Category Archives: Big 12 Football

The Big 12’s “fearless leader”

Welp, it seems like the Big 12 had one main requirement for the person hired to succeed Bob Bowlsby as its next commissioner:  don’t be Bob Bowlsby.

Brett Yormark, the COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, is finalizing a deal to be the new leader of the Power 5 league, sources tell Sports Illustrated, a stunning move that brings yet another outsider into college sports’ most exclusive and powerful group.

Yormark, 55, has spent the last three years at Roc Nation, originally as co-CEO with twin brother Michael. In his various roles at Roc Nation, he’s worked with artists, athletes, leagues, teams and brands and oversees sponsorship, licensing, content partnerships and brand strategy. These are essential elements and qualities especially beneficial in an ever-changing college sports landscape that entered a new phase last July with the lifting of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The era of name, image and likeness (NIL) has brought legalized athlete pay, agent involvement and player branding never before seen in college sports.

… Yormark has little if any college sports experience but he’s been integral in professional basketball. Before joining Roc Nation in 2019, he spent 14 years as CEO of BSE Global, which manages the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. Under his leadership, Barclays secured agreements to host NCAA men’s basketball tournament games, the ACC men’s basketball tournament and several high-profile non-conference matchups in the sport involving Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina. The Nets, meanwhile, moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn under his watch.

Prior to that, Yormark worked for NASCAR for six years, where he helped build the stock-car racing company into a major sports property.

So, he’s moved a sports franchise, helped NASCAR go from a regional property to a national one and knows his way around branding an athlete.  Sounds like a man for our times.

He also sounds like a guy who will be open to joining the Alliance, which already has two commissioners with little to no prior experience in college sports.  I can’t wait to hear him dictate terms to Greg Sankey.

6 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

“Guys needed to see some fruits of their labor.”

I’m a big fan of Kansas coach Lance Leipold, so I read Bill Connelly’s piece ($$) about how he’s trying to rebuild the program there, perhaps the tallest task in college football.  I mean, here’s a quick look at the giants who came before Leipold:

… First came Buffalo coach Turner Gill, hired for his program-building prowess despite his four-year Bills’ tenure, including only one winning season and no SP+ ranking above 97th. He went 5-19.

Then came former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, he of the professed “decided tactical advantage,” whose Florida offense had ranked 57th in offensive SP+ in 2011. His teams went 7-29, and in his impatience, he loaded up on junior college transfers and handed his successor a ticking time bomb of a roster.

That successor? David Beaty, a well-intentioned former Kansas offensive co-coordinator who was regarded primarily as a strong recruiter, but he never had a chance of bringing many four-stars to Lawrence. Dealing with massive player shortages and incapable of developing what he had, he went 6-42.

After all of this came maybe the most inexplicable hire yet: Les Miles. Dismissed from LSU for failing to keep up with the times (his offenses were prehistoric, and he didn’t update them even as Nick Saban and others did), he went 3-18 in two seasons with KU and was fired in March 2021 after accusations of inappropriate behavior at LSU were unearthed. The school went through spring practice under the guidance of interim coach Emmett Jones, then officially hired Leipold on April 30, maybe the single most awkward point on the calendar for bringing in an outsider.

Ugh.  Kansas football was essentially a toxic waste site when Leipold was handed the keys.

What I found interesting was that Leipold, much like Kirby Smart, is a big believer in establishing a culture as the rock upon which to build a successful program.  The difference, of course, is that it’s one thing to build a culture at a resource-rich environment like Georgia’s, and an entirely different one at a dump like Kansas.  But this isn’t Leipold’s first rodeo in that regard.

“We get done with that 2-10 year and we start talking about culture more and researching it more,” Kotelnicki said. “We became very intentional that spring about what culture is — how we install it and, more specifically, how we define it.”

How do you define it?

“It’s when the locker room leads itself,” Leipold said.

“Player-led culture,” strength coach Matt Gildersleeve said.

“Culture is behavior,” Kotelnicki said. “We try to install it with our kids, kind of like a playbook.”

“Go back to when Lance and I worked for Coach [Barry] Alvarez at Wisconsin,” general manager Rob Ianello said. “The buzzword ‘culture’ was not what you used — it was, ‘This is how we do things. This is how we’re gonna win.’ We’ve done a really good job of defining what our culture is to our team, teaching it to them and demanding it.”

With proper expectation and accountability in place, Buffalo began to win. The Bulls rose to 6-6 in 2017, then to 10-4 with a MAC East title in 2018. Despite losing quite a few key pieces, they won eight games and scored the program’s first ever bowl win in 2019, and in the pandemic-shortened 2020, with experience levels again high, they went 6-1, won another MAC East title and finished ranked in the AP poll for the first time.

“When you say ‘player-led culture’ … it takes time,” Gildersleeve said. “You have to get those guys comfortable doing what you ask, but it’s also getting teammates comfortable hearing it from a peer, not a coach. That’s a whole ‘nother layer of complexity. But [by 2020] it was to the point where I was almost bored — I was just coaching technique and stuff, and I wasn’t coaching culture because before I could ever get a coaching cue out of my mouth, there were six seniors doing it for me.”

I hope what worked before works again.  Kansas is never going to become a CFP contender, but becoming a competitive D-1 program would be a helluva reworking, considering how lifeless KU football has been.  Leipold has the background to give his efforts credibility, so we’ll see if his hire pays off.

14 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

One big happy family

The Big 12 will add four teams for the 2023 season.  What does that mean for Oklahoma and Texas?  Not much, it sounds like.

On the bright side, now the SEC has more time to fight over conference scheduling.

