Commissioner

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t the only one who’s been paying attention to football head coach Charlie Strong’s core vales. 

At a special meeting over telephone conference call Friday, the UT System Board of Regents unanimously endorsed Strong’s rules of honesty, treating women with respect, and zero tolerance for drugs, stealing or guns.  

“Consistent with the Board’s and chancellor’s previous actions on student success and wellbeing and in the same spirit, I move that the Board of Regents express its full support for UT-Austin head football coach Charlie Strong and his unwavering commitment to teaching, cultivating, supporting and demanding outstanding character, strong moral fiber and high core values in the young men he is charged to lead and teach,” said Gene Powell, regent and Board vice chairman.

After Strong was hired by the University in January, the regents subsequently approved his $5 million contract to coach the team. Since then, Strong has removed nine players from the team for violating team rules. As of Saturday’s home loss to Baylor, Strong has a 2-3 record as head coach.

Goodell met with Strong on Sept. 28 to discuss the coach’s values. The NFL is currently reevaluating its player conduct policies after a number of domestic abuse cases sprung up throughout the league since the start of the season.

“There’s a reason that the commissioner of the NFL sat down with Coach Strong,” said Steve Hicks, regent and Board vice chairman. “It’s because of the things he believes in are the right thing. I think that Vice Chairman Powell’s motion will prove that we stand firmly for those core values and what they mean to our student athletes, other students, the players, the coaches and their families.”

The board also expressed its support for the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center administration. The center, located in Houston, is currently being investigated by the American Association of University Professors for its use of seven-year term tenure.

“In recognition of the unique mission and international leadership of the University of Texas -MD Anderson Cancer Center in the fight against cancer, I move that the Board voice strong support for the outstanding work of the institution’s faculty, staff and administration,” Regent Robert Stillwell said. “I also move that the Board acknowledge appreciation for the work of the students, residents and fellows in training and for the trust shown by the patients receiving care at UT-MD Anderson.”

Since arriving at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players from the football program. The Longhorns hold a 2-2 record after shutting out Kansas on Saturday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Although the Longhorns didn’t return from Lawrence, Kansas, until late Saturday night, head coach Charlie Strong was back at work Sunday morning. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, met with Strong to seek his advice on the moral dilemmas plaguing the league.

“[Strong’s] emphasis on character [and] respect over talent is molding the next generation of football talent,” Vincent tweeted. “Commissioner and I are focused on strengthening relationships with colleges. Thank you for your time today [Charlie Strong].”

The NFL has recently come under fire for its lax discipline policies. The league received broad criticism for waiting to discipline Ray Rice, former Baltimore Ravens running back, following allegations of domestic violence. After the accusations spread and video footage went viral, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract Sept. 8. The
Minnesota Vikings placed running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted for child abuse, on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list
on Sept. 17.

Throughout the month, the NFL has worked to restore its image and credibility amid criticism from a wide range of outlets. Goodell visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin for three hours on Saturday night. The following morning, he and Vincent met with 11 former NFL players, followed
by Strong.

“This morning, [Goodell] [and] I met [with] [Coach Strong] to discuss core values, game integrity, [and] college relations. Great meeting, great input,” Vincent tweeted.

Strong’s “core values” have attracted national attention during his time at Texas and at Louisville. Strong requires players to be honest, treat women with respect and refrain from drugs, stealing and guns — all policies he actively enforces. Since arriving in Austin, Strong has dismissed nine players who violated team rules and three other players are currently suspended from playing in games.

Most recently, Strong dismissed junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle on Tuesday. 

“The blueprint of this program has been and always will be the change in helping direct the lives of young people,” Strong said. “I’m sorry that another player had to be dismissed, but when you’re told something over and over again, then you want to make sure that you’re provided with the right resources so that you can change lives.”

John Clayton, ESPN senior NFL writer, said in an interview that Goodell met with Strong in hopes of expanding his response resources and developing a long-term
disciplinary plan.

“Strong has been dealing with issues at his school, and what the league and what the players association want to do is try to find different types of ideas that they can use to come up with some kind of a plan because I think it’s pretty evident they don’t have a plan that’s working right now,” Clayton said.

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.”

