Bowlsby’s rant…

In hopes of cutting new Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby some slack I gave him credit for forcing Big 12 teams into improving their non-conference schedules.  Then the guy turns around and pulls a boner at the Big 12 Media days.  I thought his comments were self-serving and embarrassing.    

Bowlsby suggested that the NCAA had lost its ability to police its members and that cheating was rampant.   Normally, that statement would not be a big deal because as we know cheating has gone on from the beginning of man, but his timing could not have been worse. 

Bowlsby is the Commissioner of the very conference that is home to the current leader of the cheater’s club.   Bowlsby’s conference is also home to the only power conference with a team that will lose practice time in 2014 due to poor academic performance.  If there was ever a “kettle calling the pot black” scenario, this was it. 

Some have suggested that Bowlsby’s rant was meant to encourage the NCAA compliance team to cut OSU some slack.  I can see that as a possibility as Deflecting attention and blame away from Stillwater makes perfect sense.   Another possibility is that Bowlsby’s rant was a preemptive strike against the bow of the SEC prior to the big 12/SEC non-conference schedule.   By doing so, he can blame losing to the SEC teams this fall on illegal recruiting by the SEC. 

To be honest as the SEC has separated itself from the rest of college football over the past ten years I have tired of this “woe is me” mentality.  As Barry Switzer use to say, “get better if you’re tired of getting beat”. 

The Big 12 needs to get better and 2014 must be the year that this happens.   Granted OU gave us a start with its win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but we need an encore performance by the rest of the league.

In 2014, the Big 12 will face off against SEC teams Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, and SEC lookalike Florida State.  Running the table against these guys would go a long way in making a statement that the Big 12 is back.   

Hopefully, the 2014 season will see the tide turn for the Big 12 against the SEC.  In the meantime possibly a dose of reality is in order…

After all…

    • It was the SEC that created the first conference championship game.  By staying the course, the SEC now produces an automatic final two qualifier to go along with a 2nd final four candidate. 
    • It was the Big 12 that took a snooze while the SEC stole away Texas A&M and Missouri.  
    • It was the SEC and not the Big 12 that created the immediate recruiting advantage for these two former Big 12 teams that turned them into immediate winners on the national stage. 
  • It was the Big12 and not the SEC that allowed Boone Pickens and Deloss  Dodds to determine the direction and makeup of the realigned Big 12 Conference. 

 

  • It was the Big 12 that allowed Clemson, Florida State and Louisville to slip through its fingers as future conference teams… 
  • It was the Big 12 that invited no-name teams West Virginia and TCU to become Big 12 Conference members.
  • It is the Big 12 that continues to hang onto two non-footballs programs in Kansas and Iowa State. 
  • It was the Big 12 that allowed two of the nation’s best rivalries in OU/Nebraska, and Texas/Texas A&M to be frittered away.
  • It was the SEC and not the Big 12 that signed the ESPN/ABC/CBS television contract that will allow SEC teams to double the revenue of Big 12 teams.    
  • It is the SEC and not the Big 12 that continues to recruit lights out… Currently the SEC has seven teams ranked among the nation’s top ten in the 247sports.com rankings while the big 12 has none. 

While it is true that Bob Bowlsby cannot be blamed for all of these missteps, he is a big boy getting paid a ton of money.  He needs to stop making excuses and get ‘er done. 

 The Big 12 Conference needs less rant and more substantively leadership out of the Commissioner’s office…

 

 

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NCAA investigates OSU, finally…  

While I hate Sunday morning quarterbacks, I have to say we saw this one coming…It has taken a while, but the NCAA investigative team has finally found their way to Stillwater.  While OSU homers are assuming that the lag time between the Sports Illustrated expose and the NCAA investigation is a good thing.    I am not so sure.  Simply put the NCAA has better things to do than hangout in Stillwater and as we know the NCAA never gets in a hurry. 

The NCAA is allowed by Congress to operate outside the normal legal process so the NCAA does whatever it wants when it wants.  In this case and in most cases, the NCAA encourages the university to conduct its own internal investigation prior to setting up camp.  This practice saves time and money and allows university leaders to save face.

