Big 12/College News
In the shape-shifting world of college athletics, the eye can no longer be trusted. There is beauty, to be sure, but most of the beholders wear the realignment equivalent of beer goggles.
How else can you explain a sinking ship turning into a lifeboat overnight? Or a notorious bully and a benevolent benefactor becoming one and the same? Or one group's intolerable dysfunction looking like another's enviable harmony?
Thus is the state of the Big 12, and of Texas, these days. It wasn't long ago that the conference was known for buffoonery, and its biggest school was everyone's villain, but things change. Now they sit in a position of power and riches, with the option to make even more while they play savior, if they choose.
It's unclear if Florida State really wants to join the Big 12, but when college sports is involved, it's unclear if water is really wet.
Ever since FSU board of trustees chairman Andrew Haggard publicly criticized the ACC's media rights deal last week and told a fan website the Seminoles should consider the Big 12, we've been drenched in speculation, but little else.
Officially, FSU's president has questioned the wisdom of leaving the ACC, Seminoles football coach Jimbo Fisher has said he's open to it, and athletic director Randy Spetman has walked away — literally, down a hotel hallway — from questions about the matter.
On the Big 12 side of things, incoming commissioner Bob Bowlsby declined to comment on FSU but told USA Today “the topic of expansion will be on every agenda going forward.” UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds has maintained there has been no contact between FSU and the Big 12 and that he prefers the league stays at its 10-team alignment.
But like Bowlsby, Dodds said expansion will always be a possibility. Asked by the Express-News whether the conference would contact potential members or vice versa, Dodds spoke in general terms, making it clear he wasn't talking specifically about FSU.
“There would be some reaching out, and there would be some reaching in,” Dodds said. “To say that hasn't happened would be incorrect. There's been some reaching in.”
And that, incredibly, summarizes how far the Big 12 has come. Last summer, when Texas A&M and Missouri bailed, and UT and Oklahoma were looking elsewhere, it was on the verge of collapse. Now, with a new TV deal poised to pay each member $20 million per year and a proposed 13-year commitment of media rights, it's not just a survivor but a desirable destination.
West Virginia University president Jim Clements said on Thursday athletic director Oliver Luck is staying in Morgantown for the foreseeable future.
Luck's name has been mentioned as a candidate for the open athletic director job at Stanford, among others. The Mountaineer A.D. did not end speculation when asked about the opening on May 8. He told the Gazette, "I'm not going to comment." He also refused to comment on the opening to other media outlets.
On Thursday, however, Clements met with Luck over the matter.
"I sat down with Oliver," Clements told the Gazette. "I told him I need to know because I've been getting inquiries, calls and texts, and he said, 'Jim, I love it here; I'm a Mountaineer; I'm staying.' "
SMU athletic director Steve Orsini was fired Thursday, just four weeks after he and the Mustangs hired Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown.
The move was announced by SMU president R. Gerald Turner in a news release, and was effective immediately.
"After several discussions over the last few weeks, it became apparent to me that it was necessary to make this change," Turner said. "While we both are committed to the support of our student-athletes and coaches, a unified effort is required for future progress in our athletics programs."
Orsini had been SMU's athletic director since 2006. In January 2011, he had been given a contract extension through May 2015.
Inspired by a program that has been wildly successful on the field and among Monarchs supporters, Old Dominion announced Thursday that it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference USA, which will elevate the football program to the Bowl Subdivision level.
That ascension, university President John R. Broderick said, made the move desirable.
"Football certainly was a driving consideration is this decision, and the success of coach (Bobby) Wilder and his teams have provided us the confidence that we can make this bold step,'' Broderick said at Foreman Field, where about 100 ODU supporters attended a press conference.
Their excitement merely mirrored what athletic director Wood Selig was feeling.
"Today's announcement, simply put, is a game-changer,'' he said to rousing applause.
Incoming freshmen should anticipate major adjustments at the Division I level. The players are bigger, stronger and faster.
But the uptick in competition is only part of the transition from high school to college. The 21st-century college basketball player should understand off-court expectations, too.
They're all about adhering to proper swagger etiquette.
I hope you all have notepads ready. Here’s what you’ll need to get ready for Division I basketball off the floor:
An Instagram account: Twitter is so 2011. These days, college basketball players send messages through photos via Instagram. It’s a cool tool. You take photos, attach a brief memo and ship the image to the world. Or if you’re Jared Sullinger, you send photos of text-message exchanges with other All-America forwards. You need this. Trust me.
Friendships with rappers: Blame Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. Lil Wayne’s highly publicized crush on the talented guard dramatically increased her street cred and Twitter follower count. Jay-Z sat behind Kentucky’s bench during the Final Four. Romeo Miller (the onetime Lil' Romeo who now just goes by Romeo) didn’t just support USC basketball. He actually joined the team. Find a rapper. Become his friend.
Fashionable specs: I know. You have 20/20 vision. Doesn’t matter. This is all about style. I learned about this recent development in college basketball fashion from Michigan State’s Adreian Payne. He says his black glasses project sophistication. It’s either that or an affinity for Clark Kent.
ESPN: Must-haves for 2012's incoming freshmen
Organizers for the Battle 4 Atlantis -- the top non-conference tournament -- won’t decide on the bracket until August for the November event. The event, at the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, could put all eight teams in the NCAA tournament. They are: Louisville, Duke, Stanford, Missouri, Minnesota, Memphis, VCU and Northern Iowa.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Damontre Harris, a Trinity Christian graduate who played two seasons at South Carolina, likely will pick his new school in the next few days. He has narrowed his list of transfer options to Kansas and Florida.
"They're both great programs," Harris said Thursday night at Pine Forest High School, where he participated in a scrimmage between former and current members of the North Carolina Force travel team. "Wherever my heart takes me, wherever my heart feels I need to be, that's what I'm going to go with."
Harris, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks last season, when he was named to the SEC All-Defensive team. South Carolina fired coach Darrin Horn in March and hired Frank Martin away from Kansas State, then granted Harris permission to explore transfer options to any school but N.C. State.
Assistant coaches from Florida, Kansas and Virginia Tech flew to Columbia, S.C., on the last day of a live recruiting period in mid-April. Harris visited Florida in late April and went to Kansas a week later.
"They're great programs; they're all winning programs," Harris said. "I really don't see any negativity with either program. It's a comfort level and the coaches I think I can mesh with the most."
ESPNHS profile: CIA Bounce
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