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Big 12 Notes – Spring Practices

April 16th

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McClain exit making national news 

From CBS Sports … Headline: “Colorado players in transfer portal: Cormani McClain among key departures ahead of Year 2 for Deion Sanders … As has become the expectation under Sanders, Colorado is having a busy day in the transfer portal”

In what has become a tradition under Deion Sanders during his young stint as Colorado coach, the Buffaloes are enduring a busy day of departures in the transfer portal. The spring transfer window opened Tuesday, and the Buffaloes have already had several players enter with the intention of playing elsewhere.

Former five-star prospect and 247Sports’ No. 1 ranked cornerback in 2023 Cormani McClain plans to enter the portal, he announced Tuesday. McClain represented Sanders’ first major recruiting coup at Colorado in 2023. While McClain wasn’t a major contributor last year for the Buffs, his departure would have a negative impact on the optics of the program moving forward.

This news comes on the back of a major loss in starting offensive lineman Savion Washington. The 6-foot-8 standout started 10 games at right tackle for the Buffaloes last season and played well despite some struggles across the line of scrimmage.

With Washington hitting the portal, Colorado now has to replace all five of its starting offensive linemen and 114 combined starts from last season’s unit. The Buffaloes did bring in five offensive line transfers during the winter window, and the expectation is that Sanders and his staff will comb the portal for even more depth given the current overhaul.

From ESPN … After a tumultuous first season at Colorado, former five-star cornerback Cormani McClain is planning to enter the NCAA transfer portal, where he would join a number of Buffaloes teammates with starting experience.

McClain posted his intentions to his Instagram story, and a source at Colorado confirmed his departure from the program. As of Tuesday evening, nine Buffaloes players had entered the portal as the spring transfer window kicked off around college football.

McClain, the No. 14 overall recruit in the 2023 ESPN 300 out of Lakeland, Florida, committed to Miami in October 2022 before flipping to Colorado in January 2023.

At the time, it was considered a big signing for Colorado coach Deion Sanders and his staff, and it was thought that McClain would complement Travis Hunter in the secondary as an immediate impact player. McClain did not see the field early on, however, and Sanders told reporters in September that the freshman needed to do more.

“Study and prepare. Be on time for meetings, show up to meetings. Understand the scheme,” Sanders said at the time. “I check film time from each player, so I can see who’s preparing. So, if I don’t see that, you would be a fool to put somebody out there who’s not prepared.”

McClain did end up seeing action in nine games, starting four, and accounted for 13 tackles. He was a true freshman this past year and still has a redshirt available if he needs to use it at his next destination.

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April 12th

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Big 12 returning starters: CU 7th in the conference with 14

From 247 SportsCollege football teams with a high number of returning starters from the previous season are often set up for success heading into the next campaign. While experience does not always translate to positive results, it can certainly help in pressure-packed situations. In the era of the transfer portal, roster reconstruction is seemingly more extensive than ever with movement all across the board. For now, rosters for the upcoming 2024 season are set with most of the programs across the nation currently holding spring practices.

But soon another wave of changes will take place when the spring transfer portal opens April 15. So, which power conference college football teams currently have the highest number of returning starters from 2023?

The number of returning starters for each team are determined using Pro Football Focus data. A player must have at least six starts from the 2023 season — conference title games, bowls and playoffs included. Offense, defense and special teams (kicker and punter) are factored into the total number of returning starters.

From the Big 12 … (and national ranking) …

2. Oklahoma State – 20 

Offense: 10

Defense: 10

Special Teams: 1 (Punter)

T-3. Iowa State – 19 

Offense: 9

Defense: 9

Special Teams: 1 (Punter)

6. Baylor – 18 

Offense: 9

Defense: 7

Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-12. Utah Utes — 16

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 8
  • Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-21. Cincinnati Bearcats — 15

  • Offense: 8
  • Defense: 5
  • Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-21. West Virginia Mountaineers — 15

  • Offense: 8
  • Defense: 5
  • Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-29. Colorado Buffaloes — 14

  • Offense: 5
  • Defense: 7
  • Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-32. Arizona Wildcats — 13

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Special Teams: 1 (Kicker)

T-32. Arizona State Sun Devils — 13

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 7
  • Special Teams: 0

T-32. Kansas Jayhawks — 13

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Special Teams: 1 (Punter)

T-32. UCF Knights — 13

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 5
  • Special Teams: 2 (Kicker, Punter)

T-44. BYU Cougars — 12

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 5
  • Special Teams: 1 (Kicker)

T-44. Kansas State Wildcats — 12

  • Offense: 5
  • Defense: 6
  • Special Teams: 1 (Kicker)

T-44. TCU Horned Frogs — 12

  • Offense: 6
  • Defense: 6
  • Special Teams: 0

T-57. Houston Cougars — 10

  • Offense: 5
  • Defense: 4
  • Special Teams: 1 (Kicker)

T-57. Texas Tech Red Raiders — 10

  • Offense: 5
  • Defense: 4
  • Special Teams: 1 (Kicker)

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April 11th

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247 Sports List of Teams Likely to be most active in the Spring Transfer Portal (CU doesn’t make the list)

From 247 Sports … It’s almost spending season in college football with the spring transfer portal window opening next week through the end of the month. That means teams with expansive NIL resources looking to reload have another opportunity at plugging roster holes and patching up the two-deep prior to the summer break ahead of the 2024 season.

During the first go-around, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Colorado and a few others were the most active with roster revamps, including Deion Sanders’ complete position flip of his offensive line room. With reports of chaos unfolding due to sizable NIL offers from competing schools, several high-profile players could relocate.

The spring transfer portal window opens from April 16 through April 30. Many Power conference teams have not yet played their final spring scrimmages, yet talent acquisition remains paramount before coaches put a cap on this portion of the offseason.

From the Big 12 …

Arizona Wildcats … Arizona already flexed its NIL strength once this offseason after convincing mega stars Noah Fifita (quarterback) and Tetairoa McMillan (wide receiver) to return ahead of Brent Brennan’s first season. And while those two are still acclimating to a new offensive scheme ahead of the Wildcats’ first season in the Big 12, there are other spots on the roster that must be addressed if Arizona intends on building on 2023’s momentum. Prominent Arizona booster Humberto Lopez is one of the leading NIL figures for the Wildcats and was instrumental in bringing Fifita and McMillan back. And he’ll play a sizable role in who this program can go after this month.

Read full story here

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April 9th

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NCAA focused on creating “consumer protection system” for athletes and their families in NIL era

From ESPN … NCAA president Charlie Baker said he’s focused on creating a “consumer protection system” for collegiate athletes and their families so they can have a better understanding of name, image and likeness deals that are legitimate — and those that are fraudulent.

Baker, who spoke to reporters prior to the start of the national championship game Monday, said a multitude of athletes are basing NIL decisions on limited information about the legitimacy of the companies and sponsors courting them.

“One piece, which we’ve been working on for a while, is what we call a consumer protection package,” Baker said. “For the first time, some semblance of what the market looks like so that student-athletes and their families can have some idea about whether or not what somebody’s promising them or telling them is actually legit. The second piece is to create almost like a Yelp or a Trip Advisor that will give student-athletes the ability to talk about third parties that do right by them and third parties that don’t. I think it’s unfortunate that for the most part that whole space is kind of anonymous and I think that puts, again, kids and families in a tough spot.”

Baker also said he’s concerned about the impact of prop-betting on collegiate sports. He said he’s spoken directly with athletes who are concerned about the growing impact of sports betting in the collegiate space.

“I think the prop-betting piece is enormously problematic for student-athletes and I’ve had a lot of them say that to me,” he said.

Continue reading story here

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April 7th

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House damages could reach $4 billion – “There’s a lot to be sorted out”

From the San Jose Mercury News … Eric MacMichael, who represented Washington State and Oregon State in their lawsuit against the departing 10, told the Hotline that exposure to potential liabilities shaped the legal strategy — not only in a Whitman County (Washington) courthouse but also in the private discussions with a mediator.

