Category Archives: College Football

You think you’re so smart.

After watching this, I’m even more impressed with the results we got from the Montana Project.

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Filed under College Football

It’s money that they love.

Just to amplify on the threat made by the former president of Northwestern referenced in my previous post, here’s his rationale:

Bienen didn’t specifically speak about players being paid, but if the unionization is successful, that would be on the bargaining table, and critics of pay-for-play say they fear that would hurt the academic side of collegiate athletics.

Bienen alluded to that when he said a win for the players could lead private institutions with high academic standards — he specifically cited Duke and Stanford — to abandon the current model in order to preserve academic integrity.

He compared it to the pullback of the Ivy League schools decades ago, when the Ivy League conference decided to opt out of postseason play and to end athletic scholarships, preserving the emphasis on academics for the players.

How noble.  Except Duke, Northwestern and Stanford are still offering athletic scholarships, playing in the postseason and claiming that they’ve preserved academic integrity.  So how is a student-athlete union suddenly a bridge too far?

Well… since you asked, let’s study a set of figures for some clues:

  • The University of Alabama athletics department recorded a $21.2 million surplus for its 2013 fiscal year.
  • Since 2006, Alabama has reported annual surpluses totaling $106.5 million.
  • Alabama reported $143.8 million in total athletics revenue.
  • Alabama’s revenue has increased 84 percent since 2006, the year before Nick Saban became football coach.
  • The largest expense continues to be compensation for coaches, support staff and administrators, which reached $42.2 million in 2013.
  • In the 2013 fiscal year, Saban received $6,385,824 in total compensation, including salary, benefits, bonuses and third-party pay.
  • The gap between an athletic scholarship and the university’s listing of what it actually costs to attend school was $4,332 (in-state) and $5,662 (out-of-state).

As we like to say around here, one of those sets of numbers isn’t like the others.

Sure, Alabama is one of the biggest financial success stories in college athletics.  But if this were really nothing more than a fight to preserve academic integrity, why hasn’t Northwestern marched down a similar road to the one Ivy League schools chose (or, closer to home, the path the University of Chicago took long ago) and ditched the whole enchilada already?

Jerry Price, senior associate athletic director at Princeton, said that change for the Ivy League allowed those schools to maintain academic integrity in the sports where, at other schools, academics can often be compromised in the name of the game.

“It was sort of a breaking point moment,” Price said, saying the Ivy League schools made the decision not to move forward like the bigger conferences — to “draw the line with the commercialization of what football was becoming.”

Anybody really think that Northwestern has somehow managed to keep itself above the commercialization fray so far?  And that a players’ union would be the straw that breaks that particular camel’s back?

Maybe they should make a documentary about that and run it on the Big Ten Network.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label

Tuesday morning buffet

The line is open.

  • CFN thinks the Pruitt hire is swell.
  • The next Georgia Tech stud is running back Travis Custis, who was a highly rated recruit in 2013 but had to sit out last season to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.  I almost hope he pans out, just so he can provide a ready source to rag Tech fans about when they bring up academics.
  • A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that a large majority of the general public opposes paying salaries to college athletes beyond the scholarships currently offered.  The public is split on unionization, though.  Too bad there wasn’t a poll question about players’ being compensated for their likenesses.  (h/t John Infante)
  • Generally, I’m not in favor of parents blocking their sons from choosing where to play college ball.  But when I see a quote like this“… It would be nice to have an offer from Oregon because of their uniforms…” – I can understand where some mommas are coming from.
  • Mark Cuban can see a future when the NFL moves some of its games to Saturday.  That means war!
  • Hugh Freeze no doubt welcomes this development at Alabama for recruiting purposes.
  • John Infante sees college football going down the same road as college basketball if the coaches don’t get their act together and come up with a more comprehensive approach to reforming recruiting rules.


Filed under Academics? Academics., College Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, Recruiting, The NCAA, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Thanks, college football!

I’m not really sure how I came across this, but, hell, it’s worth sharing.  Speaking about the 2012 presidential campaigns, some experts posited an interesting observation about the role college football played.