While Austin officials are taking applications from citizens to draw lines for the city’s single-member districts, UT students have an unparalleled opportunity to represent themselves in Austin’s shift to geographic representation.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission will be drawing new district lines for Austin’s 2014 elections. In accordance with the Proposition 3 Amendment passed in November, one council member will represent each of these 10 districts to ensure accurate representation for each resident, said Linda Curtis, coordinator for Austinites for Geographic Representation. The group is responsible for getting the 10-1 plan passed through the City Council.

One commissioner position will belong to a student currently enrolled at any college in Austin. Requirements for regular commissioner positions, including having voted in three of Austin’s last five general elections, will be waived for the student commissioner position.

Curtis said the existence of the student commissioner position was heavily advocated by UT’s student government while the 10-1 plan was being written.

“UT Student Government was very active in the phase of determining what the measure was going to look like, and they advocated that we have a student seat on the 14-person commission,” Curtis said. “The student population in Austin is so big that we got convinced that it was important. I’m hoping that somebody will pick up the mantle from UT.”

Curtis said the coalition began meeting in February 2011 to discuss a process for creating single-member districts.

“We started talking about if we could come together to agree on a system for single-member districts, because single-member districts has been widely supported for years and years,” Curtis said. “By about October we agreed to do a 10-1 system.”

The Citizens Redistricting Commission will consist of 14 Austin residents, who will be responsible for drawing new district lines for the city. The Applicant Review Panel, an additional three-person entity in the redistricting process, will select the commissioners by narrowing down all applications to a pool of 60 qualified applicants, from which the city auditor will draw eight random names. These eight selected commissioners will appoint the final six commissioners. Applications for both the Applicant Review Panel and the Citizens Redistricting Commission opened Jan. 18 and will close Feb. 22.

City Auditor Kenneth Mory said the commission will be working to ensure accurate representation of Austin’s diverse population.

“The idea is making sure there is a diverse group of commissioners,” Mory said. “One of the things that we’re focusing on [are] unrepresented groups, for example Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans.”

Mory said the city auditor’s office has attempted to reach out to UT student organizations, but is unsure if any students have applied.

“I don’t know if we have received any applications as of yet from students,” Mory said. “We’re hoping that we do. The students who meet the other qualifications can also apply to be just a regular commissioner.”

John Lawler, urban studies senior and advocate of Proposition 3, said it is critical for UT’s current Student Government to take responsibility for getting students engaged and interested in applying for the position.

“It’s important for us to get a lot of students to apply for the position,” Lawler said. “If we don’t have anyone applying, and we don’t have our Student Government taking that bold stance, then I think we’re sending the wrong message to local leaders.”

Review

Christian Bale stars in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Has there been a film this year more anticipated than “The Dark Knight Rises?” Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman saga has lent an unprecedented level of prestige to the superhero genre, and for the four years since “The Dark Knight,” audiences have been asking if Nolan would be able to stick the landing in his finale. While it’ll take repeat viewings to determine how “The Dark Knight Rises” stands among its predecessors, the film is a truly grand finale, an epic conclusion that beautifully contrasts crushing despair and unyielding optimism.

Eight years have passed since Harvey Dent was killed and Batman slipped off into the night. A bold new act stemming from Dent’s death has freed Gotham from crime, and a retired Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been reduced to limping around his mansion in solitude. However, new problems are always rising, notably in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy), a relentless mercenary with an elaborate plan to bring Gotham to its knees.

Audiences have been bombarded with marketing for the film for the past year, but one of the movie’s simplest pleasures is seeing how the disparate pieces of the story fit together. Nolan has a lot of ground to cover, from Bane’s reign of terror to Batman’s return and to Commissioner Gordon’s (Gary Oldman) overwhelming guilt over his role in Batman’s exile. The film is tightly wound, its pieces precisely measured. Nolan builds an unrelenting momentum throughout, packing the film with grand, elaborate set pieces and establishes small recurring motifs that tie the film’s themes together elegantly.

There’s a definite sense of things ending here, and Nolan operates with pure confidence. He shows the most prowess in his direction of the film’s action scenes, and his use of IMAX cameras gives the film an appropriately epic scale. He also makes some bold choices, taking things to unexpected levels of chaos, and the final battle for Gotham is a marvel, a sweeping orchestra of violence and sacrifice. Even more effective is Batman’s first fight with Bane, a punishing encounter that puts Batman in some very real danger with Nolan staging the throwdown as an intimate but hopeless conflict, the moment when Batman finally meets his limit.

