Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”
With Jesse Newell out in the Big Apple with the rest of the basketball bunch, we turned to our new prep reporter Benton A. Smith to handle this week's Cliff's Notes from KU football coach Turner Gill's pre-Texas A&M news conference.
Here are some of the highlights from Gill's latest meeting with the media.
KU (2-8 overall, 0-7 Big 12) will play at Texas A&M (5-5, 3-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday in College Station, Texas.
• Reflecting on the overtime loss to Baylor, Gill was proud of the seniors, who showed great leadership. He also thought young players gained experience and were productive. The team is showing work ethic, commitment to culture of building a winning program.
• On the offensive side, after Baylor tied it up Jayhawks came down the field, showed resilience and confidence with score in overtime. That shows they are moving in right direction. On special teams, KU won the battle, and is showing progress. The defense created nine turnovers in last three games. That gives KU a greater chance of winning.
• Safety Bradley McDougald has been creating plays, causing turnovers. He moved from free safety to strong safety this year. The game has slowed down for him. He sees things and reacts. It's still his first year playing on the defensive side of the ball.
• Running back Darrian Miller has done a great job as a young guy. The game is slowing down for him. Being here in spring helped him. He has taken care of the ball. Miller's a hard runner who carries the ball with determination.
• KU has to stay the course as it goes into A&M. There are no new injuries to report.
• On Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman: Gill is very familiar with him due to their time on Green Bay Packers staff. Sherman is a great offensive mind. Aggies will do a lot of play-action, take some shots down field. Another good offensive football team in the Big 12, the Aggies average over 500 yards.
• Gill went to Green Bay trying to be wide receivers coach, ended up in a player development position, helping with young players transitioning to NFL, and serving as a liaison between players and coaches. Sherman was very organized in everything he did, Gill got to zero in on that and it taught him a lot.
• Familiarity with Sherman: Sherman knows what Gill knows and Gill knows what Sherman knows. That kind of cancels out any kind of advantage for either staff. KU will be facing a good front seven. Jayhawks will try to find match-ups where KU may have an advantage, maybe a certain offensive lineman or wide receiver. And also try to address positions where they may be vulnerable.
• A&M defense leads nation in sacks. The Aggies play a 3-4 up front, and that will be a little different to see. They try to cause a lot of havoc for the opposing offense.
• With two games left, the number one priority is playing guys who give KU the best chance to win. The Jayhawks will not necessarily play youngest guys to give them time
• KU is going to have to build on good things that have occurred in the past two losses. Continue to work, coach, believe. When adversity hits, how do you respond?
• The Kansas defense has been more effective past two weeks, which is a credit to players and coaches. They are staying the course, and simplifying a few things on defensive side of the ball. Bottom line: Put the guys in position where they have a chance to play fast. He wants to see that when they watch tape on Sunday.
• Big 12 teams are going to move the ball. You have to create turnovers. When you do that, it brings momentum to team. KU has been more successful of late, because the Jayhawks are staying the course, continuing to work at it. Players have stayed engaged with coaches and vice versa.
• Kyle Field has a noise factor more so than some other places KU will travel to. Players shouldn't be too affected by it. Maybe some guys from Texas will go to their home state and try to do to much, that's a bigger thing to worry about. Gill first went there with SMU, a couple times with Nebraska. The press box was shaking. That was really the only thing that may have been a little unusual. His younger sister, Jackie, graduated from A&M. He joked he will have to see which side of the fence she will be on.
• A&M leaving the Big 12 doesn't have much impact on KU players or coaches and how they will play. They will put together a game plan like any other week.
• Kicking duties: Ron Doherty could be doing both kickoffs and field goals/extra points, but it hasn't yet been determined.
• The Aggies' offense starts with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He really makes it go. He's great at reading defenses and making reads needed to be successful.
• KU QB Jordan Webb's confidence at this point is good. In the last couple games there have been a few plays that didn't go his way. They just need to eliminate those scenarios where a bad play is more probable.
• Gill was animated in the fourth quarter of Baylor game. You get emotional in games sometimes. He was just reacting to what happened on the field. Excitement is part of football.
With Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff against Baylor set to mark the final home game in the careers of 15 Kansas University football seniors, I thought this would be a good time for a quick look back at each guy.
We’ve heard throughout the week, from teammates and coaches alike, what this group of seniors has meant to this team, to head coach Turner Gill and to the university as a whole.
For the most part, their strong character and unselfishness have been the traits most often talked about. Gill said this week that this year’s seniors have been instrumental in buying in to his approach and helping the program move forward with Gill’s philosophies as its foundation.
“I think that shows what type of people they are,” Gill said. “To understand that it’s about the program, the team and the university shows how unselfish they are. The best way to describe this senior group is they are unselfish and they understand the big picture. I think when you’re able to teach young people to look at the big picture, they’re going to be successful as they move along in their lives. I know success in football is about wins, but I think it’s also going to help those guys understand when they go up against things in life, like interviews and jobs and decisions. We all know in our society today that there is so much instability in our country. Football just helps our guys to be prepared to go on in their lives. We can all be proud of this senior group because of how unselfish they are and they realize what the big picture is all about.”
With that in mind, here’s an individual look at each of the 15 KU seniors who will suit up at Memorial Stadium for the final time on Saturday. It comes complete with a mini-bio, a fun fact and a quote from one of KU’s coaches, Gill, Vic Shealy or Chuck Long.
-- It should be noted that even though WR Daymond Patterson is listed as a senior on the roster, he's been injured most of this year and is likely to return in 2012 after applying for a medical red-shirt. --
No. 19 Isiah Barfield — 5-11, 185, Cornerback, Haven High, Haven, Kan.
Major: American Studies
Fun Fact: In addition to playing football, participated in basketball, track and power lifting in high school.
Shealy Says: “He’s guy that’s well liked by his teammates and is respected by our team and staff alike because you won't ever hear him make an excuse for having made a mistake. He just says, `Yes, sir' and goes on. As a coach you respect that."
No. 86 Tim Biere — 6-4, 250, Tight End, Westside High, Omaha, Neb.
Major: Marketing, with political science minor
Fun Fact: Biere also was a stud on defense in high school and his prep baseball team won a state title in 2006.
Gill Says: “Obviously, Tim Biere’s been outstanding. He’s an outstanding blocker, and outstanding receiver.”
No. 37 Brian Blackwell — 6-0, 210, Linebacker, Herington High, Herington, Kan.
Major: Mechanical engineering.
Fun Fact: Skipped a trip of a lifetime to Shanghai, China for the 2010 World’s Fair to stay in Lawrence with his teammates for two-a-day practices.
Gill Says: “He’s been a linebacker and a strong safety for us, too, and he’s a been a really good leader for us. He encourages and he continues to do things well and also is a very, very good student.”
No. 30 Anthony Davis — 5-11, 205, Cornerback, East Central High, Tulsa, Okla.
Major: African and African-American Studies
Fun Fact: Lists bowling as one of his hobbies. Others include: Video games and eating.
Gill Says: “He’s a guy who can do both as far as playing our field corner and our boundary corner. He’s been playing pretty well these last couple of games.”
No. 92 Patrick Dorsey — 6-0, 273, Defensive Tackle, Yates High, Houston, Texas
Major: African-American Studies and communications
Fun Fact: Was a two-year member of the National Honor Society in high school.
Gill Says: “Pat Dorsey, unfortunately, was hurt earlier in the year, and he’s just now getting back from that foot injury and he played well in this last ballgame against Iowa State.”
No. 77 Jeremiah Hatch — 6-3, 308, Center, Carter High, Dallas, Texas
Fun Fact: Likes to rap and is the leader of a regular practice ritual in which he yells out, “Make ‘Em Say, Ugh” in honor of the Master P song.
Gill Says: “He really has matured just in the year I’ve known him. He probably was a little more reserved than I wanted him to be, but if that’s who he is, that’s who he is. But I’ve seen him kind of get out of that shell a little bit. He’s a different guy from last year to this year. There’s no question about it. In every way. As a football player, as a person, academically, everything.”
No. 97 Richard Johnson Jr. — 6-3, 283, Defensive Tackle, Jefferson City High, Jefferson City, Mo.
Major: American studies
Fun Fact: One cousin, Tony Galbreath played 12 seasons in the NFL. Another, Eric Galbreath played fullback at KU from 1993-96.
Gill Says: “Richard Johnson has definitely come on strong and has done well for us. He continues to improve on the defensive side of the ball.”
No. 52 Steven Johnson — 6-1, 237, Linebacker, Strath Haven High, Media, Pa.
Major: Economics with a minor in business
Fun Fact: In addition to playing in the NFL, hopes to someday start a sporting goods franchise and workout facility.
Gill Says: “He is a guy that is all in to the game. He is very passionate about the game of football and has that same passion about how he goes about talking to his teammates. He wants to perform well and he wants to be the best.”
No. 26 Chase Knighton — 5-11, 184, Wide Receiver, Athens High, Athens, Texas
Major: Computer science
Fun Fact: Transferred to KU from nearby Tabor College and spent some time as a quarterback on the Jayhawks’ scout team.
Gill Says: “He’s played a big role on our scout team or compete team and he’s done a good job as a leader, encouraging his teammates. He’s also a very good student.”
No. 6 Rell Lewis — 5-9, 205, Running Back, Muskogee High, Muskogee, Okla.
Major: Communication studies
Fun Fact: As a red-shirt freshman in 2008, finished the year with three tackles.
Long Says: “Don’t forget about Rell, now. He’s a very valuable member of our running back unit because of his experience. He’s played in some games and he’s a little more reliable in pass protection.”
No. 65 Michael Martinovich 6-5, 279, Defensive Tackle, Cascia Hall Prep, Tulsa, Okla.
Major: Plans to go to law school.
Fun Fact: Father, Rob, played football at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gill says: “He’s done pretty good there for us. We moved him from offensive line to defensive line early in the year to make sure we had some depth there and he’s done a good job for us when called upon.”
No. 87 Ted McNulty — 6-5, 235, Tight End, West High, Iowa City, Iowa
Fun Fact: Younger brother, Andrew, is a quarterback at North Texas, where former KU player and coach Clint Bowen is the defensive coordinator.
Gill Says: “McNulty’s been great on special teams, he’s also been a guy that we can play in a couple of different spots at tight end and he’s been very, very solid for us.”
No. 8 Quinn Mecham — 6-2, 210, Quarterback, Timpview High, Provo, Utah
Fun Fact: Has 12 brothers and sisters.
Long Says: “One thing about Quinn, he’s very smart. He’s one of those guys that we don’t think needs a lot of reps to finish the game or whatever the case may be. And I say that, but everybody needs the repetitions. They need that work. He certainly needs the work. But he’s been so good about paying attention and studying the game and paying attention to who’s in there that at least he’s getting that mental rep up.”
No. 74 Jeff Spikes — 6-6, 325, Offensive Tackle, Harvey High, Painesville, Ohio
Major: Communication studies
Fun Fact: Would like to start a private practice in psychology and become a motivational speaker.
Gill says: “We’re really happy with (Spikes) coming back from injury and helping us solidify our offensive line. He’s played well this year, he’s done very, very good with what we’ve wanted to get accomplished and he’s done well in school also.”
No. 11 A.J. Steward — 6-3, 233, Tight End, Riverview Gardens High, St. Louis, Mo.
Major: Health and physical education
Fun Fact: As a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, spent a few minutes after the Cards beat the Texas Rangers in this year’s World Series running up and down the halls rubbing it in to all his teammates from the Lone Star State.
Gill Says: “A.J.’s more of a pass catching tight end and he’s a real good athlete, as well. He’s really been a good leader for this team as a senior, both on and off the field.”
It’s become the story of the century in college football and, for better or for worse, will end the long and storied career of Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno.
Surely, by now, you’ve heard at least some of the details surrounding the horrific story about former Paterno assistant Jerry Sandusky, who, over the weekend, was charged with 40 criminal counts of molesting eight young boys from 1994 through 2009.
At the epicenter of the allegations and the dark cloud hanging over Paterno is an incident from 2002 in the PSU locker room in which Sandusky was caught engaging in improper acts by a Penn State graduate assistant. The coach informed Paterno about what he saw and Paterno then informed Penn State athletic director Tim Curley. No further action was taken and the authorities were not notified.
Therein lies the problem. Today, as Paterno’s legacy hangs in the balance, the debate rages about whether he acted properly. Hundreds, if not thousands, lie on each side of the debate, with many Penn State students and fans showing their support for their beloved head coach and the rest of the world seemingly throwing up its hands in disgust.
