Bob Bowlsby

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

DALLAS ‒ The Big 12 unofficially kicked off the 2014 football season at the conference’s media days at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Monday.

The event began with Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s annual State of the Conference address. Bowlsby delivered an eye-opening speech in which he warned that collegiate sports as we know it may be vastly different in the near future.

“Change is coming,” Bowlsby said. “There is change afoot, and some of it is going to be unhappy change because I think it will ultimately reduce the number of opportunities for young people to go to college and participate in sports.”

Bowlsby was followed by five of the 10 Big 12 Coaches: Art Briles, Charlie Weis, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson and Kliff Kingsbury

Baylor: Briles preparing Bears to defend Big 12 title

The Baylor Bears won their first Big 12 title last season. Despite being picked to finished second by the Big 12 media behind Oklahoma, head coach Art Briles is teaching the team how to defend its title and the adversity that comes with the territory.

“We see ourselves as the guy fighting hard, scratching hard to try to get some recognition and some respect,” Briles said. “We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter.  We've always been the hunter.  And I don't want to lose that edge and that attitude.”

Kansas: Weis, Jayhawks fighting for relevancy

The Kansas Jayhawks are six years removed from their victory in the 2008 Orange Bowl, and it’s been a rough road ever since.

Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis, in his third year as head coach, knows the team needs to improve.

“We haven't done a thing in the two years I've been here,” Weis said. “But our team very clearly knows what our expectations are. There's no hiding it.”

Oklahoma State: Gundy looking for quarterback to replace Chelf

The Oklahoma State Cowboys were a game away from winning the Big 12 Championship last season because of great quarterback play from Clint Chelf. Chelf threw for 2,173 yards, 17 passing touchdowns and 7 rushing touchdowns.

But now that Chelf is gone, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is trying to find his replacement and leading the way is junior J.W. Walsh.

“Walsh took the majority of the reps in the spring with the 1s and has had a good summer,” Gundy said. “Based on the style of play or the plan of attack that we want to use, we have a little bit of flexibility with the quarterback that we put in the game at that time.”

TCU: Patterson, Horned Frogs looking to overcome bowl-less season

For the first time in 16 seasons, TCU and head coach Gary Patterson missed out on playing in a bowl game. Despite the frustrating 2013 season, Patterson and the Horned Frogs are preparing themselves for a comeback.

“We got back to a Bowl game,” Patterson said. “So for me, it's all been about understanding it wasn't broke; you've got to make sure you go out — gotta be physical, gotta trust each other, gotta play together as a group, and also, you've got to find a way to make those plays at the end of the ballgame.”

Texas Tech: Kingsbury settling into coaching Red Raiders in second season

Under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Texas Tech Red Raiders rushed out to a 7-0 start in 2013. The Raiders followed that winning streak with a five-game losing streak. But a win in the Holiday Bowl revitalized Kingsbury and the team heading into the 2014 season.

“Yeah, [winning the Holiday Bowl] was huge,” Kinsbury said. “It proved to our team and our players that if you keep working hard and you keep focusing on your job and your responsibility, good things will happen.”

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

The Big 12 conference has given itself a new look featuring a more modern logo and a new slogan: "One True Champion."

With the lack of a conference championship game, the Big 12 has made a conscious effort to emphasize its round robin style of play in its rebrand. One true champion emerges in the Big 12 and the conference has made that very clear in its slogan.

“After adopting ‘One True Champion’ as your moniker you have to go out and win some games,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “And we are certainly going to try and do that.”

The new slogan comes amidst a new era in college football with the advent of the college football playoff. The phrase is the Big 12’s way of proving itself, despite concerns that the playoff committee may not give the conference the respect it deserves.

But with a round robin system in place, Baylor coach Art Briles believes that the Big 12 champion will get a spot in the final four.

“You go 9-0 in the Big 12, you're going to be in the Final Four,” Briles said. “That's a résumé that's good enough to match any other conference.”

Alongside the new moniker, the Big 12 has a new logo for the upcoming season.  Although it keeps the conference’s signature roman numerals, it’s a sleeker, more modern adaptation.

The logo was designed by Austin advertising firm GSD&M. The design process has been in the works for many years, Bowlsby said.