“We were very mindful of the liabilities facing the conference,” MacMichael said. “Making sure the liabilities were addressed was a guiding principle in our approach to a fair settlement.”

What are the specific liabilities facing the conference?

A section of the negotiated agreement reads as follows:

“Liability Release. Except as otherwise set forth in Section 2.b, the Departing Members are released from all liability arising from the decisions made by the Board of Directors that do not require ratification.”

Section 2.b includes almost four pages of redactions — a move designed, in part, to protect the schools against unresolved legal challenges. They don’t want opposing attorneys to see their playbook, in other words.

A confidentiality agreement prevents MacMichael from discussing certain details, including the liabilities under redaction.

The plaintiffs sought $1.4 billion in damages from the NCAA and its universities, according to court documents reported by USA Today. But the price tag soared in November when U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken granted the case class-action status.

It’s Armageddon for the NCAA and the Power Five leagues, which are named defendants: Because damages treble in class-action cases, the bill could exceed $4 billion.

The case is scheduled for trial in January. But multiple industry experts interviewed by the Hotline in recent months believe it will be settled.

“There’s no way it’s going to court,” one source said. “But there’s a lot to be sorted out.”

That sorting includes the means by which the NCAA and the Power Five conferences would pay the damages.

After all, the schools are the conferences, and nobody has $4 billion in the bank.

(One option: Using future revenue from media contracts and spreading the payments over time.)

The last thing Washington State and Oregon State want as a two-team conference in 2025-26 is sole responsibility for the entirety of the Pac-12’s share of the damages, whether it’s $1 million, $100 million or a half-billion.

“The House case was front and center in our thinking,” MacMichael said.

Read full story here

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April 5th

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Federal judge denies Florida State Motions to Dismiss ACC Lawsuit

From CBS Sports …  A North Carolina judge denied two motions filed by Florida State to dismiss or stay a lawsuit from the ACC, marking a notable win for the conference in its ongoing legal battle with FSU. The ruling will likely allow the lawsuit to proceed through North Carolina courts, where the ACC is headquartered, rather than in Florida. At stake is more than $500 million that Florida State could be ordered to pay if it leaves for another conference before 3036 in violation of the conference’s grant of rights.

“We are pleased with today’s decision, which confirms North Carolina courts are the proper place to enforce the ACC’s agreements and bylaws,” said the ACC in a statement. “We remain committed to acting in the best interests of the league’s members and will see this process through to protect and advance the ACC.”

Florida State’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted on Dec. 22, 2023, to file a lawsuit against the ACC challenging its grant of rights; however, the ACC preempted this move with a lawsuit of its own the day before, accusing Florida State of breach of contract.

“Although it’s highly unusual for a court to dismiss a lawsuit at this initial stage, we are disappointed in the Court’s decision not to dismiss the North Carolina lawsuit,” Florida State said in a statement following Thursday’s decision. “At the same time, we appreciate the ruling today that Florida State could not have breached any supposed fiduciary duties to the ACC by seeking legal relief from the Conference’s gross mishandling of member school media rights. We will continue to aggressively advocate for the University, for FSU Athletics, and for the sovereignty of the State of Florida as these cases proceed.”

At issue is the ACC’s withdrawal penalty, which would cost Florida State $572 million — $130 of which would be drawn from TV revenue — if it chooses to leave the conference before 2036. The ACC grant of rights is meant to keep schools tethered to the conference. Its media rights agreement with ESPN runs through 2027 with a unilateral right to exercise a nine-year option through 2036.

Continue reading story here

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April 4th

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NCAA Working Group getting closer to giving schools a hands-on role in NIL Deals

From Yahoo Sports … Colleges are growing closer to having more of a hands-on role in arranging name, image and likeness (NIL) deals for their athletes than ever before.

The NCAA’s NIL working group has introduced a proposal that permits schools to provide “assistance and services” to their athletes in pursuit of NIL opportunities, including identifying opportunities for them as well as even facilitating deals with third parties.

The working group is recommending that the NCAA Division I Council adopt the proposal as expedited legislation at its meeting later this month, according to a memo sent to members on Monday and obtained by Yahoo Sports. The proposal was publicized in January but has since been refined to focus specifically on a school’s involvement in arranging NIL deals.

The proposal is on a parallel track and interconnected with the NIL “protections” legislation that the council adopted in January. That legislation creates (1) a voluntary registration process for NIL professional service providers such as agents and advisors; (2) a disclosure database of athlete NIL deals of $600 or more; and (3) standardized NIL contracts as well as a comprehensive educational plan.

The NCAA awarded the management of the agent registry, disclosure database and educational plan to Teamworks, sources told Yahoo Sports. Teamworks is a technology platform and app already widely used within many college athletic departments. The deal between the NCAA and Teamworks has not been finalized.

According to the working group’s proposed legislation, as an incentive for athletes to disclose their deals, schools may only provide assistance to those athletes who have disclosed their contracts, according to the memo.

This latest clarification of the NCAA’s NIL policy brings closer schools and third-party NIL entities, such as booster-led collectives. The relationship between the two — school and collective — has been one of the many murky issues in the NIL space.

Continue reading story here

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April 2nd 

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Big 12 announces “Big 12 Mexico” postponed until 2025

Image

What Big 12 Mexico is supposed to be about … 

June 8, 2023 Big 12 Press Release … Today, the Big 12 Conference announced the launch of Big 12 Mexico, the Conference’s first international extension that will see Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer and baseball games held in Mexico. Big 12 Mexico’s first contest will be a men’s and women’s basketball matchup between Kansas and Houston, held in Mexico City at Arena CDMX in December of 2024. Following the launch of Big 12 basketball in Mexico, Big 12 women’s soccer and baseball will participate in exhibitions against clubs from the region.

Additionally, the Big 12 will explore establishing a football bowl game in Monterrey, starting in 2026. This would be the first bowl game ever held in Mexico.

“Mexico is a natural extension to the Big 12 footprint, and I’m thrilled to introduce Big 12 Mexico as the Conference’s first-ever international presence,” said Commissioner Brett Yormark. “Through Big 12 Mexico, our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in an international setting, and our Conference will have the chance to showcase our brand across Mexico.”

Leading up to the launch of Big 12 Mexico and throughout 2023, FOX Sports and ESPN will help seed the Big 12 product across Mexico and Spanish-speaking communities through their ESPN Deportes (U.S – based), ESPN Mexico and ESPN on Star+ (Mexico – based channels and OTT service) and FOX Deportes (U.S. – based) channels, which will air select Big 12 football and basketball games. Additionally, the Big 12 will look to secure for the first time Spanish radio broadcasts for Big 12 Football and Basketball Championships in 2023-24 and beyond and will implement a robust Mexico digital strategy.

The Big 12 Conference will team up with Mexico City-based live entertainment agency Zignia as a co-promotional partner. Zignia will support with marketing and sales of Big 12 Mexico events, as well as provide the Conference with their depth of resources. Additionally, On Location, an Endeavor-owned company, will assist with all school travel and VIP packages, while Endeavor will assist the Conference in all facets of its international digital strategy. The Big 12 Business Advisory Board will also continue to provide key insights and counsel as the Conference grows its presence in Mexico.

Beyond hosting Conference games across multiple sports, Big 12 Mexico will see the Conference execute a variety of community outreach programming, commercial partnerships, merchandise and activations. This includes the Conference partnering with notable musicians and artists and launching an influencer marketing campaign in the region.

Five current and future Big 12 Conference campuses – Baylor, Houston, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech – are located less than 400 miles away from Mexico, while the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have campus extensions in Mexico.  Mexico City – the largest city in North America with a greater area population of over 22 million – has played host to MLB, NBA, NFL, and is home to the G League’s Capitanes de Ciudad de México.

