Texas Longhorns: DeLoss Dodds

Texas finds its businessman in Patterson

November, 5, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Steve Patterson might not have the arm Oliver Luck possesses, but give him credit: He knows how to throw a good curveball.

One week after reports emerged that he’d already turned Texas down, and amid weeks of speculation that pegged West Virginia’s Luck as the undisputed front-runner, Patterson is leaving Arizona State to become the next athletic director at Texas.

Handing the keys to the most powerful athletic department in the country to Patterson makes sense considering what Texas seeks. The only way to replace the irreplaceable DeLoss Dodds after 32 years was to find a big-picture visionary and an even sharper businessman.

Luck has all the things you’d look for in a Texas AD: cachet, experience, a UT law degree and a spot on the College Football Playoff committee.

But Patterson was the choice because he’s a game-changer. He’s well equipped to inherit Texas athletics in its current state because he has a track record of making significant, immediate change.

[+] EnlargeSteve Patterson
Courtesy of Arizona StateIncoming athletic director Steve Patterson has undergraduate and law degrees from Texas.
Patterson helped bring the creation of Reliant Stadium to fruition. He brought Super Bowl XXXVIII and the 1989 NBA All-Star Game to Houston. As a GM, he’s credited with constructing the 1993-94 Houston Rockets team that won an NBA title. His fingerprints are all over several other projects in his six years creating and running Pro Sports Consulting.

When you’re accustomed to making those kinds of Texas-sized projects happen, imagine what can be achieved by joining forces with the richest power in college athletics.

Patterson faced an uphill battle as COO and then AD at Arizona State, taking over a department that made $55 million in revenue and needed to get to $100 million to become successful. When he started, facility upgrades were on hold. Coaching vacancies needed to be filled. There wasn’t enough money or resources.

His time in Tempe was spent in dedication to fixing up the business side of Sun Devils sports, and then to big-time facility decisions and an ambitious project, known as “The District,” for long-overdue rebuilds, including Sun Devil Stadium.

Money and funding will not be an issue in his new gig. Texas prints money, to the tune of $160 million in revenue a year. He’s getting a raise of nearly $1 million from the $450,000 a year he made in Tempe. And he’s taking over a machine as well-oiled as any in college athletics.

What Texas needed was someone with a plan to stay ahead of the game, to remain the titan it is today. There will be facility decisions on his plate in the near future, but those aren’t nearly as daunting as the problem solving he’ll face from a personnel standpoint. And Patterson isn’t a stranger to that responsibility.

He reportedly made as many as 100 personnel changes in two years at ASU. He oversaw similar turnover as president of the Portland Trail Blazers. He has a reputation for cleaning houses and building better ones.

Terms like “culture change” and “transitional periods” get thrown around a lot in discussing who should take over Longhorns athletics. But what Texas needed, what it always had in Dodds and must always have in his replacement, is a shrewd businessman with a plan.

And at the end of the day, that’s what Texas athletics is: One gigantic, wildly rich and financially successful business. Dodds created it, and nobody can fill his shoes. But if Patterson's past work is any indication, he won't be daunted by the challenge.
Steve Patterson arrives as athletic director at a pivotal moment in Texas athletics.

The Longhorns, no doubt, brought Patterson in from Arizona State for his business and marketing acumen, which ultimately is what distinguished him from the school’s other finalist, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Eric GayCoach Mack Brown's Texas team has rebounded from two blowout losses earlier this season, but is the Longhorns' winning streak enough for Brown to keep his job?
Patterson’s background in professional -- not just college -- sports impressed Texas officials. He worked in the NFL with the Texans (1997-2003), and in the NBA with the Rockets (1989-93) and the Trail Blazers (2003-07) as a senior vice president and chief development officer, general manager and team president, respectively. Those experiences will serve Patterson well at Texas. After all, there’s a lot of money flowing through Austin, and Texas is the closest thing there is to being a pro franchise in college sports. Texas’ annual athletic budget hovers around $163 million. That’s almost triple the size of Arizona State’s.