Bane was always an interesting choice for this film, but Nolan deploys a fascinating version of the character, finding strong thematic parallels between his hero and his villain. It helps that Hardy gives an intense, nefarious performance, playing Bane as a strategic and physical menace, and the cold mercilessness Hardy carries himself with is just as frightening as the gnarled mask that nearly swallows his face.

Fellow “Inception” alumni Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard show up here, and while Cotillard plays Miranda Tate with unflappable warmth and professionalism, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as rookie cop John Blake proves to be one of the film’s most valuable assets. Blake has a lot in common with Bruce Wayne, but instead of putting on a mask, he puts on a badge and an uniform, with Levitt bringing a genuine decency and nobility to the character. It’s hard to make a compelling character out of someone so fundamentally decent and sure of himself, but thanks to Levitt’s incredible work, Blake is a vital character — an optimistic beacon in Nolan’s pitch-black universe. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway proves another worthwhile addition to the saga, bringing her easy charm to the slippery Catwoman.

Christian Bale has always been hard to read as Bruce Wayne, and it’s never been clear whether Wayne’s guarded demeanor demonstrated remarkable control or a lack of range. In this film, Bruce is taken to some very low, vulnerable points, and Bale brings out a desperate side to the character, taking visible joy in the slow redemption Bruce earns over the course of the film. One of the few legitimate complaints about “The Dark Knight” was the over-the-top Batman voice, but here, Bale has perfected his hero’s gravelly rasp, using it sparingly and to great effect.

Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman have represented a trifecta of figures that Bruce and Batman look up to, and each of them gets strong moments to play here. Freeman is at his best when he’s letting his twinkling enthusiasm for Bruce’s alter ego out of the bag, while Caine’s performance is more nakedly emotional, full of fear for what Bruce’s return to the cowl might mean. However, Oldman’s take on Commissioner Gordon has always been one of the strongest parts of Nolan’s trilogy, the most decent man in a town desperate for them, and Oldman remains a smart, vital ingredient to the film.

On the technical side, Nolan is working at the top of his game. His creative, extensive use of IMAX technology aside, the film is gorgeously shot by frequent collaborator Wally Pfister, and Hans Zimmer turns in an impeccably constructed score. Zimmer works in small themes for each major new presence in the film, and as things build to a climax, the different musical notes begin intersecting and playing off each other wonderfully. Also worthy of special mention are the film’s sets, which are memorable and detailed, especially the dank, rocky hole in the ground where a massive chunk of the film is set.

Repeat viewings are needed to see how “The Dark Knight Rises” will play in the future, and small nitpicks like plot holes and a few false notes in the closing moments might stick out more. However, that doesn’t make Nolan’s final chapter any less entertaining, the first showdown between Bane and Batman any less terrifying or the fiery return of the bat signal any less triumphant. While “The Dark Knight Rises” isn’t a perfect movie, it’s easily a great one, and when the Dark Knight finally does rise, it’s pure cinema, a moment of catharsis and victory, and an absolutely worthy finale to one of cinema’s best trilogies.

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.”

DALLAS — If it were all about maximizing revenue, the Big 12 as it had existed until two years ago may have been saved, said former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

“If they had done what I had advocated for two years ago, then I don’t think any of the institutions, including Nebraska or Colorado would have had any reason to cite the reasons they did to leave,” Beebe said.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Beebe said college sports world’s two-year obsession with conference realignment was a snowball effect starting with the Big Ten and Pac-10 conference’s desires to expand. The perception of instability in Beebe’s Big 12 that followed led to a constant round of speculation as to which pieces in the conference would fall next. Beebe maintains that, had schools given his policy a shot as well as waited for his assessment of the Longhorn Network, Texas’ controversial $300 million television deal with ESPN, the conference had the ability to remain stable.

“My first year in the conference, I advocated for more equitable revenue sharing, and also two years ago I advocated for sharing media rights more, or at least defining which rights the conference had to sell and which ones the institutions maintained,” he said. “Unfortunately [the original Big 12 teams] didn’t take those actions.”

Then why didn’t the other schools just agree to his plan and save two years of headache? Beebe said the Big 12 was one of the few conferences that wanted to give schools the right to broadcast some of its own games. This is why its teams were able to move around so easily, because unlike in the other conferences where the television rights were handed to the conference leaders, the schools in the Big 12 had more power.