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April 1st

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Final tally on Pac-2 payout: Over $200 million over next three years

From the San Jose Mercury News … The process required eight months, a lawsuit, a negotiated settlement, clarity from the College Football Playoff, readings and re-readings of the Rose Bowl contract, an entire basketball season and multiple rounds of the NCAA Tournament. But finally, we have clarity on the cash.

It’s time to calculate the pot ‘o gold waiting for Washington State and Oregon State.

Once the other 10 schools depart the Pac-12 this summer, the Cougars and Beavers will have sole access to the conference’s assets and revenue.

They have time to plot a course of action, but not an unlimited amount.

NCAA rules provide a two-year grace period for conferences gutted by realignment. Once the summer of 2026 arrives, the Pac-12 must have at least eight schools. Otherwise, WSU and OSU must join another conference.

Based on four key revenue streams, the Cougars and Beavers seemingly have enough cash to create strategic flexibility, maintain athletic operations at a reasonable level and attempt to lure other schools into a rebuilt conference.

How much cash?

With the Pac-12 eliminated from the men’s NCAA Tournament, we can tally the revenue and assets available during the 2025 and 2026 fiscal years — the crucial 24-month period in which WSU and OSU will be alone in open water.

The revenue due to the conference prior to that period (i.e., this spring) must be shared with the outbound schools, which officially depart at the close of business on Aug. 1, according to the negotiated settlement.

The four primary revenue buckets for the Cougars and Beavers are:

Conference distributions withheld

The math: $6.5 million withheld from 10 schools is $65 million for WSU and OSU.

College Football Playoff payments

Because of the NCAA’s grace period, the Cougars and Beavers are eligible for their full share of the CFP revenue per the terms of the contract signed a decade ago, when the four-team event was created.

That 12-year contract runs through the 2024 and 2025 seasons. While WSU and OSU will be treated as at-large teams with regard to their access to the playoff, they remain full-share Power Five members — just like the 10 outbound schools.

A full share is roughly $6 million per year.

The math: $6 million for each school for two years is $24 million.

Rose Bowl revenue

In addition to the CFP payments, the Cougars and Beavers have sole access to the terms of the Rose Bowl’s agreement with the Pac-12, its longtime partner. That deal remains in place for the next two seasons, to coincide with the CFP’s contract cycle.

And it’s a whopper: The Pac-12 receives approximately $50 million annually as part of the agreement with the Granddaddy.

The math: $50 million for two years is $100 million.

NCAA Tournament revenue

This is the most complicated piece of the cash calculation, with the amount of revenue based on tournament success over a rolling timeframe.

In simplest terms, the process works as follows:

Each game played is worth one unit. Each unit carries a six-figure dollar value paid to the team’s conference over six years, beginning the following spring.

So the money due to the Pac-12 this spring from the NCAA Tournament is based on the units accumulated by all the member schools from 2018-23. And it will be shared by all the schools, since the payment period falls within the 2024 fiscal year.

The math: 50 units at $350,000 each in the spring of 2025 is $17.5 million, and 43 units at $360,000 each in the spring of 2026 is $15.5 million — for a two-year total of $33 million.

Totals … 

Conference withholdings: $65 million
CFP payouts: $24 million (approx.)
Rose Bowl: $100 million (approx.)
NCAA units: $33 million

The grand total during the critical 24-month window: roughly $222 million.

It guarantees them nothing, except a fighting chance.

Read full story here

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March 31st 

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Minnesota foregoing spring game in favor of an exclusive practice for NIL donors

From The Athletic

What are your thoughts on a program like Minnesota eliminating its spring game and instead holding a practice for NIL collective members only? — Karl T.

I had not heard about this until seeing Karl’s question, but sure enough, Minnesota is holding one public practice and one that’s open only to donors of Dinkytown Athletes, with P.J. Fleck saying, “We want to be able to urge and create more people being a part of Dinkytown Athletes as best we possibly can.”

I don’t think football programs are under any obligation to hold a traditional spring game. Most have been pared back anyway because coaches don’t want to risk injury and/or give away too much to opponents. If you’re Ohio State or Alabama and you can get 70,000 fans to come, you night as well, In Minnesota’s case specifically, Fleck mentioned that they’ve rarely gotten to hold one as planned, either because of snow or the pandemic, and I assume attendance would be modest regardless.

And in theory, it also makes sense for these collectives to give their members exclusive access of some kind. I’ve been to a lot of college practices, and there are always some big boosters roaming the sidelines. Now that perk is not reserved just for them.

But it also speaks to how patently absurd the whole collective thing is. Fleck, who makes $6 million a year but is not allowed to be directly involved in NIL, has to resort to essentially bribing his fans to donate money for “NIL” so he can field a competitive roster. This in addition to fans who already had to make donations for the rights to purchase season tickets, get decent parking, etc. There has to be a better way.

And there is. In line with NCAA president Charlie Baker’s proposal last December, NIL will go in-house at the schools soon enough. I’d imagine in most cases they’ll just bring the people running the collectives on board. They’ll still want your money, but they’ve always wanted your money. Just now it won’t all be going to construction costs.

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March 28th

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CBS Sports: Three Big 12 teams to vie for College Football Playoffs in 2024

From CBS Sports … March is arguably the greatest month on the sports calendar. Both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments are in full swing, bringing the characteristic madness to which fans have grown accustomed. Some of the best squads in the nation are gearing up for Sweet 16 games after making it through the first two rounds.

At the same time, and not to be entirely outdone, the 2024 college football season takes its first big step as teams hit the field for spring practice. Both fans and coaches alike get an initial glimpse at what their squads will look like with a new season still several months away.

And what an interesting season it will be! The latest round of conference realignment has left the college football landscape looking entirely different with several teams from around the nation finding new homes. They’ll all compete for increased opportunity in an expanded 12-team College Football Playoff.

Some teams stand apart from the rest of the pack. Inspired by the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, which tips off on Thursday, it felt appropriate to look at college football’s Sweet 16: The 16 teams that are in the best position to take immediate advantage of the new College Football Playoff format.

This isn’t meant as a cut-and-dry playoff ranking. More, the teams are ordered by their outlook and opportunity to earn a spot in the historic 2024 12-team field.

3. Utah … Utah enters its inaugural Big 12 season in great shape with coach Kyle Whittingham calling the shots and super-senior quarterback Cam Rising back for another go-around. A lot of Utah’s outlook hinges on Rising’s recovery from a devastating knee injury and the Utes’ overall health after they were decimated by ailments in 2023. Though Utah has to play a solid Oklahoma State team on the road in 2024, it gets Arizona at home and avoids both of the Kansas schools during the regular season. Things stack up well for Utah to claim an automatic bid.

14. Arizona … Arizona is hot on Utah’s heels as an early Big 12 favorite in its transition from the Pac-12 despite an offseason filled with waves of change. Coach Jedd Fisch, fresh off leading the Wildcats to 10 wins, left for Washington to replace DeBoer, and he took 22 players with him. Despite that, Arizona held onto its two figureheads: quarterback Noah Fifita and wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan. They are fantastic building blocks for first-year coach Brent Brennan, who did a good job replacing Arizona’s losses via the transfer portal.

15. Oklahoma State … This list is heavy on the Big 12, not because it’s a conference that will produce multiple at-large qualifiers, but because there’s such stiff competition for the conference title. Of the returning schools, Oklahoma State’s outlook seems like the most positive. The Cowboys bring back a wealth of offensive production, including an early Heisman Trophy favorite in running back Ollie Gordon II. They also have a ton of staff continuity with both coordinators back under Mike Gundy, who is closing in on 20 years in Stillwater. If the defense can improve from an inconsistent 2023, Oklahoma State will be a hard out for its conference opponents.

