May 11, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

Don't be surprised if the Big 12's agreement with rights holders ESPN and FOX isn't announced around the time new commissioner Bob Bowlsby begins in mid-June.

It would be the ideal way to christen the new leader's era in a conference where its credibility is gaining and divisiveness appears to be waning.

As reported earlier in the week, there was a verbal agreement between the conference and these networks in a new deal that is worth $2.6 billion over 13 years through 2025. That means the yearly payout to the conference is $200 or $20 million per program. We're told the legal language is being reviewed and refined at this time.

One of the stipulations is ensuring the extension of the grant of rights. Remember, last September, the conference members gave the Big 12 the rights for six years. has been told that all 10 conference members have already given their verbal approval of that extension.

Another key is that each university will retain its third-tier rights in order to control the television for games that the networks don't pick up. For instance, Baylor would be able to have a say of how it wants to televise games like the one it has with Sam Houston State on Sept. 15.
The biggest example is the Longhorn Network.

Since the summer time is closing in and the pastime is expansion talk, let's talk about it.

An Oklahoma source told us that talks about expansion are there but must wait until Bowlsby "officially starts." I think you know what the quotation marks mean.

One concern that the schools have is what impact of expansion, if any, would impact the new television deal. Right now, the 10 schools could potentially see their piece of the pie drop from $20 million to $16.6 million if two schools are added to make it 12.

But that's probably a case where Bowlsby is going to have to try and sell the membership on adding schools as long as they make sense. Currently, the thinking is that nine conference games and a full basketball schedule works well. Plus, having multiple Big 12 games on the first weekend in December arguably adds more exposure.

On the flipside, the discussion of a new championship game for the first week of December could resume if teams are added and thus, create divisions. Texas and Oklahoma have traditionally opposed a championship. Other schools have favored it. And yes, an amendment to the agreement could be added - if it isn't in there already - guaranteeing that each school could see its annual revenue be restored to $20 per or beyond if that happens.

So how does that impact the potential of adding schools? Atlantic Coast Conference schools Florida State and Clemson reportedly are in the mix.

On Wednesday, the ACC and ESPN announced a new media rights package in which the payout for each school will increase from $13 million to $17 million over the next 15 years.

While that sounds great, there are two problems facing FSU. First, the Seminoles and every ACC lose their third-tier rights, which means they can't control games that don't get picked up by the networks.

Second, FSU athletic department announced that it is already enduring a $2.4 million shortfall for 2012-13. Now, that's nothing new. With the exception of Texas and Ohio State, there are few athletic departments capable of running in the black. Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman told the Tallahassee Democrat that poor football ticket sales was likely one of the key problems. Thus, recruiting and travel budgets will have to be reviewed.

Yet it's no secret that college presidents are favoring these expansion talks because they want to find a way for their athletic departments to run autonomously.

While The Longhorn Network has struggled to gain traction, it is still a revenue producer. Oklahoma has a partnership with Fox Sports Net and will show OU sports programming on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma. While not a 24-hour network, the relationship is expected to start for the 2012-13 calendar.

Another program looking for greener pastures is Louisville. AD Tom Jurich took a unique approach. He approached the Big East board of directors and said his school would like to be in the ACC or the Big 12. However, as my colleague Chip Brown reported at Orangebloods a recent study about adding Louisiville didn't come back favorably.

Obviously, we have just opened another Pandora's Box. And it will probably have more twists to it before the summer transitions into the football season.

Chevoski Collins is becoming more and more popular by the week.

The Livingston receiver is a three-star dynamo, who already has Big 12 offers from Baylor, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But not everybody agrees on where he fits best.

"Baylor and Texas Tech are looking at me at wide receiver,'' said Collins who said Utah and New Mexico State also envision him on offense. "Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State want me to play in the secondary.''

The talented prospect's versatility is why so many Division I programs are getting in on him. He said he does not have list of favorites but admits he has developed a pretty good rapport with Baylor assistant Carlton Buckels.

"We have a good time talking to each other,'' Collins said. "But I'm probably going to take some unofficial visits in the [2012] football season and decide then.''

Another school is expected to enter the fray on Monday. Collins said Texas A&M assistant Mark Wallerstedt should be arriving on campus Monday. A scholarship offer could also be coming with it.

Now for some good news. Hebron wide receiver/defensive back Kiante' Griffin told us that he feels like he should be fully qualified to get into Baylor by the time school lets out at the end of this month.

Griffin, who committed to Baylor in April of 2011, said he was told by Baylor coaches to prepare to get to the campus on May 29. The first summer session begins on May 30.

"I've gotten all my grades up. I just got my qualifying score in my SAT and at the last nine weeks, my GPA was where I was told I needed to be,'' Griffin said. "When Baylor offered me last year, they told me that they believed in me and they were going to give me a scholarship if I would do the work. That was all I needed to know.''

When he committed, just about every person and fan knew the academic risks that came with this talented two-way player. In fact, Baylor was the only program to offer him. Griffin, who is being considered a wide receiver but mostly played in Hebron's secondary in 2011, embraced the offer. Last summer, he took an economics class last year, and went to tutoring at 7:00 a.m. every Monday for math and every Tuesday for his sciences.

"There were mornings where I didn't want to get up,'' Griffin said. "But I just had to fight through it. I know I wouldn't be at Baylor if I didn't work at my grades.''

It's probably still iffy that Griffin will actually be in Waco in three weeks. If he doesn't, that may only mean he hasn't gotten through the NCAA Clearinghouse yet.

Irving MacArthur safety Taion Sells said Thursday that he still considers Baylor his leader.

However, he said will be slowing down his timeframe to announce his commitment decision. Sells is becoming more popular as he has received several offers from major Division I programs including West Virginia, Arizona State and Colorado. He said he should be receiving an offer from Minnesota as well.

"I'm going to wait it out,'' Sells said. "I just want to see what I have and go from there.''

Owning only the second outright conference championship in 89 years, the nation's No. 2 baseball team travels to Norman, OK. this weekend for a three-game series.
The Bears are now using these final two weeks of the season to prepare for the postseason. As usual, left-hander Josh Turley (7-0, 1.74 ERA) is scheduled for Friday's 6:00 p.m. start. Right-hander Trent Blank (9-0, 2.43) is scheduled for Saturday's 2:00 p.m. start. No starter has been named for Sunday's 1:00 p.m. start.

Here is a look at the five conference championships the baseball program has won or shared courtesy of Baylor Sports Information.

Baylor's Conference Championships (* - shared titles)
1923 - 13-5 in Southwest Conference
1966 - 9-6 in Southwest Conference*
2000 - 23-7 in Big 12 Conference
2005 - 19-8 in Big 12 Conference*
2012 - 18-0 in Big 12 Conference with six games remaining

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