Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:05 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:07 am
By Jeff Goodman
The Pac-12 may have just saved the Big 12.
League commissioner Larry Scott announced late last night that the Pac-12 would remain a 12-team conference.
"While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve," Scott said in a statement. "With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us."
There was a possibility that Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were headed from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, which would have triggered wholesale changes on the conference landscape. That would have left the Big 12 extremely vulnerable with just Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State.
Certainly, Texas and its new Longhorn Network had something to do with the fact that the Pac-12 opted against expansion. The league was adamant that the revenue would be split equally.
However, this decision by the Pac-12 doesn't mean this game of league musical chairs is over. They'll be more maneuvering, whether it be the ACC and Big East adding a couple more teams, the SEC grabbing one or even the Pac-12 - down the road - opting to expand.
But it's no longer complete mayhem.
The Pac-12 is still a league on solid footing without the four schools under consideration. Obviously, Texas would have heightened its profile - but the financial risk didn't outweigh the reward.
The Big 12 has nine members after Nebraska and Colorado already left and Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. It will likely try and pluck another school in order to get to 10.
The Big East would then likely stay together as a football-basketball league despite the impending losses of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The conference sits at 15 schools with the addition of TCU, but there's still a possibility that a couple of its members - UConn and Rutgers being the prime candidates - go elsewhere.
So, while there's still movement on the horizon, the Pac-12's decision brought a little clarity to an arena in which it's clearly needed.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 5:22 pm
Texas freshman Myck Kabongo might be the nation’s best incoming point guard. He’s also apparently the best rapper in college basketball.
Of course, we’ve all heard the basketball player-turned-rapper routine before. Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Ron Artest – they’ve all tried it. Aside from a catchy verse here and there, most athlete/rappers are fairly awful.
Kabongo is confident he won’t be like that.
“When people hear the music, they’ll see it’s not just another basketball player trying to rap,” Kabongo told Jason Jordan of ESPN.com. “I didn’t want it to be corny or anything like that. It’s really good and I guarantee that it’ll be better than what people expect.”
Kabongo, whose stage name is Yung Swag, is a Canada native who had one of the more infectious personalities in the class of 2011. That undoubtedly will help in his quest to be a successful rapper.
“It’s just in me,” Kabongo said. “It’s something that I used to play around with and grew to really love. So I decided to do it for real.”
Kabongo will release a 15-track album next spring entitled “Late Nights and Early Mornings.” He has a feature from Kevin Durant on the album, which is sure to attract some extra attention to the album. Kabongo said it won’t be for sale, but he will make it available for everyone to hear.
With features from Durant and a stamp of approval from Austin Rivers (“Everything I’ve heard from him goes hard. He’s nice.”), Kabongo could rival Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge a.k.a. Swiperboy for the top dog in college basketball rapping.
Maybe someone can set up a freestyle battle – and a one-on-one game.
Photo: High School Hoop
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 1:03 pm
By Matt Norlander
Who better to have on Monday's podcast than the man responsible for so much of the newsbreaking over the weekend? Our Brett McMurphy hopped on with me to talk about his reporting of the ACC/Big East mess and who/what/why is next. This conference talk is as much about reaction as it is prediction, so we ride both sides of that seesaw.
For instance, isn't the SEC a little too quiet right now? The conference sits at 13 teams. That can't last for long. Is the Pac-12 going to become the Pac-16 by week's end? How is Texas holding all of this up, and is the Longhorn Network just an albatross at this point?
McMurphy's blog should be in your daily rotation at this point. And follow him on Twitter. Guy's practically doubled his follower count in the past week. Love it. The 'Stache is mighty powerful these days.
If you please, here's the link for iTunes subscription. The podcast goes up a few minutes after it's live here on the blog, so be sure to subscribe. Or, if you're just hanging out, click the player below and enjoy.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 2:36 pm
By Gary Parrish
My pal Jason King from Yahoo! Sports has a book coming out later this month. It's called "Beyond the Phog -- Untold Stories from Kansas Basketball's Most Dominant Decade," which means it's an easy Christmas gift for any and every KU fan. That's obvious. But it's going to be a worthwhile read for all followers of college basketball if there are more stories in it like the excerpt published today at KUSports.com.
