Tag:Longhorn Network
Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 9



Posted by Bryan Fischer


As much as Saturday's classic battle between Stanford and USC was about Andrew Luck's Heisman hopes and the Cardinal's national title dreams, it was hugely important for the man pacing the home sideline with a laminated playcard.

Yes, USC lost, there's no denying what really matters and what the game will represent in the media guide years for now. But, when combined with the way the Trojans beat Notre Dame last week and their inspired-but-not-quite-good-enough play against Stanford, I think we can finally come to one conclusion about Lane Kiffin that we couldn't beforehand: he can coach. We're still not sure if he can win quite yet, but the question marks about his coaching abilities have been answered.

Given his record, 12-21 with the Oakland Raiders and at Tennessee, it was easy to be skeptical about Kiffin. His resume had an impressive collection of jobs before he turned 34 but he still couldn't shake the label that he was riding on the coattails of his father Monte and Pete Carroll. The NCAA violations and brash nature while with the Vols only enhanced negativity. Last season's 8-5, 5-4 in the Pac-10, record didn't answer any questions. He was blown out by Oregon at home and lost to a lowly Oregon State team in Corvallis on top of three losses by seven points. His offensive unit was good but struggled at times. Jokes about him firing his father for the Trojans' defensive woes had some truth behind them.

2011 wasn't a make or break year but it was important to Kiffin and the USC program as a whole to take another step back to where they were under Carroll despite being under the cloud of NCAA sanctions. The disrespect was evident when the Trojans were a nine point underdog in South Bend despite the Irish's penchant for turning the ball over in big games.

As celebrated as Brian Kelly was in his first season, he came into the game with a 12-7 record while Kiffin was one game better at 13-6 at USC. The tone was set early last week with an impressive opening drive to quiet the Notre Dame crowd and the Irish were never really back in the game after that.

Afterward, Kiffin was elated in the locker room and was extra happy to ruin a game Kelly had built up to be the Super Bowl for his team. He acknowledged it was the biggest win since he arrived in Los Angeles and he was right, in his second season he finally had a marquee victory.

Coaches and players vehemently dislike the term 'moral victory' because they understand the bottom line: you still lost. Still, there are plenty of positives in defeat and we learned a few about USC this week after the three overtime loss to Luck and the Cardinal.

The defense is not terrible like we thought it was. It's not great by any stretch but the defensive line can put pressure on the quarterback, the linebackers are quick enough to make plays in space and the secondary is young but rounding into form. On offense, Matt Barkley and Robert Woods have something special going on, the offensive line has exceeded expectations and the running game has come into its own the past few weeks.

USC didn't win on Saturday but they came close and that counts for something against a team that had reeled off 10 straight wins by 25 or more points. Luck, the best quarterback in the country by far, looked human at times and the USC offense looked like it was on the cusp of being great.

Lane Kiffin will still be thought of negatively, especially in the South, but he's answered a few of his critics' questions this season. He can coach and he can coach offenses that put up points. Now is the time to win the big, big game that his predecessor was known for. Kiffin's insistence after the game about calling out the referees for the final play of regulation - "They lied to me," he said Sunday - knowing that a reprimand from the Pac-12 was coming was taken by some to be whiny but I saw what some of his players did - that he'd fight for them until the battle could no longer be won, and even a little more. Even in retrospect, his play call of a tunnel screen to Woods doesn't look as terrible as it was when you consider he had two timeouts and the play was designed to go up field.

The last time USC lost a triple overtime game to a Bay area team they went on a historic run. No one is saying the same will happen under Kiffin, especially as the program begins scholarship reductions this season, but it's a good omen.

Last Saturday the Coliseum was rocking, the team was playing well and the coach wasn't a question mark. Kiffin can coach, now it's time to see if he can win big games.

Stat of the week

Via the Associated Press, Texas Tech is second team since 1989 (when the AP Poll expanded to 25), to go from no votes to ranked to no votes in three weeks. The other was Washington after they beat USC in 2009.

