YE OLDE (overstuffed like a pizza crust) notebook:After the Big 12 presidents voted to sign off on the new media rights deal with ESPN and Fox, I had a chance to speak with WVU athletic director Oliver Luck.
There were two questions. One concerned what, specifically, the new deal would mean to the Mountaineer athletic department."It's both exposure and money, to be crass," Luck said. "It's a chance to really upgrade our program, coaching salaries and infrastructure - maybe not immediately, but in the long term."It's easy to say you're going to be good in this sport or that, but it takes resources, whether it's bricks and mortar or salaries. It's an exciting opportunity, though. We'll have the resources to compete with everybody in the country."
Luck spoke of adding suites to Milan Puskar Stadium and, perhaps, a third floor to the facilities building.The second question dealt with expansion. With Big 12 schools now beholden to each other for the next 13 seasons and with the media deal signed, is expansion more or less likely?"I think there are four conferences [Big 12, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12] more or less in the same ballpark," Luck said. "There's somewhat of a dropoff to the ACC, but it's not a big enough drop that teams [in the ACC] would change. I don't think there's any trigger to rash movements."If we're making $20 million [a year] and Virginia Tech is making $16 million, that's a gap, but not life changing. Before [in the Big East], we were facing a substantial difference."While the Big 12 and SEC have their agreed-upon Champions Bowl and the Big Ten and Pac-12 have their Rose Bowl, the Big East is trying to nose its way into the Orange Bowl. Reports are that league's champion, Notre Dame and second-place teams from other conferences could be involved.
Anyway, new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco had some interesting words to CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd."[The league is] much stronger than probably the perception has been," said Aresco. "I am really, really out there talking about it as much as possible. I'm absolutely convinced and I think I'm objective - it is significantly stronger than the Big East when it had the automatic qualifier and was confined to the Northeast and didn't have a bell cow like Boise State."I don't think I even have to comment on that.WVU's Luck said all the companies interested in his school's third-tier media rights were in Morgantown last week for a dog-and-pony-show presentation. He said "eight or nine" companies are expressing interest in the contract, which would begin July 1, 2013.
When the request for proposal was issued, an approximate deadline for a decision was Oct. 19. Keep in mind that unlike the ACC's latest media deal, the Big 12's new deal allows member schools to keep their third-tier rights. So throw that, as well as Champions Bowl income, as well as any upcoming playoff deal money, on top of WVU's future annual $20 million haul.Unless James Madison absolutely shocks WVU this weekend, Marshall's Saturday home game against Ohio is the one to watch in the Mountain State in regard to program impact.
The Bobcats, about a touchdown favorite, could set the Thundering Herd back with a victory in Huntington. But all hard-core college football fans, possible Herd recruits and future opponents will take note if MU wins after OU defeated Penn State in Week One. It's a very important game for Doc Holliday and company.I find the setup to WVU's contest against James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., fascinating. WVU is making $2.3 million; JMU is making $350,000. Ticket prices run from $99 to $149. According to Luck, WVU has no ticket minimum.
Can the stadium/promoters really be making money?I contacted the Redskins and tried to see how many tickets have been sold and the idea behind the game. WVU-BYU, yes, I can understand. But WVU-James Madison?
"We are pleased with the sales and expect a great game," wrote Tony Wyllie, senior vice president of the Redskins, in an email. "We do not disclose the number of tickets sold. The Redskins in conjunction with Russ Potts Productions host the game. ... We host the game because we are always looking to host high-profile events to FedEx Field."So there you have it. James Madison-WVU is officially a high-profile event.Oddly, Vikki Chavis of the Redskins called the Gazette Tuesday afternoon, trying to sell game tickets and saying, "great seats are still available." (Silly goose. This is a newspaper.) According to her, though, only 800 tickets remained.Congrats to former WVU basketball player Kevin Jones, who reportedly signed a $2.2 million, three-year, partially guaranteed deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted free agent. The word is he'll earn $50,000 for signing the contract and $450,000 in his rookie season if he makes the team.One might think this a bad time to put forth a book on the Pitt-WVU football series. It is, after all, dead.
But WVU's John Antonik has put forth a very nice publication, called "The Backyard Brawl." It includes "stories from one of the weirdest, wildest, longest-running and most intense rivalries in college football history." And Antonik said it's the perfect time to release the tome."When Pitt announced it was going to the ACC and West Virginia said it was going to the Big 12, I felt it was the perfect time to do this," said the writer. "If they aren't playing anymore, it's a good historical perspective."Indeed, Antonik did a nice job with the book. Worth a read.OK, here's a mystery. Last season, Oak Hill High won the Class AA version of the Gazette Excellence in Sports Award. With that went possession of our traveling trophy, a big, handsome wooden deal, for the school year. It moves to the next winner for the next school year. Three trophies, in fact, have made the rounds since 1996-97.
Somehow, though, the Class AA trophy has disappeared. The folks at Oak Hill are stumped. So are we. So consider this an Amber alert for a big ol' block of wood. If you have it, please give me a shout.Here's a well-kept secret: the Big 12 football conference season begins on Saturday. New league member TCU visits Memorial Stadium at Kansas that day. And so far, not so good for KU. The Jayhawks just lost to Rice by 25-24 and also lost starting linebacker Prinz Kande for the season because of a knee injury.Told you this notebook was overstuffed.Other Big 12 notes?
Oklahoma got back the services of defensive tackle Casey Walker this week. He missed the first two games for undisclosed reasons. But he's a senior and third-year starter.Oklahoma State's embarrassing defensive performance against RichRod and Arizona might have something to do with the absence of defensive coordinator Bill Young, who has been out for medical reasons.And while Kansas State's jump in the polls after shellacking Miami was big news, the biggest from the conference has to be on the basketball side.In case you've missed it, Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie is on sick leave while the school's administration investigates possible mistreatment of players.Jordan Tolbert, Tech's leading scorer last season, said this: "I don't want to play for [Gillispie] if he comes back."That's what you call a problem.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.