But Patterson’s legacy at Texas, where he holds both an undergraduate and a law degree, won’t only be about how much money he brings in for the Longhorns.

It will also hinge heavily on the coaching decisions he makes in the coming months.

Texas’ football resurgence over the last month has raised morale in Austin. Especially the Longhorns’ 36-20 stomping of Oklahoma.

But a month of good football doesn’t cancel out the fact that the Longhorns are coming off their worst collective year for men’s athletics since the 1970s.

In early 2010, the Texas football team played for the national championship against Alabama. The basketball team spent two weeks ranked No. 1 in the country. And the baseball team earned a No. 2 national seed in the NCAA regionals.

Since then, all three programs have fallen off a cliff.

The football team has recovered from early season losses to BYU and Ole Miss. But the Longhorns remain unranked, and even with this five-game wining streak, are still just 28-18 since the Alabama game.

The basketball team missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in 14 seasons, and last month, was picked to finish eighth in the league in 2013-14.

The baseball team has failed to make an NCAA regional the last two years, and last season, failed to even qualify for the Big 12 tournament.

Patterson is expected to be on the job sometime this fall. Almost immediately, he’ll face decisions about what to do with football’s Mack Brown, basketball’s Rick Barnes and baseball’s Augie Garrido -- three longtime Texas coaches who have been successful in the past, but who have struggled lately.

Will he clean house and put his stamp on the program with a series of new coaching hires? Or, will Patterson try to make it work with the coaches he’s inheriting?

The first decision could prove to be the most difficult.

After getting blown out twice in three games to start the season, Brown seemed like a sure bet to be fired having entered the season already on the hot seat.

Texas gave up a school-record 550 rushing yards in a 40-21 loss at BYU. The next day, Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and replaced him with former assistant Greg Robinson, who had been out of coaching and working as a video analyst for the Longhorns.

The defense didn’t fare much better the following week, as the Rebels steamrolled Texas in Austin 44-23. Things seemed so bad, Brown pleaded with the fans to keep coming to the games, even if they were fed up with him, to support the players.

But after a narrow win over Kansas State and a controversial one at Iowa State, Brown pushed the right button with this team. As two-touchdown underdogs, Texas stunned the 12th-ranked Sooners in Dallas with a convincing 36-20 victory, snapping Oklahoma’s dominating three-year hold in the series.

The Longhorns have been a different team ever since. And at 5-0 in the Big 12, they actually control their own destiny in the Big 12 race and could be favored in every game leading up to a regular-season finale clash at sixth-ranked Baylor.

Brown has given no indication he wants to retire after the season. Meaning Patterson will have to decide whether to keep him. A decision that gets more complicated with every victory.

The other decisions won’t be easy, either.

In the past, Barnes has recruited a bevy of elite talents such as Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge who are now NBA stars. But the Longhorns haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2008. Now, the talent has dried up. Even though Barnes coaches in one of the top states for high school talent, the Longhorns didn't sign a Top 25 class in the Class of 2013 and aren't on pace to sign one this year, either

The Longhorns go into this season without their top four scorers from last year.

The baseball team has fallen on hard times, too.

Garrido, 74, is the winningest coach in college baseball history, including two national titles at Texas and five overall. But last season, the Longhorns placed last in the Big 12 for the first time with a conference record of 7-17.

Dodds, the man Patterson replaces, hasn’t fired a men’s coach in over a decade.

Will Patterson?

The answer to that could ultimately define his legacy in Austin.

Big 12 lunchtime links

October, 11, 2013
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Not a big hockey guy, but this was pretty special.

Big 12 lunchtime links

October, 9, 2013
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Terrell Owens made a recent appearance on "SportsNation." Let's just say, "Shots fired!!!"

Dodds built a financial empire at Texas

October, 1, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- In the half hour that DeLoss Dodds and Texas president Bill Powers spent talking about the Longhorns athletic director’s achievements and impending departure, one substantial chunk of his legacy was hardly mentioned.

[+] EnlargeDeLoss Dodds
AP Photo/Eric GayIn 32 years of service, outgoing Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has turned the Longhorns brand into a money maker.
They talked about the championships, the student-athletes, the staffers, the ambitions and plenty about the future during today’s press conference.

What they did not talk much about was all the money.

Sure, it’s understandable. Dodds and Powers didn’t need to spend any time bragging, not when this day was meant to celebrate all that Dodds has meant to the Texas athletic department.

You can’t say, though, that a price can’t be put on his legacy. The man built a financial empire at Texas, one that will support athletics at Texas long after he’s gone.

Dodds has been on the job 32 years. When he took over in the fall of 1981, he said Texas’ athletics budget was $4 million. Today, he says, it’s closer to $170 million.

The 76-year-old will help advise Texas during the nationwide search for his successor. It’s a safe bet that he’ll be looking for someone with the kind of business savvy he’s brought to the position when eyeing the candidates to inherit his throne.

“There are a lot of people that can do the job,” Dodds said. “President Powers will find the right person to do the job. I'll be on that person's team.”

Dodds spurred more than $400 million in facility upgrades and has made Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium the nation’s sixth-largest at a capacity of more than 100,000. He took over at a time when each UT program fundraised itself and created The Longhorn Foundation, which has 13,000 donors and has raised more than $400 million for athletic programs.

The brand he’s helped build keeps growing. Dodds struck the $300 million deal to create the Longhorn Network. For eight straight years, Texas has been the nation’s No. 1 college merchandising brand according to the Collegiate Licensing Company.

That’s just scratching the surface of what he’s built in three decades. Dodds was honored to learn that his friend Donnie Duncan was in attendance on Tuesday. The ex-Oklahoma athletic director regaled reporters with stories of all the work and meetings he and Dodds put in to create the Big 12 Conference.

“There is not another DeLoss Dodds out there who will fit Texas the way DeLoss does, but he’s been here 32 years,” Duncan said. “You can’t expect that. But someone will bring certain strengths. Someone will hit the right chord and someone will come here and do a great job.”

Few will be able to match his wit when it comes to negotiations, Duncan said. Dodds would sit quietly and fill legal pads with notes at times, but when it came time for business he was an astute fighter for the University of Texas. He wasn’t afraid to speak unpleasant truths and get exactly what he desired.

“The amazing thing to me is I would sit there and listen to him negotiate some of these contracts,” said David McWilliams, Texas’ former football coach. “And I would think, ‘Oh, he’s smarter than they are. They’re going to get their britches took off by him.’ He always had his information.”

But this wasn’t about selfish victories. Dodds and those who worked with him say his end goal in all matters was putting money back into the Longhorns programs and benefitting his student-athletes.

“When he speaks, everybody listens,” former Texas women’s basketball coach and women’s AD Jody Conradt said. “I think that’s definitely true of DeLoss. It’s his calmness, his ability to think through issues and, when he speaks, you know you’re going to get wise counsel. He brought that same quality to intercollegiate athletics.”

There’s no replacing a power broker like Dodds, but the fact he’ll have a strong say in his successor suggests the next Texas athletic director will be someone who commands his respect.

And that’s a powerful thing. Powers lauded the fact that Dodds has built trust with so many commissioners, athletic directors and coaches. He dedicated more than 30 years to building that cachet.

Good luck finding an athletic director who can match it. That’s the task Texas now faces, and its leaders are confident that even though there’s no replacing Dodds, the next AD is stepping into a remarkably fortunate situation.

“What you do is build on the foundation that they've made. You extend things. You don't replace them,” Powers said. “The good news for the person coming in is they are inheriting a wonderful edifice that DeLoss has built over the last three decades. That actually will be a blessing for the new person coming in.

“I have no doubt that this will be a very highly sought-after job, and that we will get a great men's athletic director.”

Big 12 lunchtime links

October, 1, 2013
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If you haven't already seen the video of Dana Holgorsen sipping Red Bull on the sideline, enjoy.