Some say Paterno did all that he was required to do and argue that passing the buck to his superiors was the proper move. The Paterno apologists go on to emphasize that the role of head football coach should not and does not include the requirement to be judge, jury and executioner.
Others say Paterno’s decision to basically ignore such heinous acts was pathetic and that he was morally — if not legally — bound to report the criminal activity to the authorities and not just his boss.
While there is no connection between this story and Kansas University, KU football coach Turner Gill was asked about it during his news conference on Tuesday. Gill said the procedure for how to handle any wrongdoings — big or small — within the KU football program was clearly outlined.
“They come and tell myself,” Gill said. “I always tell them that you go to the protocol. As for the players, in most cases, you tell your position coach, you tell your coordinator and then you tell the head coach. Obviously, they can go above that if something’s very, very serious, but you go tell somebody.”
Gill continued: “We give them a list of phone numbers of just about everybody in the athletic department and there is a protocol that we explain to our players, staff, everybody, about anything. We’re not just talking about things of that magnitude, but the main thing, in general, is talk to someone. I’ve told our whole team that, whatever you do, promise me that you won’t isolate yourself.”
Sandusky’s role in all of this is crystal clear. He has been caught and he will be punished, most likely to the fullest extent the law allows.
However, Paterno’s role continues to be one of the most polarizing things I’ve seen in some time. There are those who say Paterno, 84, who has been the head coach at Penn State since 1965, should be punished severely for his role and that he should not coach another game.
Paterno, Wednesday morning, issued a statement announcing that he would retire at the end of the season. Below is the statement, but whether Paterno is allowed to finish the season remains very much in doubt.
"I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case. I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief," Paterno said in a statement released just after initial reports of his pending retirement.
"I have come to work every day for the last 61 years with one clear goal in mind: To serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care. I have the same goal today.
"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can.
"This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more. My goals now are to keep my commitments to my players and staff and finish the season with dignity and determination. And then I will spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to help this university."
The general vibe coming out of the Kansas University football locker room after Saturday’s 13-10 loss at Iowa State was much better than the one we’ve all seen and felt for the past six weeks.
However, even though the Jayhawks played their best defensive game of the season and had a shot to win in the fourth quarter, the outcome remained the same — a seventh straight loss, another week of hard work down the drain, another week closer to the end of a third straight disappointing season.
Taking that notion even further, last Saturday’s performance, though better, did nothing to alter the big picture here. KU coach Turner Gill remains on one of the hottest seats in college football and appears to be headed toward losing his job when November ends.
I have to admit it was good to see KU compete for a change. Several Jayhawks played up to their abilities against Iowa State and made the kind of plays we’ve heard the coaching staff say they’re capable of making throughout the season.
Here’s the sad part — it still wasn’t enough. And the Jayhawks still made far too many mistakes, two missed field goals and a fumble deep in ISU territory being the most devastating of them all.
When you look back at it, I’m not so sure that the close nature of KU’s latest loss had as much to do with the Jayhawks playing well as it did Iowa State playing poorly for most of the game.
Look at the facts: KU still gave up 426 yards of offense, including 251 yards on the ground, and scored just 10 points. KU’s poor tackling problem reared its ugly head on throughout the day but especially on Aaron Horne’s 18-yard TD run in the second quarter. After getting the ball, Horne raced to the left and made his way past seven KU defenders en route to the end zone. Worse than that, five different Jayhawks had a real shot at making the tackle and all five whiffed, leaving a pile of white and blue jerseys around the 10-yard line with Horne dancing in the end zone.
It definitely was not all bad. There were plenty of positive signs and more than a few things that the KU coaching staff can point to as progress. Those things, along with a now bigger-than-ever battle with Missouri looming during the last week of the season, should be enough to keep the Jayhawks working hard for three more weeks.
However, the bottom line is this: Saturday’s game very much looked like a battle for the basement in the Big 12. Neither team looked worthy of finishing higher than ninth in the league, which leads me to believe ISU’s surprising victory over Texas Tech — which probably is the eighth best team in the league — had a lot more to do with Tech’s hangover after beating Oklahoma than ISU being ready to compete at that level consistently.
Still, the Cyclones appear to be in much better shape than Kansas. Paul Rhoads is a fantastic coach, a great motivator and always seems to make strong adjustments before, during and after games. In addition, in red-shirt freshman QB Jared Barnett, the Cyclones appear to have their quarterback of the future in place and gaining experience.
Kansas, meanwhile, seems destined for a new head coach and, heading into 2012, will have questions at just about every position. Running back and safety appear to be in great shape, but the rest of the units remain a work in progress.
If you’re a Jayhawk fan, this latest loss had to come as a relief. At least for a week, the Jayhawks weren’t the joke of the conference or the country and you saw that, if nothing else, these players haven’t thrown in the towel on the season. They deserve a ton of praise for that. Lesser men would’ve done so long ago.
Realignment Today: 6:36 p.m. — KU AD Zenger on MU to SEC becoming official: ‘This news doesn’t surprise us’
6:36 p.m. Update:
Here's a statement from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, who does not seem to be too torn up about the Tigers leaving.
"This news doesn’t surprise us. We wish Missouri all the best in the future. The University of Kansas can now focus on TCU, West Virginia University and the other members of the Big 12 Conference who choose to be with us."
Throughout the past several weeks, Zenger has been disappointed by the way Missouri's decision has overshadowed the Big 12 conference and how the Tigers have dragged things out.
I'm sure he's very relieved that it's over and, although I know he was a big fan of the Border War rivalry, I know he won't waste any time crying about the Tigers leaving.
MU chancellor Brady Deaton said today that there was still some work to be done with Missouri's exit, but, obviously, the ball is rolling that way.
4:02 p.m. Update:
If you care, this website — mutigers.com — says it will carry the celebratory news conference from MU about the Tigers' move to the SEC at 4:30 today.
Here's the link: http://www.mutigers.com/allaccess/?media=278674
In addition, some more reaction surfaced in the past hour or so. First, from interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, and then from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin.
Here ya go:
Neinas on Mizzou's decision
"The decision by the University of Missouri to leave the Big 12 Conference is disappointing. Mizzou has been a valuable member, with a Conference connection to schools in the Big 12 that dates back to 1907. I personally believe this decision is a mistake and that Missouri is a better fit in the Big 12. Once we have received a formal notice of withdrawal from Missouri, we will furnish it to our Board of Directors. The Board will review the situation and take appropriate action."
Smells like some kind of legal action could be forthcoming. It won't change the final outcome but it will drag this thing out a little longer. Oh boy!
"We are pleased that Missouri will be joining Texas A&M in the SEC — the nation's preeminent athletic conference — next season. Like Texas A&M, Missouri is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is a great addition to the SEC in terms of academics, geography, a passionate fan base, and a well-rounded athletic program. I have had numerous conversations with Chancellor Deaton over the past several months, and I know he approached this decision deliberately and methodically as he acted in the best long-term interests of his fine institution. We are excited about what the future holds for both the Aggies and the Tigers as members of the SEC."
More to come. Stay tuned...
12:38 p.m. Update:
Just got the first hint of a reaction from the folks at Kansas University. Here's a statement from KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little:
“We’re sorry to see a century-old conference rivalry end. Missouri’s decision may have implications for fans and for the Kansas City area, but it won’t affect the long-term strength of the Big 12.”
More to come. Stay tuned...
12:26 p.m. Update:
Here are a couple of interesting reads regarding the Missouri move to the SEC. I'm not going to oversaturate you with Mizzou articles here today. I realize most of you don't care about their side of things, only what their decision is.
Still, there are some interesting things being written that are worth a read if you're not completely burnt out on the Mizzou talk.
Here's this from ESPN.com's David Ubben, who says the Big 12 is to blame for losing Missouri.
And this is kind of an interesting look at Mizzou's past success against SEC teams from Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune.
More to come as the day moves along and we wait for the "celebration" in Columbia, Mo., at 4:30 this afternoon.
10:53 a.m. Update:
Well, it took what seemed like forever and dragged us over more peaks and valleys than a ride through the Himalayas, but it's finally official.
The SEC announced Sunday that Missouri would become the league's 14th school, effective July 1, 2012. The Tigers have scheduled a 4:30 p.m. celebration on campus to make the announcement and have invited their fans to join them.
Here's the release from the SEC... And this time it's actually supposed to be on the site:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (November 6, 2011) – The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, acting unanimously, announced today that the University of Missouri will join the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.
The addition of Missouri will increase SEC membership to 14 institutions. The additions of Texas A&M, announced on September 25, 2011, and Missouri, are the first expansions for the SEC since September of 1991 when the University of South Carolina joined the league. The University of Arkansas joined the SEC in August of 1991. With the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, the SEC was the first conference to split into divisions and add a conference championship game in 1992.
“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC,” said Dr. Bernie Machen, President of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida. “The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”
“The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri,” said Chancellor Brady J. Deaton. “In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league.”
Missouri, located in Columbia, will also be the fourth institution in the Southeastern Conference to hold membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities, joining University of Florida, Texas A&M University and Vanderbilt University. Missouri has an enrollment of 33,800 students, which would be the fourth largest institution in the SEC, with Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M having a larger student body. There are more than 260,000 “Mizzou” alumni around the world. The State of Missouri borders three SEC states: Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, and they bring an existing rivalry with former conference foe Texas A&M.
Missouri athletic teams have excelled recently. Its men’s basketball team has made it to the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons and 24 times overall. The Tiger football team has been to post-season bowl games for six straight years and 28 times overall. The softball team has participated in the College World Series each of the last three seasons. The Tigers have won Big 12 Championships in men’s basketball, soccer and softball.
“I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012.”
The Tigers sponsor 20 varsity sports. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving, wrestling, indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country. Women’s sports include basketball, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country and volleyball. Missouri participates in every sport sponsored by the SEC except men’s tennis and the SEC sponsors every sport the Tigers participate in except wrestling.
Missouri's departure from the Big 12, leaves that league with 10 teams for 2012, provided West Virginia can get around a lawsuit from the Big East. The guess here is they will, as some sort of settlement will likely be reached.
What's more, if the Big East adds six teams, as has been speculated, that could help make WVU's departure easier since the league will be changing its structure.
WVU will owe $5 million to the Big East in exit fees. Missouri also will have to pay the Big 12 an exit fee, though, that number has not yet been finalized. It's believed to be in the $20-$30 million range, though sources have said that Mizzou has tried like crazy to negotiate that down.
Stay tuned for more throughout the day. We'll bring some links and other reaction. Don't expect a whole lot of talk from Big 12 country about this, though. Many Big 12 officials are simply glad that this is over and don't want to celebrate the Tigers' decision by drawing more attention to it.
If anything, there's more likely to be some, "See ya, wouldn't want to be ya," talk from folks in the Big 12 than anything else.
Guess we'll see. Stay tuned...
Realignment Today: 1:37 p.m. - Big 12 announces West Virginia as newest member; Self, Zenger and Gray-Little welcome Mountaineers
1:37 p.m. Update
Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self is on board with the addition of the Mountaineers as well.
“I think West Virginia is a great addition (to the Big 12 Conference)," Self said. "Obviously, they bring a national name in multiple sports. And for me selfishly, I like the fact that Coach (Bob) Huggins is back in the league. I think he’ll definitely add some interest to our conference, which will be nothing but good for us.”
12:55 p.m. Update
Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and athletic director Sheahon Zenger released statements just over an hour ago welcoming West Virginia to the Big 12.
“KU supports the addition of West Virginia University to join the Big 12 Conference,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “With their highly competitive teams and loyal fan base, the Mountaineers make an outstanding addition to the Big 12 and Jayhawks look forward to competing against them.”
“We’re excited to welcome West Virginia University,” KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said. “West Virginia is a proud, flagship University with a successful athletics program led by an outstanding individual, Oliver Luck. We look forward to competing against the Mountaineers.”
Kansas governor Sam Brownback is also pleased with the addition of WVU.
11:09 a.m. Update
The Big 12 has announced on its website that West Virginia is the newest member of the conference.
"The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012. The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season. ...
'The Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the Conference,' said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors and President of Oklahoma State University. 'The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12.'
'The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University,' said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. 'It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising.'"
Certain language from the Big 12 in this announcement also serves as the first official comment from the league that Missouri is not expected to remain in the conference.
Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Big 12’s footprint will encompass five states with over 36 million people. More than 4,100 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference.
Now we're getting somewhere. Hoping to get reaction soon.
9:19 a.m. Update:
Stop me if you've heard this one. Reports indicate that West Virginia has been identified as the next team to join the Big 12. An announcement could come as soon as today.