On occasion the NCAA will accept the findings of the local university and mete out penalties suggested by the university’s investigative team.    This happens when the NCAA trusts the university.  Given OSU’s track record, trust will be in low supply in Stillwater.   Granted OSU President Burns Hargis is a really nice guy who can spin yarn with the best of them, but the NCAA is not stupid.   They know who is really running things in Stillwater these days. 

With this in mind the investigative team will be looking for evidence of institutional control which of course with the Pickens calling the shots will be in short supply.   At this point the best thing that OSU fans can hope for is that Boone Pickens will transfer money from his sock to hush accounts to shut up former players.   Another hope for Cowboy fans is that the NCAA will limit their investigation to the last five years.    The crime scene will still be a doozy, but at least not of death penalty proportions.     

If, the NCAA takes it time and delves into the full spectrum of crimes committed during both the Gundy and Les Miles eras, the Cowboys could be in big trouble.   If only half the Sports Illustrated accusations can be proven, this a serious matter.   While it can be assumed that Mike Gundy has perpetuated the outlaw culture created by Les Miles, he can’t hold a candle to the drugs, sex, and sock money embraced by Les.  With Les Miles being completely out of control, a comparison between the two may be OSU’s saving grace in this thing.   

Les Miles took a page right out of the Jimmy Johnson playbook as Jimmy saw OSU as his is stepping stone to the big time.  Not expecting a long stay in Stillwater both Jimmy and Less operated with reckless abandon realizing it would take years for the NCAA oversight team to catch up to their wrongdoings.  With only the fox guarding the henhouse the sky was the limit for two of the worst crime scenes in the history of college football. 

Their plan worked beautifully as both coaches used their ill-gotten booty to turn the Cowboy program around.    More importantly, Jimmy and Les left Stillwater before the heat was turned up and produced national championship years at Miami and LSU respectively.  

Ironically, Pat Jones took over for Jimmy Johnson and used Jimmy’s well paid recruits to become the winningest OSU coach ever.   That was until Mike Gundy arrived on campus to take advantage of the Les Miles’ evil ways.  As we know Gundy has replaced Pat Jones as OSU’s winningest coach.  And they say history does not repeat itself?

It will be interested to see if history repeats itself in a different way and the NCAA expands the scope of investigation to include the Miles and Gundy eras.  If so the outcome will be similar to the last time around.   

In that case, I have some advice for the OSU Regents.  Take a page out of the OU playbook and change your evil ways.  Back in the day, OU was the subject of its own Sports Illustrated Dirt Game expose.   With no leadership in the oval office and the football tail wagging the dog, OU’s sins were eerily similar to what OSU is accused of today.    To say the least it was ugly.   This is where the other state school could learn from OU’s past and how things should be handled differently going forward.    

Following the fallout from the SI stories, the OU Regents hired David Boren to run the university and to clean up the football program.  Boren hired no-nonsense Joe Castiglione who hired the squeaky clean Bob Stoops.   Things changed on the OU campus almost immediately.  The Rhett Bomar “pay for play” saga tested this new attitude and the resolve of Sooner fans.   While it was painful, it was necessary.  It also impressed the NCAA who backed off their punishment. 

I suspect that OSU knows what is coming and is hoping to get off with a slap on the wrist from the NCAA.  The best case scenario would mean a simple loss of scholarships for a couple years.   Evidence that OSU is planning ahead in this area is being demonstrated by the reduced number of early commitments that OSU has secured for this year.  

A worse case scenario would be that the NCAA investigative team takes its time using the Sports Illustrated template to identify program excesses over the last decade.   All of this combined with OSU’s history for lawlessness and its lack of institutional control could land the Cowboy program in the slammer.    

In any case this latest event in a series of bad publicity moves has to eventually hurt OSU recruiting.  If this investigation drags on past next February’s signing day look for OSU’s four star recruits to land elsewhere. 

Finally, OSU would be smart to replicate the OU learning curve and use the Boren blue print for their model.  Of course to do this would mean that OSU would be forced to divest itself of its CEO leadership model.  With Pickens firmly in control of the university, taking that approach is unlikely. 

An even harder task for OSU Regents would be to use OU as a positive model for anything…I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen…After all, this is why they call them Aggies…

 

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Is Stoops worth it…

As a long time educator, I am well versed in how to balance a budget and make a dollar go a long way.  I must admit that when I see football coaches making ungodly amounts of money, it bothers me.  The latest incident that has raised eyebrows among the coffee shop crowd is the $600,000 dollar raise given to Bob Stoops.  That’s right the Stoops 2014 increase in salary could pay for the salaries of as many as twenty first year teachers.     

The Stoopster will now be making 5.3 million a year which is by anyone’s estimation a ton of money.  To be honest as you will find in this article, my issue is not with Stoops, but with Oklahomans who value football coaches more than teachers.  In any case as they say, it is what it is.   Maybe it is time to look for a silver lining to this cloud.  To make this happen, let’s see if Stoops earns his keep. Doing so shoud make this story much more palpable to fans…

Let’s start with the Stoops mansion and the office idiot who can’t get past that issue.  Possibly these guys should drive up I-35 to Oak Tree or Gaillardia or for that matter to take a trip to east Norman and see the Toby Keith estates.  I suspect that the Stoops works ten times harder than any of these guys.  

Secondly, remind the teacher lounge crowd that Stoops is similar to those in the entertainment business.  For those of us who makes trips to Norman during football season an OU football game is much more satisfying than most movies.  By comparison, back in the day, Friends sitcom actors made a million dollars per episode.    Yes, they were funny, but not that funny… 

It was reported recently that NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant has made $550 million dollars during his pro basketball career from salary and endorsements.  That’s right, a half billion dollars for dribbling a basketball.  Granted he is a great dribbler, but really…

You catch my drift…By comparison; the Stoops salary is not out of bounds given his status in the coaching world and for that matter the entertainment industry.  For additional ammo for the water cooler crowd, remind them that the OU athletic department is one of only nine athletic departments in America that pays its own way.   This fact is due in large part to Stoops.   OU does not charge student fees or expect Joe taxpayer to foot the bill for its football program.   More importantly football paves the way for some 16 non-revenue sports to operate in the black. 

As Doc T. pointed out recently OU has one of the top five football/basketball combinations in America.  Pretty impressive, but it must be noted that the men’s basketball team will never generate enough revenue to pay the $2 million dollar Lon Kruger salary.  That’s right, football picks up that tab as well. 

Finally, taking a page from the T. Boone Pickens playbook, the Sooners have upped the ante by hiring and financially rewarding the best assistant coaching staff in recent memory.  This staff earned its keep on the football field last year and unless I miss the mark this group will produce a 2nd top ten recruiting class as in a row this year. 

One last argument for the Stoops salary; as an OU alumnus I appreciate the fact that unlike other universities OU has refused to turn over the keys to the university to the highest bidder.   David Boren is still running things in Norman and that is the way OU fans should want things to be.   

Now for the financial stat sheet…Conservative estimates have an OU home game bringing in almost $8 million to the athletic department coffers.  This means that the cost of staff salaries will be paid in full by the 9 minute mark of the 1st quarter of the Tennessee game.  The rest of the season as they say will be gravy…

That gravy will pay for the full ride for 85 football players.  It will also provide scholarships for almost 400 non-football scholarship athletes as well.   As we know OU athletic teams travel in style regardless of the sport, so football pays for those bills as well.

 

Not to be outdone, college professors get in on the take as well.   The football team that they criticize at Saturday night parties provides them with pay raises on Monday.   Simply put football greases the academic side of the university and allows the university to continuing trending upward in spite of state budget cuts.

