Category Archives: Big 12 Football

Lincoln Riley’s “opportunity”

Things were a little dicey for Oklahoma in its opener.

Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley confirmed after the No. 5 Sooners’ opening victory over Missouri State that the game Saturday night had been jeopardy of being postponed or canceled because of the Sooners’ COVID-19 cases.

Earlier, the Springfield News-Leader reported that Missouri State president Clif Smart told the school’s board of governors that the game had been in doubt.

“It hung in the balance for a little bit, but we were able to do it,” Riley said after the 48-0 victory. “Thankfully, we were able to.”

Several Oklahoma players were out, including kicker Gabe Brkic and running back T.J. Pledger. Brkic was a preseason second-team All-American. Pledger was listed as the starting running back. Anton Harrison, a true freshman who was listed as the starting left tackle, also did not play.

Riley wouldn’t confirm why they were out. He said earlier in the week that he would no longer release team COVID-19 testing results.

Obviously, Missouri State posed little threat, but what Oklahoma would do under similar circumstances against a conference opponent aren’t clear.  What is clear is that the public won’t likely know what Riley’s call would be until the last minute.

Again, you’ve got to be crazy betting on college football this season.


Filed under Big 12 Football, The Body Is A Temple

Somebody’s lost control.

I await Herbie’s biting take on this news.  Or Mark Richt’s.

West Virginia will be shorthanded when it opens the season at home today. Sources tell EerSports 11 players are not allowed to play when the Mountaineers entertain Eastern Kentucky at Milan Puskar Stadium.

However, the absences are not linked to positive test results for COVID-19 and are instead suspensions for a violation of team rules.

A source said to expect quite a few changes to the two-deep the team released Monday, particularly on offense, which will be without multiple starters. The source said head coach Neal Brown suspended starting left tackle Junior Uzebu, starting center Chase Behrndt, starting inside receiver T.J. Simmons, backup inside receiver Isaiah Esdale, backup inside receiver Zack Dobson, tight ends Mike O’Laughlin and T.J. Banks, backup offensive linemen Tairiq Stewart and Zach Davis, backup cornerback David Vincent-Okoli and backup long snapper J.P. Hadley.

Hope they survive the backup long snapper’s absence.


Filed under Big 12 Football

“It’s a unique opportunity.”

ACC, Big 12 and SEC to recruits:  The Big Ten and Pac-12 ain’t playin’ ball, so take advantage of the situation and join us!

Also ACC, Big 12 and SEC to recruits:  Now wait just a fucking minute.


Filed under ACC Football, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

A 3/5 solution?

While the Big Ten and Pac-12 bailed yesterday, the Big 12 announced it’s still hanging in there.

That leaves three of the P5 hoping to play ball in 2020.  The question for the moment is whether the decision is on, for want of a better phrase, life support.

Before their presidents OK’ed to continue the season, Big 12 athletic directors got briefed for 90 minutes by a medical panel, which led to vigorous debate. Some thought it too unsafe. Others thought it safe enough. It was a back-and-forth between administrators, all the while with the season somewhat on the line. The decision among Big 12 leaders came down to ramifications of not playing a season (player mental health, structure, etc.) vs. uncertain risks of playing a season.

They settled on the former. According to league sources, the conference also decided to add an extra layer to their COVID-19 protocols, requiring more intensive, mandatory heart imaging tests—a decision rooted in virus-related cardiac issues.

But let’s not celebrate too much so quickly. Maybe this is only delaying the inevitable. After all, most medical experts are expecting August and early September to be some of the highest hurdles yet. Thousands of students will return to campus while teams begin, for the first time, colliding with one another during fall camp. It’s a recipe for viral outbreaks, which are ingredients for more interruptions and delays. You can only kick the can so far down the road before you run out of road.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to play,” a Big 12 source told SI on Tuesday night. “Students are coming back to campus…”

That echoes something Greg Sankey said.

The return of the general student population and the immersion of football players into that mix is obviously the wild card now.  Sadly, what this sounds like is a continuation of the hope for the best strategy that hasn’t actually served college football too well up until now.  But when it’s all you’ve got, all we can do is hope along with them.


Filed under ACC Football, Big 12 Football, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple

Plan? What plan?

I honestly feel for Greg McGarity here.

Meanwhile, the SEC and Big 12, the other two conferences that make up what’s known as the Power 5, want to hold off as long as possible before making a determination. They’re both known to favor sticking to their 12-game schedules as is, if at all possible. But their actions eventually may be dictated by other leagues’ decisions.

McGarity doesn’t have a sense either way. But he hopes there is some finality soon.

“I hope it’s imminent because we need to move on,” McGarity said.

