College Football Doings

The Big 12 Conference announced that it was not going to expand at this time – meaning they will not add 2 teams to put 12 teams in the conference. At the moment, there are only 10 teams but the conference has to be the Big 12 because the name “Big 10” is already taken – – by a conference that has 14 member institutions. Obviously, not enough student-athletes graduated with degrees in math to go to work in Athletic Departments to handle these arithmetic concepts for the moguls there.

I think the Big 12 is on a precipice; it is currently considered a major football conference based on the heritage from which it sprang. However, it needs to add quality to its roles because in recent years it has been losing teams:

    Arkansas – now in the SEC
    Colorado – now in the PAC-12
    Missouri – now in the SEC
    Nebraska – now in the Big 10
    Texas A&M – now in the SEC

There are two dominant programs in the Big 12 – – Oklahoma and Texas. As long as they stay in the conference and as long as both programs to not render themselves into oblivion, the Big 12 will command some national attention. However, if either of those schools were to leave for greener pastures, what would be left of the Big 12 would be a football conference that is not significantly more relevant than C-USA. I’d call it the Bog 12.

There were rumors and “reports” – all denied – that the major TV networks paid the Big 12 to decide not to expand. The presumed basis for such payments was that the networks had contracts with the other major conferences and were happy to maintain the status quo in college football for the time being. I strongly suspect that these rumors are pure balderdash; I hope those strong suspicions are not wishful thinking. The NCAA loves to talk about the “integrity of the games”; if those sorts of under-the-radar payments are going on, I am far more worried about “game integrity” now than I was prior to reading those “reports”.

I will not pretend to understand all the politics and economics that come into play with regard to the Big 12 and its member schools. I will say this however:

    Of the 5 most important football conferences in the country, the Big 12 is the least prestigious with the smallest national following. Moreover, the gap between the Big 12 and the other 4 important conferences is growing year by year.

In the last couple of weeks, two schools have fired their football coaches. I have no idea why those firings had to be done in mid-season as opposed to happening 3 minutes after the final whistle blew in the last game of the year. Neither school is going to “turn things around this year” and go to a bowl game thanks to the coaching change. I guess that these firings are symbolic acts to demonstrate the potency of the athletic departments and/or the big donors at those schools. If I am right, then those entities have demonstrated their power and their dominance. The question I would pose however is this:

    If you guys are so big and so tough and so smart, how did you let your precious football program get into this mess in the first place?

Purdue fired Coach Darrell Hazell. Look, Hazell had not been super-successful in his tenure at Purdue; I understand that. What I do not understand is what benefit Purdue hopes to reap from the mid-season separation. As of this morning, Purdue has a 3-4 record with wins over:

    E. Kentucky – Division 1-AA
    Nevada – not a good Division 1-A team at all
    Illinois – Big 10 bottom-feeder.

Purdue’s losses have been:

    Cincinnati – by 18 points
    Maryland – by 43 points
    Iowa by 14 points
    Nebraska by 13 points

If you find that unimpressive, consider that Hazell had been at Purdue for a while; this was his 4th year there. His record was 9-33 and he never won back-to-back games in his tenure. If I counted correctly, Purdue has gone 3-24 in conference games during his time there. So, that performance was OK all during the off season between 2015 and 2016 but suddenly became intolerable given the mediocrity that was evident on the field this year. Really?

The other mid-season firing was at Fresno St.; the school parted company with Coach Tim DeRuyter this week with the team record standing at 1-7. If that is all you look at, you might think this firing is not only justified but may have been late in coming. However, if you look a bit closer, you will see that DeRuyter took over the program for the 2012 season after the team went 4-9 the year before. He won 9 games in 2012 and then won 11 games in 2013. For the first two years at Fresno St., his teams went 20-6 and went to bowl games both years.

In 2014, the team just made bowl-eligibility and finished with a 6-8 record but things turned south in 2015 with a record of 3-9 and now this year’s 1-7 record. Overall, DeRuyter’s record at Fresno St was 30-30. The team cannot achieve bowl-eligibility in 2016; once again, I do not see the purpose or the urgency of a mid-season termination.

Finally, here is a news item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times that may give you an incentive to save your pennies:

“Ferrari claims it’s coming out with the fastest convertible ever.

