The Big 12 finally has it's man.
Dan Beebe is long gone and interim commish Chuck Neinas, after calming the waters to an extent, is on his way out by July 1st.
Former Iowa and Stanford athletic director, Bob Bowlsby, is now the new man to lead the new look Big 12 into the future. The Big 12 announced the hire on Thursday and then formally introduced him to the country during a press conference on Friday morning.
The press conference on Friday was about what you would expect, a lot of question about the important upcoming issues he'll face leading the Big 12 and a lot of wait-and-see type answers. That said, it's not exactly fair to expect him to have all the answers without even having spent a day in the job as yet.
(You can watch a replay of the introductory press conference on Big12Sports.com).
The Big 12 hasn't exactly been a model of stability over the past couple seasons, something Bowlsby apparently got over when he started looking closely at the position.
"I came in with some reservations, and those reservations were quickly put to rest. We had some very frank conversations about what the challenges were with the league, and what the opportunities are with the league. I came away feeling very good about it. Not knowing whether or not I was going to get an offer, but feeling very good about it."
The biggest topic on everyone's mind seems to be expansion and whether or not the Big 12 will stand pat at 10 teams or look to expand as many expect. The first question during the Q&A portion came from Barry Tramel of The Oklahoman, 10 or 12?
"Expansion will be an ongoing consideration for us. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with all of the presidents about this issue, and I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to all but a couple of the athletic directors. I certainly am not going to presume a direction that we will go, but I think though, as you consider expansion, it has to be expansion that has, as its roots, the enhancement of the league. There’s nothing magic about 11, 12 or 10."
"I have no preconceived notions at the what the right number is."
Not that it matters, however, because Texas runs the league anyways (I think I'm joking, of course) and Bowlsby was asked about the power Texas wields in the league. "I would just suggest that you do a little homework on me. I haven't been very good at being a puppet over the years."
He also added, "I asked some probing questions along those lines, because the University of Texas is always going to be an 800-pound gorilla in college athletics, and that isn't going to change. But I have been very impressed at the extent of which the folks at the University of Texas are committed to the conference, and committed to the best outcomes -- not only for them, but for the other nine members."
Bowlsby also had some comments on the Longhorn Network and third tier rights in general, although those are were issues decided before his arrival and aren't likely to change just because he's the new commissioner.
What's more important is what's going to happen in the coming years for a league that has taken its fair share of hits in the recent past. "The future of the conference is exceedingly bright. Obviously this is a new role for me having been a director of athetics for 29 years. I know the players, I know the potholes and I'm going to have the opportunity to look at them through a little different lens than I have in the past."
He most certainly will.
While it will be a few years before anyone will be able to judge the hire, the reactions coming from within the conference have been overwhelmingly positive, as you'd expect. Having everyone on the same page is a great place to start, however.
Of course, honeymoons are usually all good and fun. How this marriage turns out won't be known until he and the rest of the league starts tackling some of the tough issues it will surely face in the coming years.