I’d be frustrated, too.  But what can you do when you’ve got a commissioner saying something like this?

As the Power 5 conferences continue to navigate the return of fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, and more decisions could be made this week about what that might look like for college football, it’s plausible each league’s plan is ultimately different — and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN on Monday that can work.

“They can’t be incompatible,” Bowlsby said, “but they don’t have to be identical.”

Thanks for narrowing that down, Bob.

Translated from the original commissioner-ese, all that tells me is the suits are going to get some games in, come hell or high water, and worry about the consequences later.  That’s got to be a tremendous comfort for folks like McGarity, who get to face the impatience of their fan base while trying to make sense of a season.


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, SEC Football

Cost/benefit analysis

Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec isn’t saying what’s coming in response to the pandemic, he’s just sayin’.

What is an acceptable infection rate? That hasn’t been determined by the league, Schovanec said. Both Schovanec and Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt have discussed 20% as a possible number. Should 20% of a team test positive, that week’s game would be postponed, hypothetically.

That decision will not be made solely by the Big 12 presidents. “Deciding what is the critical threshold, the input of coaches and ADs is critical,” Schovanec said.

Football is critical to each school’s bottom line. Even Texas, with its budget of almost $225 million, needs football revenue from TV broadcasters and season ticket holders.

“Kirby and his team have done a lot of planning about the financial implications that we face,” Schovanec said. “What do we do if we have a reduced schedule? What do we do if we don’t have football? If we don’t play football, it will be difficult to have any sports.”

Asked if that meant from a medical standpoint or financial one, Schovanec said, “Both.”

Um, sure.  I think the First Rule of College Athletics Administration applies here.

Schovanec said presidents are ready to let fall practice begin as scheduled on Aug. 7 and could still make a change.

All decisions will be made with student safety in mind, Schovanec stressed. Television money is not the driving force here, but Fox and ESPN pay the league based on an inventory of 57 games. A conference-only schedule is just 46. “You can’t ignore those facts,” Schovanec said.

When they say it isn’t about the money…


Filed under Big 12 Football, It's Just Bidness, The Body Is A Temple

Today’s ‘rona roundup

With the Pac-12 news that the conference plans on a 10-game conference-only schedule, spread over 14 weeks (“They are assuming some success in the next month or two (against the virus),” is some assumption), here’s a breakdown of what each conference’s current plans/hopes are for the 2020 football season.

The P5 scorecard looks like this for now:

  • ACC:  decision coming by the end of this month
  • Big 12:  decision coming by the end of this month
  • Big Ten:  conference-only schedule planned
  • Pac-12:  conference-only schedule planned
  • SEC:  no timeline announced

It’s looking like Greg Sankey may be one lonely man at the start of August.  Or maybe he’s just waiting until the ACC and Big 12 leave him with no other option.  Leadership, for the win!


Filed under ACC Football, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

“This was about way more than a T-shirt.”

I carp a fair amount about Greg McGarity’s lack of PR skills, but compared to this, he’s a friggin’ PR guru.

After OSU players got a text message from team officials on March 17 telling them there’s “no need for you to return to Stillwater for any football related activities” because of COVID-19, they had little contact with Gundy as a team in the following two months.

Gundy compounded his lack of leadership and presence in front of the players with a series of actions and comments that simmered an undercurrent of anger in the program.

In his infamous COVID-19 news conference in early April, Gundy did more than issue his decree for the players to return to Stillwater to “run money through the state.” It wasn’t lost on the players that their coach, who makes $5.25 million per year, cast the players as robotic economic pawns rather than humans vulnerable to the pandemic.

Along with trying to restart the economy, Gundy resisted a pay cut.

He said of salary cuts, which have become commonplace for millionaire coaches: “I personally don’t want to get involved in that. It’s too early for me.”

Some of the internal frustration came from an announcement in late April of the athletic department taking away the football players’ stipends and a limit on access to summer school classes. While the players eventually received stipend money from the school when they returned to campus in early June, the uncertainty amid the pandemic led to a period of frustration and a rise in tensions.

On April 23, a few weeks after Gundy’s remarks about “running money through the state,” Oklahoma State football players received a group text message from Rod Johnson, the assistant director of football operations. It came under the header: “IMPORTANT SUMMER SCHOOL INFORMATION.” Johnson told the players that access to summer classes would be limited to scholarship players “making progress toward summer or fall graduation or eligibility purposes for fall competition.”

Johnson also told them in text messages viewed by Yahoo Sports: “THERE WILL BE NO ROOM & BOARD STIPENDS.”

