July 16, 2018
BOB BOWLSBY: Good morning. Here we are again. Summer is gone. Much to our dismay. I think we've got about 520 here today and we appreciate the good turnout. We had a very good year in '17 and '18 in a lot of different ways and I'm very much looking forward to the coming year as well.
I'm going to talk about some things other than football for a few minutes and then I'll get into football and take your questions.
First of all, I want to welcome Jeremiah Donati the new athletic director at TCU and Jeff Long the new athletic director at University of Kansas. With Jeff's addition we have the first four years of the college football playoff chairman in our league. So that is a real asset to us. I think we've got a terrific group of athletic directors, and of course want to congratulate Chris Del Conte for his move from TCU to Texas and he hit the ground running down there.
We have a couple of staff changes that I think most of you are aware of, but I want to make sure I identify them and thank them for their work. John Underwood and Dru Hancock both senior associate commissioners are retiring and they're going to continue to stay involved with the Big 12 on a consultative basis. They are retiring and one of the positions we absorbed from within and the other one we hired Jeff Jackson who is, despite being involved in the sport that has a round ball. He's here for the pointed ball, too. And I see Jeff seated out here. Jeff Jackson comes to us from the Big South Conference and will be the coordinator for all things basketball for the conference.
As I look back, we were the only team or the only conference that had teams in the CFP, the men's Final Four, the College World Series and the women's College World Series. There were a number of other interesting and impactful things that happened during the course of the year one of the things and I'm not sure I heard of this before but University of Texas had every one of their teams they sponsor make the postseason at one level or another. I don't know that I've ever heard of that.
Remarkably OU had three first-round draft choices, Baker Mayfield, Trae Young and Kyler Murray in baseball. So that is remarkable from one institution. They've done a great job there. Among the many other highlights that we experienced, UT won the swimming championship on the men's side and Oklahoma State won the golf championship and hosted the tournament and amazingly four of the final eight teams in that tournament were Big 12 teams.
We completed our seventh state of the college athletics. This forum was on ESports which may or may not end up in the realm of college athletics, but it was certainly an interesting and informative forum and we've got -- as I say, that was our seventh one. We've done forums on gender in athletics, race in athletics. We've done forums on student-athlete rights and privileges and prerogatives.
We've spent a lot of time talking about rules and how they're made and how they're violated. But the forums, I think, have been a differentiator for us and to the extent we can find meaningful topics. We're certainly going to continue that. We have also continued our relationship with Extra Yard for Teachers. The College Football Playoff identified the teaching profession and education as its philanthropic undertaking and it's been a remarkable thing for the CFP but also on a local basis. It's been activated in the conferences and last year in the sport of football we armed 75 of our student-athletes with the opportunity to make a $1,000 grant to a teacher that they had identified, and in conjunction with the women's basketball tournament, we also recognized 30 teachers in the Oklahoma City area with $1,000 grants under a program called "My Teacher My Hero."
Just recently we did a partnered technology overhaul, a makeover if you will, of a classroom at St. Philips Academy. For those of you that don't follow it and many of you have no reason to, we have a crisis in the teaching profession. By 2022 we need another 100,000 qualified teachers in this country. We have lots of work to do.
It was interesting to see how we arrived at this as our philanthropic undertaking because as the ten commissioners sat around the room talking about what things we might want to consider, among the 10 of us we had 35 connections to teachers, children teaching, parents teaching, teachers that have made a big difference in somebody's life. So it's been a real success story. Britton Banowsky left Conference USA to run the foundation and run this program. So we are excited about the progress that we have made.
We've got lots of new initiatives and I will run through a few of them right now. Noteworthy among them, tickets for this year's championship game go on sale this Friday, July 20th. They're available on CE.com. The game will be on ESPN and it's at AT&T Stadium on December 1st. We will be at AT&T for our championship game for the next four years including this one. We will be finished in 2021. While we are discussing AT&T and while this venue has been an excellent one for us for Media Day, the '19 and '20 Media Days will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The dates of those Media Days are not yet available, but we will give that to you just as soon as we have it. We've also hired a new Coordinator of Officials as many of you know, Walt Anderson accepted a position with the NFL to work on a full-time basis. He has been replaced by Greg Burks. He went from here to coordinating the officials for the Mountain West Conference and the Big 12 has had a long-term relationship with the Mountain West and he will replace Walt and continue to have a role in the Mountain West officiating operation.
