The Edmond Sun

Sports

July 26, 2012

New Big 12 commissioner finds harmony out of chaos

DALLAS —

The Big 12 Conference’s teams — all 10 of the them — came together on Monday and Tuesday. But unlike previous years, the league’s football media days were without friction.

For the first time in two years, talk of who was leaving (Nebraska and Colorado in 2010 and Texas A&M and Missouri last month) was muzzled by who was in (West Virginia and TCU).

The league that spent 2010 and 2011 on the verge of extinction is thriving under new leadership and by all indications, unity.

“I think we have a stability that is far better than perhaps the public perception,” new conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

There were no signs of insecurity on Monday or Tuesday. No snipping about “third-tier media rights” or “unfair recruiting advantages” that plagued the previous two years.

What changed?

Well, the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs are clearly happy to be here. The original members are happy to have them. It’s not often a league can add two teams that have been mainstays in the Top 25 and made multiple appearances in BCS bowls over the last decade. The current Big 12 teams have also figured out there’s enough money floating around to keep everyone happy.

Bowlsby said the league is on the verge of signing a 13-year deal with ESPN for the league’s first-tier media rights. It along with rights OU has already sold to Fox for its second-tier rights will provide the league with about $200 million in annual revenue, or roughly $20 million per school.

The agreement with SEC to start the Champions Bowl at the end of the 2014 season is expected to be another cash cow for the league’s members.

“I think it’s really positive. The teams that have come in now, the quality, you look at the rankings, you look at the contractual agreement that we have now through the league,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I think it’s really positive. It’s really solid. You look at the leadership of Bob Bowlsby and all our presidents, I think we’re in a really good position to move forward.”

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