“It was against how the Big 12 always operated, where the commissioner had to go negotiate a deal first and the schools would decide whether to vote for the deal, rather than like in the Big Ten or Pac-12 where the rights were all granted to the conference,” he said. “In all the other conferences frankly, the commissioners have the rights to sell, and there isn’t this negotiation between the schools and the conference to see what they are going to take to the marketplace.”

The conference recently agreed to a right-sharing deal similar to the one Beebe proposed two years ago that will allow it to share tier-one and tier-two television revenue equally. This means that a school turns over the television rights to its best football and basketball games to the conference. If, for instance, Missouri, wanted to leave for the SEC — which continues to be an object speculation — the Big 12 would still make money off of the games it would play against powerhouse teams like Florida, Alabama, LSU or any other team in the conference. The Big 12’s new deal is a six-year commitment.

Nebraska and Colorado left the conference in 2010, followed by Texas A&M this summer. While Nebraska said they left on the grounds of receiving a higher television payday from the Big Ten, the Aggies left because of Texas’ business deal with ESPN.

“Texas A&M didn’t leave because of money, because we were able to demonstrate that they were in line for as much, if not more money in the Big 12,” Beebe said. “[Texas A&M] cited issues with the Longhorn Network. I wish that we would have had a chance to address specifically what they wouldn’t wanted to have happened with that before they went and had meetings with the Southeastern Conference. The issues they were raising were things we would have dealt with most part.“

One of those issues was the Longhorn Network’s intentions to air high school football games, which Texas A&M representatives believed would have given the Longhorns an unfair recruiting advantage. The NCAA recently banned the Longhorn Network from showing high school games, as per its policy, and Beebe said he would have addressed that issue regardless. Beebe received heat from the media and a few university leaders around the conference for a perceived bias towards Texas, which he denies.

“All I ever did was what I thought was best for the overall conference,” Beebe said. “A number of things that I raised and advocated for would have helped Texas, sure, but a number of things I pushed for weren’t great for Texas. At the end of the day the commissioner doesn’t ever try to help one school over the other. I did what was best for the whole.”
And now, just as the Big 12 is preparing to add TCU to its ranks, the man who oversaw the conference during times of its greatest confusion must be happy to see the intercollegiate athletic conference move forward with some sense of stability and purpose. After all, he did try to keep up with expansion trend and add to the Big 12, but his plans were derailed this summer once Oklahoma began considering a conference move.

“We formed an expansion committee during this last summer’s talks of more realignment, but we put it on hold when Oklahoma said ‘well we want to explore our options as well,’” he said. “When that happened we weren’t really going to be able to attract other institutions, because the question then became ‘well who is going to even be [in the Big 12]?”

Beebe made it clear that he has no ill-will towards the Big 12 and that he only wants to see it continue to foster better inter-conference relationships between its teams. He emphasized a clear respect for the conference and hopes that schools will put the considerations of the student-athlete first when considering conference choices.

“The [Big 12] conference is bigger than Dan Beebe. It is something that is of extreme value to this region and this part of the country and I think the best thing for this area is if the conference holds together,” he said. “I have a tremendous amount of care about the conference and its continuation and I was honored to serve. I understand that they needed another voice or whatever, and it’s sad and unfortunate for me personally, but if it is what can help hold the conference together, then that’s great.”

With the addition of TCU and the new grant-of-right deal, it seems as though the Big 12 waters have calmed for now. Nationally though, there are schools still looking to make moves in and out of conferences such as the Big East and Conference-USA. But Beebe cautions against the very tangible possibility of schools exploring realignment options.

“My whole view of the intercollegiate world is that we need to have institutions that compete based on their orientations,” he said. “Where do they get their students and where do their alumni go to work and live? When you disconnect from that, then I think you’re facing some real challenges for the future.”

Printed on October 11, 2011 as: Big 12 plot thickens with developments

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.

Well, the Big 12 is going to stay alive, but Dan Beebe’s time as conference commissioner has come to an end.

Beebe fell on the sword for the Big 12 on Thursday, stepping down as commissioner in order to appease Oklahoma University, which said it would remain in the conference as long as there was a new commissioner in charge.