3-point stance: Life after UConn

October, 1, 2013
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1. George DeLeone hired Paul Pasqualoni as an assistant coach at Southern Connecticut State in 1976, and the two have coached together for most of the seasons since, from Division III to FBS to the NFL. When UConn fired Pasqualoni on Monday after two-plus seasons as head coach, the school fired DeLeone, the associate head coach and offensive line coach, too. The Huskies are 0-4, scoring 18 points and gaining 272.5 yards of total offense per game. Pasqualoni has a solid record (151-94-1, .616) in 22 years as a head coach. Something tells me he and DeLeone aren’t done coaching -- together -- just yet.

2. Oregon has won its last 15 road conference games, the longest such FBS winning streak. The Ducks have won their last game at every Pac-12 opponent save Utah (in 2003, when Utes were in MWC. Does that count?) Alabama has won nine straight road SEC games. Stanford and Texas A&M each have won their last five road conference games. The Cardinal lost to Washington in 2012 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. However, with the victory at that stadium Saturday over Washington State, Stanford has won its last game at every opposing venue in the Pac-12.


3. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds will announce today that he is retiring next August after 32 years. All Dodds, a former track coach, has done is transform Texas into the premier sports program in the nation. It took him three coaching hires to find Mack Brown, but 150 wins and one BCS championship in 16 seasons indicate Dodds got that one right. It’s a measure of the resources and the expectations that Dodds has raised that fans wonder why the Longhorns don’t dominate every sport in which they compete.

Next AD has Texas-sized shoes to fill

September, 30, 2013
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DeLoss Dodds is stepping down as athletic director of Texas. The effects of that decision on the future of the Longhorns athletic department will be far-reaching.

Dodds will formally announce Tuesday his plan to leave the job he has held for 32 years and step down as AD at the end of August, 2014. The search for his replacement is already underway and could end as early as Dec. 1.

[+] EnlargeDeLoss Dodds
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesDeLoss Dodds will step down as Texas AD in 2014, sources confirmed.
Whoever is tapped to replace the Texas legend inherits one of the most powerful thrones in college athletics, and could face one of the most important transition periods in school history. We’ll get into that in a moment, though it’s a topic we’ll be talking about throughout the next year.

Dodds is a powerful man with a legacy to match. He made the Longhorns the financial behemoth it has become today and oversaw one of the greatest periods of athletic success in school history. Whoever is deemed fit to take his place has Texas-sized shoes to fill.

By setting these plans in motion nearly a year in advance, he’s providing UT more than enough time to make a smooth transition. That Dodds will stick around as a consultant should help, too. This is a major move and one that must be handled carefully.

Just imagine the résumés that will wind up on UT President Bill Powers’ desk during the search process. He’ll eventually pick from an elite group of candidates, and there’s no doubt he’ll be seeking a leader with the kind of big-picture thinking, sharp judgment and business savvy that Dodds displayed during his long tenure.

In its report breaking Monday’s news, the Austin American-Statesman said West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck is one candidate to keep an eye on. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick’s name has come up plenty in recent weeks, and more major players will in the next few weeks.

The successor could face a critical dilemma whenever he or she is finally chosen. What will be done about the coaches of three of Texas’ most important programs?

Mack Brown knows he has to win and win big this year, and a 2-2 start didn’t make life any easier. The Texas football coach has long said he has a tremendous relationship with Dodds and Powers, who have backed him throughout a trying month for Longhorn football.

“I’ve got the two best bosses in the world,” Brown said days after Texas’ loss to BYU. “They get it. They understand. I have great conversations with them. They put me in a position to run it, they want me to do it, and I’m responsible for it. That’s what I’ve got to do. DeLoss has been around a long time. I don’t have knee-jerk bosses. They get it.”

Well, one of those bosses is now leaving. Who knows how much success in 2013 will be enough to impress the next boss, or whether Brown’s sub-.600 record since 2009 will simply be too much to overcome.

Will the next AD be prepared to clean house? He or she could face similar big-picture decisions with Longhorns men’s basketball and baseball.

The legendary Augie Garrido hasn’t taken UT to a College World Series in two years and didn’t make the Big 12 tournament in 2013. Rick Barnes hasn’t advanced past the second round of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and didn’t make the field last season.