We would also like to announce a partnership that we have developed with the VICIS helmet manufacturers. The VICIS helmet has been rated number one and number two by all the rating services. It is a safer helmet. It's one that is a little heavier and it takes a little getting used to, but we are the first conference wide partnership with VICIS and they are making a terrific product. Obviously we care deeply about head trauma and representative use, and I think we've got the VICIS helmet set up around here someplace. So if you have an interest you can check with any of our media relations staff and they will let you know where that is. We're very excited about the partnership. We will probably have at least 10 to 15 players on every team that are wearing the VICIS helmet.
As a final housekeeping matter we will find out this afternoon if Dallas Fort Worth is successful in getting the men's Final Four. We made the presentation last week and we expect to know between 3:30 and 4:00 this afternoon. So any of you that have an interest in that should stay around.
We are here for football. You will see the banners around, "Every game matters." You will see it a lot during the course of the year. We believe in it. We think the Big 12 path to the end of the season is not only the most challenging but the highest quality. The fact that everybody plays everybody and the fact that we guarantee 1 versus 2 in the championship game is unlike the way any other conference conducts their business. Nobody is going to win the Big 12 by who they don't play. It's a difficult path but I think it's one that will serve us well.
Our championship game was an unqualified success last year. We had about 63,000 people that attended, and it was another great Big 12 football game.
We expect that to continue, and we're excited about having the AT&T Stadium as our home for the championship. For the record, much has been made about the issues pertaining to the guaranteed rematch that we have. On 41 occasions we have had rematches in the championship game, including seven of nine last year. So the regular season rematch is not particularly unusual, and I think we will end up with great games on all occasions, because we're always going to have one versus two. We had a great year in '17. It's over, but we could take a little bit more time to celebrate it. Personally I've been at this for forty years and I don't know that I ever saw a better football game than the Oklahoma versus Georgia semifinal game. It was an absolute classic. Either one of those teams could have won the championship and I think we have said repeatedly we aspire to the national championship. We're going to work hard to win national championships, and our representative in the CFP was certainly good enough.
We ended up with a lot of individual awards as well. As you know, Baker Mayfield was the Heisman Trophy winner, but he also won the Maxwell the O'Brien and was the AP Player of the Year. Similarly Mark Andrews won the Mackey Award. James Washington from Oklahoma State won the Biletnikoff Award and Michael Dickson won the Ray Guy Award. We had a terrific year including seven first team consensus All-Americans. So we're excited about what we did, what they did, what the kids did, what the coaches of did.
To reiterate, we aspire to win national championships and we'll keep working at it until we do that. Having said that, we have a good place to start. We've got a lot of good football players and some of the best coaches in the country. Bill Snyder is entering his 27th year. Gary Patterson enters his 19th year and that's number 3 in longevity, and Mike Gundy enters his 14th year which is 5th in longevity. We have a bunch of terrific young coaches, guys that have been around a while and guys that are just getting started with their career. But when you have outstanding coaches and players you're going to get great games and I think we're going to get great games right out of the shoot.
We will have the number one nonconference schedule in the country. Thirty seven percent of our games are against power five opponents. That's the highest by quite a distance compared to the rest of the power five. Eighty percent of our teams were in the postseason last year and we posted a 5-3 record which is pretty good, especially when you consider we've been 65% winning percentage over the last two years combined. We've got seven guaranteed bowl positions this year and I'm grateful that many of our bowl partners are here today. Thank you to all of them. We also have got all the trophies on display so many of our bowl partners are here and we appreciate the relationship very much and appreciate them making the time to be here.
So in short, we have much to be thankful for. We also have much to look forward to. I'm excited about football season. I think every Saturday in the fall is going to be a real adventure, and with that I will be happy to take some of your questions.
Q. Bob, with aspiring for a national championship is there any movement toward expanding the four-team playoff to six or eight? I figured I would get it out of the way!