Read full story here

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March 27th

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NCAA President wants to ban prop bets in college sports

From CBS Sports … The NCAA is encouraging individual states to ban proposition bets involving college athletes following a string of gambling scandals spanning a variety sports. With plans to engage with states where prop bets are legal, the NCAA is taking aim at wagering aimed at a certain statistic or player, which can make them especially vulnerable to outside influence. Missing a free throw or leaving the game with an injury can ultimately swing major sums.

“Sports betting issues are on the rise across the country with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competitions and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said in a statement. “The NCAA has been working with states to deal with these threats and many are responding by banning college prop bets.

“This week we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets,” Baker continued. “The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game — issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done.”

It’s easily the most aggressive advocacy statements against gambling that Baker has made since taking over in March 2023. Unlike his predecessor, Mark Emmert, Baker is a longtime politician and accepted the role as the outgoing governor of Massachusetts. Baker has quickly leveraged his political connections since taking the job, taking repeated trips and testifying in front of Congress.

This stance, however, comes days after Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter was placed under investigation by the NBA for prop bet irregularities. During a Jan. 26 game against the LA Clippers, Porter — a minor contributor — was one of the most bet-on players of the night. He left the game after four minutes, meaning all of his unders cashed.

The NCAA has seen repeated issues with gambling irregularity over the past year as more states legalize sports wagering. Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon was fired and slapped with a 15-year show-cause after allegedly giving away inside information to gamblers. Temple basketball is also under investigation by watchdog firm U.S. Integrity. Several Iowa and Iowa State players were previously suspended for gambling, including several on their own team.

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March 26th

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CBS Sports: Can CU offensive line improve at all?

From CBS Sports … The revamped Big 12 debuts in 2024 featuring 16 teams for the first time in history. Texas and Oklahoma are gone, but national contenders Utah and Arizona headline another crop of newcomers for the second straight season, this time from the Pac-12.

After a tumultuous final season before realignment, many of the 16 Big 12 teams are going through a rebuilding phase in 2024. Every returning program in the league lost at least four games last season, including Big 12 finalist Oklahoma State. The lone exception, Arizona, underwent a coaching change after a stellar 10-3 campaign. The four newcomers who transitioned to the power conferences all finished with losing records.

Ultimately, all the turnover means the Big 12 is wide open in 2024. And even more important, the winner of the ultra competitive league is all but guaranteed a trip to the College Football Playoff, making this a debut season for the ages.

The tone for the Big 12 race will start in spring ball. Here’s one question each Big 12 team has to answer in spring ball to make some noise in 2024.

Making matters worse, Colorado lost two starters to the transfer portal. Offensive line is a chemistry position and completely starting from scratch puts them right back where they were last year.

The Buffaloes made the offensive line a priority over the offseason, adding five transfers and No. 1 offensive tackle recruit Jordan Seaton. Colorado also hired former NFL lineman Phil Loadholt as offensive line coach. That said, the Buffaloes added seven transfer offensive linemen before the 2023 season but still struggled. “Coach Prime” has his work cut out for him.

… Below is the photo which ran atop the CBS Big 12 article. Think CBS Sports is a big fan of Coach Prime? … 

NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona

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March 25th

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Pac-2/Pac-10 reach final agreement: Cost to CU $6.5 million

From CBS SportsOregon State and Washington State reached a settlement with the Pac-12’s departing 10 members, officially bringing an end to the months-long legal battle over the conference’s future. Combined, Oregon State and Washington State will make $65 million in 2024 from the fiscal distributions of the departing members, with apportioned distributions going through June consisting of withheld ($5 million) and supplemental ($1.5 million) revenue.

The settlement notes that the departing members “shall have no vote, direction, input, or other power with respect to the Conference’s (Pac-12) use, allocation or expenditure” of those funds.

That means Oregon State and Washington State can apportion those funds with impunity, a boon for the remaining Pac-12 programs as they navigate an uncertain future. Moreover, the departing members cannot seek to dissolve the Pac-12 unless both OSU and WSU consent in writing. Further protections allow the remaining Pac-12 schools to seek an injunction if a departing member moves to dissolve the Pac-12, with severe financial penalties accrued for such an action.

The settlement also confirms that departing members are not entitled to any revenue generated during and after 2025. The 10 departing schools are each set to join their respective new conferences in July 2024.

Washington State and Oregon State have been hard at work improving their immediate outlook following the Pac-12’s effective dissolution. In December, the two programs announced they will join the West Coast Conference as affiliate members in all sports except football and baseball over the next two seasons. The football teams agreed to a scheduling alliance with the Mountain West for the 2024 season, with an option to extend into 2025.

Washington State/Oregon State receive significant bump in CFP payout (from $350K to $3.6M)

From CBS Sports … The College Football Playoff has finalized a new media rights contract, and what’s left of the Pac-12 is set to benefit from the updated distribution model. Oregon State and Washington State will each receive $3.6 million annually from 2026 — when the new agreement is set to begin — to at least 2028, three years before the deal is set to expire, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd confirmed.

The negotiated amount pales in comparison to what other power-conference schools will make under the model, but it is a huge increase for the nominal “Pac-2’s,” financial prospects. Prior to the amendment, Oregon State and Washington State were set to make around $350,000 annually from CFP distribution — the same figure granted to independent programs not named Notre Dame.

“The Pac-12 is pleased the College Football Playoff will continue to grow as an incredible sporting event for our student-athletes and fans,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “The new agreement to continue on ESPN platforms provides excellent exposure opportunities for Oregon State and Washington State football programs to succeed on the biggest stage in college sports.”

Tuesday’s finalized media rights deal allows ESPN to broadcast College Football Playoff games through the 2031 season. In exchange, the College Football Playoff will receive $1.3 billion annually, according to Dodd, which triples the amount of the previous contract.

The SEC and the Big Ten will receive around 29% of the annual conference distribution, or approximately $22 million per school, per Dodd. The ACC will get 17% ($13-14 million per school), and the Big 12’s cut will sit around 15% ($12 million per school). Notre Dame, which plays independent of a conference, will receive around $12 million.

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March 19th

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CFP and ESPN announce six-year, $7.8 billion contract through 2031-32

From ESPN … The College Football Playoff and ESPN have agreed to a new six-year, $7.8 billion contract that ensures the network will remain the sole media rights holder of the event through the 2031-32 season, it was jointly announced Tuesday.

ESPN, which has held exclusive broadcast rights since the CFP began in 2015, will expand its package for the final two years of the current 12-year contract, which runs through the 2025-26 season. The CFP is unveiling a 12-team format for the 2024-25 season, and ESPN will add all four of the new first-round games each year to the network’s existing coverage of the New Year’s Six bowls (now the quarterfinals and semifinals) and the CFP National Championship game.

ESPN also secured a six-year agreement that will cost $1.3 billion annually beginning in the 2026-27 season and includes exclusive rights to all rounds of the expanded playoff along with continued exclusive rights to all programming connected to the CFP, such as the CFP selection show, weekly Top 25 ranking shows and more.

“ESPN has worked very closely with the College Football Playoff over the past decade to build one of the most prominent events in American sports,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “We look forward to enhancing our valued relationship over the next two years, and then continuing it for six more as we embark on this new, expanded playoff era.

“This agreement further solidifies ESPN as the home of college football, as well as the destination for the vast majority of major college championships for the next eight years.”

The hefty price tag reflects the increase in games, as the current deal was originally constructed for seven games (including the New Year’s Six bowls and the national championship), and only three were actually playoff games (the two semifinals and the national title game). The new contract is built as either 11 or 13 games — all of which are playoff games — in a 12- or 14-team field.

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Clemson joins Florida State; sues ACC to break league’s Grant of Rights

From CBS Sports … Clemson has filed a lawsuit against the ACC in an attempt to break the league’s Grant of Rights agreement. The suit, which was filed in Pickens County (South Carolina) court, is the second such lawsuit against the ACC, joining Florida State’s previous legal action taken against the conference.

