When the Big 12 managed to stay together in the summer of 2010, commissioner Dan Beebe may have received too much credit for his last-minute save. Now, Beebe may take the fall for nearly failing to do so again, with reports that he will resign as early as Thursday, with famed consultant and former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas likely to take over the job in an interim role.
Beebe's resignation was one of the demands made by Oklahoma earlier in the week before the school lost any and all leverage with the Pac-12's decision not to expand after a September 2nd conference call without Oklahoma during which he reportedly encouraged the other seven schools to focus on keeping Texas apparently angered the Oklahoma administration. Around the league, however, there appeared to be a growing consensus among the schools that a change was necessary.
Mostly though, the perception out there is that Beebe is nothing more than a puppet dancing to the bidding of Texas, a charge that doesn't normally get backed up by many actual facts. Still, perception often passes for reality and it seems that Beebe also feels that his time is up, as he also came to believe in recent days that the conference needs new leadership, according to a report by the Kansas City Star.
Neinas is not necessarily a household name as a relatively shadowy figure in college athletics at this point, but behind the scenes, he's a headhunter responsible for helping land both Mack Brown at Texas and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma -- among many other football and basketball coaches -- and is known for working behind the scenes and away from the media spotlight.
Though Neinas has a strong relationship with DeLoss Dodds, he also helped hire Joe Castiglione as the OU AD before Castiglione hired Stoops and has conducted coaching searches for seven of the nine remaining Big 12 schools -- he's a person with deep ties to the league and most of the member institutions.
Since Neinas has the ability to work behind the scenes, he could serve the Big 12 well as it searches for a tenth member institution. Instead of having the ups and downs of the search process play out almost entirely in the media, Neinas could help keep the process mostly behind closed doors. Or at least behind closed doors to the extent possible in this media-saturated word filled with anonymous sources providing information to help control the message for any and all powerful parties concerned.
The question, though, is whether Neinas or the eventual permanent replacement for Beebe can build consensus in the Big 12, the key factor in bringing some stability to the most unstable BCS conference in the country. Perhaps it's an impossible task, but for now, the simple fact that the conference still exists is remarkable enough.