OK, OK, OK... I know we've been down this road before, but, this time, it seems like things are in order and the WVU to the Big 12 talk is 100 percent legit.
Brett McMurphy, of CBSsports.com, filed this report this morning.
In addition, sources close to Kansas University told me late Thursday that Friday could be a big day for the league. Add the two together and it seems evident that the Mountaineers could be in the fold by the end of the day.
We've already been over all the reasons why WVU makes sense for the Big 12. But it seems like money is what made the most sense for West Virginia. By leaving the Big East now, WVU will have to pay an exit fee reported to be around $5 million. If it waits much longer, that number could double.
So what happens to Louisville now? It seems as if the Cardinals will stay in the Big East — at least for now. This, certainly, is good news for the Big East. The loss of WVU and Louisville, along with Syracuse and Pitt, who are headed to the ACC, could have been devastating for the league.
Sources continue to indicate that the Big 12 wants to stay at 10 teams and that is the reason that both West Virginia and Louisville will not be invited to join the league at this time.
We'll be traveling to Austin, Texas, later today so bear with me if I don't get to update this as regularly as I have been. I'll check in before our plane takes off and again when we land.
For now, here's one last piece of news that popped up late Thursday that's pretty darn interesting. It seems that someone at the SEC jumped the gun on announcing Missouri as that league's 14th member. So eager was this person to add the Tigers that the announcement actually made its way onto the SEC web site.
Here's what it said before being taken down.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Given the ever-changing conference paradigm over the past year, the Southeastern Conference has continued to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining its stature as one of the nation’s premier conferences by welcoming the University of Missouri as the league’s 14th member, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Monday.
Missouri joins Texas A&M University as the league’s two new institutions who will begin full membership on July 1, 2012. It is the first expansion of the SEC membership since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference in 1992.
Missouri was a charter member of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907, which became the Big Six Conference in 1964, the Big Eight Conference in 1964 and the Big 12 Conference in 1996.
Geographically, it is a natural fit as the state of Missouri touches more states (Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee) that currently are home to an SEC institution than any other state that is not in the league’s previous 13-member footprint. Like the majority of the cities in the SEC, Columbia, Mo., is a college-centered town with a metropolitan population of 164,283, making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Missouri.
With an enrollment of 32,415, the University of Missouri boasts a strong academic resume, as it is one of only five universities nationwide with law, medicine, veterinary medicine and a research reactor on one campus. Six of Missouri’s sports teams last season led the Big 12 in graduation rate for their respective sports.
Culturally, Missouri is as well known for its barbecue, country music, history and rich tradition as the majority of the current states of the SEC.
Missouri is one of only 35 public U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It will become the fourth SEC school that is part of the AAU, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Earlier today, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom posted on his Twitter account that the web vendor made a mistake and added that no agreement had yet been reached.
Here's more on the mishap from Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune.
Finally, for those interested in reading more about the political involvement in conference realignment, here's a great story from Manu Raju, of politico.com, who dives deeper into the role played by West Virginia senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell.
More to come. Stay tuned...
1:51 p.m. Update:
With plenty of uncertainty and nearly all of the focus surrounding the Big 12's plans for expansion, Missouri's exit to the SEC has dipped below the radar a little bit.
I'm sure that's just fine with Missouri, which, according to this report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, may be getting some ideas from A&M on how to leave the conference.
While that might not come as a major surprise, it should be cause for concern among the remaining Big 12 institutions. The reason? If these two are putting their heads together and joining forces to negotiate their exit fees, the odds increase that both will broker sweeter deals on their way out the door.
You'd like to think the Big 12 would stay strong in this department and say something along the lines of this: "You're leaving us. Pay up or stick around." But, with the way the league has handled just about everything else conference-realignment related up to this point, you have to wonder.
It's a great opportunity for the league, it's members and interim commissioner Chuck Neinas to shine. We'll see if they're up for it.
One more interesting read that doesn't have a lot to do with this right now but references what may have started this whole mess in the first place comes from the student newspaper at the University of Texas. It asks the question: Just what are the benefits of the Longhorn Network anyway?
12:11 p.m. Update:
It looks as if the involvement from three U.S. senators goes back a little farther than a last-ditch effort by each to make their case for their university to join the Big 12.
Dennis Dodd, of CBSsports.com, reports that West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller and Kentucky's Mitch McConnell all had been involved in talks with Big 12 officials prior to this week's craziness. Why am I not surprised?
8:50 a.m. Update:
So after all that work and all the hours spent on saving face, the Big 12 has become a laughing stock once again.
There’s a quick and easy way to make sure this round doesn’t linger and it’s a solution that makes both West Virginia and Louisville happy — add them both.
Thanks to information compiled from a few different sources, it seems we landed in this mess because Louisville was the team that had the support of the most Big 12 universities and West Virginia, with its higher profile and better brand, had the support of the television networks.
No need to play tug of war. Just add both.
Originally, I didn’t think this was possible, or should I say plausible, because I didn’t think the Big 12 had identified a suitable 12th school. If Missouri leaves, that takes the conference down to nine. Adding WVU and Louisville would bump them back to 11, but many believe that 10 or 12 are the only numbers that work. Not true. Sources said Wednesday night that the league could work with 11 teams so long as it was a temporary fix.
Isn’t it funny how TCU seems like an age-old member of the league by now?
Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Louisville makes the most sense, particularly geographically. Here’s a look at what else he had to say.
The funny thing in all this — from all the uncertainty and wishy-washy ways to involvement from the U.S. Senate — the Big 12 is actually in this mess because its new leadership, under the direction of interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, simply tried to behave in the opposite way the league functioned before. Rather than being reactive, Neinas has tried to be proactive. It’s admirable, to be sure, but it also serves up a valuable lesson, one that everyone everywhere would do well to retain: Make sure all your ducks are in a row before you act.
As Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel says, this one can’t be blamed on Dan Beebe.
But before we go looking for anyone to blame, let’s just hope it all gets solved once and for all.
If Missouri leaves and the Big 12 wants to add WVU and Louisville there are options. Good ones. They could revisit the idea of adding BYU, though that continues to look like a longshot. They could go full-speed-ahead in the effort to add Notre Dame in some capacity, a scenario that continues to have legs. Or they could take the gamble and go with the less popular options that some Big 12 folks are pushing and go after San Diego State or Tulane. They may not be the most attractive schools right now but both have great potential and are in great markets.
Just think what becoming Big 12/BCS schools could do for them.
Oh, and just because it wouldn’t seem right without being totally dysfunctional, apparently Oklahoma is perturbed by talk earlier this week of a Big 12 Network. It’s just one thing after another with this conference right now.
Despite having two victory parades in our rearview mirrors, there’s still a long way to go in all of this. However, instead of focusing on the big picture, which can be pretty overwhelming, let’s hope the Big 12 tries to win the small battles one at a time.
First up, getting Missouri to make up its mind. After that, sort out the WVU/Louisville mess and decide if you’re looking for one more or picking between the two.
Realignment Today: 5:50 p.m. - More signs point to Big 12 liking 10 as U.S. government gets involved
5:50 p.m. Update:
More signs starting to roll in that the Big 12 is prepared to stay at 10, whenever it gets there. Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino gave his thoughts on the ongoing realignment saga.
Pitino, who firmly is against the idea of the Big East's demise, said he had no idea which university would be the Big 12's 10th but added that West Virginia heading to the Big 12 was not yet 100 percent certain.
Here's the link. Pitino has a small role in all of this, but it's interesting to follow, nonetheless. You never know the motives a coach has for saying what he says. Take a look.
4:38 p.m. Update:
Evidently, McConnell's efforts here reached all the way to Kansas.
According to a Tweet posted on Tuesday morning from @kcchamberGOV, McConnell reached out to a U.S. senator from Kansas, Jerry Moran, and asked him to lobby KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to talk to the Big 12 about admitting Louisville.
The Tweet (link above) attributes the information to Moran, who was hosted by the Greater KC Chamber on Tuesday.
4:09 p.m. Update:
I said a while ago that the longer this thing drags on, the more crazy it becomes. It looks as if that's accurate.
Reports are now surfacing that West Virginia senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin have weighed in on realignment and are calling for senate investigations if any type of tampering is responsible for the hold up. Wow.
Here are the quotes, which come in reaction to reports that Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell may have been involved in blocking WVU's move to the Big 12 so that his alma mater, Louisville, would still have a shot to make its way to the Midwest.
First, from Rockefeller:
"The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”
And, this from Manchin:
"If these outrageous reports have any merit – and especially if a United States Senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made – then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get the truth. West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports."
As much as involvement from U.S. senators makes you think this thing's getting serious, it's actually quite the opposite as the whole thing looks like more of a joke than ever. Wow.
For more on the McConnell involvement, check out the following links:
3:03 p.m. Update:
With Big 12 expansion now delayed, let's jump back in to where we were before the whole West Virginia to the Big 12 talk started.
A couple of things, real quick. I've noticed that people out there are blasting many members of the Big 12 media for messing this up. It's important for people to remember that this story — realignment — is unlike any story ever covered. It's fluid, it changes often, sometimes every hour, and things that are correct and real one minute can be completely off base a few hours later. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is with this mess. We'll get there, though.
OK, moving on.
One thing I stumbled upon a few minutes ago that I thought was very interesting was a Tweet from Chuck Carlton, of the Dallas Morning News that says MU chancellor Brady Deaton will be traveling to India on Tuesday to speak at a conference on radiopharmaceuticals. At the risk of looking like Captain Obvious, I'm guessing that the Mizzou portion of all this will be wrapped up before then.
Then again, that may not be possible.
With WVU and Louisville fighting to become the 10th member of the Big 12, many people are wondering why the league can't or won't just add them both. It's a good question. But sources tell me that Missouri's uncertainty, along with the fact that the rest of the field yields no attractive candidates have the league reluctant to move beyond 10.
If.... Big IF here.... the Tigers somehow have a change of heart or are rejected at the last minute, the league could look at bringing Mizzou back and adding WVU and Louisville to get to 12. I could see that happening. But that's only if the Tigers shun or are shunned by the SEC, which is harder to see happening.
What about BYU, you ask? Here's an interesting take from BYU's football coach that sheds some light on why the Cougars might not be a good candidate.
It's believed that the hold up here might be because the Big 12, which reportedly voted to accept WVU on Monday, is now split on adding Louisville or WVU.
Although it's not up to him, Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville had some interesting things to say about why Louisville's the more attractive option.
Still trying to talk to some people to find out exactly where we're at and where we're headed.
2:04 p.m. Update:
The more this goes on, the crazier it gets. How crazy? According to Brett McMurphy, of CBSsports.com, the Big 12 had a press release ready to go to announce West Virginia as its newest member.
I'll be back quickly with another update on all angles.
12:28 p.m. Update:
Well, leave it to conference realignment to show us one thing: Things are not always what they seem to be.
Tuesday, the talk throughout the college sports world was that, with Missouri leaving the Big 12 — which is still happening, by the way — West Virginia would join TCU as the newest member of the league.
There remained plenty of details to be worked out, such as when they would join, how much they'd have to pay the Big East to leave and what the Big 12 would do next, but it seemed certain that the folks from Morgantown, WV, were Big 12 bound.
Today, according to multiple reports, the move is on hold as the Big 12 seeks more information on West Virginia and Louisville (remember them?) makes another play to slide into the Big 12's 10th spot.
Pete Thamel, of The New York Times, wrote today that the whole thing is in a holding pattern and that it's a 50-50 deal between WVU and Louisville.
Many have asked why the Big 12 can't just add both and I think that would be an option if there were a solid 12th team out there. Right now, with BYU looking less likely and teams like Cincinnati, South Florida, Boise State and others looking less appealing, it just doesn't seem like going to 11 and then being stuck is something the Big 12 wants to explore. Beyond that, UT and OU have made it very clear that they would like the league to stay at 10. If there were a no-brainer 12th and the league could add Louisville, WVU and, say, Notre Dame, then I think OU and UT could get over it. But moving away from their ideal number just to add Cincinnati does not appear to be a concession they're willing to make.
So now we wait. At this rate, it seems likely that Missouri will make its intentions official before the Big 12 does.
But, hey, doesn't that seem about right?
2:28 p.m. Update:
At this point, it would be far more shocking if the Tigers did not leave and West Virginia did not become the Big 12's 10th team.
That's where we're at with regard to conference realignment and how it affects the Big 12.
What we don't know, though less, remains substantial.