Stats of the week

- Five Big 12 teams are ranked 90th or worse in total defense, complete with Kansas being the worst in the country giving up 555 yards and 49.5 points per game. That might explain why three of the top five passers in the country are from the conference. The Jayhawks also only had 46 yards of total offense this week.

- Two candidates for most disappointing team of they year, Texas A&M and Notre Dame, are 110th and 118th respectively in turnover margin.

- Despite running so much, Georgia Tech is a third-down machine. They have the fifth-most third down attempts in the country yet are converting on 57.6% of them, best mark in the country by nearly 2%.

- The much maligned Michigan defense has taken a leap in several categories under Greg Matison but perhaps the most important: they lead the country in red zone defense. The Wolverines have only allowed 13 scores all year from inside the 20.

- If you had to guess who leads the country in time of possession, you'd probably start with a Georgia Tech or an Army. It's actually Texas, who holds onto the ball for over 35 minutes per game.

- After facing Oklahoma State, Baylor's defense dropped from 97th in total defense and 101st in scoring defense to 108th and 115th. Missouri went from 29th and 25th in the two categories to 51st and 46th. Texas went from 24th and 47th to 30th and 56th. Bottom line, your defense won't look too good in the stats after facing the Cowboys.

- Auburn is 289-4 all time when scoring 30-plus points. One reason why Gus Malzahn is being paid $1.3 million a year.

- This is the first time Georgia has beaten Florida and Tennessee in the same year since 1988. There are only three players on the Bulldogs' roster that were born before then. The Gators' four game skid is the first of any kind at the school since 1988 and first in the SEC since 1979, when head coach Will Muschamp was eight.

Yard-by-yard

- It was only a matter of time before the Manhattan Miracle came to an end. Oklahoma had been shocked the week before by Texas Tech and Kansas State was the unwitting opponent they took it out on. Landry Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards and five touchdowns, impressive considering the quarterbacks that have been churned out under Bob Stoops recently. His favorite target, Ryan Broyles, also moved into first place on the Big 12 career receiving list. Not all was crimson Saturday however, as running back Dominique Whaley fractured his ankle on the very first play of the game. Though overwhelmingly a passing team, the balance that the running game had with Whaley will be missed unless the Sooners find someone to step up. Kansas State will have to regroup after the Big 12's previously top-ranked defense was shredded by Jones. They rallied in the second quarter but that was about the only time the Wildcats could get something going.

- Say what you want about Oklahoma State's 111th ranked defense but they bottled up Robert Griffin III, shutting Baylor out in the first half and allowing just one score in the red zone all game. The 622 yards allowed is concerning but they allowed a good chuck of the yards when the game was well out of hand. It seemed like the Cowboys were going to be locked in a tough one once the Bears drove down to the one-yard line on their first drive but the defense held and the offense drove 99-yards for a touchdown to set the tone early. After that, it was like Mike Gundy's squad was shot out of a cannon. Particularly impressive was running back Joseph Randle, who had 152 yards and four touchdowns to lead a rushing attack that rolled up over 300 yards for the first time in over two years. It's hard to look at the Cowboys and see anybody but Oklahoma stopping them from booking a trip to New Orleans.

- It seems to happen every game but it does seem concerning that Oregon led Washington State by only five points before taking care of business in the second half in a 43-28 win. The big news was the return of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, who both started. James ran for 53 yards and wore a brace after dislocating his elbow a few weeks ago. Thomas was a little shakier, tossing two interceptions before being pulled for backup Bryan Bennett. Was it rust? Hard to say but you can't say it wasn't a factor after being limited in practices the week before. There's likely not much of a quarterback controversy but there's no question the Ducks need Thomas at 100% if they want to beat Washington, Stanford or USC. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas was a bright spot, perhaps extra bright in Oregon's yellow "bumblebee" uniforms, taking a kickoff 93-yards for a touchdown and scoring on a 45-yard pass.

