Big 12 football: No title game, even with expansion?
The Big 12 staged a teleconference Friday to discuss the new television package. Included in the teleconference were commissioner Bob Bowlsby, ESPN’s Burke Magness and FOX’s Larry Jones and Karen Brodkin.
Here are the highlights:
* FOX’s ability to broadcast Big 12 games on its over-air network – what I call Big FOX – should put the Big 12 in prime position, particularly on Saturday nights.
“This enhances our sports Saturday programming,” Jones said. “We are in the big event business. Expanding our whole sports presence on Saturday afternoon and Saturday nights is very important to us.
“We’re going with sports almost 52 weeks a year on Saturday night. During the college football season, you will see now, with this new deal, Big12 football in prime time on Saturday night.”
FOX has NASCAR and major league baseball on Saturday nights a good part of the year.
* Bowlsby said consideration was made in the contract for teams not having to play a disproportionate number of late games.
Bob Stoops will be happy. Four of the Sooners’ last nine games have kicked off at 8 p.m. (local time) or later. Two more have kicked off at 7 p.m. Stoops has expressed his displeasure.
“It was a constant discussion for our staff in the negotiations,” Bowlsby said. “We’re very concerned about the convenience of our fans and making sure we do the things we can do to balance the kind of exposure we’re going to get and with the amount of time when we give notice on kick times.
“We’re very mindful it doesn’t disproportionally land on the backs of any one situation. It’s spread out over the season and over a number of seasons so that one institution doesn’t have to do it on a frequent basis.
“That’s certainly something we’ve taken into consideration. We also understand with the national inventory we’re going to enjoy, putting games on in prime time is part of that.”
* Bowlsby said expansion is not on the Big 12 table but said even if the Big 12 did expand, he’s not sure the league would add a championship game.
“I don’t know if we got to 12 if we would necessarily implement a conference championship game,” Bowlsby said. With the new playoff format coming in 2014, with four teams, “We really like our path to the national championship playoffs, playing a full round robin. It brings real value to the regular season. We’ve all seen instances where a team lost in the conference championship game and eliminated their opportunity to play in the national championship game.”
* Bowlsby did say that expansion and/or a title game are discussed in the contract, leaving open the opportunity to renegotiate should circumstances change.
“We had extensive discussions,” Bowlsby said. “We’re all happy with the extent to which we can keep an ongoing dialogue, active issues, changing circumstances.
“I think the Big 12 will be the envy of some leagues around the nation on issues of distribution of revenue and structure. The full round robin in football and double round robin in basketball.
“I think it’s important that I as commissioner and our staff are looking for ways to fortify our conference so that none of our members looks to leave the conference, and for us to be envied and attractive to others. But we have no active agenda for expansion at this time.
“That doesn’t mean we aren’t oblivious to other opportunities going forward. But I believe a period of calm would be advantageous for us and others. We have a lot going for us and we ought to be slow to share that.”
* ESPN and FOX appear set to cooperate on selections. FOX gets “enhanced” selections through 2015, then starting in 2016 the networks will rotate selections. FOX always has had second choice on games, after ABC/ESPN.
“We’re giving FOX access to some of the inventory,” Magness said. “After the four years, we split the inventory in terms of quality selection. It’s really a win, win for both us, starting immediately. Frankly, the cooperation we’ve forged together in some of our recent agreements, does give us the ability to get maximum exposure.”
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