Bob Bowlsby’s flight touched down the afternoon of July 21. The Huge 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 type of where-were-you-when moments. Main information broke that day: Texas and Oklahoma are in talks to hitch the SEC.
It was true, and it was terrible for the Energy 5’s most skilled commissioner and his eight remaining colleges. 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 effectively 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 strong rights holder in future negotiations, Bowlsby didn’t relent.
“Any time you converse reality to energy, you run dangers,” he mentioned.
That is a glimpse of the Huge 12 5 weeks faraway from the Texas-Oklahoma information and one week away from its twenty seventh season. Issues have been by no means alleged to be this unsure. On the Huge 12 Media Days final month, Bowlsby kiddingly thanked reporters for not “asking the growth query. I feel I gained 5 bucks on that.”
Now, you possibly can’t consider the Huge 12 with out pondering of growth for a completely completely different cause than the league’s in the end 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 very good 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 all people related to us shares these emotions.”
CBS Sports activities spoke to Bowlsby on a wide range of topics relating to his convention throughout an unprecedented time of upheaval. Protected to say it has abruptly grow to be the Huge 12 towards the world.
Business 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 won’t increase for the second, eliminating secure haven for any Huge 12 colleges that have been trying West. The Huge Ten, ACC and Pac-12 went off on their very own to kind an alliance largely to combat notion of the SEC’s rising energy.
“Hopefully this may convey some much-needed stability to varsity athletics,” Huge Ten commissioner Kevin Warren mentioned. “… A few of the occasions over the past couple of months have shaken the muse of the beliefs of faculty athletics.”
Not one of the alliance conferences referred to as Huge 12 to take part.
“We wish and wish the Huge 12 to do effectively,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips mentioned. “The Huge 12 issues in Energy 5 athletics.”
Really, what was as soon as a Energy 5 now appears to be like increasingly more like it is going to be a Energy 4 except the Huge 12 expands. You possibly can perceive the angst on the convention headquarters in Las Colinas, a deliberate growth within the Dallas-Fort Value metroplex.
“Not surprisingly, all people is watching their bottom,” Bowlsby mentioned. “… Belief within the athletics ecosystem is just not very excessive proper now.”
It’s a tenuous existence for the Huge 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 obtainable excuse or authorized maneuver to bolt early.
As such, the Huge 12 in late July shaped an growth subcommittee made up of officers from Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech.
“As you’d count on, [it is] a smaller group that may facilitate thought and dialog that we will convey again to the presidents and athletic administrators,” mentioned Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, one of many subcommittee members.
The Huge 12 is within the ironic place of needing growth candidates it rejected 5 years in the past. These would come with UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU, amongst others. Again then, the Huge 12 selected to not train a clause in its ESPN/Fox contract that will pay $1 billion if it added any four schools.
The league stayed at 10, partially, in order to not antagonize its rightsholders. Now the commissioner who helped make that call is at odds with ESPN.
There’s the unsure risk of Kansas basketball — a top-five program — taking part in within the AAC or Mountain West. That’s potential as a result of, even in its depressed state, Kansas soccer would convey 80% of the worth to any convention contract. In different phrases, it is unlikely that basketball alone will carry Kansas by to a different Energy 5 convention.
Even when the Huge 12 continues at eight groups, its budgets will almost certainly be slashed as a result of the league’s price has taken successful. Will Iowa State be capable to hold Matt Campbell? Will top-flight coaches in any sport be interested in the Huge 12? What is going to occur to the large athletic debt companies on a few of these campuses?
With out the $37 million per college it will get from its media rights deal, will the Huge 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 specific cause to be involved about it.”
He wish to be round for all of it. Bowlsby’s contract runs by June 2025, the month that media rights deal expires.
With the information of the week — alliance formation, Pac-12 standing pat — there could some certainty. With no further motion coming on the prime, the Huge 12 abruptly has growth leverage over Group of 5 conferences. Meaning the eight remaining colleges, nicknamed “The Hateful Eight”, simply would possibly keep collectively in any case.
The very best information: There’s “vital curiosity” within the Huge 12 from different colleges, based on Hocutt. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported Friday “a minimum of 15 colleges” are taken with becoming a member of the Huge 12.
Oliver Luck — the previous West Virginia AD, NCAA govt and XFL commissioner — is consulting with the Huge 12 on growth.
The league should proceed cautiously. If it expands too quickly, that would give Texas and Oklahoma the authorized leverage they should go away the Huge 12 earlier than the tip of the present contract in 2025. The colleges must pay as much as $80 million in penalties every to go away early. Nevertheless, the Huge 12 would nonetheless management the faculties’ TV rights.
The animosity in direction of Texas and Oklahoma will possible reveal itself on the sphere and courts so long as the 2 colleges are within the Huge 12. The blowback this time could possibly be completely different than when Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left the league. The Longhorns and Sooners are two of the most important 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 for the reason that announcement.
“We’ll do each very last thing we will to verify their student-athletes have a terrific expertise and honest 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 Huge 12 street recreation at Texas A&M on its option to the Huge 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 Huge 12 commissioned an unbiased evaluate of the officiating. It discovered no wrongdoing.
“I can not see Texas and OU ready,” mentioned former Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin. “It will be subsequent 12 months. Another 12 months. As an skilled individual, it was no enjoyable being at A&M going by a convention schedule within the Huge 12. I used to be heckled in all places I went.”
Texas A&M left the Huge 12 for the SEC in 2012.
Bowlsby stays a member of the College Football Playoff subcommittee that proposed a 12-team bracket growth nonetheless into consideration.
One in every 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 transferring to the SEC. Earlier this 12 months, Gee was enthusiastically in favor of growth.
One other instance of issues altering quickly within the Huge 12.
Elsewhere for Bowlsby, life is nice. God is nice. His granddaughter’s latest 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 Faculty in Austin, Texas.
Fraser simply so occurred to attend Texas for medical college. Some issues are extra essential.
“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 an incredible healer. You are only a nicer individual while you’ve been round your grandchildren.”