it gives Bowlsby time to see what he can salvage before a mid-major conference picks over the bones.

Keep your friends close and your TV partners even closer, in other words.

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UPDATE:  Drop dead, Bob.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Big Game Bob twists the knife again.

Cold, man, cold.

Not that it isn’t true.

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How bad do they want it?

If this report is accurate, pretty effing bad.

Using the Longhorn Network money to buy the two schools out of the Big 12 might be the most ironic act of the decade.  And it’s only 2021.

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TFW your reputation precedes you

Once again, hell hath no fury like a college president scorned.

Oklahoma State president Kayse Shrum said Monday that Oklahoma’s intentions to explore leaving the Big 12 are “the result of months of planning with the SEC” and a “clear breach” of the conference bylaws.

Shrum made the comments in a statement and in a series of tweets. In the statement, she called Oklahoma’s actions “strategic” and “deliberate.”

“It is difficult to understand how an Oklahoma institution of higher education would follow the University of Texas to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma,” added Shrum, who took over as president on July 1.

The breach claim is in reference to Section 3.2 of the Big 12’s bylaws, which references third parties attempting to induce a member institution to leave. It requires schools to inform the conference no later than 12 hours afterward, and to “immediately and unconditionally reject that offer in a form and manner reasonably acceptable to the Commissioner.”

Oh, honey.  It’s like you forgot how your conference was formed in the first place.

… Then UT’s interests turned to the Big Eight. Texas and Oklahoma’s leaders both looked favorably on the idea of being in the same conference, but both schools had other options. Former Kansas State University president Jon Wefald voiced fears that if UT had joined the Pac-10, there would be no way for the Big Eight to ramp up their TV payouts in order to keep Oklahoma from joining the SEC for more lucrative TV payouts.[16]

Negotiations with Texas and other schools

The Big Eight had been in pursuit of some kind of alliance with the Southwest Conference since Arkansas’s departure destabilized that historic conference.[citation needed]

The Big Eight and SWC members saw the potential financial benefits from an alliance to negotiate television deals, but a true alliance of 16 teams which would retain the seven other SWC schools was not viewed as optimal by UT. Dodds and the Longhorn leadership viewed proposals of this sort as continuing business as usual in the SWC. Arkansas’s departure allowed UT and Texas A&M to clear four or more less profitable dates from their football schedules and eight or more from their basketball schedules.[citation needed]

For years the Big Eight could not interest UT in a merger. Without Texas to ensure the retention of Oklahoma, the Big Eight was not interested.[clarification needed][16]

Reports at the end of 1993 disclosed the discussions of the Big Eight about adding BYU and half of the SWC, with SMU, TCU, Rice and Houston “priced out” of the new conference.[2][17]

The Big Eight began negotiations with ABC and ESPN for a new conference that would feature football powers[citation needed] Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado,[citation needed] and Texas.[citation needed]

Texas politicians

After the SEC announced their intent to leave the CFA, the Big 8 and SWC members re-opened discussions to sell their rights together. In a book called “The Baylor Project” by Barry G. Hankins and Donald D. Schmeltekoff about Baylor’s place in Christian higher education on page 68 states that on February 11, 1994, SWC member schools’ leaders met a few Big 8 leaders in Dallas to discuss potentially selling both leagues’ media content in a package deal. Discussions broke down on February 16, reportedly over UT’s interest in the Pac-10. The Big Eight began negotiating a deal that would include the full SWC as a partner and Texas A&M approached the SEC.[18]

In Texas, word leaked out that UT & Texas A&M were close to leaving the SWC; UT to the Pac-10[18] or Big Eight and eventually Texas A&M to the SEC. Texas state senator David Sibley, a Baylor alumnus and member of the Senate Finance Committee, approached UT Chancellor Bill Cunningham and asked him pointedly whether UT planned to leave the SWC on its own for the Big Eight. Cunningham tried to change the subject. Ultimately he did not deny it.[9]

Sibley approached LT Governor Bob Bullock, a Texas Tech alumnus. Texas state senator John Montford of Lubbock was equally motivated to protect Texas Tech’s path to the Big 12. The trio put together a group of legislators who worked to insure those schools were part of any new sport conference.

Bullock called together a meeting of supportive legislators as well as UT’s and Texas A&M’s leaders on February 20, 1994.[19] UT Chancellor William Cunningham admitted that Texas planned to join the Big Eight[9] and A&M’s leadership still targeted the SEC.[9]

A deal was worked out where all four schools would go together to the Big 12. Baylor and Texas Tech would join the Aggies in coming with UT into the new version of the Big Eight.[9]

… UT officials informed the Big Eight leadership that the Austin school was now receptive to an invitation and the Big Eight issued invitations to Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech. All four schools quickly accepted.[18]

The more things change, and all…

By the way, for those of you fretting about how Texas will inevitably sabotage the SEC, you need to consider that UT has plenty on its plate in that regard right now.

Big 12 sources told ESPN on Monday that the statement leaves some “wiggle room” and doesn’t fully guarantee that the flagship schools would remain in the league through 2025. The possibility remains that they will pay the $75 million to $80 million penalty for leaving early, while also giving the required 18 months’ notice, per Big 12 bylaws. Some have speculated that this is the first legal maneuver, and the possibility also exists that if the Big 12 dissolves before 2025, OU and Texas would no longer be bound to stay through the duration of the contract.

Gee, I wonder how that’s gonna work out.

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Never give up, Bowlsby.

Shot.

Chaser.

In other words, dude who had no clue his marquee programs were unhappy enough to consider leaving now thinks he has a handle on things, because “discussion”.  That’s almost as sad as this:

************************************************************************

UPDATE:

Apparently, Bob wasn’t convincing enough.

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TFW life really does come at you fast

Six months and nothing about this leaked?  Color me stunned.

And impressed.

**********************************************************************

UPDATE: 

“Minimum of 6 months” was evidently doing some heavy lifting in Bohls tweet.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, SEC Football

Finger on the pulse

Ummm… this didn’t age well.

Less than a week ago, amid the glitz and glamour of AT&T Stadium, Big 12 media days were a jovial event.

… and commissioner Bob Bowlsby celebrated the cohesion of his conference—they stuck together during a season amid a pandemic, battled the elements and came out even stronger.

Or so he thought.

“A motivation for conference expansion or realignment,” he said last Wednesday, “it’s gone, or just not there at this point in time.”

Speaking of time, what are the odds Bowlsby’s job even exists four years from now?

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