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ISU A.D. Pollard Quells Expansion Talk In The Big 12… For Now

For all the rumblings of Florida State and Clemson joining the Big 12 — remember when that went from done deal to joke and back to done deal a couple of weeks ago — some representatives of the quickly-stabilizing league have made it clear they’re not interested in growing.  At least not in football.

Comments from multiple Big 12 reps suggested that Notre Dame would be the exception to the “let’s not expand yet” rule, even if it meant accepting the Irish in all sports but football.

But ADs like Texas DeLoss Dodds and outgoing interim commissioner Chuck Neinas have said 10 teams is just right.  Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard – the chairman of the Big 12′s athletic directors — has been very outspoken at the Big 12 meetings regarding his league’s desire to stand pat:


“We think we’re positioned extremely well.  I don’t think there is anything that has transpired that would (make) us talk about that anytime in the near future.  At the same time I think it’s important to say our heads aren’t buried in the sand…

We appreciate the position we’re in by not having a championship game.  Our champion can get (to a playoff) with one less game.  It’s a good position to be in.

The first time somebody’s best team gets knocked out of a four-team playoff because they lost their championship game to a 7-5 team or 8-4 team, we’ll see how long they want to keep a championship game,”


That makes perfect sense.  For now.  But if a new playoff drives big name schools to start banging on the door begging for entry into the Big 12, expect Pollard and his cronies to reverse field quicker than Barry Sanders.

That said, it should be clear at this point that there was never any done deal to bring Florida State, Clemson or anyone else to the Big 12.  That still might happen, but reports of a completed agreement with buyouts already drawn up were nothing more than conjecture.

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Bama Says It’s Clean In Recruitment Of Sanders

As Alabama was busy wrapping up the SEC West division on its home court Saturday, football coach Nick Saban was in the stands with recruit Barry James Sanders… the son of NFL legend Barry Sanders (who was also at the game.)  As they watched the basketball game together, the Saban and the recruit were shown on the video boards at Coleman Coliseum.  A “We Want Barry” chant broke out at the game.

The website – think an Auburn fan tipped ‘em? — accused the Tide of violating NCAA Rule 13.11.5 which states:

“An institution may not introduce a visiting prospect at a function (e.g., the institution’s sports award banquet or an intercollegiate athletics contest) that is attended by media representatives or open to the general public.”

Last evening, an Alabama spokesperson told writer Izzy Gould via email that no violation occurred.  “Our compliance office is aware of this claim and has looked into it.  Based on that inquiry, it was determined that no violation was committed.”

Ah, but Robert Przyblo of The Oklahoman opens his coverage this way: “… there is no question if wrongdoing was done.”

Apparently there is.  And the question is this: Does a brief shot on a video board — with no accompanying PA mention or on-screen graphic backing — constitute an “introduction” as the rule states?  Obviously Alabama doesn’t think so.

Interestingly, just last month Saban was accused of violating the “bump rule” when he was photographed briefly speaking with Sanders at his Oklahoma City High School.  Nothing has come of that charge yet.

If the latest issue — which occurred during Bama’s “Junior Day” events — does turn out to be a violation, it will be hard to prove that it was anything more than a secondary violation.  Alabama can easily say that a camera operator inside the arena simply scanned the crowd and focused in on the Tide’s coach, just as other arena camera ops focus in on their football coaches during basketball games across the country.

While violations are to be taken seriously and the NCAA is certainly trying crack down on coaches who repeatedly commit secondary infractions, the bigger issue here might be the fact that in today’s age of self-appointed watchdog web journalists every secondary violation and accidental bump can now make national headlines. 

While rival SEC fans enjoy ratting out their neighbors and stirring up a certain type of storm for them, the never-ending cries of “They’re cheating” travel further these days.  They’re louder these days.  And that’s not good news for a league that has a long history of bending, breaking and ignoring rules.

Below are some example of why Saban is so interested in Sanders:

UPDATE — According to The Tuscaloosa News, UA officials say that photos of Saban and Sanders sitting together that are making the rounds on the internet were only seen on Fox Sports television.  School officials say the video board in the arena showed a tighter shot that only included Saban and not Sanders.

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