Although the Big 12 only has 10 teams, Bowlsby said that there is merit to keeping same name.

“The question has frequently been asked ‘why XII since you only have one-zero’ and the answer is we're numerically challenged,” he said. “But we think there's some real value and cache in the Big 12, not only the Big 12 artwork, but in the 20 year history of our league.”

As the new athletic year approaches, the Big 12’s rebrand will be everywhere - basketball courts, football fields, baseball and softball outfields and on uniforms.

For the Big 12, this is their ‘mark of one true champion.’

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn’t shy away from the truth during his State of the Big 12 Address Monday.

“Change is coming,” Bowlsby said. “If you like what you see in intercollegiate athletics right now, you’re going to be disappointed when the change comes, because it’s coming.”

Bowlsby addressed several issues at Big 12 media days including payment of players, involvement in lawsuits and cheating in college athletics. It was a stark address as Bowlsby was up front about all the challenges facing the Big 12 and collegiate athletics.

One of the biggest issues at hand is the payment of players. Bowlsby made it very clear that athletes are not employees of their respective universities and should not be able to unionize.

“Student-athletes are not employees,” Bowlsby said. “They should never be employees. It’s not an employee/employer relationship. It’s a total square peg in a round hole.”

Bowlsby said that the current lawsuits facing college athletics will cause universities to change the way they handle student scholarships.

“In the end, it’s a somewhat zero-sum game,” Bowlsby said. “There’s only so much money out there…so therefore the cost is higher.”

The rising costs may cause schools to cut back on program. Bowlsby also said that cuts in funds will result in the end of some Olympic sports.

On top of rising costs, Bowlsby addressed those who are cutting corners and finding ways to cheat.

“I think it’s not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently,” Bowlsby said. “If you want to cheat, you can do it and you can get away with it. And there are benefits for doing that.”

Bowlsby said that the NCAA and the five-power conferences must find a way to better prevent cheating. But Bowlsby made sure to say cheating isn’t a rampant issue and most people involved in college athletics are acting with high integrity.

Despite his melancholy address, Bowlsby said that the conference is in great shape heading into the 2014 season.

“We will go through the football season with unprecedented exposure for our football teams,” he said. “And we will have a period of time of lots of good excitement, lots of good competition, lots of fair competition.” 

President William Powers Jr.  and the UT System Board of Regents are set to begin the search for a replacement for retiring Texas men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds. While Dodds’ advance warning gives the Longhorn brass plenty of time to find a successor, Powers reportedly wants to make a hire by Dec. 1, so expect the search to start immediately.

Here are a few potential candidates for the job:

 

Oliver Luck

Believed by many to be the favorite, Oliver Luck is a Texas law graduate and the current athletic director at West Virginia.

Luck’s tenure in Morgantown has been impressive, with his most notable accomplishment for the Mountaineers being a successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. Luck also hired former Oklahoma State coach Dana Holgorsen to replace Bill Stewart at West Virginia in 2011.

 

Bob Bowlsby

The current Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby has been linked to the Texas athletic director job on several occasions.

Bowlsby has plenty of administrative experience, including stints as athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa. He was also on the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

While Bowlsby has previously denied interest in the Texas position, his name is reportedly high on Powers’ list.

 

Tom Jurich

Tom Jurich, the director of athletics at Louisville, is another name that continues to make its rounds on the rumor mill. Jurich was hired by Louisville in 1997, after serving in the same role at Colorado State and Northern Arizona. 

A few notable accomplishments at Louisville include engineering the program’s move to the Big East, hiring Rick Pitino to lead the men’s basketball program, overseeing the completion and renovation of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and, most recently, hiring Charlie Strong to re-establish the Louisville football program as a Big East powerhouse.

 

Jack Swarbrick

Perhaps the most high-profile candidate, Jack Swarbrick currently serves as Notre Dame’s athletic director.

The Notre Dame gig is Swarbrick’s only experience as an athletic director, but it should be more than enough. Notre Dame is one of the few schools which attracts attention similar to that of Texas, though, he claims he is not interested in coming to Austin. When asked about possibly replacing Dodds last week, Swarbrick said, “I feel like I have the best job in college athletics.”