The school asserts that the ACC’s exorbitant exit fee and control of media rights after leaving the conference is ultimately unenforceable and prevents Clemson from doing what is right for its institution. The lawsuit frames the ACC’s exit fee as penalties and damages, which ultimately are excessive for the amount of damage caused to the ACC by Clemson leaving the conference. Additionally, it claims that Clemson’s agreement with the ACC only signs over television rights as long as Clemson remains a member of the league.

In the suit, Clemson is asking a judge to ultimately void the exit fee and grant the university all of its media rights for games that take place after the university opts to exit the league. Clemson calculates the exit fee at $140 million, not counting the number to buy out the remaining decade of media rights. Even if the judgment goes through, however, it does not guarantee that Clemson would receive an invite to either the SEC or the Big Ten if it were to leave the ACC.

The ACC signed a 20-year media rights contract with ESPN in 2016, a deal which extends longer than any other power conference has with a television partner. The larger problem, however, is that media rights revenue numbers have fallen far behind the ACC and the Big Ten, which recently agreed to massive additions to their television contracts. The new contracts could ultimately pay both leagues $30 million per school more yearly in television rights alone.

The decision to sue comes days after the ACC agreed to endorse a new contract for the College Football Playoff that cements the league as a step behind the SEC and Big Ten. The ACC will receive approximately 17% of the next CFP distribution ($13-14 million per school), while the SEC and Big Ten will collect 29% ($22 million per school). The difference over the course of the six-year contract adds up to nearly $60 million per institution.

Clemson is the lone program to win a national championship in the College Football Playoff era that will receive a second-tier media rights payment.

Florida State filed a lawsuit against the ACC in Tallahassee Circuit Court alleging that the league breached its contract by failing to create adequate value in their media rights deal and violating Florida’s antitrust laws. It cited a $572 million penalty for withdrawing from the ACC as “unenforceable.”

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March 14th

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College Football Playoff revenue model settled (Big 12 to receive smallest payout among Power Four)

From CBS Sports … The 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame are expected to confirm on Friday a 14-team College Football Playoff field and updated revenue model starting in 2026, sources close to the negotiations tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Details on the 14-team CFP model will be decided at a later time, but the agreement clears the way for the CFP to agree to a contract extension with ESPN to broadcast the tournament.

The new revenue model will significantly benefit the Big Ten and SEC, launching them firmly ahead of the Big 12 and ACC moving forward. The new contract will pay the Big Ten and SEC 29% of the upcoming contract, sources tell Dodd, which works out to approximately $22 million per school. The ACC will receive 17% ($13-14 million per school) and the Big 12 will sit around 15% ($12 million per school). The numbers represent a raise across the board as all Power Five institutions receive approximately $5 million per school in the previous contract.

The ACC will receive a slightly higher payout in the next contract as the league has produced eight CFP semifinalists to only two in the continuing Big 12, according to ESPN. The proposed contract includes a “look-in” clause that allows the CFP to adjust payouts in 2028 based on performance, or if there is another round of realignment.

The Group of Five will split 9% of the contract, but the number may not be split evenly among the teams and five conferences. The independent schools will split 1%, while Notre Dame will get the bulk at around $12 million, according to multiple reports.

While pressing details around the format have yet to be finalized, the 14-team playoff represents a departure from the 12-team field, which was agreed to for the final two years of the previous media rights contract. The CFP will hold the first 12-team playoff in 2024 as the initial television rights deal is slated to expire after the 2025 College Football Playoff.

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March 13th 

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Nebraska AD Trev Alberts leaving Lincoln for Texas A&M

If you want to have a little fun, click on the Husker site, and take a fun little stroll through the message board comments

From Husker 247 Sports … Trev Alberts will be leaving his post as Nebraska’s athletic director, two sources close to the situation confirmed to Husker247 on Wednesday afternoon.

It was reported Wednesday morning that Alberts could take the same position at Texas A&M, and ultimately the move became clearer just before the 5 p.m. hour in Lincoln after a day of speculation about the possibility.

Alberts has been the Husker athletics director at his alma matter since 2021, and has been bold since taking over, including the hiring of Matt Rhule as football coach and unveiling significant plans for massive Memorial Stadium renovation in the upcoming years.

He had a relatively new deal with Nebraska announced on Nov. 14, 2023 that runs through Aug. 31, 2031.

A&M has been looking for a new A.D. since Ross Bjork left for Ohio State, where Ted Carter is now the president. Nebraska has not named a full-time university systems president yet since Carter left Lincoln at the end of 2023.

Under his current deal with Nebraska, Alberts makes $1.7 million annually until it ramps up in September, 2026, to $2.1 million and carries as such through the end of the contract. It includes a retention bonus of $500,000 if he’s still here in July 18, 2026, and then he receives a $300,000 retention bonus each year he remains after that. He also receives a $3 million bonus if he completes the term of his deal through 2031.

The new Nebraska deal was a significant hike from the $800,000 he was making prior to it in his first years leading Husker Athletics.

“Today’s college athletics landscape is complex and ever-changing,” Carter had said in November in announcing Alberts’ new contract. “We need exactly the right person leading Husker Athletics forward. In Trev Alberts, we have found that leader.”

The buyout that Alberts would owe, based off his most recent contract, is $4.12 million if he leaves his post before Dec. 31 of this year.

The Wednesday morning news item which connected Alberts’ name to the job comes at what already is a crucial time in Lincoln for the right leadership to be put in place.

NU Regents are currently searching for a new university systems president and UNL’s Chancellor Rodney Bennett has only been on the job since July 2023. You’ll also recall that the administrative reporting structure has also recently changed so that the Nebraska athletics director reports directly to the NU President, rather than the chancellor.

Anti-trust Lawsuits may bankrupt some schools: “It feels like my budget is about to look like a murder scene”

From CBS Sports … One Power Five athletic director recently winced after taking a glimpse at his balance sheet. His financial outlook is not much different than his peers’ with multiple high-speed bullet trains all coming into the station at the same time. The most unpredictable of all being expected revenue sharing with athletes through collective bargaining.

“It feels like my budget is about to look like a murder scene,” that AD said.

Those projections — typically called pro forma budgets — are based on “what if?” hypotheticals. Like any good business person, an AD attempts to determine what expenditures are ahead and how much revenue will be coming in. Right now, they are struggling to project either.

Put up the yellow crime scene tape and pull up a chair because “what if?” is getting complicated. The NCAA and the Power Five conferences find themselves as defendants in four high-profile antitrust lawsuits. Settlements in those cases have become the next hurdle toward whatever college sports will look like in the future.

NCAA president Charlie Baker is being urged by a sizable portion of the membership to settle the cases because the alternative is too chilling to consider.

“You may bankrupt some universities,” another Power Five AD said.

The biggest, most concerning obstacle is the House v. NCAA suit that goes to trial in 10 months. Given that timetable, this may be the last March Madness played under the old rules, if not the current membership.

The hope? Somehow, all the four cases are bundled and settled at once. For the moment, they pose the biggest immediate financial threat to the existing system. In antitrust cases, damages are trebled. That suggests the NCAA and Power Five probably cannot risk jury trials in any of the cases. In House alone, trebled damages would be a reported $4.2 billion, which could conceivably bankrupt the NCAA as well.

Even if settled, the cases may cost eight figures per school. The NCAA would no doubt cover some of the settlement, but since the Power Five conferences are also defendants, schools are almost certainly going to shoulder some of the burden.

And if they can’t?

“If there is a settlement in that [House] case,” said a third Power Five AD. “That’s going to define the new subdivision.”

There are 68 schools in what will become the Power Four starting July 1, 2024. Will all 68 be able to afford what those bullet trains are delivering: basically an employment model?

“A settlement for House and all the others, it could almost be like what a collective bargaining agreement would sort of look like,” said Mit Winter, a Kansas City-based sports law attorney. “In terms of, ‘Here’s what the rules are going to be going forward, NCAA. You’re going to share it with the athletes.'”