For starters, we're still trying to nail down whether adding West Virginia and sticking at 10 will be the way the Big 12 goes or if the league will look to add a couple more teams, Louisville, Cincinnati, BYU and others among them.
Sources have told the Journal-World repeatedly and for the past couple of weeks that the league will stay at 10 once Missouri leaves and West Virginia is added. Mizzou's announcement could come today and reports indicate that a similar announcement regarding WVU would come quickly after that.
That's for now. The possibility certainly still exists that the Big 12 would look to expand back to 12 in the near future, be that with one of those teams already mentioned or perhaps some school a little more outside of the box such as South Florida, Tulane, Notre Dame or Boise State.
The other big question that looms now is how quickly all of this can happen. Will Missouri be able to join the SEC next season like Texas A&M or will the Tigers have to spend one final year in the Big 12? I'm sure if it's up to MU, they'll be gone immediately, but, sources have told me, that could impact the final figure in the exit fees MU would have to pay. It's a sticky situation and one that could take this whole thing on a turn for the worse long after the actual decision has been made.
Along those same lines, West Virginia may be stuck in the Big East for 27 months like Syracuse and Pitt, which announced in September that they were leaving the league for the ACC.
As with any of these types of situations, money will play a huge role. Perhaps Syracuse, Pitt and WVU can up their exit fees in order to get out earlier. At this point, it does not look like the Big East is interested in letting them go before the waiting period expires. But more money could change their minds.
The other thing that could change things is the fact that WVU's move could do permanent damage to the league. If UConn and Rutgers follow Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC — as has been rumored for some time — that could be the final blow to the Big East as we know it, freeing up every school in that conference that plays football to look for a new home. It's likely that no matter what happens, the basketball members of the Big East would stick together in some form or another.
So there you have it. We're closer to some answers and still days, weeks, maybe even months, away from others.
Par for the course in conference realignment, I guess.
10:49 a.m. Update:
One more re: West Virginia to the Big 12. Pete Thamel, of The New York Times, writes that it's all but done.
Thamel also said that sources told him the Big 12 is content to stay at 10 after adding WVU.
This thing may be coming to a close, folks.
10:23 a.m. Update:
After making a series of brief comments to KOMU-TV late Monday night (see 10:39 update below), Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton picked up where he left off on Tuesday morning, commenting on radio shows and to reporters about where the Tigers currently stand.
The consensus? Mizzou is headed to the SEC. Deaton said a formal announcement could come in "days" and likely would not take more than "a week or two." The actual decision, which seems to already have been made, could be revealed much sooner, perhaps as soon as today.
Here's the gist of what Deaton has said so far today, courtesy of a series of Tweets from Dave Matter, MU beat writer for the Columbia Tribune, and Vahe Gregorian, MU beat writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
• Deaton says he regrets the "wish them well" line from last night's interview. Added that abstaining from the voting all day at Big 12 meetings inspired the "them" mentality.
• Deaton expressed an urgency in wanting to get this thing put behind him so that Mizzou and the Big 12 could both move on.
• Deaton said he hoped to have some issues resolved by the end of the day. Those "issues" could include making the news final but not yet formal.
• Deaton made it clear that there's nothing the Big 12 can do to save the Tigers now.
• Deaton: "Our head has to outweigh our heart... because the heart won't lead to where the university needs to be going."
With the Mizzou news seeming firm, the focus shifts to what's next for the Big 12. Conference officials have vowed that they have a Plan A and a Plan A-1 and things will move quickly once MU makes its intentions known. SI.com, through comments from the Big East, seems to think that means West Viriginia to the Big 12 is a done deal.
Brett McMurphy, of CBSsports.com, also filed a report saying WVU is on deck and an invitation from the Big 12 will be extended within 24-48 hours of Mizzou's departure announcement.
One more thing before I head off for the new few hours to hear Turner Gill talk about KU's match-up with Texas this week, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com filed this report about the idea of Notre Dame joining the Big 12 in all sports but football.
Enjoy. I'll check back in when we're done with Gill.
10:39 p.m. Update:
It took a while, but we finally got something out of Columbia, Mo.
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton spoke tonight to KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo., regarding the Tigers ongoing dilemma of staying in the Big 12 or heading to the SEC.
Here's the bulk of what Deaton said:
"There's no delays here at all. There's some very specific things that have to be adressed. We want to address those. We really can't rush these things. These are things you can't rush. I know fans get impatient I gotta say I'm very sympathetic. What I hope they will understand that this is not a set of issues that one can just press a button and be done with it. There are some issues that have to be adressed on behalf of the University of Missouri and that's what we're doing, looking out for the University of Missouri."
According to the station's report on its web site, when Deaton was asked if MU had enough votes to join the SEC, he said: "I'll let them speak for themselves, we're reasonably clear about where we stand."
Here's the link to the report, which includes video of Deaton's comments.
Maybe tomorrow. Stay tuned....
5:49 p.m. Update:
Internet and Twitter reports now indicate that a move by Missouri to withdraw from the Big 12 may not happen today. Those same reports, however, indicate that the move remains imminent.
Multiple media outlets that cover the Tigers posted such news a short while ago. Some expressed that they were surprised the move did not happen today. One, via confirmation from interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, said the Tigers did not submit their withdrawal from the league nor notify Big 12 officials of their intention to do so.
Cold feet? Change of heart? Or simply Missouri being Missouri?
Who knows. Maybe we'll find out more tomorrow... Or perhaps still tonight.
5:23 p.m. Update:
The first inkling of news from the Big 12 or Missouri just surfaced on the Big 12's official web site.
Here's what the league had to say regarding today's meeting:
In a regularly-scheduled meeting today at an undisclosed Dallas area location, the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors reaffirmed previous action to execute institutional grants of Tier 1 (over-the-air) and Tier 2 (cable) television rights to the Conference.
The Board also discussed a wide range of topics including NCAA legislation, the Bowl Championship Series, and exploration of a Conference dedicated TV network. Additionally, a strong desire for the University of Missouri to maintain its Big 12 affiliation was expressed. All 10 member institutions and TCU participated in the meeting.
Let's see where it goes from here.
3:55 p.m. Update:
More speculation out there about who will replace Missouri in the Big 12. Most believed that replacing Texas A&M with TCU was a pretty good score for the league. TCU may not quite be what A&M is today. But joining the Big 12 certainly gives TCU that type of potential long-term.
So what will it take to equal Missouri? Not nearly as much. It's obvious, by now, that Louisville, West Virginia and BYU are among the top candidates to join the league.
Nailing down any of those three will take some work. With that in mind, there has been more speculation out there that includes names like Tulane, South Florida and even San Diego State.
Here's a recent take from Mikie DeCourcy of The Sporting News on the possibility of adding South Florida. I'm all for it. I'd love regular trips to Tampa.
Regardless of which school or schools the Big 12 would add once Mizzou leaves, it looks as if it may happen quickly. The following, from ESPN Dallas a couple of days ago, includes comments from OU athletic director Joe Castiglione on the Big 12's plans.
Still waiting for word from Columbia, Mo. Everything and everyone is eerily quiet right now.
2:38 p.m. Update:
Gabe DeArmond, of PowerMizzou.com, just Tweeted that he's hearing more confirmations that the Tigers will announce plans to leave the Big 12 today.
No time frame given, but the guess here is that it'll be in the next couple of hours.
2:07 p.m. Update:
While we wait, here are a couple of things I've been able to nail down in the past several days from pretty good sources... Nothing for sure on any fronts yet but interesting to note, nonetheless.
• BYU not likely to join the Big 12. There was interest from both parties, but there are a lot of hang ups that make this marriage tough to envision.
• Bohls' report that WVU is the leader makes sense because of the strength of the WVU football program, but I don't think the gap between WV and Louisville is very big at all. There's serious interest on Louisville's part about joining the Big 12 and, obviously, the Big 12 at least has interest in Louisville. One possible hang up here is if the trio of Louisville, WVU and Cincy want to come as a packaged deal. Not sure they have the leverage to do that, but they might if BYU is out and the Big 12's next option beyond those three is someone like Tulane or South Florida (just tossing out names there).
• Heard multiple times and from multiple sources that Texas wants the league to stay at 10. At the same time, several coaches and even a few administrators have said that 12 is the better number. It's nothing to get alarmed about, but this could be the next battle that catches headlines once Missouri makes up its mind. My guess is that this decision won't come down to making UT or anyone else happy. It will come down to the attractiveness of the schools willing and able to join the Big 12. If there are 3 that everyone likes, they'll go back to 12. If there are only one or two, they'll stay at 10.
• Lastly, I feel more and more certain that if MU leaves the Border War is finished. I know that's no revelation, but people are still speculating on what will happen. If you have the chance to make a bet on this, bet that the rivalry's done. Just don't bet big.
1:41 p.m. Update:
Looks like there was a little bit of a travel delay for some Big 12 administrators on the way to Dallas. Definitely slowed down the day's news. But it seems that everyone's there now and I'm sure talks are ongoing.
Should be an interesting afternoon.
11:54 a.m. Update:
By now, you all know that the entire Big 12 is waiting on Missouri to make a decision between staying in the league it has called home for the last 16 years (and then some, if you go back to the Big Eight, etc.) or heading off to the supposed greener pastures of the SEC.
We're now well into our second month — second year, some would say — of waiting on the Tigers and it's quite clear that some, if not most, people around the conference are getting tired of the wait.
The word that came from MU last Friday seemed to tip the Tigers' hand. In the days since then, the MU to the SEC movement has picked up a lot of steam, with several different media outlets expecting a announcement to that end to come sometime today.
One big question surrounding all of this is whether the Tigers have an official offer from the SEC. There's nothing official yet and there won't be until the Tigers pull out of the Big 12. Think back to how the SEC handled the Texas A&M move. It was done this exact same way, with one SEC official even saying that the league would not touch the Aggies until they "broke up" with the Big 12.
That's where we're at with Missouri and that's just smart business by the SEC. No need to open yourself up to legal issues if you don't have to.
Having said that, you can bet there's some sort of under-the-table, handshake deal in place if MU is going to go so far as to pull out of the Big 12, which now looks very likely.
The Big 12 board of directors are meeting in Dallas today. One of the topics of that meeting is how to handle Missouri. So now we wait. Will the Tigers be the first to act here or will the league beat them to the punch and issue an ultimatum of sorts? At this point, it would be a great move for the league to go ahead and do that.
Think of it as the same thing as the Pac-12 jumping ahead of OU's announcement that the Sooners were returning to the Big 12. Who looked foolish and who looked strong in that instance?
Getting back to that notion of people getting tired of waiting on the Tigers, here's a link to Kirk Bohls' blog in the Austin American-Statesman which includes quotes from two unnamed Big 12 administrators regarding their disdain for the Tigers and what might be the next move for the Big 12.
The money quotes from the blog are:
On what's next for the Big 12:
"I’d say West Virginia is the leader in the clubhouse. I think we’ll come out better than before. I’d rather be with someone who wants to be with our conference than anybody who doesn’t.”
On why bringing in WVU would make the league stronger:
“West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They’re better, anyway you turn ‘em. The travel’s not good (to Morgantown, W. Va) but that’s it.”
More to come as word from today's Big 12 meeting starts to leak. We'll also keep an eye on what's happening in Columbia, Mo.
Realignment Today: 4:17 - KU AD Zenger releases statement as all signs point to Mizzou exit from Big 12
4:17 p.m. Update:
The following statement from KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger was released a few minutes ago.
“KU-Missouri is a great rivalry. The University of Kansas is a great Midwestern school, loyal to our Midwestern conference and to our Midwestern roots. The KU-Missouri rivalry belongs in the Big 12 Conference. Should Missouri decide to leave the Big 12, we would wish them well.”
Couple of things:
Notice there's nothing in there about continuing to play the Tigers. In fact, if you read into it you'll see that his stance that the KU-MU rivalry belongs in the Big 12 could mean this: You leave, we're done.
Notice that Zenger continues to push the Big 12 and KU's place in it. The guy and this university have been loyal to the league from minute one. They'll continue to be loyal from here on out.
Notice the emphasis on the Midwest. Missouri is not south or east.
All subtle statements, for sure, but it's clear that there will be no love lost between KU and MU if the Tigers leave.
That said, some sources continue to suggest that the Tigers did what they did to day in an attempt to get a better offer from the Big 12 Conference. It's not a bad move, but if they think for a second that the league is going to treat them the way it treated Texas, and to a lesser extent OU, when they threatened to leave, the folks at MU are kidding themselves.
3:17 p.m. Update:
Here's a good recap of what went on today from Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune.
Still working the phones to get more reaction, statements, if anyone else is interested in speaking today.