 

Chris Plonsky

A long shot, sure, but Texas would be foolish not to consider current Longhorn women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky as a possible replacement for Dodds.

Plonsky has been an athletic director at Texas since 2001, and has seen her programs win a combined 40 Big 12 championships and three national championships in that time. She also played a major role in bringing the Longhorn Network to the 40 Acres.

While some might question her ability to handle the men’s side of the operation, Plonsky’s experience and success as a Longhorn administrator makes her as good a candidate as any.

Highlights to be shown at Big 12 games to help declining attendance

DALLAS In-game highlights will be played during TV timeouts during Big 12 games beginning this season in an effort to curb dwindling attendance numbers.

Conference ommissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged how easy it can be for fans to enjoy the games from the comfort of their own homes rather than buy an expensive ticket, wait in lines to use the bathroom and at concession stands and pay for parking going to the game.

“College football has experienced declines in overall attendance the last four or five years, and I think bringing highlights in will take into account and help one of the things that really is getting to be a challenge for us,” Bowlsby said. “People have a 60-inch television and they can have their mobile device with full Wi-fi in their lpa, no lines at the restroom, no charge for concessions, they can have a cold beer when they want to… We think it will greatly enhance the in-stadium environment.”

Big 12 to use chips in shoulder pads 

Big 12 players, along with players from the SEC and the Pac-12, will have RF chips planted in their shoulder pads starting this season. This will allow their movements to be tracked and the velocity of their collisions to be measured.

“We’re not sure what we will do with the technology,” Bowlsby said. “But we think it’s a very interesting innovation that developments in other areas outside of sports have accommodated. It ought to be interesting to see how it evolves.”

This comes on the heels of the implementation of a rule in college football that mandates the ejection of any player targeting another player’s helmet, which also begins this year, and the launch of a concussion research and prevention program by the Big 12 as part of a partnership with USA Football.

“Player safety is a very important element of what we’re doing,” Bowlsby said. “The commissioners collectively took the initiative and sent directive to the rules committee that we wanted progress made on both concussive head injuries and the cumulative effect of repetitive blows to the head.”

Big 12 to experiment with eighth official

Also among the changes this upcoming season is the use of an eighth official during Big 12 games, a move meant to better manage the faster up-tempo offenses being utilized more and more by the teams in the pass-happy conference.

This official will stand on the same side of the ball as the offense and be responsible for spotting the ball, which was previously something the umpire did. The Big 12 will be the only conference with officials this season.

“This is really in response to pace of play as much as anything,” Bowlsby said. “We have experimented with it in the spring. We’ve even experimented using an eighth official with a helmet cam to see what the vantage point is and how it might be helpful.”

There have been critics, most notably Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, of up-tempo offenses because of the perceived increase of defensive players being injured. But the Big 12 won’t slow down any time soon.

“They can’t play any faster,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “I was one of the guys that voted for having the eighth official because that guy’s going to be the spot that allows your umpire and referee not to worry about that… if anything, I think it gets back to helping the defense a little bit more because now you have a little  you have one more set of eyes that are watching everything.”

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby pushing for reform

DALLAS Bob Bowlsby doesn’t have to worry about realignment effecting the Big 12 for the time being. He likes having 10 teams in the conference.

But, if he has his way, that might be one of the few things about college football that doesn’t change.

During his 45-minute state of the conference address Monday in Dallas at Big 12 Media Days, Bowlsby called for sweeping reform to the legislative process in college athletics and, while expressing confidence in the NCAA’s staying power, also raised concerns about the effectiveness of its enforcement.

“Our national orgazination is under fire,” Bowlsby said of the NCAA. “I think it’s virtually impossible right now to configure legislative proposals that have any chance of getting through the system intact that would accomplish anything in the way of meaningful change.”

Bowlsby said the other four major conference commissioners the ACC’s John Swofford, the Big 10’s Jim Delany, the Pac-12’s Larry Scott and the SEC’s Mike Slive met recently and all agree that things should change and could change quickly.

“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got,” Bowlsby said. “We all acknowledge, particularly relative to the legislative process, we are very much at a point now where we can’t get anything that’s transformative through the system… It is just very difficult to do anything that would benefit our student-athletes or our institutions that doesn’t get voted down by the larger majority.”