These are worst-case scenarios, to be sure, but not unrealistic ones. The candidates for Texas’ athletic director job will be well aware of these potential first-year decisions.

There are many other reasons why Texas must find the right person for the job. The truth is, there’s really no replacing Dodds. This day had to come eventually, though, and evidently the countdown to that day begins Tuesday.

Big 12 lunchtime links

September, 25, 2013
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Show me don't tweet me:
  • Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds tells the Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton he'll make the tough decision if he has to. But Dodds also says that Mack Brown is energized and everything is in place for the Longhorns to turn the corner.
  • TCU hopes its running back duo can help spark a stagnant offense, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson.
  • Kansas is still tinkering with a faster tempo, according to the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait.
  • The Cyclones are preparing to make the season's first road trip a boom, writes Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register.
  • Texas Tech picked up a commitment from a junior-college defensive tackle.
  • Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard will have his hands full on Saturday, says The Oklahoman's Ryan Aber.
  • The Mountaineers are hoping a looser attitude will help, according to the Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman.
  • The Tulsa World's Kelly Hines goes up close with Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey.
  • The Bears are cruising, but they can't relax, writes Brice Cherry of the Waco Tribune-Herald.
  • K-State is regrouping after its loss at Texas, report the Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt.
Last season was the first in almost a century that Texas and Texas A&M didn't play, and speaking personally, Thanksgiving weekend just didn't seem the same without the two Lone Star rivals going head to head.

Texas A&M has been outspoken about a sort of anywhere, anytime, anyplace attitude toward resuming the rivalry, but Texas, who won the final game in 2011 on a last-second field goal, is taking a rather arrogant approach to when the next game will happen.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, From the Daily Texan (my emphasis added):
“They left,” Dodds said. “They're the ones that decided not to play us. We get to decide when we play again. I think that's fair. If you did a survey of our fans about playing A&M, they don't want to. It's overwhelming. I know. I hear it. Our fans are important to us. I think there's got to be a period where things get different. I think there's too many hard feelings.”

Hey-oh! Dodds is in a power position here and doesn't sound like he has many plans to let anyone forget that. As for why this game isn't being played, it depends on who you listen to. There's merit to both sides, and it's a perfect situation in which either side feels completely comfortable blaming the other.

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Texas warned A&M when it was considering a move to the SEC: "Leave and this rivalry is over."

Texas A&M has been consistent throughout the saga: "We'll play you anytime, you're the ones providing the rivalry's death blow and refusing to play."

The truth is where it usually is: Right in the middle. Texas A&M decided SEC membership was more important than its rivalry with Texas. Texas decided keeping its word (and its pride) was more important than showing that its warning to the Aggies was an empty threat.

The Longhorns have the bragging rights, and that certainly will extend the period in which these two teams won't play. Dodds says the two teams will play "sometime," but anyone who thinks that time will come under Dodds' watch is out of their mind.

Texas A.D. Dodds takes shot at Mizzou

February, 12, 2013
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Texas has been caught in a bit of a funk since reaching the 2009 title game with an undefeated regular season and a Heisman finalist in Colt McCoy.

Texas has averaged just over seven wins in the three seasons since, but don't let DeLoss Dodds catch you comparing these recent down years to some of college football's lesser powers.

“We’re going to have good years again,” Dodds told the Austin American-Statesman. “Our bad years are not that bad. Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years. But we’ve created a standard.”

Ouch. The Longhorns' men's and women's athletic directors -- Dodds and Chris Plonsky -- addressed the recent issues in the athletic department with the paper, but Dodds' unnecessary (and inaccurate) shot is sure to gain some traction. When was the last time Missouri was happy about a year with five or eight wins like Texas had in 2010 and 2011?

Texas' on-field problems are frustrating for burnt orange folk used to contending for Big 12 and national titles, but Dodds is trying to keep perspective in the recent lean years.

"Football is fine," Dodds told the paper. "Nine wins are not the end of the world. But we want 13 wins."

