Big 12 vs. The World: Conference eyes expansion as commissioner stands by collusion accusations

Bob Bowlsby’s flight touched down the afternoon of July 21. The Large 12 commissioner was on a routine campus go to to Kansas.

“My cellphone went off,” Bowlsby recalled. “It was about 3 o’clock.”

It really was a kind of where-were-you-when moments. Main news broke that day: Texas and Oklahoma are in talks to affix the SEC.

It was true, and it was terrible for the Energy 5’s most skilled commissioner and his eight remaining faculties. The shock hasn’t worn off for the 69-year-old administrator.

Bowlsby nonetheless believes ESPN conspired with SEC and American to (maybe mortally) wound his league. Bowlsby has not shared proof to this finish; each ESPN and AAC commissioner Mike Aresco denied the accusation.

“You understand me properly sufficient,” Bowlsby advised CBS Sports activities this week. “I would not have mentioned it except it was completely true.”

Bowlsby hasn’t misplaced any a part of his bravado since that day. Requested if it is potential to fix fences with a robust rights holder in future negotiations, Bowlsby didn’t relent.

“Any time you communicate fact to energy, you run dangers,” he mentioned.

That is a glimpse of the Large 12 5 weeks faraway from the Texas-Oklahoma news and one week away from its twenty seventh season. Issues have been by no means presupposed to be this unsure. On the Large 12 Media Days final month, Bowlsby kiddingly thanked reporters for not “asking the enlargement query. I feel I gained 5 bucks on that.”

Now, you may’t consider the Large 12 with out considering of enlargement for a wholly completely different cause than the league’s finally fruitless take a look at including members 5 years in the past.

Requested how he is doing recently, Bowlsby sarcastically replied, “Oh, I am having a beautiful time.”

“It has been an extended month,” he added. “There’s not any option to put a great face on it. We have been shocked on the bulletins. We got no indication of displeasures on [Texas and Oklahoma’s] half. I share these emotions, and everyone related to us shares these emotions.”

CBS Sports activities spoke to Bowlsby on quite a lot of topics concerning his convention throughout an unprecedented time of upheaval. Secure to say it has out of the blue grow to be the Large 12 in opposition to the world.

Trade sources say the league’s media rights worth has decreased a minimum of 50% with the losses of Texas and Oklahoma.

The Pac-12 has determined it is not going to increase for the second, eliminating secure haven for any Large 12 faculties that have been trying West. The Large Ten, ACC and Pac-12 went off on their very own to type an alliance largely to struggle notion of the SEC’s rising energy.

“Hopefully it will deliver some much-needed stability to varsity athletics,” Large Ten commissioner Kevin Warren mentioned. “… A number of the occasions over the past couple of months have shaken the inspiration of the beliefs of school athletics.”

Not one of the alliance conferences referred to as Large 12 to take part.

“We wish and wish the Large 12 to do properly,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips mentioned. “The Large 12 issues in Energy 5 athletics.”

Truly, what was as soon as a Energy 5 now appears to be like increasingly more like will probably be a Energy 4 except the Large 12 expands. You may perceive the angst on the convention headquarters in Las Colinas, a deliberate growth within the Dallas-Fort Price metroplex.

“Not surprisingly, everyone is watching their bottom,” Bowlsby mentioned. “… Belief within the athletics ecosystem will not be very excessive proper now.”

It’s a tenuous existence for the Large 12. Publicly, it plans to carry Texas and Oklahoma to the phrases of the present ESPN/Fox contract, which runs 4 extra years. However contained in the convention, there is a feeling the 2 giants will use any out there excuse or authorized maneuver to bolt early.

As such, the Large 12 in late July shaped an enlargement subcommittee made up of officers from Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech.

“As you’ll anticipate, [it is] a smaller group that may facilitate thought and dialog that we are able to deliver again to the presidents and athletic administrators,” mentioned Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, one of many subcommittee members.

The Large 12 is within the ironic place of needing enlargement candidates it rejected 5 years in the past. These would come with UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU, amongst others. Again then, the Large 12 selected to not train a clause in its ESPN/Fox contract that may pay $1 billion if it added any four schools.

The league stayed at 10, partly, in order to not antagonize its rightsholders. Now the commissioner who helped make that call is at odds with ESPN.