When asked if the threat of secession may be an effective and possibly necessary way of triggering the change Bowlsby spoke of, he said the Big 12 would not do that unless it had to but did not totally rule it out.

“I don’t see secession as a legitimate point of leverage except as a last resort,” Bowlsby said. “I really think that leadership and the rank and file believe that there’s a solution within the NCAA, and it’s been along those lines that we’ve had the conversations. Could that change to something that’s a little more harsh down the road? Possibly.”

One major change Bowlsby brought up was the possibility of “federation by sport,” the idea of each college sport governing itself instead of one federation governing all college sports because, as Bowlsby put it, “it’s probably unreliastic to think we can manage football and field hockey by the same set of rules.”

“There are about 75 schools that win 90 percent of the championships in the NCAA, and we have a whole bunch of others that don’t look much like the people in our league, yet through rule variation they’re trying to compete with us,” Bowlsby said. “The NCAA has gotten to be an organization that has very broad ranging responsibilities and oversight. I’m not sure we’re doing as good a job with some of the core competencies as we need to. And perhaps a narrower focus would help.”

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and former commissioner Dan Beebe addressed the state of the conference in a panel moderated by UT advertising lecturer Joel Lulla. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Much like a closely followed celebrity, the Big 12 Conference basks in the sunlight of collegiate sports, marked by rumors of expansion and new additions. 

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, former Commissioner Dan Beebe and Deputy Commissioner Tim Weiser addressed conference realignment, NCAA postseason changes and the future of the Big 12 at a panel Tuesday. 

Bowlsby, who was named full-time commissioner in May 2012, was riding a golf cart to and from work as athletic director at Stanford University when he was offered the commissioner position. Taking the reins of a conference in the midst of realignments that included losses of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M and the addition of TCU and West Virginia was his challenge. 

Bowlsby said the conference will tend to geographic challenges in the upcoming season by strategically scheduling games to accommodate teams that may have to travel further.   

“Geography still matters and one of the things that’s gone by the wayside during the course of this expansion is a lot of the traditional rivalries,” Bowlsby said. “You can imagine how people would feel if we went to 16 teams if it meant Texas and OU wouldn’t play each other one year.”

Expanding the conference to potentially include 12 teams is not something the Big 12, despite its name, is currently focused on, Bowlsby said.

“There are a lot of strengths in smaller numbers, and we’re going to be thoughtful about it,” Bowlsby said. “We’re ten for a considerable decision to stay [at] ten, and I expect that until we’re persuaded otherwise, that’s where we’ll stay.”

Weiser, who took on his current role after seven years as athletics director at Kansas State University, said missed classes for student athletes and tough travel times are issues that continue to be smoothed out.

“With TCU, integration has been fairly predictable and fairly smooth,” Weiser said. “With West Virginia, I’m not sure we’ve gotten to a place that we’ve successfully answered those challenges.”

Beebe, who served as commissioner from 2007 to 2011 and departed as the conference sought to stabilize itself during realignments, said the connection between students and alumni is a consideration for teams as they decide to stay or switch conferences. 

“I think when you detach institutions from the place where they primarily get their students and where their alumni go to live and work, it’s never a comfortable situation,” Beebe said.

The panel also discussed the addition of a four-team playoff in the postseason of college football, which was approved in June 2012 and will start in 2014.

“We’ve been able to embrace the best characteristics of the bowl system, and I think the four-team playoff with a selection committee is the right way to do that,” Bowlsby said. “We still have some things to work out, but I think this playoff format has a chance to be a great thing for the players and the institution.”

Big 12, big money

There is no doubt that money makes the world go round and the Big 12 has clearly embraced this philosophy.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby made a very interesting proposal in suggesting that the conference could seek a waiver
to implement a conference title game as opposed to the team with the best record automatically going to a BCS bowl. All major conferences that have 12 teams have championship games, but the Big 12 is one of the few to have round-robin play without a championship game.

Obviously, the Big 12 is losing out on a chunk of revenue because of the recent departures of Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M in exchange for West Virginia and Texas Christian. Bowlsby claims that the Big 12 moving to have a conference championship with only 10 teams is justified by the deregulation going around the NCAA.