That news blindsided many of the Cowboys’ players during the financial crunch of the pandemic. Stipends pay about $1,200 per month. The lack of access to summer school classes for players meant some players wouldn’t be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which pay up to $3,000 for summer classes.

In an environment where many coaches rallied for their players, Gundy didn’t announce the cuts to the players or address them directly. Instead, Gundy had an underling text them.

That raises tone deafness to a whole new level.  “But wait,” you might say, “maybe there were other schools doing the same thi…”

A poll by Yahoo Sports of Big 12 schools showed that Oklahoma State was the only school that both announced cuts on summer classes and a stipend withdrawal while not cutting coach or athletic department salaries. Many cringed at the perception OSU presented, as Gundy has made nearly $45 million in salary as a head coach and athletic director Mike Holder is slated to make $950,000 this year.

Never mind.  No wonder the players reacted the way they did.


Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy


I touched on it briefly in yesterday’s comments, but thought I’d flesh it out with a post today.  What’s interesting about what happened yesterday between Oklahoma State’s head coach and its star running back isn’t the politics.  It’s that Gundy, who’s got a history of making the kind of comments that can only come from a guy who feels untouchable in his job…

Gundy, as it turns out, has never been shy about telling us who he is. He’s bullied reporters in public, dismissed criticism of his coaching from fans online as “people sitting home drawing an unemployment check,” called players who transfer “snowflakes” and, more recently, wanted players to come back to campus in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic because the school needed to “run money through the state of Oklahoma.”

… suddenly has come face to face with a change in the wind, that players are feeling a sense of power.  Consider that yesterday wasn’t Gundy’s first show of support for OAN.

In the middle of that rant in April, Gundy touted his viewership of OAN, which is known as a favorite news outlet of President Trump and peddler of absurd conspiracy theories.

Gundy said he had gravitated toward OAN because he “wasn’t happy with the way the mainstream media” has handled the coronavirus story and that OAN was “so refreshing” because “there’s no left, there’s no right, they just reported the news.”

Notably, at the time Gundy expressed those thoughts, he got no pushback from his players and only mild criticism from the school — not about OAN, but about his take that everybody needed to be back at work by May so the program could get back to making money.   Not so yesterday, as Hubbard’s tweet ignited a firestorm of support for the player and criticism of the coach from a variety of sources.

Gundy felt it, too, as this joint message from him and Hubbard appeared within hours.

Gundy: “… I realized it’s a very sensitive issue with what’s going on in today’s society. … I’m looking forward to making some changes, that starts at the top with me, and we’ve got good days ahead.”

You can question the sincerity (he just now realized it?), but you can’t question the awareness.  And if you’re focusing on the t-shirt instead of the reaction, you are missing the big picture, as David Hale explained.

Gundy has done well as a football coach at a place where it’s hard to do well.

Oklahoma State has put up with plenty from Gundy during his 15-year tenure, mostly because he wins at a place where that isn’t terribly easy. His record is 129–64, with six seasons of 10 or more wins.

That’s how you start feeling untouchable, and for the most part, that’s how Gundy has been treated.  It’s a different world now, though.  We’ll see how easily he adapts.  And if he doesn’t feel he needs to do more than offer a few sympathetic words, they’ll let him know about that on the recruiting trail.

One other question remaining is how many others out there are like Gundy?



Two observations:

  1. It’s a different world now.
  2. Would Gundy have done this had Hubbard not tweeted?


Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy

Jeff Long, hoisted on his own petard

After two years, it suddenly dawned on America’s Sharpest Athletic Director that invoking NCAA violations in an ultimately ineffective attempt to weasel out of a buyout provision has unpleasant consequences.

Kansas officials have asked the NCAA to separate infractions cases involving alleged rules violations in its men’s basketball and football programs.

In its response to the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ referral to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), the school agreed that a referral to the IARP is appropriate for the men’s basketball allegations, but argued that the football portion should be remanded to the Committee on Infractions (COI) for adjudication.

“[T]he type of violations that KU self-reported in football are regularly processed through the peer review model, and therefore, the COI is best positioned to resolve any remaining issues and to do so in a prompt manner,” the school said in its response. “Here, it is clear that there is a significant difference between allegations involving men’s basketball and those involving football. Specifically, the football allegations were self-reported, the institution and enforcement staff substantially agree on all aspects of the football allegations, the allegations involve only Level II and Level III violations, and the football allegations are not contemporaneous with the men’s basketball allegations.”

Hey, you can’t have a pattern leading to a NCAA ruling of institutional loss of control if you break up the pattern into parts, amirite?


Other than Larry Scott, I’m not sure there’s another figure in college football administration who’s just flat out stealing his salary like Jeff Long.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy, The NCAA