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Realignment Today: 10:12 a.m. - Interim commish Chuck Neinas gazes into Big 12 future, plus Rd. 1 of expansion talk
10:12 a.m. Update:
This morning on ESPN's College Gameday, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said the following regarding the idea of TCU becoming the 10th team in the Big 12:
"There seems to be some resistance to adding another team from Texas."
Nothing ground-breaking there. We've kind of always known that. But this tells me a couple of different things.
During his teleconference with reporters yesterday, Neinas said he had not had one conversation about expansion with the Big 12. Looks like he got to work right when that call was finished. Good sign.
With TCU slated for entry into the Big East next year, the Big 12 may be feeling the need to avoid poaching teams from other conferences as has happened to them during the last two years. That would be a good sign for conferences everywhere. That said, Neinas did say on the phone call that he would only concern himself with who the best candidates for the league were and not worry about any other factors when thinking expansion.
If the resistance to expanding in Texas is there that eliminates SMU, Houston and TCU, all of which have been kicked around in conversation. With BYU possibly out of the picture as well — here's a link to Cougarboard.com http://www.cougarboard.com/board/message.html?id=7435577 — the whole idea of expansion becomes a little tricky considering the quality of teams left out there to take. I suppose it's possible that my first point here could be off entirely and that would open up the possibility of adding Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia from the Big East. Of course, there still exists the possibility that the Big 12 could stay at nine teams, too. Although it seems like 10 is not only the magic number but also a priority.
Also, for those who missed this on our site, here's my story from Chuck Neinas' introductory news conference Friday evening. Impressive dude who's ready to get to work.
Think Josh Selby versus USC.
That’s how strong interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas’ introduction to the media was Friday during an early-evening conference call that lasted about 40 minutes.
In his first act with the league, Neinas, who won’t officially start until Oct. 3, juggled questions with the kind of ease and comfort of a seasoned veteran. Although he answered more inquiries about himself and his role in the conference than what the future would hold, he was not shy with offering up both his thoughts and what he had heard about anything and everything that was asked.
The theme of the call centered around one question: How can this fractured league put the pieces back together?
Neinas had one idea.
“I think it comes down to one word,” he said. “Trust. We gotta make sure that there’s a trust that exists between the members.”
Asked if he could help create that, Neinas said, “I can try.”
As for the rest of the call, Neinas was most often asked about Missouri’s intentions, Texas A&M’s likely departure and the idea of equal revenue sharing that’s sure to help shape the future of the Big 12.
Regarding Missouri and the lingering threats of the Tigers leaving for the SEC, Neinas, 76, was matter-of-fact.
“You’ve gotta be concerned about it,” he said.
Asked next if the league could survive without MU, Neinas responded with confidence.
“Yes, I think it could be viable because there’s a lot of strength in the conference,” he said.
Regarding Texas A&M’s nearly inevitable exit, Neinas, a longtime friend of A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, said he would include the Aggies on upcoming campus visits that he said he hoped to have wrapped up by the end of October.
“I plan to talk to Bill,” Neinas said. “I don’t know what the answer will be, but if nothing’s ventured, nothing’s gained.”
Asked why he would even waste his time meeting with the Aggies, Neinas said: “They belong in the Big 12. That’s where they belong. The history. I’m a history major, and I think their history belongs in the Big 12. They’re from the Southwest Conference. They’re in the state of Texas. That’s where they were born and bred. That’s where they should stay.”
Overall, Neinas had no romantic visions of riding in on a white horse and keeping the league intact as it stands today.
“I think the Aggies are probably gonna go, and I do think Missouri is gonna stay,” he said.
Neinas, who served as the Big Eight commissioner from 1971-80, said he was approached by the Big 12 about the interim commissioner position when it became clear that former commissioner Dan Beebe would step down.
He said he accepted the job because the Big Eight was good to him, and he still had ties with several athletic directors and coaches within the Big 12, a league which Neinas divulged he actually had a hand in helping to create.
Though he emphasized in no uncertain terms that his role with the Big 12 would remain part-time, Neinas said he would not be afraid to roll up his sleeves and make a difference while there.
“They’ve hired me to be the commissioner,” he said. “I’ll act like a commissioner. I might be there for the interim, but, for the record, I’m not afraid to make decisions.”
Before saying he would offer his services in helping the league find its next full-time commissioner, Neinas made sure it was clear where he stood.
“I had a very stress-free job before taking this one,” he said. “I am not a candidate in any way, shape or form on permanent basis.”
As for some of the immediate concerns the Big 12 needs to address, Neinas said he’d been told that the ideal number for the league remained 10 members.
Outside of that, he said he had not been involved in any conversations about expansion to this point. In addition, he said the league was on track to move toward more equitable revenue sharing in its Tier 1 (ABC) and Tier 2 (cable, including FOX and ESPN) television rights and that he anticipated the Tier 3 rights (Longhorn Network) remaining with their owner.
While he recognized the television rights argument could be a challenge, Neinas did not seem intimidated by the idea of tackling it.
“It takes awhile,” he said. “Each institution is different. The idea is to reach a consensus and move forward.”
Neinas’ next move will be to meet with the Big 12’s athletic directors Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas. Then he’ll kick off his campus visits and start to form a plan for the direction the league needs to head.
“People will tell you on their campus things that they may not tell you in a meeting,” he said. “I like to get a feel for what are their concerns, what are their objectives, where do they think we should be headed. What you do is you try to get as much information as you can and then distill it.”
Asked what he’d think if the Big 12 schools expressed displeasure with his interim leadership, Neinas didn’t hedge.
“They can always fire me,” Neinas said.
Legends of the Phog today so it might be quiet here. But I'll stay on top of it so stay tuned just in case...