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March 11th

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ESPN to air four Big 12 Spring games (just not CU’s)

From The Coloradoan … Colorado football’s spring game was a sold-out spectacle that aired live on ESPN last season. It should be sold out once again in 2024, but you won’t be able to watch it on ESPN this time around.

A full slate of college football spring games were announced by the network on Monday and missing from the schedule were Deion Sanders and his Colorado Buffaloes. Last year, Colorado’s spring game was the only one broadcast on the main ESPN network. Even the back-to-back defending champion Georgia Bulldogs’ spring game appeared on ESPN2.

On the same day of Colorado’s second spring game under Sanders (Saturday, April 27), West Virginia will have its spring tune-up aired live on ESPN+. The Mountaineers are one of four Big 12 teams (Baylor, Houston, Texas Tech) who will appear on ESPN networks for spring action.

Perhaps Colorado will strike a deal with FS1 to air its spring game, and maybe even “Prime Weekend.” Sanders told rapper Lil Wayne on “Young Money Radio” last month that there might be a musical performance at halftime of the spring game that will be seen by “millions.”

“Maybe, at halftime of the game or right at the end of the game on the rooftop … We’re going to have somebody. It’s going down,” Sanders said. “We may cut that into the game so that could be seen with millions of viewers.”

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March 10th

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College Football attendance highest since 2017; CU leads Power Five in increased attendance

From CBS Sports … College football attendance increased in 2023 by a number that’s likely equivalent to the crowd attending an average game-day tailgate: 27. It’s small growth but a rise nonetheless as the average attendance ticked up from 41,840 fans per game in 2022 to 41,867 last season.

That rise continues to shatter long-standing fallacies. In court filings the past few years, the NCAA has preached that player compensation would be the death of the amateur model. As a result, fans would stop watching and attending games. Rollicking tailgates would be reduced to Kool-Aid socials!

Well, drink up, loyal tailgaters. The truth has proved to be the exact opposite.

The 2023 attendance figure is college football’s highest since 2017, based on official NCAA records. In fact, FBS attendance has risen across consecutive seasons for the first time since 2008. Not since the all-time record of 46,971 fans per game that same year has the sport been more popular in the stands and the living room. TV ratings last season were arguably the highest ever, depending on preferred metrics.

In 2022, average attendance rose for the first time in eight years. The per-game increase of 1,992 fans was the second-highest in history, and it also contributed to the largest year-over-year increase in 40 years. (The NCAA has been keeping attendance figures since 1978.)

Attendance changes by conference

CONFERENCEAVG. ATTENDANCE ’22% CHANGE YOYNOTES
SEC77, 154+0.63Highest since ’16
Big Ten66, 589-0.102nd-highest since ’14
Big 1255, 115-7.82nd-lowest since ’00
ACC48, 962+0.05Highest since ’16
Pac-1248, 790+9.7Highest since ’17
Independents35,473+4.7Up consecutively for first time since ’14
AAC24,100-14.72nd-lowest ever*
MWC23, 223+2.73rd-lowest ever*
C-USA15,860-18.0Lowest ever
Sun Belt20,838+8.67Highest ever
MAC14,055-1.40Lowest since ’91

* Since inception of the American (2013), Mountain West (1999)

The on-field product on our treasured fall Saturdays has triumphed over any off-field distractions. Few care if Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders drives a Maybach or Florida State’s Jordan Travis’ NIL value last season was well over $1 million. (D.J. Uiagalelei is currently rated No. 1 in NIL valuation at FSU.)

All that matters is whether the team is winning.

On-field success helped Florida State enjoy a similar attendance boost up to a nation-leading increase of 11,457 fans per game. It was a comeback of another kind during an undefeated regular season and ACC championship victory. Just four years ago, FSU had posted its lowest average attendance (54,019) since 1999.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders played a big role in both the attendance and ratings increases across the board. Having come off a 1-11 season, the Coach Prime-led Buffaloes accounted for four of the top 25 highest-rated games last season. That interest peaked when 10 million viewers watched the Sept. 23 clash at Oregon.

In the stands, Colorado sold out all its home games for the first time. Attendance in Boulder was up more than 30% from 2022, leading all Power Five schools. Folsom Field was filled to 105% of its capacity (53,180), the highest average in program history. As Sanders himself would say: “You know where to find me.”

Attendance superlatives

  • The Pac-12 led the FBS with a 9.7% attendance increase per game in the conference’s last year of existence as we’ve known it. The average of 48,790 was the league’s highest figure since 2017. Five of the top 10 increases among Power Five schools — by percentage — were from the Pac-12: Oregon State, Colorado, UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford.
  • The SEC and ACC each posted their highest average attendance since 2016.
  • For the 25th consecutive year, it was the SEC leading the country in attendance among its peer conferences.
  • Michigan led the country in attendance for the ninth straight year and 26th out of the last 27 seasons.
  • The top 13 in attendance were all Big Ten and SEC members.
  • The SEC’s total attendance in 2023 (7,715,363) was more than the entire Group of Five combined (7,492,672). The SEC is up 6% over the last two seasons.

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March 11th

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Automatic byes for Big Ten/SEC in 14-team playoff format losing steam

From ESPN … College Football Playoff leaders are inching closer to a 14-team playoff for the 2026 season, but sources have indicated that the proposed idea of the SEC and Big Ten champions receiving guaranteed byes is starting to lose some steam among conference commissioners following public backlash.

It’s likely the details of the 14-team format aren’t determined in advance of the TV contract, which sources said remains on target to be done in the coming weeks. CFP leaders want to ensure they are aligned on revenue distribution and CFP governance before signing the TV deal, and they have had multiple meetings and calls recently to make progress in both areas.

While there continues to be support for a 14-team field starting in 2026, discussions about how teams should qualify for the CFP remain a sticking point. Commissioners are still debating whether conferences should have automatic qualifiers and, if so, how many for each. ESPN recently reported that the Big Ten and SEC had asked that their respective conference champions receive the only two byes in a 14-team field — an unpopular proposal that was met with significant pushback.

“Automatic first-round byes for the Big Ten and SEC is like the NFL saying the Cowboys get a first-round bye since they have more fans than the Bengals,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN last week. “How preposterous is that?”

Sources cautioned that as long as the format is up for debate, all options will be considered but that “some things will be punted” until after the TV deal is done. It’s possible that CFP leaders will wait to see how the 12-team format unfolds this season, but sources have indicated they would like a resolution sooner than later.

The CFP will use a 12-team format for the first time in the 2024 season. The five highest-ranked conference champions will earn a guaranteed spot, followed by the next seven highest-ranked teams. The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive a first-round bye. The 12-team playoff will continue for the 2025 season.

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March 8th

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Friday Night Lights: Fox to feature weekly prime-time game, starting this season

From The Athletic … Fox Sports will feature a Friday prime-time college football game on its broadcast network each week beginning this season, the network is set to announce, a source with direct knowledge of the network’s plans told The Athletic.

The games will emanate from the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Mountain West. The first matchup is still to be determined because the television schedule, coordinated with the other networks, does not take place until May. The move further concentrates the network around football with Friday night and Saturday centered on the college game and Sunday featuring the NFL.

Fox still intends to showcase its biggest game of the week Saturday during its “Big Noon Kickoff” spotlight.

The regular Friday night games were largely anticipated after Fox did not renew the rights for WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown. Fox Sports executives believe the college game will produce higher ratings than WWE.

WWE, though, is 52 weeks of the year, while college football extends for a little more than three months.

Fox’s goal is to have the No. 1 college football game on Fridays and Saturdays and then the top-rated NFL contests on Sunday afternoons, the network’s president of insight and analytics Michael Mulvihill said. The extension of college football into a regular Friday prime-time broadcast means that in the fall, the top NFL and college games will be featured every night of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday.