The story is told by Mario Chalmers.
You might remember him from the 2008 national title game.
He's the guy who hit that shot that forced overtime against Memphis.
Anyway, before the Jayhawks beat Memphis in championship game they played Villanova in the Sweet 16. This was just another Sweet 16 game on the surface, but Chalmers said it was "personal" because Villanova's Jay Wright had previously cut Chalmers and Sherron Collins from a USA Basketball team of which he was the head coach.
I'll let Chalmers take it from here ...
So when it came to the Villanova game, Coach Self called Sherron and me into his office and said, “How do you feel about this Villanova game?” I said, “Coach, this is personal to me. I don’t like Jay Wright.” He was like, “I understand that, but keep it out of the media.” So when the media asked if it was a personal game, we’d say, “No, it’s not personal. It’s just another game.” But during the game we were talking all kinds of s--t to Jay Wright. We’d run by him and tell him, “Sit your ass down! We got this!” Another time we said to him, “This is what you get for cutting us. We’re about to dog you!” Anytime we were throwing the ball in from the sideline, when he was standing up trying to call a play, we’d tell him to shut his mouth and sit down. There was one play where I threw a lob to Shady on an inbounds pass and he dunked over Scottie Reynolds. Right before I threw it I looked at Jay Wright and said, “Watch this!” That game was definitely personal for Sherron and me.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 6:05 pm
By Matt Norlander
(UPDATE: Haith also spoke, a little more in detail, to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune and CBSSports.com. Worth the quick read. Click.)
Frank Haith isn't allowed to speak on the record about the allegations against he and his former staff at Miami. That's an edict from the NCAA, which is currently looking into Haith's past with the Hurricanes.
In August, Yahoo Sports dropped what I consider to be the most thorough investigative story in the history of sports journalism. It largely centered around the Miami football program, but Haith was a target as well. In fact, the allegations against he and his assistants were among the most acute and detailed. The primary allegation from imprisoned former Miami booster/Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro was that Haith arranged to pay recruit DeQuan Jones $10,000. Jones is still on Miami's roster, has been a player of minimal impact, and has yet to be punished for his alleged involvement.
Haith went on KTRS radio Wednesday night. Naturally, the Yahoo Sports story came up. Haith addressed it on record for the first time (not including a sterile reaction by way of a school press release). Good job by the hosts to get something out of Haith, when he's among the most guarded head coaches in the country to begin with.
The better quote, in my ears, is Haith addressing how he's dealing with a frenzied September of official visits and in-home conversations with recruits and their parents. This is a big month. Could arguably set the tone for his tenure at Missouri. He's got a reputation to overcome. That's not easy, obviously.
I'd love to offer up true context, but it seems KTRS' site is still a few days behind in uploading its notable audio clips.
Parrish has written about it here before. So long as Haith denies, denies, denies, and there's no paper trail, he's most likely not going to lose his job over this. Now, if he can't win at a high rate and his recruiting is affected? He could be bought out of that five-year contract well before it expires.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 5:55 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:00 am
By Gary Parrish
Mike Slive said on Monday that the SEC has "no immediate plans for a 14th member."
And that might be true.
But before we start preparing to watch a 13-school SEC -- i.e., the current members plus Texas A&M -- in 2012-13, I feel compelled to point out what Florida president Bernie Machen said less than a month ago after a meeting with fellow league presidents and chancellors.
"[We] met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment."
Again, Machen said that on Aug. 14.
The SEC voted to add Texas A&M just 23 days later.
We should all be careful about what we believe as this conference realignment story continues to change by the day. Don't forget that there's a reason most have long assumed the SEC would jump from 12 members to 14 members whenever it decided to jump, and a smooth-talking commissioner who specializes in semantics publicly suggesting otherwise isn't really a good reason to believe that still won't be the case.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 9:46 am
By Gary Parrish
Texas A&M's move from the Big 12 to the SEC is on hold until the SEC gets assurances that no Big 12 school will sue because, suddenly, at least one Big 12 school -- specifically Baylor -- is threatening to do exactly that. My question: Why would Baylor give such an assurance?
