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Big 12 Hits A Grand Slam With Hire Of Bob Bowlsby

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Big 12 Conference tabbed Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby as the new commissioner on May 4 of this year. Since that time, Bowlsby has been getting his feet wet, helping stamp out the Big 12's involvement in the Champions Bowl, as well as help secure a new $2.6 billion TV contract with ABC/ESPN and FOX.

Needless to say, Bowlsby has been thrown into this new position without much time to settle in and establish his own agenda for the conference's future.

Monday, Bowlsby was in Norman to spend some time on campus, and get to know the university a bit. He also took some time to speak with the media, and answer some questions.

After the session, there was no doubt the Big 12 had hit a grand slam in hiring Bowlsby. He answered questions with authority, providing direct answers that actually answered the question, unlike some of the question-dodgers you encounter in the sports world.

He came across as sharp as a tack, with a quick wit to match.

Bowlsby was quick to praise Chuck Neinas, who was the interim commissioner before Bowlsby came aboard.

"Chuck had as much of a hand in saving this conference as any single individual," Bowlsby said. "He put in yeoman's work. He approached it from a statesman like perspective. It's hard to overstate the impact he had on the conference over the last year."

Bowlsby also talked about the conference being a more competitive conference than the public gave it credit for.

"I think the thing that makes a great conference is great competition every time you take the playing surface," Bowlsby said. "I think the private reality of the strength of our conference is different from the public perception."

And, despite six straight national championships, he had a message for today's standard-bearer for college football success

"Do we want to compete at the highest level? Absolutely," Bowlsby said. "We don't want the SEC to win another national championship."

Of course, what would a chat with the commissioner be without a bit of conference realignment talk?

"At 10 members, we get that strength and stability and that nimbleness that we want," Bowlsby said. "On the other hand, I would never foreclose on some sort of expansion. I think it's the kind of issue that we're going to have to keep on our dashboard all the time."

Even though the Big 12 is shelving the idea at the present time, that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone.

"I have had regular contacts from a number of institutions, some legitimate, some not legitimate," Bowlsby admitted.

Those were just a couple of the highlights of Bowlsby's talk Monday, but even from just a couple of his answers, it was easy to gather he is in complete control of a conference that just a year ago seemed certain to cease to exist.

Instead, the Big 12 is thriving and seems set up for an unprecedented run of success, both on and off the field of competition.

OU president David Boren was also present and introduced Bowlsby Monday, saying how happy he was the presidents named Bowlsby commissioner of the conference.

"Over the last few years, his experiences as director of athletics at Stanford placed him at a university where they clearly understand that excellence in athletics can go hand in hand with excellence in academics," Boren said. "I believe once you set a standard of excellence at any program at your university, they tend to begin to replicate themselves in others."

New blood is exactly what the Big 12 needed after a solid year and a half of nothing but speculation about the stability of the conference. There's no doubt the Big 12 is headed in the right direction with Bob Bowlsby leading the charge into the future.

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