 

In the end, it may be a fair argument that head football coaches make way too much money and school teachers make way too little.   Possibly in the next world we can fix that.    Until that day comes, the nature of the Stoops salary can be softened with the knowledge that the Stoops salary has a definite trickle-down effect.   I suggest that Bob and his staff are worth every penny…

OU coaching staff salaries…

Bob Stoops – Head coach – $5,300,000

Mike Stoops – Defensive coordinator – $850,000

Josh Heupel – Offensive coordinator – $605,000

Jerry Montgomery – Defensive line coach – $380,000

Bill Bedenbaugh – Offensive line coach – $370,000

Bobby Jack Wright – Cornerbacks coach – $350,000

Cale Gundy – Running backs coach $350,000

Jay Bulware – Co-offensive Coordinator – $325,000

Tim Kish – Linebackers coach – $325,000

Pete Schmidt – Strength and conditioning coach – $300,000

 

Total…$8,830,000 vs. one home game receipts of $8,000,000 (conservative estimate)

 

 

Big 12’s Best Hope for Survival = Beefing up Non-Conference Schedules…

Big 12’s Best Hope for Survival = Beefing up Non-Conference Schedules…          

It appears that the Big 12 will stay pat with its 10 team round-robin format for the foreseeable future.  Proponents of the Big 12 will point to the fact that by splitting revenue 10 ways instead of by 12, 14 or 16 makes perfect sense.  Granted a $23 million guaranteed television contract does sound pretty tempting.  Of course as is always the case, there are two sides to every story.  

First, the OU $23 million dollar pay check is for one year only as conference newbies West Virginia and TCU were forced to take lesser shares.   That deal ends next year as the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs become full blown members.  Comparing the Big 12 paydays to those from other conferences can be a faulty argument as well.  Granted the other conferences took home similar paychecks of approximately $20 million per team last year this was before television contracts were renegotiated due to conference realignment.   

The new SEC network contract with CBS, ABC and ESPN adds some $14 million dollars per team due to an expanded viewing audience that saw five major television markets added to the mix.   As a result, the new contract upped the per team ante to $34million dollars per team.  That’s right over the next decade Missouri and Texas A&M will take home $34 million t.v. dollars compared to $20 for the landlocked Big 12. 

Making matters worse is the fact that the Big 12 conference is coming off one of its weakest on-field years ever.   The conference has lost its swagger and the new t.v. contract reinforces that fact.  The conference is  limited to a round robin football schedule with no championship game.  This fact hurts the conference not only at the box office, but also in terms of selling power. 

Lastly, the conference is beset by four bottom feeders with Kansas and Iowa State not serious about football and West Virginia and TCU still question marks.   2014 will be a make or break year for the Big 12 and apparently new Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has realized this fact.   

In a bold move he has directed conference athletic directors to beef up their non-conference schedules.   This plan may just work…Who would have believed a few years back that K-State would agree to replace Kennesaw State with Auburn on its schedule?     Additional non-conference opponents include Alabama, Arkansas, UCLA, Iowa, and Tennessee.   

Only Baylor chose to sit this year out and while the move may appear to be self-serving on Baylor’s part, the move may end up working to the benefit of the conference.    The addition of strong non-conference opponents will improve the conference RPI (strength of schedule) and position a couple of teams to move up the final four selection committee charts. 

The two most likely beneficiaries of a beefed up Big 12 schedule will be OU and Baylor.   Baylor sets up well with the nation’s softest schedule and OU should be in good shape with a schedule that has the Sooners playing the conference’s top teams at home.  

If the conference can hold its own during the non-conference portion of the schedule and jack up its conference RPI, the November 8th winner between OU and Baylor will be positioned well for Selection Sunday.   If the strategy works and the Nov. 8th winner can secure a final four, possibly top two seed in the inaugural playoffs Bowlsby will look like a genius.    

Of course it will be up to conference teams to take care of business along the way.   It will not be enough to be competitive, it will be imperative for conference teams to pick up a couple wins against the beefed-up non-conference schedule   

Notable Big12 non-conference games for 2014…

August 30 –

Oklahoma State vs. Florida State

West Virginia vs. Alabama

 

September 13 –

Kansas at Duke

UCLA at Texas

Arkansasat Texas Tech

Iowa State at Iowa

Minnesota at TCU

Tennessee at Oklahoma

 

September 18 –

Auburn at Kansas State