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March 7th

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Sports Illustrated on Big Ten/SEC Alliance: Next-level gluttony – and next-level cowardice

From Sports Illustrated … Way back at the beginning of February, when news first broke about the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference forming a “joint advisory board” to address pressing issues in college sports, the leaders of the two leagues wanted people to know: This isn’t a power play. It was simply an aligning of leaders in the two most powerful conferences to try to steer the enterprise through the turbulent waters of our time.

There was no intent to secede from the NCAA, they said. No intent to walk away from their fellow Division I conferences—particularly the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast, the other two power leagues. Don’t go jumping to paranoid conclusions. Trust us. Really. We want what’s best for everyone.

Such innocent times those were, way back on Feb. 2.

Four weeks later, the Big Ten and SEC are acting like the robber barons they claimed not to be.

There was news Wednesday that a proposed expansion of the College Football Playoff from 12 to 14 teams was circulating that included at least three guaranteed bids for the Big Ten and SEC, with two for the ACC and Big 12 and one for a Group of 5 team. And here’s the thing: That was a step back from the initial idea broached by Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti of four automatic bids each for his league and SEC. That was obnoxious.

Then came Thursday, when more news leaked of the CFP proposals under discussion for 2026 and beyond. Sources confirm to Sports Illustrated that the latest push, for a 14-team playoff format that would give the top two teams byes and pit the other 12 in first-round games, the Big Ten and SEC want the byes guaranteed for their leagues. Yahoo Sports first reported the proposal.

This is next-level gluttony. And next-level cowardice.

The two most powerful conferences in America are scared to compete. They want to begin every season with advantages built in—the most bids, the easiest playoff path—without proving it on the field. They might well end up with those benefits, but at least earn them. Instead, the richest of the rich want the biggest tax breaks.

Predictably and understandably, most of the rest of college football is appalled. This is unchecked greed in action, a further mocking of competitive balance and a nationally cohesive sport. It’s crass and offensive and unapologetically so.

If you’re the ACC, there is every reason to be outraged. That conference produced five top-two seeds in the four-team playoff era, the second most of any league. The SEC had eight, most of any conference (nine if you count future member Oklahoma Sooners). The Big Ten had four (six if you count future members Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies). The Big 12 had one, but none going forward after the departures of Oklahoma and the Texas Longhorns.

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March 5th

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EA Sports at over 10,000 “opt-ins” for video game

From ESPN … More than 10,000 college football players have already opted in for EA Sports College Football 25, the new EA Sports video game set to launch this summer, which will feature the athletes and pay them through a name, image and likeness deal.

EA Sports reached 10,000 opt-ins Friday night, just eight days after opening the process to players at FBS programs, a spokesman for the company told ESPN. Each player who opts in to have their name, image and likeness used will receive $600 and a copy of the game, valued at around $70.

By surpassing 10,000 opt-ins, EA Sports has reached 87% of its goal for the game, which will feature teams with 85-man rosters.

“The response to the athlete opt-in opportunity for EA Sports College Football 25 has been phenomenal,” Daryl Holt, senior vice president and group general manager for EA Sports’ Tiburon Studios and American football division, said in a statement to ESPN. “In the little over one week, over 10,000 athletes across the FBS have opted-in to the offer with more saying ‘yes’ every hour. We’re excited to welcome more athletes in the weeks ahead and to debut this first class of athletes in the game when it launches this summer.”

The company spokesman told ESPN that more than 100 of college football’s most recognizable players have opted in during the past week, including Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Georgia quarterback Carson Beck, Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe and Oregon quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

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CBS “24 Things for Spring” includes keeping an eye on Coach Prime

From CBS Sports … It’s been less than two months since we last left college football on the field. In the void, the suits and stakeholders have done their best to redirect the spotlight away from the beloved game.

The NCAA continues to sink in the mud. NIL contracts outshine full-contact drills. Unionization and revenue sharing are on the table. FBS commissioners are squabbling over an expanded College Football Playoff that debuts 34 months from now. It takes a law degree to cover college football these days.

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the game itself. Attendance continues to climb. Last season might have been the most-watched in college football history.

Here’s to hoping spring football gives us some relief so we can focus on position battles, depth charts, folding chairs and Styrofoam coolers full of adult beverages. This time of year is supposed to be a laidback approach to getting fired up for the fall.

Here’s why …

1. Playoff goal: Everything changes the moment teams hit the field for spring practice. There is unprecedented hope for scores more schools. “Success” has been redefined with the playoff field tripling to 12 teams. That provides more attainable goals to schools like Ole Miss, Missouri, Arizona and Oklahoma State — programs coming off good seasons that seldom, if ever, compete for a national titles. Duplicate last season, and they would be in (or nearly in) a 12-team playoff. Hey, someone has to win the Big 12. Coaches in the Sun Belt and Conference USA can now legitimately look their players in the eye and say, “We can play for a championship.” None of that is a bad thing. In fact, it will be exhilarating.

9. Head games: Expect widespread use of helmet communications this spring as teams integrate the technology for the first time. The NCAA Football Rules Committee is awaiting approval of its proposed use of the helmet comms beginning this season. That should come in April. The average fan won’t notice this change — other than a reduction in those huge, random play cards and some quarterbacks staring at the sideline before snaps — but the game continues to be streamlined to more resemble the NFL.

15. Toothless NCAA: The next portal window is April 15-30, right in the middle of spring practice for a lot of schools. There will be players who enter spring as a starter, go through a position battle, lose it and end up transferring all in the space of spring practice. (All of it without transfer restrictions, thanks to recent litigation.) Influencing that movement is a recent preliminary injunction in the Tennessee that loosens NIL restrictions. NCAA enforcement has paused investigations on that issue. Player movement is basically unfettered.

18. Pour one out for the Pac-12 … or welcome to the first spring of what the latest round of realignment has wrought. Minus one incredibly mismanaged major conference, it is now a Power FourElsewhere, the latest consolidation of conferences has meant the migration of 14 schools to other leagues in FBS. That includes 10 Pac-12 schools being scattered to the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. For the first time, all the power conferences have at least 16 teams. That would be a nice, tidy package if some entity or another (hint, hint — NFL) would want to buy and separate it from the NCAA. As for the late, great Pac-12? Its diminished network will actually be visiting the 12 campuses for spring practice coverage. Why?

24. Prime in Year 2: Deion Sanders’ September was one of the most significant months in the game’s history: crowds, headlines, hype, bling, smack. But all of it was short lived, and we must reassess Colorado and Coach Prime going into 2024. In the end, CU finished last in the Pac-12, lost their final six games and improved by only three games to 4-8. Prime relied less on the portal this time around, landing Jordan Seaton, a five-star offensive lineman who as the No. 13 high school player in the country. Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter return, but until and unless Prime improves his lines on both sides of the ball, this remake will be delayed.

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March 4th 

No Holds Barred: NCAA halts NIL violation investigations

From ESPN … Following another courtroom loss, the NCAA has halted investigations into booster-backed collectives or other third parties making name, image and likeness compensation deals with Division I athletes.

In a letter to member schools Friday, NCAA president Charlie Baker said the Division I board of directors directed enforcement staff “to pause and not begin investigations involving third-party participation in NIL-related activities.”

The move comes a week after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia. The antitrust suit challenges NCAA rules against recruiting inducements, saying they inhibit athletes’ ability to cash in on their celebrity and fame.

“There will be no penalty for conduct that occurs consistent with the injunction while the injunction is in place,” Baker wrote. “I agree with this decision, while the progress toward long-term solutions is underway and while we await discussions with the attorneys general. In circumstances that are less than ideal, this at least gives the membership notice of the board’s direction related to enforcement.”

The judge’s decision had prompted speculation about whether the NCAA would make a long-shot appeal as it fights to maintain its decades-long amateurism model for athletes in the face of rapid change. Baker noted that three specific policies involving NIL compensation remain in place and will be enforced, including prohibitions on schools directly paying athletes and any payment or compensation being tied specifically to athletic performance.