Texas still looks a little ways away from reaching that point, but at this point, Dodds clearly doesn't seem too concerned with the feelings of the Big 12 expats. Granted, why should he be? Still, he shook things up a little with this one, and I'm guessing criticism over his attitude toward a team the Longhorns don't play anymore isn't very high on his list of concerns.

Neither is deciding if Mack Brown is the right man for the job at Texas, at least for this year.

"Next year we will be having a different conversation. Look at the programs that made changes: Lloyd Carr at Michigan, Phil Fulmer at Tennessee, R.C. Slocum at A&M," Dodds said. "They all had great runs and then two or three average years and have been through two or three coaches since. Mack’s our coach. He’s the best person we can have in that position."

Some may disagree, but Texas has an experienced team with lots of potential coming back in 2013 that will be capable of rewarding Dodds' faith in Brown. Will it happen?
AUSTIN, Texas -- Last week Manny Diaz was putting band-aids on paper cuts.

This week the Texas defensive coordinator is trying to avoid a blow from the guillotine.

"They are constantly going to be on the hunt for the big play, whether through deception, through double moves by the wideouts, double pass, a trick, something," Diaz said of the Ole Miss offense.

That is a dramatic change from what New Mexico and its option attack did to Texas.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Tim Warner/Icon SMILB Jordan Hicks is tired of talking about last year's struggles and is confident this year's defense will be much improved.
"They want to try and create death by paper cuts," Diaz said. "They just paper-cut you and paper-cut you and you get so annoyed and so frustrated and then all of thee sudden they strike with the big play."

While it never got to that point, Texas gave up 112 yards in the first three series. Included in that were two third-down conversions of nine or more yards. Consider this a lesson learned without a lot of blood loss because while New Mexico may have started fast, Texas never started falling apart.

"Biggest credit to our guys, and it is not always fun to watch, but you have to stay poised against those teams," Diaz said.

That poise should once again be an attribute as Texas faces a fast-paced, no-huddle Ole Miss offense. The Rebels, while not exactly playing the best competition, have three touchdown passes for more than 50 yards and rank 10th nationally in overall offense with 551 yards per game.

"The whole thing still comes down to poise and discipline," Diaz said. "Now with this offense if they break a run or they throw a pass and they are coming at you with fast tempo, you have to be locked in for the next play.

"You have to be disciplined against every offense. That is just sort of the nature of great defenses. The challenges are different week in and week out, but the basic themes are always the same."

(Read full post)

AUSTIN, Texas -- After two football seasons marred by the storm clouds of conference realignment, the Big 12 is back on solid ground.

That’s the message Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and University of Texas president Bill Powers tried to send on Tuesday, when they met with local reporters during Bowlsby’s tour of his new conference.

“We have been through some changes in the conference, but I can say unequivocally I have never, in my six and a half years here, seen the conference in as strong a position as it is now,” Powers said.

Bowlsby’s stop in Austin was his sixth on this tour. The response he’s received from presidents, athletic directors and coaches around the league has been one of common optimism.

“It’s been really kind of striking,” Bowlsby said. “I know that there’s got to be some scar tissue, but it’s not palpable on the campuses. Maybe it’s the time of year, to be honest. This tends to be a very hopeful period of time.”

Of course, Bowlsby had to chuckle when a reporter congratulated him for not losing any Big 12 members in the first three months of his tenure. His job has only just begun.

The topic of conference realignment did arise on Tuesday, as did a handful of other pressing issues. A recap of what we learned:

(Read full post)

The Big 12's second day of spring meetings came and went on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., with no real news after the conference reaffirmed its commitment to 10 members on Wednesday.

Until the new configuration of the BCS is settled (i.e., what form will a four-team playoff take?), the Big 12 won't be taking much action, if any. Outgoing commissioner Chuck Neinas confirmed at least that much. Neinas also said he might stay on through July to relieve new commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who has other obligations on the United States Olympics Committee's board of directors. Bowlsby would still come aboard June 15, but there would be a period of overlapping commissioners.

"It was great to see Bob and Chuck together today at the head table, talking about things," Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis told reporters Thursday. "I think the transition will be smooth."