BOB BOWLSBY: Actually, I thought you were going to ask the Big 12 expansion question. I still had it on my list as somebody is going to ask me that.
Q. That was my follow-up.
BOB BOWLSBY: Okay. There is always the talk about the shape of the playoff and frankly I think it's been pretty good. We've had good match-ups, we've had lots of debate about the size of the playoff. There are those who advocate six, there are those who advocate eight. There are plausible arguments to be made for it. We had three aspirations going into the playoff. We wanted to keep the postseason strong, keep October and November as the best regular season in all of sports and we wanted to strengthen September. I really feel like we've accomplished all of those things, so I think we have to be a little bit careful moving way from it. Having said that, our league has been in twice and left out trice, and any form of expanded playoff would likely enhance our opportunity to get in.
When you have a situation where everybody plays everybody, you know you're not going to end up with two undefeated teams at the end of the year like you can do in some other leagues. We talk about it all the time on a Big 12 basis and we talk about it frequently at the national level when the ten commissioners get together.
I don't sense any significant movement to move away from four, but I expect that those discussions will be ongoing.
Q. About conference expansion. No. I wanted to ask if there has been a conference wide discussion about legalized sports gambling and what are your general thoughts about that decision?
BOB BOWLSBY: I didn't have that in my notes, largely because I didn't have anything intelligent to say about it. I think we're very much in a wait-and-see environment right now. There's a lot of talk about integrity fees. There is a lot of talk about how it gets managed. Are we really going to end up with 50 states that all have different laws on legalized gambling?
There are some states that have moved ahead but most are moving slowly, and, you know, the change in PASBA makes the gambling in college sports legal subject to state jurisdiction and I think we're going to have to keep watching. What do we end up with if a couple of our states in the Big 12 footprint have legalized gambling and three others don't? What do you end up with if some say you can bet on professional sports but you can't bet on high school and college sports? It's just taking a while to settle in and frankly I don't know how it's going to turn out. I think that we spend time in football and basketball particularly. We have a consulting group that helps us look at when lines move abrupt and when there seems to be an unusual amount of money bet on a particular game.
We do it mostly because we want to make sure that we protect ourselves from point shaving and from officiating issues and things like that; but, you know, the mainstream gambling environment, you go to an English Premiere League game, there's a betting kiosk right next to the hot dog stand. It's hard to imagine that we're going to get there with college and universities, but there is some enabling legislation out there that would permit a very far afield outcome from what we have experienced in the past. As near as I can tell, the real losers in the whole thing are organized crime. If it's legal everywhere, it's hard to imagine why people would place illegal bets and risk that sort of jeopardy. We're all keeping our ear to the ground and that's the best I can answer the question.
Q. Bob, I was sad about your father.
BOB BOWLSBY: Thank you very much.
Q. At what point in our lifetimes will college athletes have the right to market their names and likeness and whatnot?
BOB BOWLSBY: Well, as you know we were almost there once before. I think it's going to be a very active discussion as we go into the court case this fall. The multi district litigation case in the Ninth Circuit comes to trial in early September and the outcome of that trial could very well be a loosening of restrictions on name, image and likeness.
That was in the judge's ruling once before and got taken out. So I would be skeptical that it won't be in there again, whether it would be challenge and had overridden like it was the last time or whether we would end up all the way up to higher court to get it resolved. I don't think it's going to be over soon, but I think name, image and likeness is at the heart of what's going on with stat empowerment, and, you know, I could capably make a case on either side of it. Certainly all of us have some prerogative on our name, image and likeness. All of us have some prerogative to activate around that.
On the other hand, the logistics and the practical aspects of it are pretty difficult to fathom. We aren't going to have to wait very long, because I think the trial in the Ninth Circuit will be over probably by mid-fall.
Q. Back to the playoff. Last year we had two SEC teams make it. In your discussions since then has there been any talk about changing the four team format in terms of limiting the number from a conference or the ways you select teams, anything new about staying with the four-team format?
BOB BOWLSBY: The original arguments in the early stages of this were do we bring forward the four best conference champions or do we bring forward the four best teams? To some extent that discussion is continuing.
We had some discussions at the CFP meetings in April about how the question is going to value conference championships. What weight should that carry in the portfolio of each of the teams under consideration. We invited 13 honest people to go in a room and pick the best four teams and take into account a lot of criteria that may be weighted differently depending on who's vantage point you have.
I don't think that we are in a situation where we want to get too prescriptive on that. This was the first time that we had two teams from the same league, and there were reasons why it happened. There were also plenty of reasons to disagree with the decision. We've talked with both the chairs and the committee members and with CFP staff and with commissioners and I think we probably have a little more clarity on how all that is going to fit together and how the conference championships are weighted. I think in the end, this is a subjective process. We can't get too far into prescribing how those 13 people do their jobs.
Q. What was the director of officiating for so many years, obviously that's a big change for you guys. But if you could talk a little bit about Greg Burks, what we can expect from him, why he was the right guy to take over?
BOB BOWLSBY: Greg is a highly qualified guy. We interviewed, I can't see Ed Stewart right now. But we interviewed five and all of them were qualified candidates. Greg has been actually doing the job with the Mountain West, obviously he knows the Big 12 inside and out. He was a crew chief and he was on the field for a lot of years. I think the fact that we have a relationship with the Southland and the Mountain West made it an easier transition. But he's a top quality instructor. He's a good evaluator of talent. The replay center we built last year is a vital part of this and Greg will be in the replay center with his staff on all of our games.
So he just really, really jumped out and I think he will be a great successor to Walt. Walt was a great teacher and identifier and mentor of young officials and he has brought people up through the ranks and he did a really good job for us and I can understand the allure of the full-time position in the NFL and we sure wish we could have kept him. But we think Greg will not miss a beat.
Q. You mentioned sort of objective criteria but you still want -- I believe it's subjective argument for playoffs, but one way to perhaps make it a little more objective is for each conference to play the same number of conference games, obviously your league plays 'em all and there are others that clearly don't and it seems to be a bigger advantage than the Big 12. Can you or are you willing to fight that fight to try to get, whether it's eight or nine or however many conference games that each Power 5 team will play?
BOB BOWLSBY: It's a great question, Chuck. I'm certainly an advocate for all of us playing the same number of conference games. Having said that we have allowed for some local discretion as to how many games individual conferences play.
The long and the short of it is, we aren't all going to be the same even if we play the same number of games. In a league with 14 or 15 members, you're going to -- even if you play nine you're going to have a bunch you don't play. I remember when I was on the basketball committee, you had to look very carefully at certain conferences because they had some one plays. They had some no plays and they had some two plays. If you played the better teams once or not at all, obviously it was a huge advantage. You would look at 9-9 in a Big 12 record and it's very different than 9-9 in some other conference.
So that's the thing that I think people have to be discriminating on, is looking at who you play, when you play 'em, how many times you play 'em. I don't know that any of us are every going to be in a situation where we can prescribe how many games a league is going to play. We can state our beliefs, as I have, and there is some local discretion. But if I'm the benevolent dictator, I would have everybody playing nine even though that still doesn't get you on a completely level playing field.
Q. There has been a building boom across the country as far as construction of stadiums, renovations of stadiums and all sorts of facilities. Are we reaching the saturation point yet? Is there a bust coming or is this going to be a constant state of the way we do businesses? That's colleges.
BOB BOWLSBY: I can answer with my Commissioner hat on or my Athletic Director hat on. We certainly in the case of the former, we certainly are spending a lot of money on brick and mortar and on support facilities and on support personnel. The arms race is alive and well.
On the other hand, if I put on my AD hat, the only thing worse than being in the arms race is not being in the arms race because you fall behind and you don't have the fools that you need to get the job done. So there's a balance. I always tried to strike it when I was on campus between things that make you better and things that make you more comfortable, and you always ought to invest in things that make you better, not just easier and more comfortable accident you need to develop recruiting, student-athletes, and things that help you plan for the game. No question there is a robust arms race on, and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon because that's not the nature of the competition we're engaged in.
