Sean Pendergast

Big XII Media Day — Commissioner Bowlsby Gets Peppered With Baylor Questions

In the mob cartel that is college football, the dysfunctional fifth family gathered in Dallas on Monday and Tuesday for a two-day family reunion. Indeed, Big XII Media Days are here, and given how things have gone for the Big XII as a conference and for one of its primary constituents over the past several months, these were maybe the most anticipated Big XII Media Days of all time!

The festivities kicked off, as they do every year, with — ahem —  words of wisdom from conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Most of the questions centered around the aftermath of the rape scandal at Baylor, with a few questions on the new conference title game, starting in 2017, sprinkled in as well.

The easiest way to go through this is probably to pick out the highlights of Bowlsby's Monday media session and attempt to translate what he's trying to say or should be saying, not always the easiest things to do. So without further ado...

BOWSLBY (on Jim Grobe taking the Baylor job):  "I am particularly grateful to Jim [Grobe] for coming into a difficult situation. He is — and I told Ian McCaw this, he was an inspired choice. There is not a person in all of college football with better experience or better values, and he is every bit the right guy at this time."

TRANSLATION: "Art Briles is a, a really bad guy."

BOWLSBY (on scheduling rules adopted by the conference): "We adopted a new football schedule requirement that it requires no more than one FCS opponent per year, at least one FBS autonomy opponent each year, or Notre Dame, and two other FBS competitions as part of the — or up to two as part of the rest of the schedule."

TRANSLATION: "Looking at you, Baylor...we are watching you (makes the De Niro eye-pointing motion from Meet the Parents). I mean, damn, you do all this indefensible stuff like turn a blind eye to sexual assault and you're scheduling cupcake FCS schools? You guys suck, man."

BOWLSBY (on scheduling): "I think it will likely evolve over time, but we think there are some very good regional matchups that are against FCS schools, so we didn't want to eliminate them all together."

RESPONSE: Yeah, no translation needed here, just a reply: Um, Bob, can you please tell me the FCS opponents that represent "very good regional matches" with your schools? List them out for me, please, with scores from the past ten years. 

BOWLSBY (on the Big XII's round-robin schedule): "There is no way that is more difficult to contest your championship than to play a full round robin...there's no question, as I said earlier, that the full round robin is the most difficult way to contest your championship. Nobody is going to win a championship in this league by who they don't play."

RESPONSE: This is one of the more infuriating myths in college football. Just because a conference plays a "round-robin" schedule doesn't mean that schedule is inherently harder than the schedule that teams from bigger conferences play. Your schedule's difficulty is about the quality of the teams, not the format of your league's schedule. Tell a team in the SEC West that has to play the other six teams in that division and cross over into the SEC East for a game with Georgia or Florida that their schedule isn't as hard as the Big XII's vaunted round robin. 

BOWSLBY: "It almost goes without saying that when you combine alcohol and drugs and raging hormones and the experiences of 18-22 years old, it's probably unrealistic to think that these kinds of things are never going to happen."

RESPONSE: I parsed out this quote mainly because I think this is the first time the words "raging hormones" have been uttered by a conference commissioner in his opening presser. 

BOWSLBY (on the Big XII's investigating Baylor): "Baylor has been very forthcoming and I don't have any doubt that they will continue to be forthcoming."

RESPONSE: Really? Because the school intentionally had its law firm deliver its findings on the investigation into the school's screw-ups verbally, not in writing, so the school would only have to come forth with the parts of the report that it felt like making public. I'd re-evaluate Baylor's honesty in all of this, Bobbo. 

BOWLSBY (meandering on Baylor): "That's not quite what I said, Jake. I've met with Baylor leadership including the interim president and the chair of the Board and another chair of one of their significant committees of the Board of Regents, and they have indicated that they don't have a written report. They will be meeting with our Board tomorrow, and we will provide an opportunity for Board members to ask questions and they will make a presentation. They have told us that there is not a written report and what's out there, what we have in writing is what you have in writing. That is the finding of facts and the steps behind it."

RESPONSE: Wow, sounds very forthcoming...

BOWLSBY (on whether the conference will learn more than has been made public on Baylor): "Yeah, we will get more than the public. There isn't any doubt about that. We already have more than the public on an oral basis."

RESPONSE: Um, okay...

BOWLSBY (30 seconds later when asked about assistant coaches): "Well, I don't know that I can adequately address that because I know what you know..."

RESPONSE: [head explodes].

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast