Big 12

Last minute changes to the fall Big 12 football schedule led to a conflict between the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Texas-OU weekend, leaving students to decide which major event to attend.

Festival officials first chose the date last year intending to avoid the weekend of the big game, said ACL spokesperson Sandee Fenton, but a restructuring of the Big 12 Conference has led to reshuffling of the season schedule.

“When ACL 2012 was scheduled and confirmed, there were no conflicts during the weekend of Oct. 12-14, but the Big 12 Conference shuffled their schedule last week,” Fenton said.

The overlap will force students to choose between two major UT student attractions.

Radio-television-film sophomore Brianna Dean said she is a football fan, but is choosing to volunteer at ACL over attending the OU game in October.

“I’ve attended ACL almost every year since I was a kid,” she said. “I really love football, but I live music.”

Carly Ward, communications director for the Texas Exes Student Chapter, said Texas fans are dedicated fans, so she doesn’t think there will be a noticeable decline in attendance at the OU game.

“Although it seems like a controversial choice now, I don’t think ACL will stop too many students from going to the game,” she said. “Die hard ACL fans probably won’t go to Dallas, but they may have never had plans to go in the first place.”

The dates of the festival fluctuate between September and October because ACL executives at C3 Presents pick a date based on University and city schedules in order to avoid conflicting dates, Fenton said.

Last year’s festival was held mid-September, but this year’s festival was pushed back almost a month into October.

UT Athletics released the 2012 UT football season schedule Tuesday, listing the 107th meeting of Texas and Oklahoma set for Oct. 13, right in the middle of ACL weekend.

The football schedule was released the same day West Virginia University announced plans to join the Big 12 football conference for the 2012 season. West Virginia was in the middle of a lawsuit settlement that released them from the Big East Conference without the required 27-month release waiting period.

“The Big 12 was scrambling to get West Virginia into the league for this fall,” said Mike Huguenin, college sports editor for Yahoo Sports.

Last minute-entry West Virginia would make the Big 12 a 10-team conference and allow for a round robin schedule without the necessity for non-conference games at the beginning of the season, he said.

Bob Burda, associate commissioner for the Big 12, said the release of the conference schedule was delayed because of TCU and West Virginia’s inclusion.

“We had to wait for the legal process of West Virginia with the Big East to play out before we were in a position to announce the schedule,” he said.

Burda said the date Texas was scheduled to play OU resulted from Texas A&M’s departure and the addition of two new members to the conference.

Available game windows for other schools have to be taken into consideration when creating Texas’ usual schedule of four games at home, four on the road and one at a neutral site, he said.

Regular scheduling logistics include receiving nine conference game windows from schools in the conference and addressing university ties to homecoming events, neutral sites or other commitments when creating the schedule, Burda said. A computer program generates a tentative schedule that Big 12 executives then evaluate, modify and present to athletic directors.

“We know that the Oklahoma game will coincide with ACL,” Burda said. “We tried to accommodate all special occasions including the festival and The Austin Grand Prix Race this year, but we are not always able to accommodate everyone.”

Print on Friday, February 17, 2012 as: Rivalry date leads to clash with music fest

Chuck Neinas | Big 12 Interim Commissioner

On September 22, 2011, Dan Beebe stepped down from his position — which he had held for four years — as Big 12 Commissioner. On Tuesday, 79-year-old Chuck Neinas, a veteran in the world of college sports, will officially assume the title as interim commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.

Neinas held a media teleconference last week during which he addressed an array of pressing questions concerning his plans to piece back together the fragmented Big 12. Once a coalition of twelve powerful collegiate programs, the conference will be down to nine schools following the official departure of Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference next year.

Despite the Aggies’ departure from the Big 12, Neinas believes that Missouri will not leave. However, if Missouri does jump ship, Neinas holds that it would still be possible for the Big 12 — which would be composed of the eight remaining schools — to reestablish its legitimacy and reclaim its reputation as a powerhouse conference.

The interim commissioner is by no means intending to take a cautious approach in his pursuit of reorganizing and reviving the Big 12.

“They’ve hired me to be a commissioner and I’ll act like one,” Neinas said at the teleconference. “If you look at my record, I’m not afraid to make decisions. They can always fire me.”

Neinas stresses that trust between Big 12 schools is one of the most critical requirements for success in his endeavor to restructure the conference. Also, he acknowledges the need to mend and refine the conference’s image. Neinas has not made any remarks regarding plans of expansion.

In his more than 50 years working in the sports arena, Neinas has held a number of notable positions including commissioner of the Big 8 and the executive director the College Football Association. In 1990, Sports Illustrated ranked Neinas the 75th most powerful person in sports, and in 2003, the magazine deemed him the 10th most powerful person in college football.

Neinas is the President of Neinas Sports Services, a consulting firm responsible for assisting the University of Texas at Austin in hiring current head football coach Mack Brown.

The Texas athletic program —along with its $300 million deal with ESPN establishing the controversial Longhorn Network—is not only being blamed for disunity in the Big 12 but also as a direct cause of the departures of Nebraska, Colorado, and most recently A&M from the conference.

Neinas believed he can calm the animosity between the conferences’ schools.

“Bringing people together is what I’m going to do,” he said.

Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer thinks Neinas is a perfect fit for the job.

“When I heard Beebe was leaving, Neinas was the first guy I thought of. He knows every athletic director in the country... He’s the one who can rein in Texas, if it can be done. That’s what they’ve got to have.”

Neinas has made clear that he is “not a candidate in any way shape or form on a permanent basis.” However, with his reputation, Neinas could be the temporary hero that the Big 12 needs to rescue it from its current state of dissolution.

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: Interim commissioner Neinas vows to revive, organize Big 12.

The UT System Board of Regents voted to give the UT-Austin president authority to negotiate entrance into another conference or to remain in the Big 12.

The decision was made over a special telephone meeting between the Board of Regents and current president William Powers Jr. The meeting is the beginning of many talks focused on the future of UT Austin football. The University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents also gave OU’s president the authority to negotiate their position in the Big 12 or begin a move towards entrance into another football conference on Sept. 19.

“There’s been a great deal of movement concerning conference realignment,” Powers said.

Although legal issues concerning their contract with the Big 12 remain, Texas A&M University withdrew from the Big 12 in late August with plans to join the Southeastern Conference. This came as a response to the Longhorn Network, which A&M views as an unfair recruiting advantage for UT, according to the Associated Press.

Powers and UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds reportedly met with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in Los Angeles this past weekend, according to a New York Times article.

“We believe it would be helpful to be able to explore options,” Powers said. “Including continued participation in the Big 12 in the interest of our student athletes.”

According to the Big 12’s official website, UT has been a member of the Big 12 since its formation in 1994 when the conference began through a merger of the Big 8 conference with four Texas universities from the now-defunct Southwest Conference. Athletic competition within the conference began in 1996, with UT remaining a consistent football powerhouse in the conference, earning four national championship wins.

The Pac-12 will launch its own television networks in August 2012, according to the Associated Press. If UT applies for entrance into the Pac-12, the future of the Longhorn Network and how it will fit into the possible partnership could come into question.

The Board of Regents must ratify any change in conference membership. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, both part of the Big 12, are expected to apply for entrance to the Pac-12 if UT and OU make the move. 

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Powers gains conference control