“I put all my effort into doing what was best for the Big 12,” Beebe said in a statement. “With great fondness, I wish the Big 12 Conference a long and prosperous future.”

Former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas will serve as the interim commissioner.

Beebe, 54, was named commissioner in 2007. He guided the conference through last summer’s thunderstorm, holding strong despite the losses of Nebraska and Colorado. That effort got him a three-year extension to his contract, through 2015.

But he had received recent criticism for being partial to Texas, allowing the Longhorn Network to air a conference game — Kansas.

Beebe’s legacy will be a mixed one. He allowed other conferences to poach Big 12 schools — Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference, Nebraska to the Big 10, Colorado to the Pac 12. But he also kept the conference intact last summer, when it looked to be on its last breath. Beebe also was in charge when the league agreed to a $1 billion TV deal with FOX last spring.

“We sincerely thank Dan who has always demonstrated a total commitment to what is in the best interest of the Big 12 Conference,” said University of Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, also the chairman of the conference’s board of directors.

“His energy, devotion and skill in negotiating on our behalf have been tremendous assets that have benefited our member institutions, our student athletes, our athletic programs and all our fans.”

But his final action — a selfless and brave one — should be commended. And it proves that despite everything else, Beebe cared most about keeping the conference together.

“It is satisfying to know the Big 12 Conference will survive,” Beebe said. “I congratulate the members for taking strong action to ensure a bright future as a premier intercollegiate athletics conference.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Printed on Friday, September 23, 2011 as: "Dan Beebe out as Big 12 head, future unclear for conference."

Column

Head coach Mack Brown celebrates the Longhorns 49-20 win over UCLA on Saturday. His team will remain in the Big 12 for now.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Mack Brown may get what he wants after all.

The longtime Longhorns head football coach has repeatedly expressed his desire to keep the Big 12 Conference intact and maintain regional rivalries. That seemed less and less likely with the Pac-12 Conference becoming a probable destination for Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. But after Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s announcement that his conference won’t expand, the Big 12 could be saved in the 11th hour yet again.

Even if Missouri follows Texas A&M into the SEC, the Big 12 won’t be beyond salvaging. The Big 12 has proven it can make things work with 10 teams but may soon be stuck with eight. Fortunately for the Big 12, the Big East is in an even worse spot with Syracuse and Pittsburgh headed to the ACC (and Connecticut and Rutgers eager to join them).

The Big 12 needs to go after Texas Christian University and West Virginia. TCU is set to become a member of the Big East soon but would be a better fit in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs would make sense geographically and would quickly become one of the Big 12’s most competitive teams.

West Virginia, who was rejected by the ACC and SEC (possibly for academic reasons), clearly wants to leave the Big East for a more stable conference. The Mountaineers would, unlike TCU, provide another television market to explore, as well as great football and men’s basketball programs.

If either of those two teams isn’t willing to come to the Big 12, Louisville is also a viable option. But TCU and West Virginia would put another Band-Aid on the Big 12’s wounds and keep the conference around a bit longer.

Oklahoma’s recent demands for a new Big 12 commissioner and new rules regarding the Longhorn Network (which may be responsible for this whole conference realignment mess in the first place) could be problematic. But the Sooners lost all their leverage when joining the Pac-12 was eliminated as a possible destination. Problem solved.

The ACC is also a potential landing spot for Texas. It’s handled this conference realignment chaos beautifully by realizing it’s not a football powerhouse and playing to its strength: basketball. Look for Connecticut, whose men’s basketball team just won a national title, to join Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the ACC, along with Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish have made it clear they want to stay independent in football, but the ACC would be their first choice if they gave it up. The ACC should let them keep their TV deal with NBC, especially since Notre Dame meets its academic standards.

Texas is beginning to look more and more like Notre Dame now that it has its own network. And, like the Fighting Irish, the Longhorns could go independent. It would make scheduling difficult, especially for teams playing Olympic sports. So, like Notre Dame and the Big East, Texas would likely have to join a conference for its non-football squads to compete in anyway.

Only 24 hours ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Texas was going to the Pac-12. That’s no longer the case, but such is the nature of conference realignment. Just when you’ve finished packing your bags, you find out you’re not going anywhere.

You’re welcome, Mack.

Printed September 22, 2011 as: Big 12 to remain intact, Pac-12 says no to expansion