“At a time when lots of deregulation is taking place, it seems a little bit odd that the NCAA would be describing how we determine our champions,” Bowlsby told The Associated Press.

However, this proposal doesn’t sit well with coaches like Bill Snyder and Mack Brown, whose teams were both gypped of a national championship appearance because of losses in the Big 12 championship game. There has also been talk of adding ACC schools Florida State and Clemson into the mix because both they and the Big 12 would reap massive profits from the television networks. Monetarily, this would be a good move for the Big 12 to make, but this extra revenue could cost the Big 12 any chance of knocking the SEC off its seven-year reign.

For the Big 12, the time is now. Act now or see SEC dominance for an entire decade.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Bob Bowlsby will have his hands full the next couple of months.

The incoming Big 12 commissioner is finishing up his tenure as athletic director at Stanford, hopping on a plane after wrapping up a series of meetings with his new league in Kansas City on Friday so that he could attend the Pac-12’s annual spring meetings.

He officially took over at the Big 12 on June 18, and get in about a month of work before flying to London, where he’ll have responsibilities as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“Let it suffice to say that a trip to London is not going to be most convenient,” he said.

Especially with so many pressing issues facing the conference.

There are questions about the future of college football’s playoff structure, and whether the bowl system will be dismantled. Television negotiations will be front and center, and Bowlsby has yet to meet much of the Big 12 staff or visit the conference’s 10 current schools.

“I expect I’ll get to every campus within 30 to 60 days,” he said.

Sounds like an ambitious schedule.

There was little news out of the final day of the Big 12 meetings, though Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis announced that approximately $19 million will be distributed to each member for the 2011-12 year from media rights deals, the aggregate representing an all-time high.

That figure includes the withdrawal fees for Texas A&M and Missouri, which join the Southeastern Conference on July 1. Part of the exit fee money was also used to finance a $10 million loan to West Virginia, which is leaving the Big East to join TCU as new members of the Big 12.

Otherwise, Bowlsby mostly reiterated the stance of presidents and athletic directors.

He said that the Big 12 supports a four-team playoff consisting of the highest-ranked teams to determine college football’s national champion, rather than a plus-one model that has new legs after the Big 12 and SEC announced the formation of the so-called Champions Bowl.

There is also a four-team model in which conference champions play an integral part, which has been supported by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and others.

“I suppose that I have been back and forth a bit, relative to conference champions versus highest-ranked four,” Bowlsby said. “For the Big 12, the highest-ranked four is a good thing. It’s a good example of where I think there needs to be compromise moving forward.”

Another area where compromise will be needed is the selection criteria.

While the current BCS standings, which combine computer ratings with human polls, are almost universally panned, there are some leagues such as the Big 12 that favor a selection committee to determine the four best teams. Others favor a combination of different formulas.

“I don’t think the idea of a four-team playoff is hard to comprehend. The details come into site selection, team selection and how you develop the ranking system,” acting Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said. “There has to be transparency so the public feels they’re somehow involved, and that helps to create interest.

“The one thing we want to underscore again is the importance of the regular season. That’s been foremost in our minds,” he added. “There has not been a eureka idea that we’ve found the perfect ranking system. That is a work in progress, and there are a number of ideas.”

Bowlsby also agreed with Big 12 presidents and ADs who voiced their support this week for a 10-team league in which football and basketball teams play a true round-robin schedule, though he acknowledged that there is always the chance for future expansion.

“When it’s right, we’ll know it’s right,” Bowlsby said, “and in the meantime, there’s not a thing wrong with the 10 we have.”

The other significant issue Bowlsby addressed was stipends. He was steadfastly against proposals that have been floated for paying up to $4,000 per year to student-athletes, pointing out that there are other avenues in which aspiring athletes can play for pay.

“We should never do anything to establish an employee-employer relationship,” Bowlsby said. “There are places you can go and play for money, but colleges and universities are not among them. This is an educational undertaking.”

Hargis, the chairman of the league’s board of directors, was even more forceful in his opposition to stipends, even for athletes in revenue-producing sports such as football.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Hargis said. “These student-athletes are provided scholarships in many cases, and they’re eligible for other assistance. You get into all this kind of stipend stuff and it affects the amateurism, I think it affects recruiting. I just think it’s introducing an idea that’s not necessary.”