There may be the unsure chance of Kansas basketball — a top-five program — enjoying within the AAC or Mountain West. That’s potential as a result of, even in its depressed state, Kansas soccer would deliver 80% of the worth to any convention contract. In different phrases, it is unlikely that basketball alone will carry Kansas via to a different Energy 5 convention.

Even when the Large 12 continues at eight groups, its budgets will almost definitely be slashed as a result of the league’s price has taken a success. Will Iowa State be capable of preserve Matt Campbell? Will top-flight coaches in any sport be interested in the Large 12? What’s going to occur to the large athletic debt providers on a few of these campuses?

With out the $37 million per college it will get from its media rights deal, will the Large 12 stay a Energy 5 convention? It might be 4 doubtlessly agonizing years till the league is aware of because it waits for its present deal to expire.

“That is not going to occur for some time,” Bowlsby mentioned. “I haven’t got any explicit cause to be involved about it.”

He want to be round for all of it. Bowlsby’s contract runs via June 2025, the month that media rights deal expires.

With the news of the week — alliance formation, Pac-12 standing pat — there could some certainty. With no further motion coming on the prime, the Large 12 out of the blue has enlargement leverage over Group of 5 conferences. Which means the eight remaining faculties, nicknamed “The Hateful Eight”, simply may keep collectively in spite of everything.

The very best news: There may be “important curiosity” within the Large 12 from different faculties, in keeping with Hocutt. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported Friday “a minimum of 15 faculties” are involved in becoming a member of the Large 12.

Oliver Luck — the previous West Virginia AD, NCAA govt and XFL commissioner — is consulting with the Large 12 on enlargement.

The league should proceed cautiously. If it expands too quickly, that might give Texas and Oklahoma the authorized leverage they should depart the Large 12 earlier than the tip of the present contract in 2025. The faculties must pay as much as $80 million in penalties every to depart early. Nevertheless, the Large 12 would nonetheless management the colleges’ TV rights.

The animosity in the direction of Texas and Oklahoma will probably reveal itself on the sphere and courts so long as the 2 faculties are within the Large 12. The blowback this time may very well be completely different than when Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left the league. The Longhorns and Sooners are two of the largest sports activities manufacturers within the nation.

Mark your calendars for Oct. 2. That is the date each Texas (at TCU) and Oklahoma (at Kansas State) play their first convention street video games because the announcement.

“We’ll do each final thing we are able to to verify their student-athletes have a fantastic expertise and truthful expertise and have the very best circumstances they probably can,” Bowlsby mentioned. “That is what we’re professionally obligated to do.”

There are already examples of untidy exits. In November 2010, Nebraska performed its final Large 12 street recreation at Texas A&M on its option to the Large Ten. By the tip of the 9-6 loss, the Cornhuskers have been referred to as for 16 penalties to the Aggies’ two. There are accusations of conspiracy. On the time, the Large 12 commissioned an unbiased review of the officiating. It discovered no wrongdoing.  

“I am unable to see Texas and OU ready,” mentioned former Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin. “It will be subsequent yr. Yet another yr. As an skilled individual, it was no enjoyable being at A&M going via a convention schedule within the Large 12. I used to be heckled in every single place I went.”

Texas A&M left the Large 12 for the SEC in 2012.

Bowlsby stays a member of the College Football Playoff subcommittee that proposed a 12-team bracket enlargement nonetheless into account.

Certainly one of his league presidents, West Virginia’s E. Gordon Gee, advised WVU’s college newspaper the proposal is “on life support” and wouldn’t obtain his vote as a result of uncertainty created by Texas and Oklahoma shifting to the SEC. Earlier this yr, Gee was enthusiastically in favor of enlargement.

One other instance of issues altering quickly within the Large 12.

Elsewhere for Bowlsby, life is sweet. God is sweet. His granddaughter’s current profitable coronary heart surgical procedure permits him to see previous any league issues. The commissioner praised pediatric surgeon Charles Fraser, who’s in residence on the Dell Medical College in Austin, Texas.

Fraser simply so occurred to attend Texas for medical college. Some issues are extra necessary.

“Chuck Fraser is an unbelievable, unbelievable man,” Bowlsby mentioned. “Humble because the day is lengthy, spends eight hours a day in little youngsters’s chests. He’s a tremendous healer. You are only a nicer individual if you’ve been round your grandchildren.” | Large 12 vs. The World: Convention eyes enlargement as commissioner stands by collusion accusations


Aila Slisco is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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