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Finebaum Goes After Arkansas… Again

Paul Finebaum of The Mobile Press-Register is the latest writer to pen a “winners and losers” piece regarding conference expansion.  Pat Forde of ESPN did one last week.  And we beat everyone to the punch with our own version last Tuesday.

But amongst all of the victors and vanquished, Finebaum takes time to level another nasty shot at the University of Arkansas.  Pot, get ready to be stirred.

“Arkansas: Loser… Would someone tell the Little Piggies to shut up?  After media reports surfaced that Arkansas tried but failed to get hooked up as the 11th team in the new 10-team Big 12, the school decided to go on the offensive.  Stealing a page from BP’s public relations playbook, athletic director Jeff Long issued a long and self-serving statement, saying the school “has no interest” in leaving the SEC.  There’s a reason for that — nobody wants you.”

Finebaum is apparently referring to a column in The Lawrence (Kansas) World-Journal that suggested that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would like to see his alma mater and Notre Dame join the Big 12.

The column, which was posted on June 16th, also said that by adding those two schools, the Big 12 would become “the most compelling conference in the history of college football.”  I’ll let you decide if the writer sounds like the type of reasonable man you would want to trust in such matters.

Chip Brown of then reported that Arkansas had “put out feelers” to the Big 12 and again Jones was the only person mentioned by name.

Hours after those stories hit the world wide web, Arkansas officials put out their “We’re not interested in leaving the SEC” press release.

A day later, a spokesman for Jones denied the whole matter.

But all of these stories and rumors trace back to Jones, who happens to have a monetary stake in all of this.  Cowboys Stadium is contracted to be the home of the Big 12′s championship game for the next four years.  When the league falls below 12 teams, it will no longer be able to hold a championship game (unless the NCAA bends the rules for the league).  So if Jones can get the league back to 12 teams, he’ll stand to profit.

That begs the question: Did Arkansas officials tell Jones to work things out with the Big 12?  Or is this just another case of a millionaire booster trying to play God on his own? 

Think Bobby Lowder at Auburn.  Or the two trustees at Tennessee who raced (on their own) to talk to Phillip Fulmer when Lane Kiffin announced he was leaving.  Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens is currently trying to spread the word that he was really the big puppetmaster behind the Big 12 staying together and that he was never going to let things break apart in the first place.

Guys like Jones and Pickens wield power because they have deep pockets.  But they also have huge egos.  When you’re used to getting your way, you’re more likely to try to “make things happen” on your own.  If nothing else, you want to look like you’re powerful enough to always get your way.

Maybe Finebaum is right and Arkansas sent Jones as an official envoy to the Big 12. 

But I keep coming back to the fact that Jones would have more to gain from Arkansas joining the Big 12… than the Razorbacks would. 



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