2:24 p.m. Update:
Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas released the following statement regarding Mizzou's "action" today:
"We look forward to discussing Missouri's future with the Big 12 Conference. The school has been involved with the Big 12 and its predecessor conferences since 1907. It is propitious that the Big 12 Board of Directors has a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday. Obviously, Conference membership will be thoroughly discussed at that time."
For those, like me, who aren't sure what propitious means, here's the first definition from dictionary.com: [pruh-Pish-uhs] adj., presenting favorable conditions; favorable.
Sounds like Neinas believes the meeting comes at a good time.
2:03 p.m. Update:
Before I jump in, here's a quick recap from the Associated Press regarding Missouri's startling announcement today that sounded an awful lot like the one they made a couple of weeks ago.
This is what the realignment saga has become in the Big 12. Everyone else is all-in and on board, but the Tigers continue to drag their feet. I'm sure they have their reasons. Again, moving to a different conference is not something that should be done overnight or without serious thought. But this is bordering on the ridiculous now.
Since the announcement, which came around 12:30 p.m. today, I've tried to track down some reaction from around the Big 12. The general consensus among those I've talked to is this: We're tired of Missouri's drama and we're ready for them to make a decision. If that means they're gone, we'll live.
Here's the AP report:
Kansas City, Mo. — The governing board of the University of Missouri has given its chancellor the authority to move the school out of the Big 12 Conference if that's what the school decides to do.
Chancellor Brady Deaton was given the authority following a two-day Board of Curators meeting that wrapped up Friday.
Missouri remains in the Big 12 and Deaton said discussions about alignment are ongoing. He says a "decision will be undertaken expeditiously."
Missouri is believed to want to leave for the Southeastern Conference. The Big 12 already has lost Nebraska and Colorado and will lose Texas A&M next year when TCU joins.
That's not all that was said today, though. And it's the other language that seems to indicate the Tigers just tipped their hand.
In addition to giving Deaton the authority to act — again — MU's curators announced that they have given Deaton the authority to explore the idea of playing a mid-season college basketball tournament to be played in Kansas City and an annual football game at Arrowhead Stadium against a regional rival.
Sounds an awful lot like the Tigers trying to save face with the folks in KC on their way out the door to me. Also sounds like that "regional rival" reference points to KU. Just as KU men's basketball coach Bill Self said a couple of weeks ago, sources have told me that if MU leaves the Border War rivalry would likely be dead. At least for a while.
More reaction to come throughout the day.
Congrats to Bill Reiter, of FOXSports.com, who landed the much-coveted interview with former KU coach Mark Mangino this week.
Mangino, out of coaching since being forced to resign at Kansas following the 2009 season, has been quiet about all things coaching since leaving Lawrence and moving to Florida with his wife.
Although the former KU leader has been spotted on various sidelines in friendship and consulting roles during the past couple of seasons, he's said nothing publicly about his desire to return until today.
In Reiter's column, which can be found here, Mangino talks about how much he misses coaching and how he's ready to get back in the game.
For those who know the man, this is hardly a surprise. If anything, the fact that he was able to stay away for so long is the surprise.
Although he defends the way he ran the KU program — and let's not forget that the guy was in charge during some of KU's most successful years — Mangino says he learned some things from how it all went down and vows that there are things he would do differently. Admirable, no doubt, but also necessary. No athletic director in the country would hire Mangino without hearing those words.
That brings us to Reiter's most interesting point, one that surely will draw mixed reviews from KU fans.
Although Turner Gill is only in his second year at Kansas, Reiter says it's time for the Jayhawks to bring Mangino back.
What's more, he says it's time for KU to do it before K-State does.
It's a good read, with some great comments from the former KU coach. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess.
Well, here we are at the midway point of the 2011 season and the Kansas University football team has been hard to figure throughout the season.
Although I’m guessing the Jayhawks, at 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Big 12 play, are about where most people predicted they would be at this point, I’m not sure anyone saw the first half of the season going the way it did. Myself included.
Raise your hand if you thought Jordan Webb would spend a good chunk of the first seven weeks of 2011 ranked in the Top 10 in passing efficiency, if you thought the KU defense would flirt with being the worst — statistically — in college football history or if you thought the Jayhawks would have to face seven undefeated teams in the first seven games. If your hand’s up, you’re probably lying.
The Kansas offense has been better than we thought and even has approached the point of being called solid. Had it not been for an awful second half against the Sooners, I would’ve considered the KU offense’s first-half performance well above average. As it stands, I still think they outperformed what was expected of them and should continue to do so as the season rolls on.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the offense, defense, special teams and coaching for the Jayhawks so far this season. I’ll give an overall grade and then list the top five players from each unit. If you agree, great. If you don’t, light me up.
Better than we expected but still lacking productivity from wide receivers not named D.J. Beshears and JaCorey Shepherd. Will someone step up as Jordan Webb’s go-to guy in the second half?
Passing: B -
Top Five Performers:
1. James Sims — Entered the season as top tailback but was hearing footsteps from those behind him. All he’s done is cement himself as the team’s best back and the offense’s best player. On his way to another spectacular season.
2. Duane Zlatnik — Really, this could be a vote for the entire offensive line, which has been great in run blocking and good in pass blocking. But Zlatnik has been the star of the bunch. He’s had a couple of monster games and leads the team in butt-kicking blocks.
3. Tim Biere — Has quietly put up all-Big 12 type numbers while being one of the most reliable targets for his quarterback. Most of the time, Biere’s plays are simply solid. But every now and then, he makes a spectacular play and reminds you just how good he is.
4. Jordan Webb — Through 4 games, Webb was outstanding. He played smart, managed the offense, made great decisions and a few tough plays and showed why he earned the job without much of a fight from the others. Since Big 12 play began, Webb’s interceptions are up and his efficiency is down. His confidence remains high, though, so look for him to bounce back in the next few games.
5. Darrian Miller — Shows, at least once a game, why the coaching staff was so excited to land him. Has great balance, good vision, runs hard every time and has the ability to go the distance. In short, he’s been everything they said he would be all offseason and then some.
Too many big-yardage games, too many points and too many records have been set against this defense in the first half of the season. Something has to change. They showed signs of life last week against OU by playing faster and tougher. If that’s a sign of what’s ahead, these marks could go up substantially by the end of the season.
Passing: D -
Top Five Performers:
1. Steven Johnson — There’s been no doubt about who the best player on Kansas’ defense has been this season. And it appears as if the senior linebacker is getting better each week. Leads the team in tackles (63) by 23 over second place.
2. Toben Opurum — Opurum has been good, not great, so far this season and finally looks as though he feels comfortable on defense. While continuing to learn on the job and get better, he leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
3. Tyler Patmon — So smart and so skilled, he finally seems to have overcome the injuries that plagued him during the season’s first few weeks and has been in the right spot nearly every time during the past several games. Look for a second half similar to the one he had last season.
4. Bradley McDougald — Still a work in progress in terms of adjusting from offense to defense, but has shown why the coaches moved him there in the first place. He’s strong in run support and athletic enough to play the pass. Third in tackles (36) and tied for the team lead in pass break-ups. Also has one of KU’s six sacks.
5. Darius Willis — Started slow but has shaken off the rust in recent weeks and seems poised for a big second half. Second on the team in tackles (40) and tackles for loss (5). Willis will flourish if the coaches continue to simplify their schemes.
KU SPECIAL TEAMS:
All in all, the special teams have been a major disappointment for KU this season. The return game has been nonexistent and the kicking game has been below average. If not for the strong showing by the Jayhawks’ punt team, this unit would be a disaster. The coaches have to find a way to spark things in this department, be that with different personnel or new philosophies.
Return game: C -
Kicking game: B -
Top Five Performers:
1. Ron Doherty — Averaging 43.6 yards-per-punt, including seven kicks of 50 yards or more and six downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
2. D.J. Beshears — What few big returns the team has belong to Beshears, who continues to show that he’s a weapon with the ball in his hands.
3. Tanner Gibas — The freshman long snapper has made a big-time difference and is partly responsible for KU’s success in the punting game.
4. Ben Heeney — His tenacity on special teams has caused the coaches to search for ways to get him more playing time on defense. The guy simply goes all-out all the time and has no regard for protecting his body. He’s a beast.
5. Huldon Tharp — Though still not completely recovered — physically or mentally — from his injuries, Tharp took to his role as special teams captain and has given 100 percent on every play. Not necessarily easy to do for a former freshman All-American.
The offensive coaches have taken huge strides from last season and the defensive coaches still seem to be adjusting to the loss of defensive coordinator Carl Torbush in the offseason. There’s no question that these guys are working hard and trying to shake things up every week. Their biggest problem continues to be second-half adjustments and until they can figure out that riddle, the struggles are likely to continue.
Good afternoon and welcome to another week of conference realignment madness.
While things have calmed substantially in terms of where Kansas University might be headed — it’s clear that the Jayhawks are staying in the Big 12 — the threat of realignment still looms and currently seems to be affecting at least three other conferences, perhaps more.
Just as they like it, the Missouri Tigers are at the center of this latest round and they have been for quite some time. In case you haven’t cared, haven’t paid close attention or simply haven’t noticed, here’s a quick recap of what Mizzou has been up to.
• Summer 2010 — The Tigers openly flirt with their dream league, the Big Ten, sparking a string of realignment unlike any we’ve ever seen. The end result sent Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big Ten and left the Big 12 with 10 teams.
• Early August 2011 — After talk of Texas A&M to the SEC turned serious, the Tigers were rumored to be one of the SEC’s targets for a 14th school.
• Late August 2011 — Despite the rumors continuing to fly, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton and athletic director Mike Alden remain committed to the Big 12 and, in many ways, serve as the face of the fight to save the league.
• Mid-September 2011 — The Big 12 is saved, thanks largely to the Pac-12 deciding against expansion and everyone believes it’s time to move on with a new commissioner and a unified league. Everyone except Missouri.
• Early October 2011 — After Deaton resigns his post as the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, Missouri curators authorize Deaton to act on behalf of the university in any future realignment discussions.
And, with that, we’re caught up. Taking last summer’s episode out of the equation, the prevailing thought from those I’ve spoken with throughout the league has been that Missouri was going to stay and was simply just soaking up its time in the spotlight. As the days and weeks went by, however, those feelings, which started out close to 100 percent, slowly weakened. After each move or announcement Missouri made, the percentage would dip.
It reached its lowest point during conversations last week, in which multiple sources said it’s now 50-50 for the Tigers to stay or go.
Although that news seems to be ominous for the future of the KU-MU rivalry, it actually won’t do much to harm the league. Is the Big 12 better with Missouri in it? Perhaps. But will the league be crippled if the Tigers leave? Nope. They proved that by adding TCU despite Missouri’s uncertainty. And, if MU leaves, they’ll add another team or three and be just fine.
That’s the part of this whole equation that doesn’t quite add up. Sure, Missouri is a valued member of the Big 12 and one that the league would like to keep. But it seems to me — and to others — that the Tigers are overvaluing their place in all this.
Maybe that comes from the SEC reaching out and asking them to join. Maybe the Tigers got big heads when they heard that someone else wanted them and they haven’t been thinking right ever since.
Forget what the Tigers’ departure would do to the Border War or the rest of the conference. Kansas City stands to be the biggest loser in all this, and it’s quite clear that the Tigers — at least the ones who are making this decision — don’t really care. No more Big 12 tournament, no more conference affiliation, no more city divided. Just a bunch of KU fans, with a smattering of purple and a handful of misplaced and abandoned supporters of the black and gold.
Those who cover Mizzou a lot more closely than I do seem to think it’s only a matter of time now.
This report, from Mr. SEC, quotes Mizzou’s Rivals.com site, PowerMizzou.com, as saying the ball could be rolling on a move by the end of the week.
And here’s a good take from The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel on how Mizzou’s decision impacts future Big 12 expansion.
The bottom line is this: We’ve reached the point where people are ready for Missouri to do whatever it’s going to do. If they’re leaving, great, get on with it, go. If they’re staying, stop making this about you and jump on board with the rest of the league in its effort to move forward.
The official paperwork on the granting of television rights is expected to be signed soon. After the nine schools on board in the Big 12 sign it, it will be sent to Columbia, Mo., and will act as an ultimatum of sorts.
It’s not the strongest move the Big 12 could make. But it may be the smartest.
The question that now lingers is if the Tigers will make a move before they even receive the paperwork.
When Jamie Pursley was in college, she cheered passionately for Kansas State, despised nearly everything about Kansas University and would never be caught for a second so much as thinking a positive thought about KU, the Jayhawks or Lawrence.
