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Beckman, Kowalczyk reflect on universities changing conferences

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, June 14, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 22:06

Rockets head coach Tim Beckman looks on in practice last season. The second-year coach had a 5-7 rec

File photo by Joseph Herr / IC

Rockets head coach Tim Beckman looks on in practice last season. The second-year coach had a 5-7 record in his first year at Toledo.

Zach Davis Sports Editor

Over the last week, the NCAA has seen dramatic changes to its conferences with Nebraska and Colorado leaving the Big 12 to join the Big Ten and Pac-10, respectively. Next week's developments could be even bigger with rumors of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State among others leaving the Big 12 in ruins on their way to joining the Pac-10. With these historic changes, UT football coach Tim Beckman and men's basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk are keeping an eye on any conference jumping throughout the country.

"The landscape of college athletics has changed dramatically over the last week or so and I think it's going to continue over the next month and a half," Kowalczyk said.

Rumors that the Pac-10 could increase to possibly 16 teams have spawned beliefs that they would not be the country's own "super conference," as others could also expand to 16 teams, such as the ACC, Big Ten and SEC.

"That rumor mill is going around just like it started a few months ago," Beckman said.

"I think there's going to be more than just four [super conferences], personally. I think there will be possibly five or maybe even six."

The driving force for expanding conferences has been the possibility of bringing in additional revenue for each team by adding schools, despite the growing distances that the student athletes and fans would travel between their league games.

"There are so many rumors going around about the Big Ten and where some of these Big 12 teams are going to go—are they going to go to the SEC, the Pac-10?" Beckman said. "It all comes down to money and how TV can help out all these conferences."

Since Toledo is not in a major conference, they are at a disadvantage. UT must wait and watch the events of the coming months before they can begin to plan on whether their future remains in the Mid-American Conference.

"I think sometimes the rich get richer in all those scenarios and I'm not sure that that's good for mid-major programs," Kowalczyk said. "Time will tell. We need to sit tight and see how the landscape affects Toledo."

"I've kind of got mixed feelings on it," Beckman said. "I'm just concerned with Toledo and what we need to do in whatever conference that we're competing to be the best that they can be in that conference.

"It's people making decisions that really have impact, [and they're] not at a Toledo or another non-BCS school. It's in their hands for what they're going to do before you can make your decision on what you're going to do."

As of now, the Rockets expect to remain in the MAC but are keeping an eye on possibilities that can benefit the school in the future.

"Right now we've got as good of an athletic director [in Mike O'Brien] as there is in the country, especially in the MAC," Beckman said. "If the time comes and we have to make a decision if we're going to move or stay, he's going to do whatever's best for Toledo. We will sit down and talk about it. Tim Beckman will do whatever they say to do and will be fired up because I still love coaching football."

The country's mid-major programs are not the only ones who are left unable to control their own destiny, as the possibly devastating loss of most of the Big 12 teams could leave Kansas without a conference. Although the Jayhawks are not a premier football school, they have one of the nation's most prestigious basketball programs, including three national championships and 13 final four appearances.

"[Kansas] is the one I'm shocked about," Kowalczyk said. "I'm sure they will find a place that they feel comfortable in. I don't know where that place will be, but there's too much tradition for them to be left out in the cold."

"It is kind of interesting," Beckman said. "Kansas is as good of a program as there is in the country [in basketball] and now they might not be in the Big 12, they might be in the Mountain West or wherever they're going to be."

Despite the headlines that both Colorado and Nebraska have received for their departures, it was an upcoming opponent that grabbed Beckman's attention after its conference switch.

"You heard back in January or February the possibility of Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers and Syracuse possibly joining the Big Ten so [Nebraska] wasn't the shocker to me. The biggest shocker to me was Boise State, because I didn't know anything about the Boise move [to the Mountain West]."

The Rockets will face Boise State when they travel to Idaho on Oct. 9 this year to face the reigning Fiesta Bowl winners.

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