Q&A with Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby
AUG 30, 2013 11:27a ET
What's your plan for Saturday look like?
I probably will get out of here early morning on Saturday and get down there (to Houston) early enough to see a few people. It'll depend likely on the game as to what time we leave to come back. It's a full day of football, so whenever the game at Cowboys Stadium gets over, I'll be ready for bed I'm sure. Friday night, I'm going to hit Texas Tech at SMU, which is only a mile from my house, so that one's a little easier travel.
What do you think the two games against the SEC means for the Big 12's reputation?
Well, I think if you want to be the best, you have to play the best. These are good early season matchups. I think probably coaches would tell you they'd rather have one game before they played a game like this, but that's the way they're scheduled and they're big, neutral venues and big intersectional contests. They're the kind that really punctuate a season, so we're right into the fray.
How much have you heard from people around the Big 12 about how much stock they'll put into these games or how much attention they'll be paying?
I haven't heard that much from anybody. I don't know that there's a lot of reason to have a whole lot of chatter about it, because everybody knows they're big games. One of them involves a team that's picked to win our league, and the other one is a team that got first-place votes and probably has the best returning quarterback in our league. Everybody kind of knows they're big games, so it doesn't require much further discussion. I think the fans are talking about them a lot, but among people in the business, I haven't heard a whole lot of talk.
There are these games, plus the Sugar Bowl, plus the recent announcement with the Liberty Bowl. Has there been a concerted effort on the part of the Big 12 to try and play the SEC more often?
No, I wouldn't say that's been a priority. The partnership with the SEC and the Sugar Bowl—or it started out as being the Champions Bowl—was really taken from the matchup we had in the Cotton Bowl, in large measure, in the past. And we were both looking at the Houston Bowl and we both decided that made some sense. They've been in the Liberty Bowl for years, and we were looking. Our priorities going into the bowl discussions was we wanted to be firmly anchored in Texas with a Southwest presence that we've had in the past and wanted to continue. We wanted to find a home in Florida for recruiting reasons and for travel reasons, and we wanted to have some games that our fans could drive to. Memphis certainly fit that bill well.
Care to offer a prediction on Saturday's games?
(Laughs) No, I'm not in the prediction business. We've got two good football teams playing and representing the Big 12 and there's certainly two good football teams representing the SEC. Like is usually the case when two good teams get together, the teams that make the fewest mistakes have the best chance to win. That's usually a bit of an adventure in the first few games.
What'd you make of Bob Stoops' comments this summer about SEC "propaganda" and the way that got blown up?
Well, I think coach Stoops made the case that top to bottom the Big 12 is a very strong conference, and I certainly agree with that. On the other hand, the SEC's won seven straight national title games, and you can't argue with their dominance at the national level. I don't think there's any question we play a very high caliber of football in the Big 12, but our aspirations are to win national championships, and right now, you can't do that without going through the SEC.
How much have schools or coaches reached out to you or (coordinator of officials) Walt (Anderson) about the new targeting rule?
Well, I can't comment on the part of Walt, because I haven't talked to him in awhile, but I think coaches are the first ones that want student-athletes to be safe. So the new rules reflect the best effort to make the game as safe as possible. We don't want anybody playing college football and have it alter the way they live the rest of their lives. Is it going to change the way technique is played in the secondary in particular? We hope it will. There's targeting and too much helmet to helmet contact that's unnecessary.
Have you seen any momentum toward making the kinds of changes you and other commissioners talked about at media days last month?
I think everybody involved in intercollegiate athletics is actively engaged in those discussions right now. Conference meetings will come up in the fall and it'll be a hot topic there. It's being talked about at the board level. It's being talked about at commissioners level. It's being talked about among athletic director groups and faculty groups and others as well. I think everybody is energetically engaged in looking at the challenges in intercollegiate athletics in light of all modern circumstance. I'm confident that we'll make progress moving forward.
When do you feel like is a realistic timeline that we could see real, legislative change?
I think it'll have its seeds this fall, but before things can be enacted and actually put in place and operationalized, I'd guess that it's going to be the better part of a year. Some parts may take even longer than that.
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