The Big 12 has said over and over they're happy with 10 teams and let's hope they're telling the truth because after today's announcement that the teams which make up the ACC have assigned their media rights to the conference, expansion for the Big 12 - or any other conference for that matter - just got a lot more difficult.
That leaves the SEC as the only major a conference that hasn't signed such an agreement (and good luck prying anyone away from the SEC) which considerably reduces the pool of available candidates should the Big 12 want to move beyond 10 members or if the Big Ten or SEC ever want to get to 16 teams.
So where does all this leave the Big 12? Well, if you listen to conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, it leaves the league right where it wants to be.
“We’re not at 10 by default,” Bowlsby said last week. “We’re at 10 by choice. I think until we’re persuaded to do otherwise, that’s where we’ll continue to stay.”
Well if conference realignment is actually coming to a screeching halt following the ACC's announcement, it's not hard to argue the other side to Bowlsby's comment.
The Big 12 is at 10 teams because Colorado, Missouri, Texas A&M and Nebraska left, plain and simple. The conference responded with two solid additions in West Virginia and TCU, but let's not kid ourselves, it is not the conference it was in 2010.
And that's not to say the Big 12 isn't in a good place financially or isn't on solid ground, after all, the league's schools are earning more from their media rights that ever before. But then again, it's anyone's guess as to what the league would or could be earning if you put those other four teams back into the mix, not to mention a conference championship game.
If conference expansion is indeed over, let's take a quick inventory of where things stand.
The Big Ten's core is in place, plus Nebraska and now Maryland and Rutgers.
The SEC's core is in place, plus Missouri and Texas A&M.
The Pac-12's core is still intact plus Colorado and Utah.
Outside of the Big 12, the ACC was the only other major football conference to lose a team (Maryland) but they've also added Syracuse, Pittsburg, and Louisville plus Notre Dame outside of football.
The two conferences that took a gigantic hit in realignment were the Big East which was completely decimated, and the Big 12.
So far all the cheerleading that's been coming out of the Big 12's office over the past year, let's not forget what the conference once was.
Is the Big 12 truly in a better place? Or should they have added Louisville? Should they have done more to try and lure Florida State, Clemson, or Miami if they were truly looking around? I guess that depends on your fandom so I'll let you be the judge.
As far as future expansion goes in the Big 12, it's now hard to imagine anything changing in the near future. What's left is BYU, Boise State, and the teams from the old Big East, none of which are market movers as far as new TV deals are concerned.
Of course not that any of it really matters, the Big 12 is right where it wants to be. Today's news about the ACC's Grant of Rights probably didn't even raise any eyebrow in the Big 12's offices, or so they'd like everyone to believe.
There's little question that college football has become, more than ever before, a huge cash cow for FBS schools all over the country. It's also no secret that is due in large part to the astronomical dollar figures television networks are willing to pay conferences in order for the rights to televise their league's games.
Is that a bad thing? Bill Snyder certainly believes it is.
“College athletics, particularly football, has changed dramatically throughout my career,” Snyder said on 610 Sports Radio KCSP in Kansas City. “I think it's in a bad place right now. It's in a bad place for a variety of reasons. We've allowed it to become money driven. We've allowed it to become TV driven. We've allowed athletic programs or football programs to mean more to a university than what the university is really supposed to be all about.”
On one hand, it's hard to argue with the guy. If there's anybody who knows about college athletics and what it should and shouldn't stand for, he's the guy. There are few people in the country that have been immersed in college athletics more than Snyder and when he speaks, his opinion carries a lot of weight.
And if he's referring to conference realignment in the above statement, it's not hard to see the validity in his statement. Over the past several seasons, more than a few schools have jumped ship from one conference to another ending longstanding relationships that have helped make schools what they are today.
They've made those moves for a variety of reasons, but at the top of that list is the money and the increased revenue such a move would generate over the long haul.
But outside of conference realignment, is college football truly in a bad place right now as Snyder indicates?
The game's popularity is at an all-time high. You can argue the competition on the field is as good as ever. And while the increased revenue generates it's own set of issues, it also brings with it advantages that schools haven't been slow to capitalize on.
