The Pac-12 defectors forgot to loot the ship
Oregon State and Washington State just want a little self-determination.
The best description of the ongoing fight between the two remaining Pac-12 schools and the 10 departing ones comes from Mark C., an old internet friend of ours, in a Twitter reply: Oregon State and Washington State “are the only ones not to abandon ship, and now the armada of fleeing dinghies is trying to turn around because they forgot to pillage the ship before they left.”
The legal fight between the Pac-2 and the league’s exiting members boils down to two perspectives. Oregon State and Wazzu think (justifiably, I think) that everyone else in the Pac-12 no longer has the right to vote on the conference’s future. They’re worried that most of the other schools, aided and abetted by inept lame-duck commissioner George Kliavkoff, will vote to dissolve the Pac-12. That would wipe out whatever brand value the name has, the Pac-12 Networks infrastructure, and what could be significant tie-ups with bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament, and even the College Football Playoff. A lot of that is up in the air, but the Pac-12’s left-behind schools clearly want the option of staging a reverse merger that brings current Mountain West schools into the Pac-12. And why shouldn’t the two PNW schools get that choice? Maybe some brilliant lawyer can explain why it doesn’t matter, but the league’s bylaws seem pretty clear: If a school notifies the Pac-12 that it’s leaving, it loses its board vote, like USC and UCLA did after they announced they’d join the Big Ten.. Everyone else is now leaving. Maybe they never sent fancy letters on the proper letterhead? (Kliavkoff, who says he’s neutral, seems to be taking a line kind of like this one.) A judge in Washington has sided for now with OSU and WSU, blocking the Pac-12 from meeting as a board of 10 schools.
The rest of the Pac-12 schools have a reasonable case that they should be able to dissolve the league if they want to, although I haven’t seen any of their presidents publicly agitating to do that. As a group of eight, they did more to build the league’s power and image than a pairing of two remaining schools. Maybe they don’t like that OSU and WSU could take an asset that they built up and turn it into dollars and cents that the departing schools wouldn’t get. To which I say: Tough shit. Change the voting rules before you board your canoes next time. I hope Oregon State and Wazzu wind up with all of the Pac-12’s property, plus Kliavkoff’s Montana house.
The Jeff Lebby matter is an Oklahoma issue
Jeff Lebby, a former Baylor assistant, is not only Art Briles’ son-in-law. He publicly stood by Briles after Baylor fired him for his inept (or worse) response to a rape scandal that consumed the Baylor program. One woman, Dolores Lozano, alleged that she told Lebby that one of his players had assaulted her. The player, Devin Chafin, continued to play. He said that after he explained his side of the incident to Lebby, the coach told him he shouldn’t have put his hands on Lozano and had him do extra work in practice.
Lebby is fortunate that a handful of coaches have decided his offensive mind is worth all of that. Lane Kiffin made that decision at Ole Miss, and Brent Venables made it before taking over at Oklahoma. Venables and athletic director Joe Castiglione appeared surprised after Lebby had Briles down on the field in Norman, dressed in OU gear, after a win over SMU on Saturday night. “It shouldn’t have happened and it was my expectation it never would,” Castiglione said, “based on boundaries we previously set. I’ve addressed it with the appropriate staff.”
Venables, who made a big deal of the importance of “alignment” when he wound up at Oklahoma instead of Auburn, invited the issue by hiring Lebby in the first place. This doesn’t seem very aligned. Oklahoma apparently was cool with Lebby’s history as long as he didn’t do one thing, and he went and did it. And it’s now his Instagram profile picture, too. I wonder how Venables and Castiglione feel about that. The three of us talked about this story at a little bit more length on the free show this week.
What we’re up to elsewhere this week
Godfrey wrote about this very story in the Washington Post. Looking at a Post subscription? Use this link, and they’ll know you found it through Godfrey.
Richard was on the scene for Texas-Alabama.
And I, Alex, wrote for Slate about the carriage fight between Disney and Charter, which has a lot to do with how we watch sports in the future.
And, of course, Richard and I will record the Split Zone Duo Sunday Hurry-Up the morning after games wrap up. Find that on your podcast app of choice.
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