“No word about top-end speed, but your wallet goes from $2.2 million to zero in just 3.5 seconds.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

10 thoughts on “College Football Doings”

  1. I agree about the lack of burning need to fire coaches, since it is ineffective. Show me a team that surged after such a firing into a bowl game and I might reconsider.

    Part of the problem for the Big “12” is that no teams fit well enough (in the view of the mavens). Houston I would have expected to be a no-brainer choice, but what would be the second team needed to get to 12 and a televised conference championship? BYU would have been a good choice athletically and academically, but the honor code issue (some rape victims were booted out under HC violations) drew petitions from Iowa State students among others. Most of the other options were too far away (i.e. South Florida), too small a market (i.e. Boise State) or too wimpy (several examples). Eleven doesn’t get a conference championship, so just adding Houston does not appear to make sense.

    1. rugger9:

      BYU makes tons of economic sense – – enough to ignore student petitions. How many LDS church members are there who are also football fans who might feel the need to subscribe to Longhorn Network to see BYU games? 4-5 million?

  2. Jack,

    Rumors in Houston are now all about Tom Herman’s departure. He had a $5 million bonus coming with entrance into the Big 12.

    UT is looming large as his next destination. Herman has strong ties to the state of Texas (UT, Sam Houston, Rice, Texas State) and has been an able recruiter in state (even getting J.T. Barrett to Ohio State), not to mention the first 5-star (Ed Oliver) to sign at Houston (Oliver is living up to expectations too).

    UT could double his salary too.

    Even with UH’s lackluster play the past 3 games, odds are still strong he is gone. And if UH can get off the mat and compete well against Louisville (playing at UH in a few weeks) that will only help combat any reticence in going after him (in Austin).

    1. Jim:

      With Houston out of the running for a Big 12 berth, I would be shocked if Herman is in Houston next year. The team would have to tank completely for him to lose sufficient luster to miss out on a top-shelf coaching opening. In addition to Texas, he might fit well at LSU and do not be shocked if Notre Dame goes looking for a coach if the team does not wake up and win some games starting right now.

      1. Notre Dame perplexes me, and I can’t imagine that Coach Kelly’s tenure will last past December. Since Notre Dame is not part of a conference for football, they do not share revenue for TV (is NBC still televising them routinely?), and also the non-existent bowl game this year. They still have USC left on the schedule and it appears the Trojans are discovering themselves.

  3. My prediction: should the Big 12 collapse:

    Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Houston will join the SEC. The Power 5 will become the Power 4, thus forcing Notre Dame to swallow their pride and officially join the ACC. Where that leaves Iowa State, and the two Kansas schools is anyone’s guess.

    The SEC West would be those four plus Missouri, Arkansas, Texas A&M and LSU. That has a lot of appeal. So does the East with the two Mississippi schools, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Those two divisions would be the most geographically logical leagues in the NCAA.

    1. The WAC experimented with a 16-team league, they organized it into 4-team groups that rotated so everyone would play everyone else every 3 years on average. Distance was a problem (it extended from Hawaii to Louisiana Tech) and it was hard to build rivalries with teams only seen once in a while.

      The SEC in this scenario would be more compact and since Arkansas and A&M were part of the really old Southwest Conference rivalries would be renewed, not created. The questions are: when would the trigger be pulled, and what would be done about the Longhorn Network that led to A&M leaving the Big 12 in the first place?

    2. Doug:

      Also, what happens to Texas Tech and Okla St.? Kansas and Iowa St. could fall into something like AAC or C-USA and would not dominate it. Oklahoma St. in one of those conferences would not work; I just don’t know about Texas Tech.

      I might put OK St. in the SEC before I put Baylor there…

      1. Duh! I did this from memory and completely forgot about Oklahoma State. Of course, I agree they would be a better choice for the SEC than Baylor. The Kansas schools and Iowa State would probably do exactly as you suggested. Texas Tech and TCU would likely try to find a home in the MWC, where would likely dominate for a while. I think the big winner from the non-SEC schools would be West Virginia, provided they could convince the ACC to expand once again. They are natural rivals with Virginia Tech and Pitt. The key would be to get the ACC to accept Cincinnati, and for ND to agree to become a full member.

        So, why would ND acquiesce? If the playoffs start looking at the four big conference champions as the four teams in the playoffs, ND would have little choice.

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