I always found spring conference meetings mostly overlooked in regard to college athletics reporting.
It’s shocking, I know, because sports writers should be dashing to cover a bunch of old men (mostly) burning through universities’ cash at ritzy places like Scottsdale, Arizona, right? Who wouldn’t want to lurk about hotel lobbies hoping for morsels of information?
I kid, of course. Yet did you know six FBS conferences – including the Big 12 – held their meetings last week in Arizona?
In regard to WVU’s Big 12, the most significant “news” centered on the possibility of a standardized injury report.
That may not satisfy news junkies, but it’s good for league commissioner Bob Bowlsby and company. No chaos in Scottsdale. No mayhem as in years past. No tumult.
And much is good within the conference. Oklahoma has been in the College Football playoff three of the past four years. Texas Tech was the men’s hoops runner-up. Baylor won the women’s title. News of the Big 12’s content agreement with ESPN+ is fresh.
“I think the state of the conference is good,” Bowlsby told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, “but I thought it was good before.”
But back to the possibility of a standardized injury report.
If you’re not a gambler, it doesn’t matter whether one is published. But West Virginia is among the eight states now with some form of legalized sports betting. So it’s at least a significant topic in the Mountain State. Will college football join the NFL in issuing injury reports?
“It’s probably time for us to have some national guidelines in regard to that,” said Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.
So why the holdup? Well, unlike the NFL, universities have to navigate federal student privacy laws. Also, as Baylor coach Matt Rhule admitted, “as coaches we’re probably always wired to not give away game plan stuff.”
Yet if schools don’t find a way to be transparent, they’re setting themselves up for trouble. Injury news from within team circles will inevitably leak. And that information will eventually be sold. The news will be a commodity to gamblers.
Somehow, some way, the NCAA will have to figure it out.
Carlton, by the way, also asked Bowlsby about the Big 12 doubling its number of draft selections from 2017 to 2019. The commish basically shrugged off the question, ending with “I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the NFL Draft.”
The numbers, though, have been much improved. The Big 12 had 26 players drafted for an average of 2.6 per team. That’s below the Southeastern Conference (4.6 per school), but right there with the Big Ten (2.9) and Pac-12 (2.8). The Atlantic Coast Conference was down at 2.0.
As for next season, Athlon magazine includes WVU safety Kenny Robinson as a Top 20 conference draft possibility, pointing to his 7-tackle game against Oklahoma with an interception and fumble recovery.
Athlon, by the way, also published first and second teams of college stars not drafted. And, yes, WVU’s David Sills made the first team at wide receiver, along with Texas Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Buffalo’s Anthony Johnson.
Stunning that none of those three made it.
If you want to see what desperation looks like, check out the Pac-12.
At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Larry Scott told The Oregonian he’s “trying to identify investors for a possible private equity stake to help bridge a financial divide between its members and their peers across the country.”
You read correctly.
“The league,” said the media outlet, “has been exploring the possibility of an outside investor, with the hopes of a 10 percent stake in the conference generating a return of between $500-750 million, for several months.
‘One of the reasons we’re looking at this right now is our schools feel a tremendous amount of financial pressure,’ Scott said.”
For some reason, I kept envisioning Mr. Wonderful and Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.”
And for those reasons, I’m out.
Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle. He will host Wheelhouse Creative’s “Off the Record” live show at Generations Pub in Wheeling on Thursday at 7 p.m. This week’s guest is former WVU football player and current Ohio County School Board president Zach Abraham. Those interested in Wheelhouse Creative’s marketing and advertising services are asked to call 304-905-6005.