Big 12 Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on February 1st, 2012

  1. It’s been awhile since we’ve touched on realignment talk, and that’s probably a good thing. During the offseason, it dominated college basketball discussions and seemed to drive us all nuts. After a few months off, though, the topic is back at the forefront. Big 12 officials recently met to discuss the future, and CBS’s Brett McMurphy laid out the possibilities in his latest column. It’s interesting to consider a few of the candidates, including BYU, which has already has shifted from the Mountain West to the West Coast Conference/football independent. There’s also talk of Louisville joining forces with the Big 12… or, it’s possible the league could stay at 10 institutions. Whatever happens, you’ll probably hear these rumors heating up again this summer.
  2. In other boring institutional news, the Big 12 is still searching for a commissioner to replace Dan Beebe. According to CBS, there are at least four candidates in the running for the position. None are household names, but one person caught our eye: Jack Swarbrick. The name shouldn’t sound familiar, but his affiliation should — he’s currently the athletic director at Notre Dame. That program, of course, has been involved in several Big 12 rumors in the past several months. Does this mean anything? Probably not. But it’s something to think about.
  3. It’s only a matter of time before Royce White becomes nationally acclaimed for his breakout season at Iowa State. Especially after his team’s win over Kansas, the Cyclones are starting to make a name for their program under Fred Hoiberg. White’s the big man on campus right now, and he’s just trying to deal with the pressure as it builds. ISU hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2005, so it’s up to White and his crew to change the culture this year in Ames — for good.
  4. On the other hand, Bill Self has never had to change the winning culture at Kansas. He has continued the program’s storied tradition ever since he arrived in Lawrence, and even in a supposed “down year,” he’s got the Jayhawks right in the thick of the Big 12 race. It’s not as though KU’s success this season has surprised us, though. Forget the fact that even Self had concerns about this team heading into the season. It was obvious that Thomas Robinson would shine with more playing time, and it was pretty obvious that the Jayhawks wouldn’t miss a beat. Now, they’ve got to knock off Missouri on Saturday to really show the league who’s in charge.
  5. Depending on your athletic experience, you may have had to add weight or gain muscle mass at some point in your life. It’s a fun idea — to eat anything and everything in front of you– but it’s also a very difficult reality. Michael Cobbins is trying to accomplish that goal right now for Oklahoma State, and he’s totally committed. As in six protein shakes-a-day committed. Since redshirting last season, he says he’s gained 30 pounds. It appears to be helping. His improvement this year is drawing rave reviews from coach Travis Ford, who says he “can’t say enough good things about Mike.”
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Countdown to Armageddon: Is Secession From the NCAA Inevitable?

Posted by rtmsf on July 7th, 2011

In the past eighteen months, those of us who love college sports — NCAA Division I sports, specifically — have witnessed a series of near-misses that has threatened to overhaul and redefine the games we care about so dearly.  The first shot across the bow was the NCAA’s presumptuous near-expansion to a 96-team NCAA Tournament, an idea hatched with dollar signs in its eyes and only quashed when the public and media covering the sport threatened to go Vancouver at the organization’s Indianapolis headquarters.  The second shot was last summer’s conference realignment madness, a tumultuous sequence of fits and starts that didn’t as much change the landscape of the six power conferences as it left everyone shaken by just how brazen and inequitable the system underlying major college athletics has become.

Is the NCAA Tournament As We Know It On Its Last Legs? (Getty/A. Lyons)

The point of these two events — neither of which resulted in sea changes, mind you — is that, as the power and influence of the alpha dogs of college athletics rises, we appear to be pushing closer to a tipping point where we’ll no longer discuss what almost happened rather than what did happen.  The 74 basketball schools (and 66 football schools) that comprise the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC wield the vast majority of everything — dollars, budgets, fans, television contracts, merchandising, etc.  And as their profit margins continue to increase, these schools and leagues are correspondingly irked that their governing body, the NCAA, is getting in their way.  Whether they see the future of intercollegiate sports as allowing the payment of players or involving agents or full-cost scholarships or third-party enforcement of rules, these power schools know that ideas ultimately favorable to their bottom lines are often at odds with the other 250+ NCAA D-I schools.  This is why, despite existing statements to the contrary, many observers believe that the endgame of all of this wrangling will result in a complete secession of the schools from the major conferences to their own separate entity.  Call it the Confederate Collegiate Athletics Association, if you like, but don’t ignore the possibility.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney was recently quoted in a piece by Steve Wieberg at USA Today, and it’s abundantly clear that he (and likely the other power conference commissioners) see an Armageddon-like future to blow up the NCAA as his ‘nuclear option.’

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