I think you see it in business in other parts of education as well. There's an amazing investment in trying to get ahead and stay ahead.
Q. Getting back to the gambling issue and the cloudy crystal ball, one of the issues obviously that's going to have to be resolved is the injury report situation. Is that something conferences can do individually or does the NCAA need to come out with a comprehensive thing? Additionally, how much of a problem is the HIPAA situation regarding injury reports?
BOB BOWLSBY: That's a good question, Wendell. The football oversight which I am be not now on anymore, my four-year term is over. So I'm not involved in the most recent discussions on this topic, but the FERPA and HIPAA considerations are substantial. Having said that, the ACC has been announcing injury status reports for a while. They don't get into the specific injuries but I think they use a three-tiered questionable definitely out and I don't know what the other one is.
So it's not something that you can't do on your own. We haven't chosen to do it because we want to get some answers relative to the student records and the like, but my sense is that there's going to be a human cry for that to happen and as long as we don't get too far into the specifics of what the injury is and what kind of medication they may be taking and what the duration is and those kinds of things, but some sort of simple system may work. We've talked about whether or not it gets managed by the conferences or whether it gets managed at a national level, and I think that's unresolved at this point. That actually does give me an opportunity to state, however, and I really enjoyed my time on the Football Oversight Committee and Shane Lyons, the AD at West Virginia has been appointed to the Football Oversight and he will be the chair. So our league will continue to be represented at the highest levels in college football.
Q. You've got some teams in the conference doing this right now, some not when it comes to alcohol sales at stadiums. What are your thoughts on that? Does the conference have any input on those things?
BOB BOWLSBY: The conference really doesn't have a dog in the fight on it. I think institutions are left to their own discretion and as you know some having forward with it and some have not. It's largely a matter of institutional culture. From a personal standpoint, I do think that probably it's selling alcohol in the stadium is probably superior to having pass outs at halftime where everybody goes out and power drinks for the length of the halftime. I think that from a game management standpoint it's better managed with a controlled environment inside but reasonable people can disagree on it. It's not something that the conference has weighed in on, but, you know, there is an intersection, of course, because if you start to have game management issues or conduct issues, it isn't too much of a leap to think that the conference could be involved in it at some point in time.
Q. This time last year we were talking about the expanded recruiting calendar and you had kicked around the idea of pushing an early signing period toward August. Now that we've had the early signing period in December and you've seen the affect of the official visits in the spring and summer of this past year, I was wondering if you had gotten feedback from the coaches or felt like an earlier signing period was necessary? How do you feel things have played out so far?
BOB BOWLSBY: We had 70% of the signees sign in December and that was what we had heard for a while was there was that kind of appetite. What we initially heard from student-athletes and their parents and high school coaches was that they -- most of the kids something, over 70% wanted to make their decision by the first of October, or had made their decision by the first of October. So the early signing date was a response to that.
Coaches were not wildly enthusiastic about it. They also were not wildly enthusiastic about the April, May and June visits, but student-athletes and their parents are pleased with it and it may change over time. The Football Oversight Committee is looking at the recruiting calendar and how it all fits together. It's been decades since we've had really a full and robust discussion of what the recruiting calendar ought to look like in football and I think over the next year that will be a high priority for football oversight. Whether it changes dramatically is yet to be determined.
Q. With the ongoing persistent decline in traditional TV subscribers how is the Big 12 adapting to the changing market?
BOB BOWLSBY: Well, we're trying to align ourselves with the best partners that we can, first of all. In doing that, we acknowledge technology is changing rapidly, there is no question about it. Mobile consumption is higher all the time. One indication of that is Nielsen is now for the first time keeping track of away-from-home viewing and mobile consumption. I think we are in a very good position, "we" being those that have our content owners, because I think that if you have live content, it really doesn't matter what the platform is. It's going to be valuable and it's going to be consumable and people are going to want to have access to it. And, you know, whether that is on a digital device that can be on your iPad or television or be on your mobile phone as you're driving around town or whether it continues on traditional linear cable, you know, I suspect that linear cable is going to continue to decline, but it's never going to go away. It's too big of an enterprise and there are too many people relying upon it. I think mobile will continue to grow. Anybody that tells you they know what it's going to look like three years from now is delusional, there is just nobody that does. You try and align yourself with the best thinkers in the space and try and stay ahead of it and that's what we're trying to do. As examples of what I said about the decline and I don't think it's going to 10 million subscribers, I think it's going to 60 or 70 million subscribers, but what cable came out everybody said broadcast TV is dead, it's going to go away, well 126 million households have broadcast TV. When TV came out radio was supposedly dead. There are more radio listeners today than there have been at anytime in the past. So the technology continues to change but if you have live content and compelling live content I think you're always going to find a marketplace for purchase by platforms.