Today, a little more than six months after Jamie passed away, it’s her memory and kind heart that have inspired a group of her closest friends, both Wildcats and Jayhawks, to come together in an attempt to raise $100,000 to renovate 15 infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center. The idea did not belong to her friends. It was Jamie’s wish, and that phrase now is the driving force behind the quest to honor her memory while sprucing up a part of the city she once viewed as a bitter rival.
“Two weeks before she died, she looked us dead in the eye and said this is what I want you to do,” said Kelli Alldredge, one of Jamie’s best friends. “A week after she passed, we got started. “There’s no rivalry when it comes to fighting cancer. We’re all on the same team.”
With the help of some notable members of both the KU and K-State communities, the fund-raising effort began a few months ago. From the beginning, this weekend’s KU-KSU football game in Lawrence was viewed as the centerpiece of their efforts because it will bring together two of Jamie's great loves — KSU and Lawrence.
Former KU wide receiver Harrison Hill and former KSU quarterback Jonathan Beasley are both heavily involved in the cause and have been instrumental in getting things rolling. Lawrence businessman, Miles Schnaer, owner of Crown Automotive, also is on the board and has the distinct honor of being known as the cause’s first official donor.
“What appeals to me with this is there are definite goals,” said Schnaer, a huge KU supporter. “They want to do something with the money they raise, they have a plan and it’s a heck of a plan.”
Originally from Topeka, Jamie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 while living out of state. After considering her options and hearing that the cancer had spread, she, her husband Aaron and their daughter Kayden decided to move closer to home, to Lawrence, to undergo chemotherapy treatment at LMH. Friends said the decision to relocate to Lawrence wasn’t easy for the die-hard Wildcat fan married to a man from Manhattan. But they also said it turned out to be one of the best moves she ever made.
That’s where the idea for Jamie’s Wish was born, several months after Jamie made the trek, day after day, to LMH’s Oncology Center for hours of treatment. Although LMH’s infusion rooms where Jamie’s chemo treatments were administered were and remain on par with those found at thousands of hospitals throughout the country, Jamie wanted them to be more. The equipment was a little outdated. The decor was sterile. The experience, for friends, family and patients, did not allow anyone to escape the fight they were facing.
“Their rooms are fine,” Hill said. “And they’re what you find at a lot of other hospitals. But they don’t make you feel peaceful and hopeful, and that’s what we’re trying to change. Because everyone deserves to have a place where they can fight with hope.”
When Alldredge and Aimee Jackson, the chairperson of the foundation, first approached LMH with the idea, hospital officials said they would be more than happy with whatever amount of money the group could raise. Alldredge and Jackson quickly informed them that they were looking to hit a home run and asked them what it would take to outfit all 15 rooms with the amenities of their dreams. The total came in at $100,000 — around $6,500 per room — and included plans to update the medical equipment, the artwork, the sitting areas for friends and family members and add flat-screen televisions iPads and iPod docking stations for each room.
“The more time I spend with the hospital, the more I want to raise the money,” Alldredge said. “My goal is to raise a little more than they said it would take, just so they don’t have to cut costs when it gets started. To tell you the truth, I don’t know that we’ll stop at LMH. We may do another hospital and just keep on going.”
About three months into its quest, Alldredge and an army of 20 or so of Jamie’s closest friends and family members are well on their way to achieving their goal. The web site — www.jamieswish.org — officially launched in mid-August. Since that time, more than $33,000 has been raised.
Some has come from private donations, big and small. And a lot of it came from an appeal to what these people were all about — the Sunflower Showdown.
"All these girls talk about is K-State," Schnaer said.
This weekend, when undefeated and 12th-ranked Kansas State comes to Lawrence to take on the 2-4 Jayhawks, nearly all of Section 22 at Memorial Stadium will be filled with people supporting Jamie’s Wish. They won’t be wearing red or blue. And they won’t be wearing purple. Instead, they’ll don bright pink shirts that read, “Gameday: Together for a common cause” on the front and “www.jamieswish.org” on the back.
Tickets and T-Shirts are still available. For $100, donors get a ticket to the game, which kicks off at 11 a.m., a shirt, access to a pregame tailgate tent and a postgame celebration at 23rd Street Brewery. All of the money will go toward the foundation. For those not interested in going to the game or for those who may already have a ticket, access to the pregame and postgame fun can be had for $30.
In addition, donations can be made on the Jamie’s Wish web site with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Every penny raised is tax deductible and will go directly to LMH, which is handling the financial side of the fund-raiser.
“I know people say this all the time, but every dollar does help,” Hill said. “Any amount.”
In the months that have passed since they lost one of their best friends, Alldredge, Jackson and dozens of others have poured their hearts and souls into the Jamie’s Wish cause. Part of the reason has been to raise money to help grant their friend’s final request and the other is to keep her memory alive. Alldredge said sharing Jamie’s story and working toward this cause has helped bring as many smiles as tears to the mourning process.
“People keep complimenting me, but I think I’m the one who’s blessed,” Alldredge said. “I get to see this out and see how it helps people. The entire Lawrence community has embraced us so much through all of this, and that’s exactly what they did for Jamie.”
The way I see it, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill has two weeks to get things turned around before it really starts to get ugly.
That’s not a threat. That’s not me announcing some grass roots campaign to get rid of the guy or even suggesting that he should go. It’s closer to being a fact than anything else, and that’s the scary part.
Five games into his second season at Kansas, Gill’s honeymoon phase is finished. Although many have talked about how much they admire Gill as a person, a man, a friend and an ambassador for KU, the facts are the facts and Gill has lost the fan base. People are tired of watching KU take steps backwards. They’re even more tired of hearing the coaching staff tell them that they’re moving forward. Even if they are progressing — and in many ways I do think that’s the case — they’re not doing so in the most important place and that’s on the field.
People around here don’t ask for much when it comes to KU football. They want a team that’s competitive. They’d like to go to a bowl game every couple of years and they’d love to know that a season like 2007, in which KU went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl, is possible every once in a while. What they’re seeing right now makes them wonder if they’ll ever witness a winning season again, let alone all those other treats.
I’m not advocating that anything be done. I’m old school in that way. I believe it takes time to change a culture and even more time to build a winner. Where I come from, popular opinion says that coaches should be given a fair chance to do both. But I realize it’s 2011, and fair only gets you so far. Is it a shame? Sure. Is it reality? You betcha.
So let’s get back to why I think Gill has two weeks to get things headed in the right direction.
By now, you all know that the Jayhawks were pounded at Oklahoma State on Saturday and could’ve been hit with 100 points if the Cowboys felt up to it. You also know that, in just five games this season, KU has set new lows for passing yards against in a single game (494 for OSU on Saturday) and rushing yards against in a single game (604 for Georgia Tech in Week 3). One way to look at it would be that it can only get better from here. That would be true if third-ranked Oklahoma weren’t coming to town on Saturday. But the mere thought of what the Sooners might do to the Jayhawks is frightening.
KU doesn’t have to win that game. We’re not even close to talking like that yet. But KU can’t give up 70 points and 600 yards while being run out of the stadium in the first quarter either. 55-35 works. 49-27 would be fine, too. 77-21 or anything along those lines spells trouble.
So, Step 1 for Gill and company is a better showing against the Sooners. More fight, more fire, better tackling and maybe even a little suspense. At least for the first couple of quarters.
Step 2 is much more important, and failure to deliver there won’t be greeted by a shrug of the shoulders and the sound of “Oh well, it’s basketball season anyway,” being uttered across campus.
In two weeks, Kansas State comes to town. The same Kansas State that drubbed the Jayhawks 59-7 a season ago. The same Kansas State that’s off to a 5-0 start this season. The same Kansas State that, if they bully the Jayhawks again, could make it really difficult for Gill to survive.
KU fans don’t like losing to anyone. Many were bummed and embarrassed after the loss to OSU and, if history repeats and OU routs KU, many will be equally as frustrated after that one, as well. But life will go on. And, by Tuesday or Wednesday, the game will have been forgotten. Not so with a loss to Kansas State. Those losses sting all year long because, around here, KU fans are neighbors with K-Staters and work with Wildcats. Losing to the purple people is personal for KU fans, not just because they’re so emotionally invested in the rivalry but also because the ramifications of a rough outing actually affect their daily lives.
It’s one thing to watch a team you root for get embarrassed. That stinks, but there are plenty of ways to get away from it and move past it. But it’s another thing entirely for your team’s embarrassment to directly impact your daily life. If KSU kicks Kansas the way the Cowboys did and Sooners might, all heck could break loose and I’m not sure it could be stopped.
Look at the facts. The natives already are getting restless. Two web sites devoted to getting rid of Gill have been created in less than two years. That’s full-fledged web sites, not just message board threads or Twitter posts. Counting all of those could take days.
You’ve got FireTurnerGill.com and fireturnergill.net. There’s a Facebook page that favors Gill’s dismissal that has 55 members. And there’s also a Twitter account — @FireTurnerGill — promoting the idea that has 32 followers. That one looks like it was started up on Sunday.
A better showing in the next couple of weeks can calm things down a bit, give Gill some breathing room and make these sites and pages seem a little silly, which is what they probably are.
More of the same, though, and we could be in for an interesting ride.
For those who may have forgotten, getting rid of Gill won’t be easy. After this season, he still has three years remaining on his $10 million contract — all guaranteed — and the KU athletic department simply is not in a position where it can write a check for that kind of money and say goodbye. Here’s a link to my column from last year that spells out the details. http://www2.kusports.com/news/2010/oc...
Knowing all that, the best solution for everyone is for Gill and his coaching staff to find a way to get things going in a more positive direction quickly. The players are playing hard and they haven’t given up. The coaching staff must capitalize on that. If that means trying new things, so be it. If that means spitting a little more fire, spit away.
But if it means more of the same, it could mean the end of Gill. Right or wrong.
Realignment Today: 3:56 p.m. - Big Day in the Big 12. League unanimously agrees to grant of rights after moving to add TCU as 10th member
3:56 p.m. Update:
KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger followed up Gray-Little's statement with a few comments of his own.
Here's my story with Zenger's quotes:
Intentionally quiet throughout most of the conference realignment chaos that had plagued the Big 12 conference during the past six weeks, Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger was happy to speak up following the positive news that came from the league office on Thursday.
“This is a good day for the Big 12 Conference,” Zenger said. “The news of granting of rights and equal revenue sharing and league expansion bears testament to the hard work of our board of directors and the stability sub-committee within the Big 12 Conference.”
The first happy moment for the league came late Thursday morning, when the Big 12 confirmed its pursuit of Texas Christian University to be the 10th member. With Missouri in limbo, there remains some uncertainty whether TCU would be the 10th or ninth member of the league. Also unclear is where the league goes from here, with or without Missouri in tow.
“We all believe that Texas Christian University is a great addition to the Big 12,” Zenger said. “Their geographic proximity to the rest of the schools, their academic credibility and their athletic achievements make them an obvious fit.”
Zenger said the addition of TCU provided KU with extra reason to celebrate.
“The University of Kansas has a strong alumni base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and continues to attract students from that area, as well,” he said. “For us as an institution, that’s an additional benefit of this news.”
A couple of hours after expansion news broke, the Big 12 also announced that it had unanimously agreed to a formal grant of television rights for a minimum of six years.
Both votes were unanimously approved and Missouri sat out each time.
KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who served on the league’s four-member stability committee, released a statement Thursday afternoon. In it, she, too, pointed to Thursday being a great day for the Big 12 and the Jayhawks.
“This is an outcome KU has sought throughout this process,” Gray-Little said. “And it is one that I’ve been seeking as a member of the conference’s stability working group. Stability heightens the appeal of the conference as we look at expansion.”
Sources told the Journal-World that the Big 12 continues to look at all of its options, including staying at 10 or jumping back to 12 members. One source added: “All of the obvious schools are still in the picture, but, at this time, there is no next in line.”
Those “obvious schools” include BYU, as well as Big East members Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia, which, because of TCU’s likely departure, are left scrambling to solidify the future of their league. Although TCU was scheduled to join the Big East in 2012, the Horned Frogs will not have to wait the 27 months required by the Big East for a team that leaves. Sources said, however, that TCU will be required to pay Big East exit fees, which some have estimated to be around $5 million.
Gray-Little said she hoped TCU would begin competing in the Big 12 next season.
Should TCU’s exit from the Big East lead to its collapse, Notre Dame, which competes in the Big East in all sports but football, likely would seek a similar arrangement in another conference. A source with ties to the Big 12 said the conference, which has courted the Irish in the past, would be interested in exploring the idea of adding Notre Dame to the Big 12.
Here's the link to our story in case you want to comment over there.
2:48 p.m. Update:
Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little released the following statement a few minutes ago:
“The Big 12 board’s approval of equal revenue sharing and the granting of television rights to the conference demonstrate a commitment to the Big 12 by its member universities. This is an outcome KU has sought throughout this process, and it is one that I’ve been seeking as a member of the conference’s stability working group.
“Stability heightens the appeal of the conference as we look at expansion. KU supports the invitation of TCU to join the Big 12, and Jayhawks hope to start competing against the Horned Frogs next season. KU recruits many students from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and we have a strong alumni base there, so TCU’s addition to the conference would definitely be a plus for our student-athletes and fans.”
Stay tuned for more reaction from KU...
2:11 p.m. Update:
That "other" announcement that was supposed to come from the Big 12 today? It had nothing to do with Missouri at all. Instead, it relates to the league's formal agreement to a granting of television rights for a minimum of six years.
The vote was unanimously approved and the only way it had anything to do with Mizzou is that the Tigers, as they did when the league voted to pursue TCU, did not participate in the voting.
Here's the language, followed by a link. This is wonderful news for the conference. Biggest positive day for the Big 12 in a while.
The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors agreed to a formal grant of television rights for a minimum of six years during a teleconference today. The approval by the Board was unanimous; however the University of Missouri did not participate in the vote on the advice of legal counsel.
Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas was authorized by the Board to immediately distribute legal documents for institutional execution. An earlier vote related to equal revenue distribution becomes effective upon the formal assignment of rights by all institutions. The Board did not set a deadline but indicated a desire to expedite the approval process.
The grant of rights was included in a joint resolution proposed by both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. In addition to the grant of television rights for at least a six-year period, the proposal included agreements related to high school content and access to football games for institutional third-tier telecast packages.
Specifics of the resolution included an agreement that during the term of the grant of rights: there will be no changes related to current or future primary television rights agreements or Conference bylaws, rules or policies related to member institution branded outlet rights; Conference bylaws will reflect that no member institution branded outlet will show high school games or highlights, noting that it is permissible pursuant to NCAA interpretation to use scores, standings and statistics of high school games; and, that additional games beyond the one member institution retained football game for telecast purposes must be approved by both institutions and both Conference telecast partners.
Stay tuned for more reaction to both moves...
1:06 p.m. Update:
A couple of quick thoughts regarding the news that TCU is being pursued officially as the 10th member of the Big 12.
One source told me Tuesday night that, with Missouri still in limbo, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas would be aggressive in moving forward to try to force Missouri's hand a little bit.
I think this news clearly does that. How the Tigers react to it will be up to them, but this is a clear sign from the Big 12 that the league is prepared to move on — and flourish — with or without the Tigers.
As for TCU itself as a good fit, there's no question that this makes the most sense, even more so than adding BYU or Louisville, both of which are still very much in the mix in terms of Big 12 expansion talks.
TCU is the best fit geographically and in football and brings with it continued strength in Texas. That might not be a big deal for the Texas schools but it is for the rest of the league, which depends so much on the Lone Star State to fill its rosters, particularly in football.
That's the other thing Missouri has to think about here. If they go to the SEC, they can kiss their recruiting ties to Texas good bye.
Here's an interesting note from the past about that. Years ago, when Arkansas and UT were in the SWC together, the Razorbacks had an average of 40 players from Texas on their football roster. In the years that followed after Arkansas left for the SEC and Texas joined the Big 12, Arkansas' list of football players from Texas on the roster dropped to below 10 on average.
That said, I've never thought Missouri was leaving and I still don't think they are. They had a chance to take their moment in the spotlight and feel the love and then return to the league in good graces and they blew it. Had they announced Tuesday that they were committed, the league would've smiled and said, 'Welcome back.'
But sources have told me that what MU pulled on Tuesday really angered a lot of the league and now if the Tigers come back, they'll do so with their tails between their legs and having lost a lot of their clout within the league. They'll also be a complete afterthought now that the Big 12 has moved ahead with expansion.
Missouri had a chance to play this thing right and gain a lot of love but they waited just a bit too long and now will be forced to do some serious damage control if and when they do recommit to the Big 12.
Stay tuned for more reaction regarding TCU...
12:59 p.m. Update:
Here's this from Oklahoma president David Boren, which pretty much mirrors what DeLoss Dodds said earlier. Isn't it nice to see these guys getting along!
"TCU is an excellent choice as a new member of the conference. They bring strong athletics and academic credentials and were enthusiastically and unanimously supported by (the Big 12) conference."
12:06 p.m. Update:
Here's this from TCU chancellor Victor Boschini Jr., regarding the news that the Big 12 has entered into negotiations with TCU to add the Horned Frogs as the 10th member.
"These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU. It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what's best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."
11:41 a.m. Update:
Reaction from around the Big 12 about the move to add TCU starting to come in. Hoping to hear something from Kansas soon.
UT athletic director DeLoss Dods:
"Their commitment to academics and success on the field make them an excellent fit. With a solid budget and strong financial support, they have been proactive at improving facilities. Their close proximity to all conference institutions makes for a comfortable travel situation."
More to come. Stay tuned...
11:26 a.m. Update:
The Big 12 has confirmed its move to add TCU as the 10th member of the conference.
Here's a statement from the league, released a little while ago:
Acting upon a unanimous recommendation of its expansion subcommittee, the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors this morning authorized negotiations with Texas Christian University to become the Conference's tenth member, and instructed interim commissioner Chuck Neinas to immediately begin discussions with TCU.
The action of the Board was without dissent. On the advice of legal counsel The University of Missouri did not participate in the vote.
Hoping to hear something from TCU very soon.
10:26 a.m. Update:
Even with all of the Missouri talk still lingering, it appears the rest of the Big 12 Conference is ready to move on with expansion.
Several outlets are reporting this morning that TCU has an invite to join the Big 12 and could accept it as soon as today.
Here's a quick link to the report from Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports. Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com and Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman also have reported the news.
Assuming the news is true and assuming the Horned Frogs accept, a couple of questions come to mind.
How will TCU navigate its way out of its plans to join the Big East? Previous reports have said that TCU would not have to wait the 27 months required by the Big East to leave because they are not yet members of that conference. Others have said the Big East could throw up a roadblock a la Baylor to Texas A&M a few weeks ago. Pete Thamel, of the New York Times, reports that TCU would be required to pay the $5 million exit fee to leave the Big East but would not be bound by the 27-month agreement. A good deal for both.
If TCU is added, will the league stop there and stay at 10 or will it look to add more teams and get to 12 or more? Part of the answer to this question depends on Missouri's decision. The Tigers are still exploring their options and may opt to join the SEC if invited. If that were to happen, the addition of TCU would bring the Big 12 to nine and the league likely would look to add another school to replace the Tigers.
With TCU in the fold, what happens to Louisville, Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State and West Virginia? Again, the answer here all depends upon what the Big 12 decides to do and, to a lesser extent, what Missouri decides to do. Sources have told me that BYU remains a hot commodity and that Louisville is not far behind. McMurphy says that sources have told him that if MU were to leave, the Big 12 would expand to 12. If MU stays, though, it's likely the Big 12 will add TCU and stay at 10.
Speaking of that, here's a link to an article that says Mizzou may not have the votes it needs to get into the SEC anyway. A Wednesday article quoting an unnamed Missouri official as saying the Tigers wanted the Big Ten first but that they'd be interested in the SEC because, "that's what's left," likely won't help garner support for MU in the SEC. If nothing else, the SEC is a group of proud schools who do not like to play second fiddle to anybody.
The Big 12 is expected to announce TCU's addition later this morning. Reports have indicated that the league also will make another announcement at the same time.
What this could be is anyone's guess. Missouri's staying? Missouri's going? More on the equal revenue sharing or the Longhorn Network?
7:47 p.m. Update:
Well, after four-plus hours, Missouri's board of curators officially authorized MU chancellor Brady Deaton to explore the school's options for moving to another conference or staying in the Big 12.
This certainly isn't ground-breaking news, but it's not the news the Big 12 would've loved to hear, which would've been that the Tigers are happy in the Big 12 and staying put.
That still could be the outcome, but, for now, we'll have to keep waiting on Mizzou.
Here's a recap of the press conference that followed the meeting.
In related news, Deaton resigned his post as the chairman of the Big 12's board of directors.
I wouldn't read too much into that move. Sources have said that if Deaton were given the power to negotiate for a new conference, he likely would step down from that position because of a conflict of interest.
It will be interesting to see who replaces him but that's the least of the league's concerns right now.
It's great that we know what they're thinking over there in Columbia, Mo., but, really, do we know much more than we did this morning? We're still waiting on Mizzou to make a decision and the Tigers have said that they have no time table for such an announcement.
Fear not, says Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas: “Missouri is a member in good standing in the Big 12, and I anticipate will continue to be a member of the Big 12.”
5:55 p.m. Update:
Missouri curators heading into fourth hour... Seriously. Important to remember that this meeting is not only about conference affiliation, but still.... Wow.
Care to watch? Komo.com is streaming the meeting live right now.
2:12 p.m. Update:
More sign that point to Mizzou staying in the Big 12 are starting to pop up. As mentioned earlier, it is expected that MU's board of curators will give Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton full authority to handle conference affiliation at today's meeting.
However, that does not necessarily mean that MU is going anywhere.
Just found out that the meeting is actually taking place in St. Louis, not Columbia.
Here's a report from the Tennessean that quotes Vanderbilt vice chancellor David Williams as saying the SEC has nothing lined up for a 14th team.
And here's this from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, who says the Big 12 needs interim commissioner Chuck Neinas more than Neinas needs the Big 12.
I'll bring links and info about what's said at MU's meeting when it becomes available.
9:41 a.m. Update:
Folks following the realignment fiasco have known for some time that today would be a big day regarding the Missouri Tigers and their ongoing decision to stay in the Big 12 or bolt for the SEC.
Missouri's board of curators meets today with realignment being one of the most likely and most interesting topics. While opinions and reports have gone both ways regarding MU staying put or leaving, don't expect a final decision to come today.
We may get closer to an outcome and it may become clearer what the Tigers are going to do, but it's most likely that the board simply will authorize MU chancellor Brady Deaton to fully represent the university in realignment conversations, much the same way both OU and UT did a couple of weeks ago with their presidents.
Despite reports from folks who cover the SEC saying the Tigers are headed south, I continue to believe MU will stay in the Big 12. Different sources I've talked to in the past week have indicated that MU is leaning toward returning to the conference. It's likely that the Tigers are doing their due diligence by fully exploring the opportunity in the SEC and perhaps even more likely that this whole deal has been nothing more than a charade by a university wanting people to tell it it's loved. Maybe both.
Mike DeArmond, of The Kansas City Star, says one of the hot topics at today's curators meeting will go beyond weighing the pros and cons of the two leagues and two outcomes. The Tigers today will likely discuss whether they can or should trust the new Big 12. http://www.kansascity.com/2011/10/03/3185178/whether-to-trust-big-12-is-at.html
While we wait for more news regarding Mizzou, here are a few links to get you up to speed on the decision the Tigers are facing.
Here's an interesting article from the folks at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who offer up a few quick and different thoughts on what the Tigers might do. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/round-two/article_99476bc0-edff-11e0-b4f3-001a4bcf6878.html
No differing opinions here from ESPN.com's David Ubben, who writes why the Tigers should stay in the Big 12. http://espn.go.com/blog/big12/post/_/id/35064/why-missouri-should-stay-in-the-big-12
Here's a brief overview from the Columbia Tribune of what today's meeting could include. http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2011/oct/03/um-curators/
And, finally, a quick recap from the Austin American-Statesman's Kevin Lyttle, who says that Monday's revenue-sharing announcement from the Big 12 may have been an attempt by the league to entice Mizzou to stick around. http://www.statesman.com/sports/collegefootball/big-12-trying-to-hang-onto-missouri-offers-1893736.html
Forget the specifics of last Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech.
By now, everybody knows the Jayhawks blew a 20-0 lead and gave up more than 500 yards of offense yet again. Flush it.
While I probably could sit here and analyze exactly what went wrong, where it broke down and why KU did not sustain its hot start, would it really matter? The Jayhawks still lost. They still have to regroup and get ready for Oklahoma State this weekend. And, provided they survive that, they have to start peeking into a future that features very few winnable games, if any.
