This thing reads like a soap opera, rife with recriminations, legal threats, bloviating, hurt feelings, the Big Two pouting because they did not get their way for once, some improvident contracts Texas and OU forced on others when they thought they could get away with it...and over in one corner, lil’ ole teams like Cincy and USF and their buddy FOX Sports.
Starting earlier this fall, momentum was building for the Longhorns and Sooners to enter the SEC a year earlier than originally scheduled, in July 2024. Plenty of signs pointed that way.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark publicly opened the door for an early exit. That came after an October meeting of Big 12 presidents where, sources tell Sports Illustrated, the presidents of Oklahoma and Texas made it clear they’d prefer to leave a year early—a notion that some believe was connected to the earlier-than-expected arrival of the four new Big 12 members: Houston, Cincinnati, UCF and BYU.
The new members’ start date of July 2023 meant that the Longhorns and Sooners would compete against them for not just one season, but two. This did not go over well in Austin and Norman. Though it mattered not to the result, Texas and Oklahoma did not cast votes to add the four schools.
There are two key issues in any early exit from Texas and Oklahoma:
The grant of rights/TV contract: The two schools are contractually bound to the league through the end of the 2024–25 academic year via what is termed a grant of rights, which coincides with the league’s television deal with ESPN and Fox.
The 99-year agreement: In 2012, the Big 12 schools entered into a 99-year agreement to remain together, a deal that comes with an exit fee of two years’ worth of gross revenue, or about $80 million each.
Let’s explain Item No. 1.
A grant of rights is exactly what it sounds like. The two schools gave away their multimedia rights to the conference. Through 2024–25, the Big 12 owns the broadcasting rights of any athletic event played on their schools’ campuses.
I have no idea how these two are going to play nicely in a conference with 85-year-old ties of history, geography, and the like....and how they’ll handle being behind the SEC’s existing powerbrokers. Texas A&M strolled in and tried to flex some BDE too, and they were promptly no-dogged back to Bryant, Texas. But one gets the feeling the Horns in particular are going to be a pain in the ass.
Unrelated: I probably shouldn’t have to say this since it’s SI, but they’re very lucky to have Ross Dellenger. He’s probably the best investigative guy out there at the moment. He cuts to issues with the brevity of a beat reporter, and has had a great track record. Not too shabby for a scuffed-shoe coonass covering LSU track meets half a decade ago.
Doug Farmer over the Notre Dame NBC imprint has a decent puff piece up on Tommy Rees, if you’re interested in human interest stuff:
In literally every one of his 10 years at Notre Dame, Rees navigated choppy waters.
He turned Ian Book into an NFL quarterback who could win a Super Bowl ring this weekend. He won eight games with Drew Pyne as his starter. Those may not be the accolades of a “quarterback whisperer,” but finding success with talent as questioned as he once was proved Rees’s bona fides enough that the greatest coach in college football history came calling.
The overall gist is that Rees played under tough times, was coaching in turbulent times, and if you’re a young coach and Saban comes calling, you pack your bags and head for Amtrak. You no longer owe the alma mater anything.
If you can handle Brian Kelly and Nick Saban yelling at you, it certainly speaks to some thick skin, at least.
Speaking of Tommy Rees (yes yes, I know many of #YouPeople get mad when I take a granular look at his actual results, so I’ll spare you objective data today — plus, it will take 25 hours to watch all of four of the 2022 games again and write them up). Instead, let’s focus on some of Nick Saban’s quotes that seem to indicate Alabama may not actually plan on diving into the line of scrimmage on two straight plays before a YOLO 3rd down pass and enfeebled punt.
In fact, as I half-questioned last week, these remarks seem to indicate that Rees will be integrated into the existing plan, not be bringing his own into town: he’s here to tweak and inspire, not overhaul.
Saban could not comment on either hire Tuesday night because they have not yet been made official by UA, but he did discuss the process of finding and hiring the right staff members.
“Yeah, it’s challenging,” said Saban at the second-annual Nick Saban Legacy Award dinner, via ABC 33/40. “It takes time. You interview a lot of people. You’ve gotta make sure they’re the right fit. New energy, new ideas can come with new people.
“You love continuity, but at the same time, you gotta hopefully bring people in that are gonna bring new energy, new ideas and be able to complement the things that we do and help our players develop in a more positive way.”
Some players do seem to love him (except for Drew Pyne, who last year yelled at to “fucking be better” on the sidelines. LOL). But he’s a fiery sort, and if it’s energy Nick wants, it’s energy he gets. The more interesting part of that is “complement what we do.”
Saban was never going to let a new coordinator come in and deconstruct the playbook he spent a decade building, or permit them free rein over the offense (which was the alleged issue with Grubb). But the remarks indicate to me that Rees will be wedged into the playbook a bit more rather than wedging existing players into Rees’s notion of what the offense should look like.
Doesn’t that seem like he’ll be constrained by the existing system? Or am I being wildly over-optimistic here?
Meanwhile, the cannibalized husk of the PAC 12 is trying to soldier on...with some truly bizarre fits:
The Pac-12 may need to commit to conference expansion first before achieving its compensation target in a new media rights deal, sources with knowledge of the situation tell CBS Sports. In an effort to return to 12 members following the departures of USC and UCLA, the Pac-12 has focused its efforts on evaluating San Diego State and SMU.
Pac-12 commissioner Georgia Kliavkoff has already toured San Diego State, CBS Sports previously learned. He is planning to visit SMU on Wednesday, according to Brett McMurphy.
Okay, SMU at least makes sense in the “Daddy’s Money / our school is not as good as the tuition would indicate”-sort of way (looking at you, every morally bankrupt SOB that went to the Dedman School of Law at the Southern Methodist University). Guess the P12 needs to replace USC, huh? HEEEYO. But you know, the last time I checked, Dallas isn’t exactly the Pacific...it’s not even in the cursed Mountain Time Zone.
And San Diego State? I fear that this will finally unearth one of the P12’s dirtiest secrets: for all the huffing and puffing they do about high-minded academic standards — and there are some world class institutions in there — there are also three entire state’s worth of stinkers. No one is going to confuse either of the Arizona or Oregon schools with Stanford. Wazzu isn’t exactly UCLA. Colorado is a decent state school, but it ain’t Berkeley. U Dub is a very good school...but you have to do battle with human feces, Amazon and Redman bros, and syringe-wielding retail thieves in a dying burg to even get to classes. And while their enrollment has been steady, some other schools on the West Coast are falling off a cliff.
We’re not saying the West Coast is the next Upper Midwest, but there are enough signs to be worried about: schools falling off a cliff; unemployment, the three-headed civilizational rot of drugs, homelessness and crime; one of the nation’s worst housing crises; rapid emigration out of Colorado and California and Oregon; and other issues that make it far less attractive than it once was.
If you want to see the definition of desperate, this is it: hitching your wagon to SDSU, SMU, and committing to further expansion.
Finally... some memes write themselves
We’ll be back tomorrow (or later, with Points in the Paint), for now, enjoy.
Nick Saban’s remarks best seem to indicate
This poll is closed
...that he brought Rees in to shake up the offense
...that he brought Rees in to merely tweak the offense
...they indicate nothing. Saban is going to throw the existing playbook at Rees and say "call these plays, and clear them with me first. I’m the boss."
I honestly don’t know. But him yelling at slaw Drew Pyne to "f’n be better," was funny.