DALLAS, Texas — Commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn’t need long to notice the calmer landscape at this year’s Big 12 media days.
“I’ve been in the building 30 minutes and haven’t heard a realignment question yet,” he said.
Forcasting a period of “relative calm” on conference shuffling (he’s looking at you, Big Ten), Bowlsby said the Big 12 is “intentionally at 10 members—we think there are advantages at 10.” He lists those advantages as the ability to play a round-robin schedule that reinforces rivalries. Bowlsby also cited that 10 teams allows for the avoidance of divisional play, which he defines as, well, “divisive.”
Of course, one of the disadvantages is the lack of a league championship game, though Bowlsby continues to toe the company line that bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Bowlsby said Big 12 stadiums will feature in-game highlights from around the league, what he called “largely a response to declining attendance on a national basis.”
Empty student sections and reluctant season ticketbuyers have finally convinced schools that fans aren’t content to shell out big dollars for a seat that includes limited replays, pricey concessions and nonexistent cellphone service.
Big 12 players will sport radio-frequency chips embedded in their shoulder pads this season, a mechanism that allows for tracking player motion and velocity in real-time.
As ultra-cool and hyper-modern as this sounds, Bowlsby admitted: “We’re not sure what we’ll do with the technology.” (Edward Snowden has a guess.)
If better NCAA enforcement is the goal, let’s embed RF chips in assistants and boosters.
RESTRUCTURING THE NCAA
Claiming the NCAA is not properly functioning as currently constituted, Bowlsby said the organization must be drastically remodeled. That includes the big-budget universities being hamstrung on reforms by smaller Division I members under the one-school, one-vote system.
“This is not a time when trimming around the edge is going to make much difference,” he said.
Bowlsby stopped well short of saying BCS conference schools are considering secession from the NCAA, though he left open the possibility of power programs forming a “fourth division” within the NCAA. Whatever form the solution takes, Bowlsby warned it must be done with respect to teams “in the margins” — the borderline schools who could support a new alignment if included or obstruct if not.
“We could make it worse,” he said, “but it’s gridlock right now.”