The increased revenue brings with it increased exposure that in many cases, not only benefits a school's athletic department but also trickles down to other facets of the school, as well.
And like it or not, it also benefits a school's non-revenue generating sports. Without Kansas State's football program, there probably isn't a track and field team.
Snyder also added, “The last I heard, we were educational institutions. Certainly there is an education that takes place in football, and I understand all the parameters. But it's not driven by values; it's driven by dollars and cents.”
That raises the question, because college football is making more money than ever before, does it really change the educational values of an institution?
Those values are set by a school as they see fit regardless of what money an athletic department is or isn't generating. And it's hard to imagine that any veterinary science major attending Kansas State has had his or her educational values altered based on the changing landscape of college athletics.
On the flip side, if college athletics is indeed in a bad place, fixing it is going to no simple matter. How do you turn off the money spigot since it's already filling athletic department coffers like never before?
The answer is you don't. There's not a school in the country that's going to start taking less money for the good of the game and why should they? The game itself is fine.
Somewhere in how schools deal with and make decisions surrounding the increased prosperity is a likely solution if the game is indeed broken, but best of luck in finding a one that fits each schools' best interests.
College football has indeed changed a lot over the past 40 or 50 years and that change has certainly come under increased scrutiny the past several seasons. There's some bad that's comes with that change but also a lot of good.
The alternative is to look the other way and stay the same which would have more than a few pitfalls itself.
What do you say, do you agree with Snyder that college football is in a bad spot?
If you're compiling a list of potential star players to watch in the Big 12 heading into the 2013 season, one guy that should be front and center on that list is Kansas running back - now turned wide receiver - Tony Pierson.
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis has spent a considerable amount of time this offseason trying to figure out ways to get Pierson not only on the field for more snaps, but to get the ball in his hands on a regular basis.
Pierson isn't exactly an unknown commodity. He rushed for 124 yards in the season opener against South Dakota State and followed that up with 120 yards against Rice while he replaced starter James Sims at tailback who sat out the first three games of the 2012 season due to suspension.
But once Sims returned to the field, Pierson's touches went down considerably. Pierson exploded for 202 yards against Texas Tech in the season's final month but outside of that game, he didn't come close to sniffing another 100 yard performance, largely due to the fact he was spending half the game on the sideline while Sims did his thing.
You can expect that to change in a major way this season. Sims will still be the workhorse carrying the ball, but the difference this fall will be it won't keep Pierson off the field. He'll still get some touches out of the backfield, but expect him to become a huge component in the passing game ala Tavon Austin who Weis studied extensively following the season.
According to Pierson, this spring he's been used 80 percent in the passing game and just 20 percent running the football.
"His role with the team is evolving very well," Weis said in his final press conference before Saturday's spring game. "We obviously have big plans for Tony. We didn't do all of that research on Tavon Austin for nothing. This is a copycat business; all of those guys that try to act like all their ideas are original, they are all liars."
Comparing Pierson to Austin or hoping his on the field production approaches anything near what Austin accomplished at West Virginia is setting some lofty goals without question, but there's little doubt he possess the talent to cause some major headaches for defensive coordinators in the Big 12.
The Jayhawks should once again feature one of the best ground games in the Big 12 meaning defenses will be forced to key on stopping the run. That should help open up the passing lanes and if quarterback Jake Heaps can significantly improve the play at the position as expected, Pierson could be in for a huge junior season.
One thing that is all but a certainty is the ball will be in his hands a lot this fall, one way or another.
"Tony is still clearly the most dynamic running back we have, but the problem is, he might be the most dynamic receiver we have as well," Weis added. "He is a definite pain in the butt for the defense, because he can play detached from the backfield. Tony has shown that he can run legitimate routes, catch the ball, and most importantly, he can get open. That gives you a chance."
Count Heaps as one guy who's not complaining about Pierson's added responsibility in the offense. Pierson very well may become the quarterback's best friend when KU kicks off the season September 7th against South Dakota, if he isn't already.