The league's presidents were in attendance Thursday and reaffirmed the athletic directors' stance on expansion.

[+] EnlargeDeloss Dodds
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesTexas athletic director DeLoss Dodds lit into the SEC and Big East during the Big 12 meetings.
"We're all very satisfied with 10 teams," Hargis said. "We're not shutting the door to any opportunity that might arrive. We're not in the market, we're not receiving applications. Our expansion committee is inactive."

To my knowledge, that's the first public confirmation that the expansion committee is indeed inactive. Interesting stuff. If Notre Dame becomes a possibility, it's clear the Big 12 would listen, and I'd assume that Florida State would engender a similar reaction, to a lesser extent. For now, though, the Big 12 maintains it's sitting at 10, even if no one (yours truly included) really believes it.

With Florida State officials expressing conflicting messages about the school's future conference affiliation, and the future of the Big East very much in flux, how could you?

A few other quick notes:

  • Texas AD DeLoss Dodds came out firing on Thursday, tossing barbs just about everyone's way. The SEC has Texas in its footprint? "They have a sliver of the east side," he told reporters. On the Big East? "I don't know if they qualify as a BCS [conference]. They've lost a lot of strength."
  • Neinas, on the league extending its six-year grant of media rights agreement, which is in progress, but not a done deal? "I don’t believe the membership feels it’s a gun-at-the-head arrangement. It’s just a step forward moving together."
  • The league membership also didn't sound very fired up about re-instituting a championship game in the new iteration of the BCS. Reports John Hoover of the Tulsa World: “We have come to really appreciate the position we’re in right now by not having a championship game,” said Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard, chairman of the Big 12 athletic directors. Said Dodds: "If this all happens the way we’re visualizing today, I think there are some football coaches out there that will say, ‘Well, what are we doing? We’re 12-0, we’ve got to go into play a team that’s 9-3, we’ve got a shot at getting beat.' Or, 'We win the game, it’s a struggle, we get two kids hurt’ -- I mean, those kinds of things are gonna be the reality of it."

Dodds might not have been making many friends Thursday, but he did make some among the league's coaches with that comment for sure.

Friday is the final day of meetings, but it's been a quiet week compared to the past two years at Big 12 spring meetings. For now, it's mostly just been the league's members drawing battle lines on where they stand in relation to the playoff and expansion.
The Big 12's spring meetings kicked off with the league's athletic directors meeting in Kansas City on Wednesday, and made it clear beforehand that expansion would be only informally discussed.

Still, the questions had to be asked, and they were answered. For now, the league is happy with 10 members, echoing its stance for the past few weeks.

Will anyone believe them? (Does it matter?)

"We could expand to some number. You name the number -- 12, 14, 16," Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told CBSSports.com. "We could expand, but the question is, do we need to expand?"

Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas, in fact, made it simple.

"The Big 12, athletic directors reaffirmed their commitment to 10 members," he said.

For now, anyway. Florida State is still only flirting, but if the Seminoles make up their mind, the safe bet is that stance will change very quickly.

Until then ... here we are.

Playoffs were a hot topic, but the league's athletic directors reiterated what we essentially already knew: The Big 12 is in favor of a four-team playoff.

"We're in favor of taking the four highest-ranked teams," said Neinas, who has begun to transfer power to new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We think it should be some type of selection committee operation, and how you rate a conference champion, strength of schedule must be included."

I love the selection committee idea personally, an idea reiterated by chairman of the league's athletic directors, Iowa State's Jamie Pollard.

The BCS has its flaws. That's obvious. The biggest flaw in piecing together a selection committee? How do you do it? How do you find panel members without bias? Is that possible? Do you copycat the NCAA's formula for the basketball tournament?

All difficult questions with answers to come.

"There needs to be a human element to kind of handle the unknowns. You can't always say computers get it right or opinion polls will get it perfect," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "You still need someone with good, rational thinking to deal with unforeseen circumstances that may come up.

"Who knows what form that takes, but some form of human element that gets college football to the point of determining the best teams."

Chalk me up on board with that.

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