- People joke about Case Keenum putting up video game numbers in Houston's offense but that's exactly what he did Thursday, throwing NINE touchdown passes as the Cougars routed Rice 73-34 despite the rainy conditions. It wasn't the start Keenum and the offense wanted, with an interception and having a fumble returned for a touchdown to put themselves in an early hole. But then the rain seemed to lighten up and the record-setting quarterback took over from there. His fifth touchdown toss moved him past former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell to set the FBS-record for career TD passes and he proceeded to throw four more just for good measure. "Those are video game numbers, something we couldn't get stopped," Rice linebacker Justin Allen said. "The rain slowed down a little bit ... I wished it would have rained all game. It stopped, and they got things cranked up. There was no looking back for them." Keenum should set another record next week with 267 yards to become the FBS leader in career passing yards. Undefeated and somewhat untested, it looks like Houston is on their way to a special season. They have serious issues on defense but the offense will continue to put up eye-popping numbers.

- Tom O'Brien's hot seat status is fiery hot right now after losing to Florida State 34-0. The Wolfpack managed only 166 yards on offense and were shutout for the first time in three years. They weren't just beat by FSU, they were pushed around like they were Duke. T.J. Graham, one of the few bright spots for N.C. State this year, was bottled up and held to just 116 all-purpose yards. Given the way he handled the Russell Wilson situation and the way the season has gone, don't be surprised when there's a second coaching search going on in the triangle during the offseason (UNC being the other).

- It's time to give JoePa props for coaching Penn State to an 8-1 record. The defense, of course, is the story and the backbone of the team, shutting out Illinois for three quarters but the Nittany Lions had just enough on offense to get by with a 10-7 win. It was a sloppy affair for both teams but Joe Paterno picked up win No. 409 to move become the winningest coach in Division I. They are the ultimate Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team right now.

- Is there a team more bipolar than Syracuse? A week after throttling West Virginia at home, the Orangemen looked terrible against Louisville, losing 27-10. They beat Toledo thanks to an officiating error, barely lost to Rutgers and barely beat Tulane, then have alternated between great and horrible the last two weeks. They certainly look like they're going to another bowl game this year but if you're Doug Marrone, you have to be concerned with the lack of consistency. On the other side, Louisville posted back-to-back Big East wins for the first time since 2006 and are still in the thick of things in the muddled conference race. Teddy Bridgewater continues to progress and this young team is making steady progress.

- As a few people joked on Twitter, Missouri proved that an SEC East team can beat an SEC West team with the Tigers 38-31 overtime win against Texas A&M. Any joy Aggie fans have over the move to a new conference is being ruined by their team's play on the field, blowing a 14 point lead at home this time around after doing the same against Arkansas and Oklahoma State. Missouri is better than their .500 record suggests and Henry Josey has been a revelation at the running back spot - so much so that he looks like the all-Big 12 pick at his position. James Franklin still makes a bone-headed play from time to time but the offense is still better than expected with the first-time starter running the show. Still, what once was a season of promise for Texas A&M has been anything but and doesn't get better with a trip to Norman.

- Impressive game by the Blackshirts as Nebraska muzzled Michigan State's offense in a 24-3 win in Lincoln. NU defensive backs turned in their best game of the season, being physical off of the line and forcing Kirk Cousins into missing all but four of his first 16 passes. He finished the day with just 86 yards a week after a 290 yard, three TD performance. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead paced the Cornhuskers' offense and looked like they are finally earning their ranking with a dominating win.

- Iowa, really? Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the country and you lose 22-21? There's not much to explain really. The same goes for Texas Tech, getting trounced at home by Iowa State. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman was in a state of disbelief everytime he checked the score of either game and that pretty much sums up what everybody else was thinking.

- Late in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (which the politically correct will know is Georgia-Florida), SI.com's Andy Staples and I both turned to each other and said that the Bulldog's four point lead would be insurmountable for the Gators offense to overcome. Special teams was another story but the offense? It just couldn't move the ball for their life. The personnel just isn't there to give them any schematic advantage. Hats off to Mark Richt though, who has won six straight and certainly helped his cause.

- Was shocked to see that Texas ended a FIVE game losing streak at home against Kansas this week. It's not saying much against that Jayhawks defense but the Longhorns still rushed for an impressive 441 yards in a game that few people saw on the Longhorn Network.

- Welcome to the Pac-12 win column Utah, who beat Oregon State at home 27-8.

- Clemson finally pulled a Clemson against Georgia Tech. Tevin Washington, after a string of bad games, rushed for 176 yards and was the triggerman for the option offense that jumped out to a 24-3 lead thanks to several Tigers turnovers. It was an impressive showing by Georgia Tech's defense against the explosive Clemson offense, which had come into the game scoring points at will. Considering how shaky the Yellow Jackets had looked on that side of the ball coming in, only a few believed they could pull off the upset which ended any hope of the ACC putting a team in the BCS championship game.

- Go ahead Braxton Miller, take a bow. The true freshman sparked a last-second win that gives Ohio State some life after upsetting Wisconsin. According to reporters after the game, Miller apparently winked at head coach Luke Fickell before the final drive and said "We're all right." That's special. Coming out of high school, Miller showed he had enough talent and moxie that many people compared him to former Heisman winner Troy Smith. The 40 yard pass to Devin Smith with 20 seconds left had to be the play of the year for a Buckeyes team that had been through so much. One has to wonder if they had held on against Nebraska what our view of this team would be.

Tweet of the week

"How impressive was Texas vs. KU? UT had more total yards (590) than current subscribers to Longhorn Network."

- CBSSports.com Senior Writer Brett McMurphy.

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Sooners kick it into high gear a week too late.
Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
Awaiting the LSU-Alabama showdown, Clemson and Kansas State drop out of the top 10. Read >
Bruce Feldman Bruce Feldman
The Big Picture: Luck doing nothing to diminish legend. Read >>
Related links
Video
Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Stanford

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Clemson

9. Arkansas

10. Nebraska

Where we'll be this week

Brett McMurphy will be in Stillwater to see BCS contender Oklahoma State host previously undefeated Kansas State. Dennis Dodd and Bruce Feldman will both be in Tuscaloosa for the game of the season, LSU-Alabama.

Leaning this way

Kansas State at Oklahoma State

It's almost unfair for one of the great stories in the first half of the season, Bill Snyder's Wildcats, to face the Big 12's two best teams on back-to-back weeks so all we'll say is good luck trying to stop the Cowboys offense. We have a feeling that Kansas State, which dropped 31 spots in total defense after facing Oklahoma, will struggle unless the offense plays keep away and doesn't turn the ball over.

South Carolina at Arkansas

On paper this is a top 10 match up but in reality both teams a bit overrated. Arkansas' defensive issues, especially in the first half, have contributed to closer than expected wins over Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. South Carolina has a good defense but the offense has struggled to score for six week outside of the Kentucky game. It's at home so the edge goes to the Hogs unless Alshon Jeffrey (finally) has a breakout game.

LSU at Alabama (CBS, 8 PM ET)

The showdown of the season is what everybody will have their eyes on Saturday night. The strength of both teams is clearly their defenses so this will come down to who can break open a big play on offense or special teams. There are more home run threats on the Tide and it's in Tuscaloosa but anybody picking against LSU has to know that doing so means going against Les Miles. Should be a great one.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Big 12 agrees to six-year grant of TV rights

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Missouri or no Missouri, the Big 12 isn't going anywhere.

That's the message sent by the league's Thursday afternoon announcement that its members have agreed to a equal-revenue sharing plan and a six-year "formal grant of television rights." The revenue distribution plan "becomes effective upon the formal assignment of rights by all institutions."

That assignment of rights isn't legally binding just yet--interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has been "authorized by the Board to immediately distribute legal documents for institutional execution." But with the grant of rights part of a "joint resolution" on the part of Texas and Oklahoma (who have each already publicly endorsed the conference's invitation to TCU), it seems unthinkable that either would back out of the arrangement now, or that any of the six other non-Missouri Big 12 schools wouldn't follow their lead.

To drive that point home, the adoption of the grant of rights and revenue plan was passed with an 8-0 unanimous vote by the Big 12 Board of Directors. As with the vote to issue TCU's invitation, however, Missouri abstained--another sign of the current rift between the conference and the Tigers.

The grant of rights is understood to gives the Big 12 control over any and all Tier 1 and Tier 2 television revenues generated by the schools which sign the agreement, in effect making them worthless from a TV perspective to any other conference that might wish to add them.

However, the proposal also addresses issues with the league's "third-tier" rights, which concern the much-discussed Longhorn Network and appears to include several concessions on Texas's part. According to the league's statement:
Conference bylaws will reflect that no member institution branded outlet will show high school games or highlights, noting that it is permissible pursuant to NCAA interpretation to use scores, standings and statistics of high school games; and, that additional games beyond the one member institution retained football game for telecast purposes must be approved by both institutions and both Conference telecast partners.
In other words, no filmed high school content, and any Big 12 games that appear on the LHN must have the approval of all parties involved.

“Today’s Big 12 meeting was the most positive conference meeting that we have had over the last two to three years," said Oklahoma president David Boren in a statement. "The reforms made and actions taken are a win for the entire conference.  The actions taken at the meeting will help to strengthen the conference and increase its stability.  Commissioner Chuck Neinas deserves great credit for his leadership in bringing this agreement together.  I also appreciate the close partnership between OU and OSU in working for meaningful reforms.  All of the actions taken are important and I was especially pleased that the conference will have its own bylaws to make sure that institutional branded networks will be prohibited from showing high school athletes in game or in highlight format in a way that could give any conference member a recruiting advantage.”

It might not be exactly what Texas wanted with the LHN, and the Big 12, period, may not be what the Sooners had in mind during their flirtation with the Pac-12. But with both schools now all-but locked in legal matrimony for the next six years and TCU set to officially come aboard any day now, they do have something both sides have been craving all along: conference stability.

Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Dodds talks LHN, Oklahoma and A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

John Hoover of the Tulsa World sat down for an exclusive interview with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, and Dodds shared some interesting info about Texas, the Longhorn Network, Texas A&M and the rivalry with Oklahoma. While the interview covered many areas, and if you're a fan of Texas or the Big 12 I suggest reading the entire thing, there were still a few areas that really caught my attention.

For instance, when Dodds was talking about where the idea of the Longhorn Network came from, he explained that, ironically enough, it was an idea that he shared with Texas A&M's Bill Byrne.

"I called Bill Byrne over at A&M and said, 'You know, I don't think we've got enough money or inventory to put on a 24/7 channel, but are you interested in helping us be a part of it?' And he pretty much said no," Dodds told Hoover. "So we just kept digging and digging and digging and Fox got a little interested and said they'd do it and that they'd pay us, and we said, 'Well, that's good stuff.' Then ESPN got interested and they said they'd do it and pay us more. So we are where we are."

Dodds also talked about keeping the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl and whether or not the game might have to be moved to the campuses.

"Joe (Castiglione, athletic director at OU) and I have talked about that. Circumstances - you know, conference things - might dictate something different, but I don't see - I don't want to do it, and I know Joe doesn't want to do it," said Dodds. "So it'd take some circumstances outside of our control to make that happen.

"It could have happened. But ... we would have gone down fighting to keep the game. It's just that important to Oklahoma and Texas. I don't mean the schools, I mean the states."

Finally, when Dodds was asked about preserving the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M he made it sound like not only did he think it wasn't possible, but also that it wasn't very important either.

"Well, they're out of the conference and we're scheduled up for 10 years. So I think it's different," said Dodds.

"That game - the rivalry game for us has always been Oklahoma. The A&M game's been a great game and all of that. And we may play 'em. But it's not something that we have to do. I think the Oklahoma game is something we have to do."

Those comments don't bode well for the future of the rivalry between the Longhorns and the Aggies.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 11:33 am
 

A&M AD: We want 'Horns as nonconference game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Long before Texas A&M's move the SEC became official (as it did Sunday afternoon), fans on both sides have wondered what would become of the Aggies longtime -- and at 117 years, we do mean longtime -- rivalry with the University of Texas.
While the traditional Thanksgiving series' ultimate fate is yet to be determined, what we do know is that things were left solely up to the Aggies, the rivalry would remain intact. That's the word from Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, who per CBSSports.com RapidReporter Brent Zwerneman said Tuesday that "we would like that to continue."

“We’ve been competing 117 years,” Byrne said. “It’s such a storied tradition."

Byrne's support (and A&M's) give the rivalry a shot at survivial. But since it naturally takes that support from both sides to work, it remains unlikely the two teams will continue playing. Just six days ago, Longhorn athletic director DeLoss Dodds forecasted an end to the rivalry if the Aggies completed their jump to the SEC, saying "I think it will be hard to schedule that game."

And it would be. particularly if the Big 12 expands into a 10-team league with a nine-game true round robin schedule. In addition to denying the Longhorns a lucrative annual home game (one they would have the rights to show on the Longhorn Network), it's hard to argue the 'Horns owe the Aggies much of anything after A&M's decision destabilized Texas's preferred conference home and may have driven them into the "Pac-16," if the Pac-12 had been willing to expand.

Agges fans (and administrators) would no doubt respond that it was Texas's unwillingness to share revenue equally and their forging ahead with the LHN that destabilized the Big 12 first, before A&M even considered leaving.

Frankly, there's no winners on either side of the argument. But unless Texas is willing to back down and scheudule the game, it won't much matter how A&M feels about it--there aren't going to be any winners between the two schools on the football field, either.

Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 11:06 pm
 

Big 12 tensely commited to an all-in future

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Eye on College Football: The latest conference realignment news
RapidReports: Up to the minute information on conference shifts

Chaos? Nah. We're all one big happy family.

Texas is in. Oklahoma too. Missouri has helped lead the charge.

That's the message that came out of middle America Thursday night. The Big 12 was saved and nine teams are committed to the future. Things were different, it was time to move forward.  

Despite the Sooners flirting with the Pac-12 and the Tigers with the SEC, everybody was staying put. The other Big 12 schools pledged solidarity led by the two schools who had explored leaving more than anyone.

Make no bones about it, Oklahoma wanted to go West and the only way that could have happened was if they could have convinced Texas to make concessions. That didn't happen and the Sooners had to concentrate on saving the conference they had spend the past 16 years in.

"This is a positive development for our state," President David Boren said. "It's a win-win for all of us. I'm optimistic about the future of this conference."

Never has there been so much optimism about a conference that someone wanted to leave days earlier than there was Thursday night in Norman.

Commissioner Dan Beebe, as part of the demands made by the Sooners, was pushed out in favor of former Big Eight commish and current consultant Chuck Neinas. Beebe would likely have been looking for a new job regardless what happened this week after the Big 12 nearly imploded for a second time in just over a year. He was placed in an impossible situation - between a rock (Texas), a hard place (Oklahoma) and a vulture (Larry Scott) - but he did an admirable job considering the circumstances.

Beebe did, after all, keep the league together following the departure of Colorado and Nebraska and added a millions to every school's coffers with a big second tier rights agreement. The commissioner's best move might have been, however, giving life to a hilarious alter ego on Twitter.

“I have been honored to serve the Big 12 Conference for the past eight and one-half years, including the last four-plus as its commissioner," Beebe said in a statement. "I care deeply for these fine institutions and the citizens they represent. It is satisfying to know the Big 12 Conference will survive, and I congratulate the members for taking strong action to ensure a bright future as a premier intercollegiate athletics conference."

Beebe's next move is anyone's guess. He'll be well taken care of after negotiating out of a new contract that was signed just last year. Perhaps he should head back to the NCAA, where he once was an investigator on staff, and help President Mark Emmert navigate the murky waters of college athletics he knows all to well.

"The bottom line is we achieved substantial reforms," Boren said. "We feel extremely good."

Yet, in a move reflective of how dysfunctional the conference still was, confusion reigned before, during and after Missouri and Oklahoma's dueling press conferences to announce those reforms. At one point, Boren's voice came through while Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton was speaking on his call. One school leader said one thing, another school's leader said something slightly different.

Boren filibustered  - he is a former senator - about the Big 12 agreeing to a six-year grant of right for each all first and second tier media rights. Everybody was putting their faith in the conference for the next six years. Television revenue would be shared equally for the first time in the league's history. All for one (conference), one for all.

But that wasn't what the Tigers said. A spokesman told the New York Times that there was only "an agreement to pursue the grant of rights." Oklahoma's general counsel later told the Associated Press no contracts were signed.

The Big 12 schools wanted to imprison themselves to a conference hours from breaking apart but they couldn't even do that properly. To say that was this whole saga in a nutshell would be doing it a disservice. Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be about saving something but what, exactly, was that?

Everybody was moving forward together, but are they really? Sschools were concerned about Texas and ESPN's Longhorn Network yet they had just gotten engaged to be married the next six years without any promises in return about LHN. Boren later added that it "was very possible" Oklahoma would be the second school with their own network. Instead of working on a problem, it appears the Sooners would rather double-down.

Texas has always been about Texas. The Pac-12, under Scott, has always been about the conference and the biggest reason as to why they wouldn't budge to meet the Longhorns' demands. The same is true in the Big Ten where just a few years ago they extended their grant of rights at least 20 more years. Schools have gone all in on their conferences while Texas hasn't. They've gone all in on Texas.

And that's their right. But if it looks like an independent (The Longhorn Network), walks like an independent (exploring life after the Big 12 numerous times) and talks like an independent (DeLoss Dodds), then the Longhorns might just be an independent.

And that's what needs to change. We'll see how firmly committed to the Big 12 Texas really is over the coming weeks and months.

"There are a number of trust issues that have to be discussed," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said earlier in the day. "I think there is a commitment that has to be discussed long-term."

Trust or no trust, the Big 12 schools are about to sign a binding agreement no one wants to sign.

"The University of Missouri is going to continue to work for what is best for the University of Missouri," Deaton said. "We have seen that aligned with the Big 12 Conference and we will continue to work with the various issues we have within the conference to carry it forward."

Conspicuously absent from all the activity was the one school that everybody was upset at. Accused of running the conference via proxy, ruining the Sooners' hopes of heading west and driving rival Texas A&M to another conference, one didn't hear much - if anything - about the Texas.

"The University of Oklahoma has no decision to drive the train anywhere. We have no desire to dominate the Big 12 conference," Boren said. "I hope no one will write in the future that anyone is driving the train in this conference."

Boren's right, it's not time to write, it's time to toast. The Big 12 has been saved.

To six more years of hating Texas!

Posted on: September 20, 2011 4:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 6:31 pm
 

Report: Oklahoma wants Beebe removed from Big 12

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big 12 soap opera may have hit its soapy apex today when Oklahoma, fresh off a regents meeting that authorized president David Boren to take action regarding conference realignment, reportedly issued an ultimatum to the conference: either commissioner Dan Beebe goes or Oklahoma does.

Citing an unnamed source, NewsOK.com's Berry Tramel broke the news on Tuesday afternoon:

“It's going to take major, major reforms” for OU, and thus Oklahoma State, to consider remaining in the Big 12, the source said. “We'd have to have an interim commissioner.”