Having said that, I want to share with you something that stood out to me during the postgame interviews last Saturday. Yeah, these guys were pissed. Senior linebacker Steven Johnson walked into the room looking like he wanted to put a hole in the wall. The rest of the guys spoke with disappointed tones and quiet voices. I’m telling you, this stuff hurts these guys.
But last year, all of that hurt and pain that piled on these guys week after week wound up burying them. When guys dropped their heads, they could not pick them back up again. When things got tough and the Jayhawks went looking for leaders, guys with true leadership qualities were hard to find.
That’s not the case this year. And that’s why, no matter how bad things get, these guys will keep fighting.
“All our goals are still attainable,” Johnson said. “We just have to keep on going.”
While that might sound like an empty statement, Johnson means it. And, remember, this team’s goal sheet was not limited to words like “get better.” It included phrases like “bowl game” and “Big 12 championship” and still does.
“I still feel like we have a chance to have a successful year,” sophomore QB Jordan Webb said. “When you look at it, we’ve got a lot of ballgames to play and a real young team and we’re only gonna get better throughout the year.”
While such a statement could be treated with a roll of the eyes, there’s plenty of reason for it to be taken serious. By all accounts, this is a better Kansas team than the one Gill and company fielded in 2010. The Jayhawks are more explosive and consistent on offense and, although it may not always show up on the scoreboard, they’re also improved on defense. They’re also going to continue to get better.
Remember last year when KU opened Big 12 play with a three-game stretch in which they were outscored 159-24? We all thought that was the beginning of an embarrassing run through conference play. But, somehow, the Jayhawks got better. They competed at Iowa State, played a great game defensively at Nebraska, ripped off a record-setting comeback to beat Colorado and even hung in their for a half with offensive juggernaut Oklahoma State. Not many of those feats are worth writing home about, but they did represent progress — progress that came after a stretch that said no hope was on the horizon.
And that kind of progress — and beyond — can be made again this season. If for no other reason than because these guys have an even better mindset and an even tighter locker room this season.
Does that mean they’ll win another game or two? It doesn’t. But it won’t be for lack of trying. No matter what the outcome has been the week before, this team has shown up on Sundays following gameday with the mentality of getting to work and getting better.
Expect it to remain that way the rest of the season, win or lose.
Realignment Today: 1:59 p.m. - The latest on Mizzou and the extensive expansion rumors surrounding the Big 12
1:59 p.m. Update:
Amidst all the talk of the Cougars joining the Big 12, BYU is holding strong on its vague and safe stance.
The article above talks a little about where BYU stands, but, really, the Cougars seem to be falling back on the statement they've made all along regarding conference realignment.
That statement is:
"There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference. The university will have no further comment."
Sounds like a great fit to team with Kansas, doesn't it?
Moving on to Missouri, here's a good take from Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star, who says KU and K-State fans should put their hatred aside and actual root for Missouri on this one.
There seems to be a lot of talk and speculation from SEC writers that Mizzou to the SEC is a done deal. It just shows the fickle nature of all of this because so many Big 12 writers are saying just the opposite. Maybe we should get together and play flag football for the right to be right here.
For what it's worth, I'd take us. At least on being right. SEC football's tough.
10:05 a.m. Update:
So now we know, thanks to various Twitter reports, that interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas will make Columbia, Mo., his first stop on his tour of conference campuses that begins next week.
Great. Now can we move on?
Perhaps. But, for most folks, the only thing that will make Mizzou’s commitment to the Big 12 official is their signature on the grant of rights document that not only locks the league into a sweet TV deal but also binds the league together for at least the foreseeable future.
After some initial uncertainty and continued flirtations with the SEC, it seems as if the Tigers are again leaning toward the Big 12. Neinas has said so. Multiple sources have told me that that’s their vibe. And, logic would suggest it’s the best place for MU to be.
Here’s a Thursday report from Missourinet.com that brings us up to speed on the situation with the Tigers.
The rest of the recent focus in realignment — yep, we’re still going — has been on the Big 12’s desire to expand.
One source told me earlier this week that no official offers had been made to any schools interested in joining the Big 12. And while that may still hold true, things certainly have heated up since then.
Here’s an update from Pac-12 reporter Jon Wilner that discusses a bunch of scenarios.
Other reports have said the Big 12 could expand to 10, 12 or even 16 at any point. Crazy.
The schools that remain most visible on the Big 12’s radar are the ones that have been there all along. Here’s a quick update on each of them.
BYU — a great choice and a likely candidate. One report said the Cougars could announce their intentions to join as soon as Saturday. We’ll see.
Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia — This Big East trio has been in the conversation from the beginning and continues to be. The only way all three come on board is if BYU balks and the league is willing to expand to 12. I think Missouri’s staying so that leaves one spot to get to 10 and three spots to get to 12. Of the three, I think Louisville is by far the best choice and the most desired option.
TCU — Another soon-to-be-Big East school has been linked with the three schools above in a four-team deal. Again, the only way that would work is if Mizzou were to leave or the Big 12 were to expand beyond 12. The best news regarding TCU that came out recently is that the Horned Frogs would likely not have to wait the 27 months to leave as required by the Big East since they aren’t actually in the Big East yet. Texas’ still is against adding TCU, but that could be a big reason the other schools are in favor. After all, it’s still the Big 12.
Boise State — Boise continues to be a name that’s kicked around and it’s one that continually makes me scratch my head. Great football brand, no question. But the geography is suspect and the rest of the BSU athletic department is average at best. I’m sure the Broncos would love to get in the league because that would allow — or is it force — their athletic department to grow tremendously in the coming years. Boise’s still a bit of a longshot but I definitely would not be surprised if this got serious.
Here’s a quick link from the folks at the Tulsa World who examine the numbers game facing the Big 12 or is it 10 or 14 or 16...
Oh, and since this would not be complete without a complete contradiction, here’s a report from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports that says a source told him the best thing for the Big 12 is to stay at nine. Makes sense to me.
We’ll have more throughout the day if anything pops up. Big if, right? Ha!
Realignment Today: 5:55 p.m. - Big 12 pursuit of Louisville ‘heating up’ while SEC says no schools under consideration as 14th member
5:55 p.m. Update:
This from the take-it-for-what-it's-worth file... The San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner recently Tweeted a note that said sources are telling him that the Big 12's pursuit of Louisville is heating up.
In the same Tweet, Wilner also referenced that Navy and Air Force have standing offers to join the Big East.
Neither move is terribly surprising, but it's hard to know how solid the news is considering Wilner covers the Pac-12. That said, he's been impressive during the whole realignment saga and has proven in the past to have good info.
If talks with Louisville are in fact heating up, it's possible that BYU has dragged its feet on the Big 12 or may just not be interested in the first place.
That said, one source told me last week that Louisville would be the better target for the Big 12 initially because it would be easier to work with. Adding the Cards would bring a big-time basketball program and football on par with many of the Big 12 North schools. What's more, it's not a bad fit in terms of geography either.
- BYU - 38%
- Louisville - 33%
- TCU - 17%
- West Virginia - 9%
- Other - 3%
2:21 p.m. Update:
SEC commissioner Mike Slive talked to reporters about his league's expansion plans today and, while doing so, seemed to indicate that Missouri is not going anywhere.
"We are going to be strategic and thoughtful when we think about any expansion," Slive said. "We anticipate being 13-team league in 2012-13. There are no institutions currently under consideration" as a 14th member."
What's more, Slive said no other schools had applied for membership to the SEC and that the league office has not initiated any talks with any potential candidates.
This is not to say that Mizzou is not still talking with the SEC or that things couldn't change in a hurry, but, if Slive's being truthful — and, really, after the past couple of weeks doesn't he almost have to be — it looks like the Tigers don't have many options.
Still waiting word out of Dallas to see how MU acted in today's meetings. Should help clarify their position, if Slive's comments don't already.
1:48 p.m. Update:
Not a whole lot new this afternoon. I just got back from Turner Gill's weekly news conference and stumbled upon a couple of links worth passing along.
The first is from the Sports Business Journal and it says the idea of "superconferences" actually dates as far back as 1990. Although we may have avoided it for the time being, many out there still believe 16-team power conferences is where we're headed.
Check out this look at how it all got started.
Speaking of getting there someday, Oregon State president Edward Ray said this week that the Pac-12 should not rule out the idea of expanding at some point down the road.
Waiting to get in touch with some folks who might know how the AD meeting in Dallas went today. Could be a while, but I'll be back with an update if/when I get some info.
9:41 a.m. Update:
With the nine remaining Big 12 athletic directors scheduled to meet with interim commissioner Chuck Neinas today and tomorrow in Dallas, the focus can officially shift from a this team or that team to this conference or that mode back to one in which we examine the future of the league that, against all odds, isn’t going anywhere.
Yesterday, we briefly looked at the schools the Big 12 could and should consider for expansion in the event that Neinas and league officials determine that the Big 12 should grow back to 10 or perhaps even 12 schools in the near future.
We’ll continue to do that throughout the day and week as relevant news on the topic pops up.
TCU coach Gary Patterson isn’t commenting: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/09/25/3395956/patterson-staying-loyal-to-big.html
Air Force officials are playing it safe: http://www.gazette.com/sports/gould-125602-force-mike.html
And the BYU rumors remain the same as they were days ago: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=rivals-1268216
For now, here’s a quick look at my updated percentage wheel regarding which team could be No. 10. Not a lot of movement from yesterday, with BYU and Louisville still sitting as the odds-on favorites.
- BYU - 48%
- Louisville - 20%
- TCU - 16%
- West Virginia - 9%
- Air Force - 5%
- Other - 2%
-- Remember, this is just the percentage wheel for these schools becoming the 10th member of the Big 12, not joining the conference altogether. --
OK, so now we can get on to examining something that I’ve heard a lot of talk about during this whole realignment mess.
As things moved closer and closer to the 16-team, superconference model that many still feel is inevitable, one question kept popping into my head — Why the love affair with the number 16?
Depending upon who I talked to, the answers varied. But it always seemed to come back to one thing — “It’s so the greedy can have as many as they want,” one source told me.
Another, with ties to the former Big Eight Conference, said this: “In the end, the Big Eight had it right. And when you go to 16, you end up with two divisions of eight.”
And last, another source had this to say when attempting to explain the magic number, which, by now, we all know multiplies by four to get 64, a somewhat important number in the world of college athletics: “Somebody out there dreamed that up once and now it’s almost like the administrators are trying to fulfill it.”
Great. Got it. Or....
Although 16 was the hot number for the past several weeks, it doesn’t appear that anyone is headed there any time soon.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten are happy with a dozen each. Despite the Pac-12’s flirtations with expansion, the league presidents made it clear that even though commissioner Larry Scott may have wanted to expand, the league was content at 12.
The Big Ten said as much a year ago when it added Nebraska. Jim Delany and company didn’t say so much as a peep this time around, so you can bet they’re happy at 12, as well.
The ACC, meanwhile, jumped head-first into expanding to 14 when it landed Syracuse and Pittsburgh seemingly out of nowhere. At the time, the move appeared to be the one that would get the superconference train chugging but, in the end, it was little more than a big splash that ultimately wound up calming the waters. Where the ACC goes from here is anyone’s guess. There’s still talk of UConn and Rutgers heading south but it’s hard to know for certain if the ACC wants to go that big and be forced to spread the pie that thin, especially now that the “but everybody’s doing it” excuse is kind of out the window.
Then there’s the SEC, which, thanks to the official addition of Texas A&M, sits at 13 teams and appears to be looking for a 14th. Missouri, West Virginia, TCU and others continue to dominate the talk. But if Mizzou elects to stay in the Big 12 — which is where I’m laying my money — and if the SEC really already turned WVU down once and if TCU can’t or won’t get out of the Big East, then what will the SEC do? Live with 13 or go big-game hunting? Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.
South Carolina president Harris Pastides said he wants the league to aggressively pursue a 14th team and then stop there. So much for the magic number 16.
That leaves the Big 12, which is down to nine, but may be on the lookout for one or three more to fill the void left by the departures of Colorado, Nebraska and A&M.
Berry Tramel, of The Daily Oklahoman, writes that the league’s best and only move is to get back to 12. http://newsok.com/big-12-needs-12-teams-not-10/article/3607661
We’ll know soon enough where the league stands in all of this. The guess here is that a move to get back to 10 will not take long and could be announced in the next few weeks.
If the league chooses to grow beyond 10, that’s good news for a lot of schools but especially Kansas, which would get the luxury of adding another non-conference game to its football schedule the way it used to in the old Big 12.
For now, though, we continue to wait. Wait on rumors to start, decisions to be made and stability to be forged. Of course, this time around, it all starts with Missouri.