Q. I would like to ask about the state of the Baylor athletic program. There is a bunch of new reports coming out, always seemingly every day, one of which said there was certain at one point about losing membership in the Big 12 Conference. I would like to ask if that was a topic on the table in the past and what's that membership status look like in the future and how has the Big 12 Conference continued to work with the Baylor athletic program on an every day basis?
BOB BOWLSBY: Well, there's a lot of questions in that one stretch there. I'm not going to get into talking about the specifics of the Baylor situation. As you know, we are doing a verification process that is not an investigation. It's a verification of 105 recommendations that Pepper Hamilton put forward. We are still in the process of doings that and I expect we will bring it to a close in the not too distant future. Beyond that, Mack Rhoades has done an outstanding job working with us on it and has done an outstanding job working with the verification committee, and Matt Rhule, as good of a football coach as he is, he's an even better human being. We will continue our process, we will issue a report and we've said publically that we will issue a written report. When we can make more comments on it we will do so.
Q. In regard to the replay center, what's been the initial response? Are there any numbers? Did it speed up the process, slow down the process, having that in place?
BOB BOWLSBY: As you know, game time, game duration is a constant concern and especially in our league because we chuck it around and we throw a lot of passes. So we are always looking, watching game times and watching times between plays and we're paying attention on it. At this point we have not seen replay add a lot to the length of the game. They're mostly looking at the replays at the same time that people in the stadium are looking at the replays and at the same time that the referee is on the head set.
It hasn't led to an extension, except on a few really tough call situations where you want to try and get it right. So we need to make games shorter and we don't want to do things with the rules that are going to elongate the games, but more than that we want to get it right. The replay center gives us an opportunity to get it right more frequently. Are we going to be flawless? We aspire to it, but I don't know that we're every going to achieve it. As far as adding time to the game, the remote replay has not done that in any sort of significant way, although situationally it may add to it on a one-game basis or two-game basis. There can be situations where it does. Generally speaking, it's not adding any time to it.
Q. There is not anybody old enough here to remember it. It's even too old for me! A basketball question. I know you've taken steps in football and baseball, but the one and done that nobody seems to like it would seem like if you erase that these players might go to the development league or go to Europe. Where does that stand now with the Big 12 and nationally?
BOB BOWLSBY: Well, it's what you described is exactly what we would like to see happen. If you aren't interested in a college education then you should go and pursue your professional dreams on whatever basis you want to, Europe, G-League and if you're good enough move it right into the NBA. Dr. Rice has had extended conversations with Michele Roberts and Adam Silver and made the collegiate position known. I hope we take the 19 year old rule away and young people will have a legitimate option to pursue their professional dreams if that's what they want to do. Those that come to college should plan to pursue their education and, you know, they may leave before they're done. But I think it makes a travesty of higher education to have a young person enroll in school in August and play until March and leave before, you know, it isn't even one and done, it's seven months and done.
So I think we're headed down the path, I believe, of resolving one and done. Of course it gets a lot of publicity, but it's a very small number of kids every year that are capable of accessing that.
Q. Just following up with another question on Baylor, NCAA is obviously conducting its own investigation into Baylor's response to sexual violence. Do you have a sense of the timetable of that investigation's end and maybe where it's leading or is that a closely-guarded secret?
BOB BOWLSBY: You're talking about the NCAA investigation? No, I don't have any information on time frame. We're kept informed, but it's mostly after the fact, and that's a separate process. We will know what happens when it's at the end.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports