Bowlsby: Big 12 TV deals nearing completion
After a long period of uncertainty, the Big 12 is poised to announce several deals in the coming weeks that should underscore its newfound solidarity.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said during a stop at Kansas on Wednesday that a multiyear television deal that could be worth as much as $2.6 billion should be finalized soon, and that progress on a TV deal and location for the newly created Champions Bowl are coming along quickly.
The recently hired commissioner is touring member schools this week, hitting nine of 10 in the coming days. Bowlsby plans to visit West Virginia in late September.
The new TV deal is expected to cover 13 years with an arrangement for FOX and ABC/ESPN to share over-the-air and cable rights. Bowlsby said the league was working within the framework of the contract when it released a schedule for the first three weeks of the season.
''The exposure for our football programs, for men's and women's basketball and our Olympic sports, will be unprecedented,'' Bowlsby said. ''We'll be much more widely distributed.''
Bowlsby said he'd prefer the contract to be done by the start of the football season next Saturday, but pointed out that when he was athletic director at Iowa, the Big Ten and ABC operated without a signed deal for the better part of three years.
''There are some elements that need to be worked out, some of it by the end of today, but we're not working under any sort of deadline,'' he said. ''We're moving forward as if we have an agreement, and we do have an agreement on almost all elements of it.''
The Big 12 and SEC plan to announce a television home for the Champions Bowl in the next week or two, Bowlsby said, and also begin looking at five bids to host the new postseason game.
The deadline for potential hosts to submit bids was Wednesday. The cities under consideration are Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio and Arlington, Texas.
The game will eventually join the Rose and Orange bowls as guaranteed hosts of a national semifinal four times in the first 12 years of the college football playoff, which begins with the 2014 season. Three other bowls will be chosen to join the rotation.
The Champions Bowl will feature the champions of the Big 12 and SEC, unless the team is playing in a national semifinal. In that case, the league would provide another team.
''I suppose it'll take us a couple of weeks to do the analysis on it,'' Bowlsby said. ''It'll take us a little while to go through those and go back and ask questions and get clarifications.''
In other news, Bowlsby said the issue of expansion will remain a conversation topic, though he also hopes a period of calm will permeate college athletics.
The Big 12 has lost Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri to other conferences in the past couple of years, while picking up TCU and West Virginia. The shake up has doomed many historic rivalries, such as Pittsburgh-West Virginia and Kansas-Missouri.
''Some very bad decisions have been made in conjunction with the conference moves, and I think history will bear that out,'' Bowlsby said. ''We would all be well served by a period of calm and a period of relatively little movement, and I think we have a good chance of that.''
Bowlsby also addressed the fifth-year transfer rule that allows athletes who have graduated and still have eligibility to transfer to another school without sitting out a year.
The relatively new rule has been used with growing frequency in college football, and has been employed heavily by new Kansas coach Charlie Weis. Among several fifth-year transfers joining the Jayhawks this season is former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist.
Ironically, Bowlsby attended part of Kansas' practice during his stop in Lawrence.
''It's not one of my favorite rules,'' said Bowlsby, who lamented the fact that athletes who have persevered in a program for several years often end up watching someone else parachute in to take their job. ''To me, it has the taste of a hired gun.''