In 'Mundane' Time, Bowlsby Stays Busy

With the conference's membership stabilized, the league's television contracts and so-called "grant of rights" finalized and signed, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby described much of his current agenda as "mundane."

That doesn't mean Bowlsby isn't staying busy. Between the continued behind-the-scenes work to bring the Champions Bowl to fruition, developing the framework of the new college football playoff system that will begin in 2014 and other long-term projects that are in the works, there is plenty of work to be done at the Big 12's headquarters just outside of Dallas.

That includes a possible "alliance" with another conference to hold a nonconference men's basketball competition, as currently exists between the ACC and Big Ten.

"We need to be about bringing opportunities to our members," Bowlsby said. "That's what the conference office does. We manage the enterprise, but we also should be business development officers on behalf of our universities.

"Sometimes that's TV contracts. We're going to be spending a lot of time on our bowl alignment, because with the Champions Bowl and the playoff, our bowl alignment, starting in '14, is going to be very different than it is currently, in all likelihood. So I'm not having any trouble staying busy, that's for sure."

Adding to the agenda is all the traveling Bowlsby has done since taking over as Big 12 commissioner in June. He has been to all 10 of the conference's schools in a span of four weeks, he said.

The commissioner arrived in Morgantown after making a trek to Charlotte to meet with SEC commissioner Mike Slive and other officials from that conference in the hopes of drilling down more details on the upcoming Champions Bowl. He will spend Friday night in town, serving as grand marshal of the WVU homecoming parade, before attending the No. 9 Mountaineers' first-ever Big 12 football game against No. 25 Baylor on Saturday.

But once the trips end, the business of molding the future of Big 12 -- and college football as a whole -- will resume.

Bowlsby serves on two subcommittees related to the forthcoming college football playoff. He indicated much of the framework is steadily coming together, and expects most of the major aspects to be finalized by "March or April."

One of the critical elements that remains to be determined is just how the four participants in the playoff will be selected. Bowlsby indicated an index of some sort -- not altogether dissimilar from the RPI used in men's basketball -- could be created to aid a selection committee in its decision-making process.

An important component of that, he emphasized, will be schedule strength, as the college football powers-that-be hope to eliminate the impetus to schedule "very bad football games" that dominate the September slate.

"We want to be able to schedule a high level of competition in the early part of the season without the risk of a loss eliminating you from consideration for the playoff," Bowlsby said "Last year, as an example, if Oregon and LSU had it to do over again, Oregon might not have opted to take that game early in the season, because they fought back from that loss [a 40-27 LSU win in the season-opener for each] throughout the entire year.

"There's a balancing act there, but strength of schedule is going to be a piece of it, and you'll see institutions that have a chance to be in the hunt be careful about it. They don't necessarily need to play all top 10 teams in the preseason, but perhaps they'll avoid teams that might damage their strength of schedule down the road."

Bowlsby, who serves on the site selection and revenue distribution subcommittees related to the playoff, said that a recent meeting allowed members to bring "a lot of things to closure."

"Are we prepared to roll it out just yet? No," Bowlsby said. "This has a lot of moving parts. It's a 12-year deal, and we need to make sure we get it right. More than anything else, we need to get it right for the kids on the field, the coaches and the fans.

"I think this is an enormous step forward for college football. It has the potential to strengthen the one portion of the schedule that is not as strong as it needs to be. It retains the traditional postseason within the bowl games, and it determines a national champion on the field from among the four most deserving teams. That New Year's Day and New Year's Eve is going to be a spectacular celebration of college football. It's going to be a lot of fun."

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