The move was not a surprise.

“The NCAA is essentially saying we’re not going to do something that’s been deemed illegal,” said Joshua Lens, a former attorney and college athletics administrator who is now an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas.

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March 1st

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Big 12 coaches opposed to proposed 14-team format: “We need to let the teams decide it on the field and reward those who are most deserving”

From ESPN … The College Football Playoff hasn’t unveiled its first 12-team field yet, but discussions on a 14-team competition beginning in 2026 are already raising eyebrows among Big 12 and ACC coaches.

In the 12-team playoff structure, the five highest-ranked conference champions are guaranteed a spot in the bracket and the four highest-ranked conference winners will earn a first-round bye. But multiple sources told ESPN that one 14-team model that’s currently being considered includes provisions for the SEC and Big Ten to get three automatic qualifiers each — and the only two byes for their conference champions.

“Automatic first-round byes for the Big Ten and SEC is like the NFL saying the Cowboys get a first-round bye since they have more fans than the Bengals,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN. “How preposterous is that?”

Dykes’ 2022 Horned Frogs, the Big 12 runner-up, beat Big Ten champion Michigan in a CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl. Under this proposal, Michigan would have a bye as the league’s champion.

Coaches don’t have the power to change the format; that lies with their respective commissioners and ultimately the presidents and chancellors on the CFP board. Their feedback, though, is part of the process along with that of athletic directors and university presidents. Sources have cautioned that nothing is done yet, but several coaches told ESPN they aren’t fans of this new proposal.

“A playoff format that guarantees a first-round bye to any team, division or conference before the season starts is unheard of in any sport as far as I’m aware,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Friday. “Based on the premise proposed, a team could be undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country and still not receive a first-round bye because teams were awarded one before the season even began.”

A source told ESPN this week that balancing the desires of the power wielded by the SEC and Big Ten with their combined 34 teams is a delicate juggling act.

“The balance in the room is how to recognize contributions of the Big Ten and SEC while also being fair and collaborative to the collective room,” the source said.

That naturally includes revenue, with sources saying the SEC and Big Ten could earn between 25% and 30% of CFP revenue. The ACC and Big 12 would follow with between 15% and 20%. That leaves a smaller chunk — somewhere around 6% to 10% for the other leagues and nearly 1% for Notre Dame.

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14-team Playoff Model: Is 3-3-2-2-1 a good deal for Big 12? Or a ticket to permanent second-class status?

From The Athletic …  Most of the headlines accompanying the recent discussion of a 14-team College Football Playoff have focused on the Big Ten and the SEC, and understandably so. The two most influential conferences’ consideration of a model in which they receive three automatic qualifying spots each and both first-round byes in a 3-3-2-2-1 AQ format is an unprecedented and obvious power play.

But the fate of the CFP may actually hinge on the other two Power 4 conferences. Only the ACC and the Big 12 had any real power to push back on the initial suggestions of as many as four automatic qualifying spots for the Big Ten and SEC.

Now it’s the ACC and Big 12 with the toughest decisions to make. In the 3-3-2-2-1 model, those two conferences have the most to gain and the most to lose. In exchange for more guaranteed CFP access, they would solidify themselves as second-class conferences. That’s an offer on the table (among other options, yes, but this model has gained the most traction, according to sources familiar with the discussions).

It’s not hard to see why two guaranteed CFP spots each could be appealing to the ACC and Big 12. In 2023, the leagues had just one team from each of their future memberships finish in the top 14 of the College Football Playoff rankings: Florida State (ACC) and Arizona (Big 12). Under this model, the last team left out of a 14-team field last year would’ve been LSU, which finished 13th; meanwhile, Louisville (15th) and Oklahoma State (20th) would have made the cut. In many years, the ACC and the Big 12 could get teams outside the top 14 into the field, likely at the expense of a higher-ranked Big Ten or SEC team.

But there’s the other side of that deal, which requires the ACC and Big 12 to relegate themselves to lesser-than status, admitting that the Big Ten and the SEC are better conferences that deserve more guaranteed spots, more guaranteed money and the only byes. That would still leave them ahead of the Group of 5, yes, but the Power-2/Middle-2 disparity would be an extremely hard sell to fans, many of whom feel insulted that this tiered model is even being discussed. And if you’re the ACC trying to keep Florida State and Clemson from leaving, the admission that more postseason opportunity lies elsewhere definitely doesn’t help.

The perception of equal access and opportunity separates American sports from other sports like European soccer, where the best leagues and teams constantly have rules and formats bent in their favor. But college football has never really acted like U.S. pro sports. Its recent consolidation of power is the latest in a long line of moves leaders have made to narrow the paths of money and influence.

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8 Replies to “Big 12 Notes”

  1. I dont have a business education either. I learned what I do know by trial and error and part of the error was getting burned by dishonesty. So I guess its a good think this Baker fellow is trying to set up the player “consumer protection agency.”
    I cant help but marvel at how the players have the best of both worlds right now in ways. They get paid, along with their education, at least the better ones do and they dont have a contract to hold them in place. They can basically come and go as they please.
    I have to sign non compete agreements with clients. They even try and and extend them for a year after the contract is ended. I dont think the extension is enforceable. Stuart?
    By the way Myles, dont make your move too soon by taking the first offer. Dont leave any money on the table.
    With departure of over half the starting hoops line up it looks like Prime started playing the portal game before it really started gaining momentum.
    I dont see much in the portal game that contributes to team work. It certainly looks like it is going to make a coach’s job harder. Will all the players wind up getting paid with their “salary” based on their place on the depth chart? Will the Dartmouth union spread? Or will there always be guys on the team down the depth chart still there for the “love of the game?”Might have to worry at some point with the fans”love of the game.”

  2. I wasn’t having a very good day but when I read about the “House Damages” it made me laugh and open a beer. After all the conference destruction to chase money could it be called Karma? There must be some way to include ESPN as another defendant. That would be worth an entire party.

  3. Seems like the pundits all get together on the flavor of the month. Right now they are all goo goo over Arizona. Sure they got 10 wins last season but the article says their departing coach took 22 players with him. How many do you think were third on the depth chart. It also remains to be seen if the new coach “did a good job” replacing them with transfers. Seems to me this is a little bit like a great restaurant being sold and the new people running it in to the ground. Happens almost every time.
    Another pundolt golden child is the QB from Michigan. He is now predicted to be selected fourth and as the fourth QB. Is part of this because Brady came from Michigan? Is he the second coming? Maybe he will be but I’m always suspicious of QBs who come from a team who collectively was the best in the country. Supporting cast has to have something to do with it. The fact that Brady was the seventh QB taken in his draft and Purdy was the last draft choice period brings into question the scouting ability of NFL teams. Broncos certainly emphasize that theory.

    1. post script
      Payton on ESPN: “”I think it’s realistic,” Payton said of using draft capital or players to trade up. ”
      Hard to understand how many draft trades the Bronkettes have left but it might be they will trade away another valuable player along with their picks for the next century to get what looks like McCarthy.
      I hope the Ghost of Paxton Lynch isnt throwing a curse on this, Buuut most pre draft talk is mis direction….right?

  4. The doom and gloom reporting by CBS makes one wonder if there is a point coming soon when college football wont be worth the cost.

    1. post script after the good times Trev thing.
      Does A&M have enough money to pay Alabama and Ohio State’s players so they will have someone to play against?
      Jimbo walked away with 78 million. Trev may not get that much but 30 or 40 mill will probably be just fine.
      While you are at it, A&M, why not buy the husker 5 star QB commit too?
      Its getting to the point a powerball jackpot wont get you into the elite college football club.

  5. I don’t possess a business education, but even a moron like myself knows that Prime attracts eyeballs… millions of them.

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