The source said the league presidents do not believe Beebe responded with adequate leadership to Nebraska's and Texas A&M's frustration. The Big 12 has lost three members in the last 15 months, and “the relationships were so bad (with) the commissioner,” the source said.

The frustrations on the part of Nebraska and Texas A&M alluded to here stem largely from Texas and its Longhorn Network, the Texas-only channel that had planned to feature high school games involving Texas recruits and at least one Big 12 conference football game. The high school programming plan was walked back after an outpouring of concern about the idea, but the damage was already done.

If the report is true, Dan Beebe is in a world of trouble. While the Big 12 could probably survive without the four teams rumored to be en route to the theoretical Pac-16 -- most likely in a merger with the suddenly fractured Big East -- it probably doesn't need to continue keeping a commissioner that such a high-profile member wanted gone. Anybody who ever said "no news is bad news" never had to keep a conference together, after all, and there aren't too many BCS-level schools that would be interested in joining up with a commissioner with such a poisoned reputation.

On the other hand, Beebe now has the opportunity to save the Big 12 a second time, this time by martyring his office in the name of the greater good of the conference. Of course, the downside to that plan is it leaves Beebe without a job at the Big 12, which would substantially reduce his interest in the welfare of the embattled conference.

Oklahoma has not confirmed Tramel's report at this point, and Beebe has not issued a comment about the situation yet either. In lieu of either, then, we advise that you start up "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men for the background, load up the Fake Dan Beebe twitter feed, and enjoy both simultaneously.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 11:26 am
 

Report: Oklahoma wants out and Big 12 is 'done'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We can't personally vouch for the credibility of the Austin-American Statesman's sources. But if the picture portrayed by those sources in this story by Kirk Bohls and Alan Trubow is at all accurate, the day of reckoning for the Big 12 is just about at hand.

According to the report -- and as also reported by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd -- University of Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds flew to Oklahoma Sunday for a meeting with Sooners officials. Powers' and Dodds' aim, according to Bolhs and Trubow: convince Oklahoma (and by association, joined-at-the-hip in-state rival Oklahoma State) to remain in the Big 12 and forgo applying for membership in the Pac-12.

But according to the report's sources, the Sooners' minds were -- and are -- already made up. They're looking West:
"There's nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind. They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there," a well-placed source at a Big 12 school said, adding that Sunday's meeting had a very friendly and cooperative tone. "The Big 12's done. Oklahoma wasn't open to creating Big 12 stability" ...

"Texas must have come into the meeting and seen the handwriting on the wall," said a source close to OU and Texas who is familiar with these realignment issues. "I think OU and OSU will seek membership to the Pac-12 in the next two weeks, but [Texas] A&M comes first."
Despite the Sooners' and Cowboys' intentions, even the report isn't ready to move the realignment chess pieces just yet. While the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State move is "expected," Larry Scott -- who has said repeatedly the Pac-12 doesn't want to expand at this time -- and the Pac-12 presidents could reject the Sooners' and Cowboys' applications.

But assuming Scott does pull the trigger, Texas would be left without a viable conference as the Big 12 crumbles. Per the report, their options at that stage would be to follow the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12 (or -14), apply to join the ACC, or go independent--and the report claims Texas officials have already had highly preliminary talks with the ACC.

While independence is described as the least appealing option for Dodds and Texas officials, the Longhorn Network could be a major stumbling block for joining one of the other conferences. According to Bohls and Trubow, "Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12." The Longhorns are also reportedly balking at the Pac-12's plan for divisional alignments in a 16-team scenario.

So what's the bottom line right now? With the Statesman report backing the widespread rumors that the Sooners are ready to pack their bags, it seems safe to assume that Oklahoma is indeed bent on abandoning the Big 12 and concluding its viability as a conference. But past that? Every other conference realignment chip is still in the air, and it remains anybody's guess where they fall.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com