Battle lines indeed. What the SEC and Big 12 dream in an ideal world full of ESPN revenues and smoked brisket is that each might send two teams to the Final Four. Where the Pac 12 and Big Ten — the other two behemoth conferences — differ, is by making champions only eligible, a spot at the table is guaranteed. That’s before considering the ACC, Big East and Notre Dame. What’s becoming increasingly likely is that three conference champions (with some sort of top six-ish ranking requirement) earn semifinal slots with a wild card, the other best team available, also receiving a golden ticket. This leaves teams like Boise State, an independent BYU and what’s left of the ACC in 2014 a viable opportunity to place an undefeated team in the playoff. But, as these negotiations are apt to do, that’s too simple. And if we’ve learned anything from college football executives, they don’t prefer simple.
As the realignment craze continues, the Big 12 meetings offered an official nugget of information worth exactly as much as my opinion here.
“At this time,” interim commissioner Chuck Neinas and his cohorts, namely Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds haven’t expressed a public attraction to Florida State and Clemson. That’s because in this game of television contracts and conference by-laws, no one wants to get sued. The fewer official statements, the smaller the exit fees. But that doesn’t mean the Big 12 won’t expand, in fact it likely will. The Champions Bowl agreement between the Big 12 and SEC wasn’t signed with a 10-team conference in mind. Pundits are correct in asserting that Texas and Oklahoma and whomever else is hot have little to lose winning a round-robin league with no upset possible in a conference championship. But this, like everything else in the sport, is about money and politics. Florida State and Clemson provide more of it and anything before the release of the playoff format is simply posturing. Bob Bowlsby assumes power as Big 12 commissioner in mid-June, expect his first few days on the job to entail plenty of third-party conversations. These deals, Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac 12, Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC aren’t struck overnight. They’re finished by intermediaries and consummated when an official offer is extended.
Part of the SEC expansion mindset, perhaps most of it, centered around their desire to place an conference network in as many markets as possible. Texas A&M provided an inroad in Texas, Missouri does the same in St. Louis. And apparently, that station is moving right along.
Commissioner Mike Slive would like to have the channel operational by 2014, the first year post-BCS. And if the moniker is any indication, it should be a party. Get it? Like the movie? Dangit, is this thing on? I’m not sure why the network requires a stealthy nickname when “SEC Network” would do just fine but far be it from me to second-guess the conference that’s produced the last six national champions. Actually, yes, I will second guess them. It’s dumb unless Les Miles thought of it and then I’d be scared out of my mind wondering whether “Project X” included his own version of Swamp People where the LSU coach hunts prospective recruits.
Facing a very public trial, Jerry Sandusky‘s lawyer was correct in asking for every delay he could think of to hopefully put off the case as long as possible. He won’t get his wish.
Next week, counsel on both sides will attempt to find impartial jurors. Plenty may have never heard of Sandusky the Penn State defensive coordinator but Sandusky the pedophile? A different proposition. That said, courts always find a few recluses and the sooner this trial is over, the better. I’m still sticking to the notion that Sandusky agrees to a late plea deal. He simply can’t allow his accusers to testify.