Baylor seems, at this moment, to have one foot in Conference USA and the other on something slippery as the college landscape shifts, and if that's the case isn't it only responsible for Baylor to try to scare the Big 12 into staying together by any means necessary? I have no idea if Baylor could win such a lawsuit against the SEC, commissioner Mike Slive and/or Texas A&M because I'm not a lawyer. But what I do know is that, in this country, you can threaten to sue pretty much anybody for pretty much anything, and if the SEC and A&M want that possibility off the table before moving forward then Baylor ought to make the SEC and A&M give something in return.
Could be anything, including straight-cash homey.
But it would be foolish to take the threat of a lawsuit off the table just because the SEC asks.
So good for Baylor for standing up.
Ultimately, the school's actions will probably only stall the inevitable.
But desperate shots are worth taking when you find yourself in desperate times.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 4:55 pm
By Matt Norlander
And the carousel spins again.
With Texas A&M's departure from the league, there's a scramble to see which program can be lured to keep the Big 12 not only alive and legitimate, but prosperous and afoot in the great college football race. As of right now, it appears the Big 12 has sprained one ankle while having its other foot lopped off. There aren't many schools with real cache that can get the Big 12 vital again and would want to join. Nebraska and Texas A&M, two of the five most relevant schools in the league, have now gotten out within a year's time.
And, yes, you're reading this on a college basketball blog. Football waves the wand, but these decisions do have impact in the second largest inter-collegiate sport.
BYU seems like they might be willing to flirt. Cougs in the Big 12. Hmm. Does it work? In order for that to happen, it's going to need promises and plenty of chatter with other schools. Specifically, the Big 12 needs to accurately advertise and get a dozen teams in its conference again. That way, a conference championship game in football can be held. That's paramount.
The funny part of this fledgling saga is how BYU is publicly acting so disturbed by having its name injected into expansion talks once again. Like the girlfriend that's cheated before and is stuck with that stigma, BYU's proven it will jump to a new conference, so it's just going to have to deal with that reputation. The school jettisoned the Mountain West last year and is currently an independent in football. All its other programs now reside in the West Coast Conference.
The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew has a story out today that details BYU's ongoing disucssions with the Big 12, despite its claims to the contrary.
The Salt Lake Tribune has learned that BYU officials have had discussions with Big 12 officials within the past week regarding the school’s interest in joining the conference, and what conditions and assurances it would need to make the jump exactly a year after announcing they were breaking away from the Mountain West Conference.
On the surface, if this is true, the Big 12 should probably not go to BYU's well, or at the very least look too desperate. Another school with a TV network and aspirations of separating its brand from the conference? That can't be good for league morale. BYU, a league newbie, would already have the upper hand over longtime members, even schools like Kansas, which has tremendous pull in basketball. BYU, like the Big 12, does have a deal with ESPN (who knows what kind of commitments are up in the air and how tangled that slinky is right now; that's an entirely different set of problems), so there could be arrangements negotiated there that could really hold things up.
Could it be football in the Big 12 and all other sports remain in the West Coast? A funky setup, but anything will be accommodated in the name of football. Right now, it looks like it's BYU ... then everything else. The Cougars, being independent, are on an island and the Big 12 will want to rope them in with the prospect of poaching two other schools (New Mexico? Houston? Memphis? Pulling TCU away from the Big East?) afterward.
Is the Big 12 ultimately doomed, though? Very well could be. Richard Justice's lede in his Houston Chronicle blog post today indicates he is on to something. Oklahoma can't be happy right now, and Oklahoma State should also be looking about moving West. The priorities for Big 12 officials right now need to be easing the mind of its current members while simulatenously and swiftly putting back together a league that's been waiting to buckle under its own weight for more than a year.