FRISCO, Texas — Bob Bowlsby was more than 17 minutes into his opening statement on Monday morning to start Big 12 Conference Media Days, droning on a bit about tremendous coaches and great players and unappreciated defense when he suddenly stopped.
“Let me stop just for a minute and spend a little time giving credit to somebody that really deserves a lot of credit,” Bowlsby said from his end zone lectern at The Star. “Bob Stoops is not here for the first time in many, many years.”
Let’s face it: the Big 12 Conference took a hit when Stoops unexpectedly retired on June 7. You can’t lose a coach with 190 career victories and 10 conference championships and expect to conduct business as usual.
Stoops was one of five active coaches who owns a national championship, and now the Big 12 has zero of those.
“We were together at a memorial service over the weekend and had a chance to visit a little bit,” Bowlsby said, “and I had the opportunity to tell him how much I have appreciated his work in the last five years that I’ve been around on behalf of the sport of football.”
Bowlsby said the Big 12 is “poorer for not having Bob Stoops any longer as a head coach in our league.
“He’s a loss to the conference because he’s been so thoughtful and he cares about the game so much and he cares about the game,” Bowlsby said. “So yeah, sure, he’s a loss. In fact, we may look for some ways to try and get him involved. I don’t know how much time he’s gonna have available, but he’s a voice that college football needs to hear.”
Bowlsby, 65, spoke at length about player safety and cost of attendance and the Big 12 championship game and league revenue, but one of the juiciest tidbits came after his 47-minute turn at the podium: the Big 12 board of directors has offered him a contract extension through the 2024-25 season, and “I expect to sign it. … I expect to be here for a while.”
That’s also when the league’s grant-of-rights expires — that’s the binding clause that guarantees if any school leaves, they’ll grant any money they make from their new media rights back to the Big 12 rather than to their new conference — and that’s germane to Bowlsby’s tenure.
Viewing live sports on TV has changed so drastically since the league first began exploring its own network, and the future of sports on television is simply unknowable.
“The migration to mobile distribution is extraordinary,” Bowlsby said. “I watched a ‘60 Minutes’ segment on artificial intelligence and the things that computers can teach themselves to do. It’s just astonishing, and anybody that tells you they know what it’s going to look like 10 years from now is delusional. Anybody that tells you they know what it’s going to look like three years from now is delusional.”
Bowlsby applauded Big 12 football defenses for last season’s bowl efforts and warned about the dangers of unrestricted coaching staffs and early signing dates.
“But,” he said, “I think our league has the best depth. “We’re the only one playing a full round-robin, full nine-game schedule, and we’re the only one that guarantees our two best teams are going to play each other in the postseason. So I feel very good about what we’re doing.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.