“All it takes is for him to catch the ball, make one guy miss, and he’s gone," Heaps said. "To put him in the position where he’s only gotta make one or two guys miss versus all 11 guys miss, it’s exciting. And that’s basically what we’re trying to do with Tony, put him in the best position we can to have him make some game-breaking plays.”
That should be music to Jayhawks fans' ears after suffering through last season when Kansas had one of the least productive offenses in the country averaging just 18.2 points a game, last in the Big 12.
Phil Steele is back at it with his preseason prediction of what the Associated Press' top 25 will look like when it is released in August.
If you start at the top, you have to scroll down a ways before you come across your first Big 12 team which he predicts will be Oklahoma checking in at number 14 followed closely by TCU at 15 and Texas at number 18.
Is that reason for concern for the Big 12? Yes and no.
No because if any team in the conference runs the table during the regular season, it's hard to imagine that team wouldn't be at or near the top of the polls when the final BCS standings are released at season's end.
What it does mean however, is the Big 12's margin for error isn't going to be great as it relates to playing for a national title in 2013. Lose a game when you're a in the preseason top five, or maybe top ten, and a team isn't likely out of the title race assuming the loss doesn't come at season's end.
But if you lose a game when you are starting the season ranked at 15 and the climb back may prove to be much to overcome depending on, of course, what other teams are doing around the country.
Here's a glimpse at where Steele predicts teams from the Big 12 will start the season when the preseason AP poll is released.
What do you think, is he correct in predicting the Big 12 isn't going to be getting much love from the national media heading into the season?
It's tough to say. Oklahoma will be solid but there's plenty of question marks surrounding the Sooners starting with the quarterback position, not to mention there are plenty of holes to fill on defense.
TCU has a chance to make a huge statement in their opener with LSU. Win that and the Horned Frogs very well may find themselves in the top ten heading in the season's second week.
Texas should be much better, but then again, nobody is going to believe in the Longhorns until they can figure out a way to stay within three touchdowns of Oklahoma. If they can somehow end OU's dominance and come out of that game undefeated, UT will find themselves right in the thick of the title race at the season's half way point (assuming the Longhorns find a way to solve the Kansas State riddle which is even more perplexing than OU's dominance).
Oklahoma State could be the team to keep an eye on from the get go. The Cowboys are breaking in yet another offensive coordinator, but it would be surprising to see them miss a beat on that front. The questions for the Cowboys will once again focus on the defense as Glenn Spencer takes over the reins from Bill Young. The talent looks to be there, will the results follow?
What it all means is that the bottom line remains the same, win games - all of them preferably - and the rankings will take care of themselves.
It also means the Big 12 may need a little help to once again get into the title game. The teams from the SEC need to beat up on each other and Ohio State and Oregon will likely need to stumble. But then again, none of that matters if the somebody from the league doesn't step up and finish will 11 wins or better..
During the 2012 season, the Big 12 was largely absent from ESPN’s Thursday night football telecast. Outside of Texas’ annual Thanksgiving night game, the conference did not play a single Thursday night game last season. (There was one Sunday night game and two on Friday night).
That figures to be changing for the 2013 season, although it’s yet to be determined if this year’s games will be on ESPN or a FOX Network.
The Big 12 on Wednesday announced four Thursday night games for the upcoming season. TCU will visit Texas Tech on Thursday in the first Big 12 game of the season. Texas will play on Thursday night in Ames against Iowa State on October 3rd followed by Oklahoma’s visit to Baylor on November 7th.
Texas retained its spot on Thanksgiving night and will play Texas Tech this season, their second straight new Thursday night opponent following Texas A&M’s departure to the SEC. Texas fell to TCU last season on Thanksgiving night.
Here’s the complete Thursday night schedule the Big 12 announced on Wednesday.
It was also announced that Kansas State will open the season on Friday night, August 30th on Fox’s new all sports channel, Fox Sports 1, against North Dakota State.
That is in addition to Wednesday’s announcement that SMU and Texas Tech will also open on Friday the 30th with a national broadcast on ESPN. The game will mark Kliff Kingsbury’s first as the Red Raiders’ head coach.
Nick Florence did about a good of job in taking over for an irreplaceable player in Robert Griffin as anyone could have expected last year as Baylor’s starting quarterback.
Florence led Baylor to its third straight bowl game while leading the Big 12 in passing amassing 4,309 yards through the air with 33 touchdown passes. The Bear’s offense topped 40 points in five of their last six games including back-to-back 52 point performances against Kansas State and Texas Tech.
But Florence’s one year run as the starting quarterback is over due to graduation and redshirt junior Bryce Petty figures to be the next in line to lead what has become one of the best offenses in the country over the past several seasons.
Baylor will hold the fourth of its 15 spring practices on Tuesday afternoon, but already Petty’s teammates are taking notice of what the 6’3” 235 quarterback brings to the table.
“Bryce is a freak of nature,” running back Lache Seastrunk said. “His frame, his build and how he throws the ball looks just like Tebow. And when he gets the ball (and runs), he's not going to try to surprise you. He's going to go right at you like a true running back.”
Freak of nature? That’s good. Throwing the ball like Tim Tebow? That’s up for debate as being a good thing or not, but the point is taken.
There haven’t been many quarterbacks more successful at the college level than was Tebow at Florida and if Petty is even able to scratch the surface of what he accomplished at Florida, well, that’s a big plus for Art Briles and Baylor.
That’s not to say Petty has the job sewn up with the season still nearly six months away, but if he’s not under center with the Bears open the season on August 31st, it would be more than a little surprising.
“I don't know if I would call it a competition,” Briles said. “We'll give Petty the first shot and see how it goes. He has everything you're looking for — size, strength, passion, energy, a great arm and great intelligence.”
If Petty can take over and keep the Bears' offense humming to go along with 15 starters returning and a defense that showed marked improvement during Baylor's season ending four game winning streak, the sky is the limit in a conference with no clear cut favorite heading into next season.
There's been plenty of speculation since the end of the season whether or not Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.
Many draft analysts believe Klein may have a future playing at the next level, just not at quarterback.
That doesn't mean Klein is listening to any of it, however. He's a quarterback and that where he believes he belongs.
Klein on staying at QB: "That's my heart. I'm going to pursue every door at QB. Until that's closed, I have no desire to play anywhere else"— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 22, 2013
Klein will work out with the quarterbacks on Sunday at the NFL combine in hopes of showing at least one team that quarterback is indeed the position he's most suited to play at the next level.
And one team is all it takes to give him a chance of carrying on his success at the position following two hugely successful seasons in Manhattan where he led the Wildcats to 21 wins including a Big 12 title.
From Fox Sports Kansas City:
"I know I can play quarterback," says former Kansas State standout, who’ll participate in combine workouts at Indianapolis over the weekend.
And if Team A sits you down and offers you a giant bag of cash to switch to say, tight end?
"I’d tell them exactly what I just told you," Klein replies.
We'll see if Klein sticks to his guns because it was reported today that Klein has also been invited to work out with the tight ends on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Not that Klein needs any more unsolicited advice than he's already received over the past two months, but I hope he sticks to his guns.
If playing quarterback is what he wants to do, then by all means go for it. There's no need to split his focus working out at tight end at the combine. If there are any scouts wondering about his athleticism and whether he has what it takes to play another position, turn on some game tape and you'll see all you need to see.
If that door does eventually close on playing quarterback in the NFL, he'll have plenty of time to refocus his efforts on learning a new position when that time comes.
Until then, let the doubters be doubters.
How is everybody enjoying the offseason? Yeah, thought so.
But hey, look at the bright side, spring football is almost upon us. That's a positive, I think.
Texas will get things started in the Big 12 a week from tomorrow with the start of spring practice leading up to the their spring game on March 30th.
The Longhorns will be done with spring practice entirely before Kansas State even gets going. The Wildcats will be the final team in the league to start practice beginning on April 3rd with the Wildcats spring game set for April 27th.
Here's the complete list of what the spring schedule will look like in the Big 12. Just one item of note, TCU has yet to announce a date for their spring game and it's uncertain if they'll even have one, at least one the public will be allowed to see. The Horned Frogs didn't have a spring game last season, either.
|School||Spring Game||Practice Starts|
|Texas||March 30||February 21|
|Baylor||April 6||March 1|
|Kansas||April 13||March 5|
|Oklahoma State||April 20||March 11|
|Iowa State||April 20||March 26|
|West Virginia||April 20||March 10|
|Texas Tech||April 20||March 24|
|Kansas State||April 27||April 3|
Mike Gundy planned on taking his time in naming Oklahoma State's new offensive coordinator following the departure of Todd Monken back in December and that's exactly what he did.
Gundy apparently needed the time to dig deep into his bag of candidates pullingMike Yurcich's name out of his hat.
That's the exact reaction nearly everyone had after Gundy tweeted on Thursday that Yurcich would be the new coordinator to lead the Cowboys offense.
Yurcich has spent the past two seasons as the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator at Division II Shippensburg University located in Shippensburg, PA.
Given the Cowboys' recent success - 49 wins over the past five seasons - Gundy surely didn't have any shortage of qualified candidates to lead the Pokes offense that has led the Big 12 in scoring offense each of the past three seasons under Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken.
How or why he landed on a guy without any experience coaching at the FBS level (actually, he was a GA at Indiana in 2003-04) is anybody's guess but there's no doubt Oklahoma State isn't going to go away from the same system that has allowed the Cowboys to average 46.2 points per game since installing Holgorsen's offensive attack prior to the 2010 season.
Yurcich's attack led Division II in total offense averaging 529.2 yards per game. He also coached Zach Zulli who won the Harlan Hill Trophy after tossing 54 touchdowns in 2012.
“I am excited to continue the offensive firepower that has been in place at OSU for many years," Yurcich said. "I’ve often admired the OSU system and I’m looking forward to learning and then teaching the Oklahoma State offense.”
Since Gundy probably had a long, long, list of guys he could have hired given the talent OUS possess on offense not to mention, Larry Fedora, Holgorsen, and Monken are all head coaches at the FBS who were previous coordinators in Stillwater - and Yurcich's hiring means a couple things:
1. He was willing to learn the OSU system the same way Monken was in replacing Holgorsen. Not every candidate would be willing to do that wanting instead to bring in their own system.
2. The guy knows how to move the football through the air.
Even if he hasn't done it on the Division I level, calling football plays is calling football plays and he's had plenty of success at each of his stops.
He may have a bit of a learning curve in adapting the Cowboys' ground game into his arsenal, but the Pokes have plenty of guys on staff capable of helping him along including Gundy himself.
The hire may be a bit of head scratcher at the moment, but Gundy has pressed plenty of right buttons since he's taken over at Oklahoma State and there's not much reason to believe this hire will be any different.
The NFL combine is set to kick off on February 20th as this year's crop of draft eligible players get set for the next stage of their careers.
Schools from the Big 12 landed a total of 30 invitations to the event with Oklahoma having the most players invited with six, followed by Kansas State with five and West Virginia with four invites.
As far as conferences go, the SEC landed a whopping 79 invitations followed by the ACC with 43, the Pac-12 with 38, and the Big Ten with 32.
In total, it's expected to be a rather down year for the Big 12 as far as the NFL draft goes (at least among the top picks). There are currently only two Big 12 players listed in Mel Kiper's most recent mock draft. That could obviously change between now and then, but the conference is likely to have the fewest players selected in the first round since 2008 when only one player was taken in the opening round.
Here's a the complete list of who from the Big 12 will be in Indianapolis looking to improve their draft stock later this month.
|Tavon Austin||WR||West Virginia|
|Stedman Bailey||WR||West Virginia|
|Arthur Brown||LB||Kansas State|
|Anthony Cantele||K||Kansas State|
|Chris Harper||WR||Kansas State|
|A.J. Klein||LB||Iowa State|
|Jake Knott||LB||Iowa State|
|Collin Klein||QB||Kansas State|
|Joe Madsen||OL||West Virginia|
|Tracy Moore||WR||Oklahoma State|
|Joseph Randle||RB||Oklahoma State|
|Quinn Sharp||K||Oklahoma State|
|Geno Smith||QB||West Virginia|
|Braden Wilson||RB||Kansas State|