Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, on the job 21/2 months, visited the OU campus Monday and staged a news conference. Here are the highlights:
How close is the Big 12 to finalizing its new television contract with ESPN and FOX?
Bowlsby: “Yes, there are holdups. As a context, we have ESPN, FOX and the conference as the three parties. We are also in the process of wordsmithing with 10 presidents, 10 general counsels and 10 athletic directors, all who have virtually veto power over the documents. At times, I have to admit we've been a little bit of a dog chasing our tail. Should anyone be concerned about that? I would say no. These are complex legal documents. The long form document will run something like 50 pages of dense legal. We're moving forward … we expect to be paid, we expect to make our inventory available, but these are difficult documents to put together.”
Will fans still have to wait until 12 or even six days before kickoff to know starting times?
Bowlsby: “It's as simple as our television partners paying us a lot of money and wanting to make sure they're putting on, in the best time slots, the very best matchups. In the end, that's probably good for our fans, too, at least for the viewing public, if not for the live gate public. Our commitment is we're going to try to do it just as early as we possibly can. To the extent we can make selections early in the summer, we will. But I think today's reality is you're going to have some games on the 12-day pick list and we hope they don't go to the six-day pick list very often.”
Does Texas' financial prowess make it difficult to balance an equitable league?
Bowlsby: “Oklahoma's big, strong, talented, got lots of money, too. I don't think we're any different than any other conference. In the Big Ten, there was always talk about the big two and the little eight. In the Pac-10, it was always UCLA and USC and the Los Angeles market.
“There are some institutions that have some built-in advantages. And they also capitalized on those advantages. Texas has done a terrific job. They've built an extraordinary athletics program. They've been very fortunate and they've also been very good. But so has Oklahoma. Every school in the league has its strengths.
“Equal revenue sharing will help us. When I talk about the balance between the bottom of the league and the top league, I think you see that, it was an unfortunate circumstance, with Iowa State rising up and beating our conference champion (OSU) last year. That is emblematic of good balance. It isn't all about money. But resources and the ability to invest in facilities and invest in coaches and invest in recruiting, those things are all important.”
Is expansion now off the table?
Bowlsby: “I don't know that we have an imperative for expansion. At 10 members, we get that strength and stability and nimbleness that we want. On the other hand, I would never foreclose on some sort of expansion. I think it's the kind of issue we're going to have to have on our dashboard at all times. That doesn't mean you go into a meeting and nominate someone and ‘let's say yeah or nay.' From a strategic standpoint, you're constantly looking at the changing environment out there. Intercollegiate athletics would be very well served by a period of calm that included very little conference movement.
“I think some organizations have found the larger number is not the panacea that they thought it was. They have determined the money is nice and the logistics are difficult.”