17 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, SEC Football

Lessons from the pandemic

Next time, I can think of a few conferences that will be solemnly swearing not cancelling games is the new “do it for the kids” take.

[Ed. note:  Don’t make me shut down the comments thread, please.]

24 Comments

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

One big happy

Looks like the Big 12 will be the Bigger 12 next year.

Where does that leave Texas and Oklahoma in the departure department?  Beats me.

13 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

“You know the risk when you have divisions.”

Oh, look, the conference that managed to screw up a round robin schedule to determine a champion is back at it again.

As the Big 12 was considering a temporary split into divisions for football, sources tell CBS Sports an NCAA proposal to relax conference championship game rules has complicated matters. That proposal that would no longer require FBS conferences to have divisions in order to hold league title games, effectively giving such conferences better access the College Football Playoff by allowing them to match their two best teams.

A special Big 12 subcommittee formed to determine how to best incorporate up to 14 teams in conference realignment from 2023-24 had been expected to finalize league composition and schedules this week. However, the Big 12 is awaiting resolution on a proposal from the NCAA Football Oversight Committee that would allow all leagues to play without divisions but still hold conference championship games without a waiver from the association.

That would give conferences an opportunity to match their two best (usually highest-ranked) teams in league title games.

Fourteen teams obviously can’t play a round robin schedule, so what’s left is to make sure a conference championship game does the best job of delivering a team to the CFP.  After all, what else are conferences good for these days?  Or the NCAA, for that matter…

However, given the fluidity of the NCAA at the moment, commissioner Bob Bowlsby questioned whether the association should be involved at all.

“I’m not sure why the NCAA has to be involved in that anyway,” Bowlsby said. “The conferences can capably decide how they want to conduct their competition.”

Bob, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but in your case, “capably” is doing a shit ton of heavy lifting there.

7 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

Hasta la vista, baby.

What About Bob (1991).png

I guess I should say a few words about Bob Bowlsby’s departure as the head of the Big 12.  I mean, between adding a totally unnecessary conference championship game to a round robin regular season schedule and losing the prize athletic programs of his conference after ignoring the warning signs, the man’s got a legacy that will probably go unmatched — which is saying something in a world that had Larry Scott as a peer.  (Using the term loosely, of course.)

Yeah, Bob will be missed.

12 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

From the Power 5 to the Super 2

If true, the implications arising from this chart are staggering, to say the least.

If you’re more of a numbers person, here’s how that looks:

I don’t care how clever the folks in the Alliance think they are, there’s nothing they can come up with to overcome that sort of revenue disparity.  In fact, based on that, I question whether the Big Ten will remain on board with the Alliance’s goals. (Judging from that chart and the anticipated revenue bump in 2026, though, they were right to freak out over Oklahoma and Texas jumping ship.)  The SEC’s revenues are projected to double between now and the end of the decade.  Greg Sankey would have been a complete idiot to reject the Sooners’ and Longhorns’ request to join his conference.

And it’s not just about football, either.  The linked article in the NVGT piece notes how SEC schools are starting to employ the same financial approach they’ve taken in football to men’s basketball.

Now, factor in player compensation and you realize that’s an arms race three of those conferences simply can’t maintain.  Those of you bemoaning the death of college football as we’ve known it ain’t seen nothing yet.

19 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

Spitefully yours

I posted a few days ago about how the collapse (temporary, I know) of the CFP expansion talks was born out of a cut off their nose to spite their face attitude.  Andy Staples ($$) takes that spite to a whole new level with this:

What I hadn’t considered was that the SEC, after spending the past year supporting a format that would have given other leagues some of what they wanted/needed, might simply stop worrying about the other leagues altogether. Sankey seems mad enough to do that.

A 12-team CFP may benefit the SEC more than a four-team CFP. But what might benefit the SEC even more?

Not a College Football Playoff. An SEC playoff.

Andy’s not suggesting that Sankey and his conference turn their backs on the rest of college football completely.  Nah, there are still regular season games to play and if the other kids play nice and want to produce a champion to take on the SEC’s champ, that would probably be cool, too.  Especially when you consider the math.

The difference between that title game and the title game of the 12-team Playoff the leagues just passed on implementing?

The SEC keeps half the money.

The thing is, and with all due respect to Staples, that’s not the ultimate fuck you move Sankey could pull.  That would be to convince the Big Ten to blow off the Alliance and join the SEC as a second super league that produces a national title game between them and only between them.  In the aftermath, I can only imagine the sputtering to come from the Pac-12 and the ACC as USC jumps ship to join the Big Ten and Clemson hops over to the SEC.

Spite, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.  And profitably.

14 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

Divisions, divisive

I just have to laugh at Andy Staples’ cheerleading ($$) for the likelihood that the P5 over the next few years will ditch divisional play all in the name of coming up with a better delivery system for expanded playoffs — not because of his pitch, but because of where he winds up with it:

Eventually, realignment got the rule changed. The Big 12, reduced to 10 teams, wanted to reinstate its championship game midway through the last decade. The ACC had been playing in two divisions since 2005, but only the most hardcore fans could correctly identify which teams were in which division. So those leagues teamed up to ask for a change that loosened the requirements.

That’s how you get a No. 1 vs. No. 2 Big 12 championship game.

At the time, the Big 12 was playing the ideal conference format, a nine-game, round robin schedule.  Every conference team played every other conference team!  Why did they need a championship game?

Don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question.

By the way, David Hale made a point about scrapping divisional play I hadn’t considered.

I could imagine some pushback from coaches if some conferences go divisionless, while others don’t, but I would also imagine that will fade away as the P5 takes a uniform approach.  Probably by the time the next CFP TV contract is being negotiated.  Because, money… oh, shit.  I just answered my rhetorical question.

47 Comments

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