What do Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin (states that were neither solidly Democrat nor Republican) have in common?  The audience will tell you that these states not only gave their electoral votes to Obama but also possess some of the largest concentration of college football fans.  Now one might ask – is this merely coincidental or does a link really exist?  If it does, what should we make of it?  Do college football fans love Obama more than Romney?  Not necessarily.  Did Obama outspend Romney in his purchase of ad time during televised coverage of college football games? While it is certainly true that Obama had a tremendous advantage in the number of ads placed during college football games, any good political scientist who is vigilant about spinning a causality story will not conclude that Obama won the election because he did more to appeal to college football fans than did Romney.  What they can conclude however, is that Obama’s advertising activities during college football season were part of an overall campaign effort that differed remarkably from that of Romney not only in terms of strategies but also in terms of goals and objectives.

Say what you will about the man’s politics, he knew how to campaign effectively.  So what is it about college football that Obama’s camp found useful in reaching potential voters?  And what, if anything, did Romney’s folks miss about that?


Filed under College Football, Political Wankery

Are spring games doomed?

John Infante believes we’re on the verge of seeing the spring game disappear as an annual event.

All over the country coaches are doing away with spring games. Texas A&M was forced to by renovations to Kyle Field. But Oklahoma State and Pitt did so voluntarily. This is becoming a trend and it will likely be a terminal one for this annual spring tradition.

Why?  It’s a victim of mandated time constraints.

The spring game is counted as one of the 15 practice sessions that make up spring practice. In addition to the overall limit of 15, no more than 12 sessions can include contact. Of the 12 contact sessions, only eight can including tackling. And of the eight tackling sessions, only three can devote more than 50% of the time to 11-on–11 scrimmaging. Spring games obviously count as one of those three scrimmages.

So it makes sense that coaches are moving away from a fan- or competition-focused spring game to an open practice or doing away with it entirely. Coaches have precious little time to work with their team in the spring. Unlike other sports this is the only skill instruction coaches can provide between the end of the football season and the start of fall camp. Not only does a spring game take away from this time generally, it takes away from the most limited subset of this time, 11-on–11 scrimmaging that includes tackling.

And time may become even more constrained.

As limited as that time is, it could be getting even more limited as well. If contact during practice needs to be reduced for safety reasons, one of the easiest places to try and reduce it will be in spring practice. 12 sessions with contact might become eight, eight sessions of tackling might become four, and three scrimmages might become two, one, or none.

Infante mentions changing the spring game to a meeting between schools (an idea I’ve always liked) as a way to save it, but if player safety concerns grow, I don’t see how an inter-school scrimmage helps.  It’s sad, but the only thing I can come up with to counter Infante’s argument is that ESPN sure likes the added broadcast product it’s gotten from these glorified scrimmages over the past few years.  Is that enough?

The spring game is a beloved tradition, particularly in our neck of the woods.  But like so many things driving college football these days, ultimately it won’t be about what we fans want.  That doesn’t mean we won’t miss it if it goes.


Filed under College Football

Tuesday morning buffet

I don’t know if there’s enough here to take your mind off this morning’s stupidity, but I’m trying.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting, The NCAA, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

“Championship games, they’ve been great for TV.”

I fear that deregulation is one of those words that’s not well served by being placed in scare quotes.


Filed under College Football, The NCAA

Thursday morning buffet


  • You know, there’s a guy every year who seems like he’s been around forever.  My 2014 nominee for that guy is Florida’s Andre Debose, who was just granted a sixth year of eligibility.
  • “I just don’t want to see any University of Alabama (logos).”
  • David Ching makes a case for a guy we probably haven’t thought about much yet, tight end Jordan Davis.
  • SEC basketball crowds suck.  And here I thought continuously loud music packs folks in.
  • So, the question becomes would college basketball be better served as a one-semester sport?  What I love about this discussion is that there isn’t a single word about what fans might want, other than to blame our limited attention spans.  “It is a big challenge to get people to care about college basketball when football is still being played.”
  • Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney thinks it would be swell if college football players didn’t come out early.
  • The day Georgia football almost died.
  • Pretty good column in the Boston College student newspaper about March Madness“Thanks to March Madness, regular season success is overlooked.”
  • Auburn’s AD has fired the football, baseball and men’s basketball coaches he hired since 2008.  Think he’s indebted to Malzahn right now?


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, SEC Football

An asses in the seats plan that just might work.

Sometimes you see a new concept and have an immediate “why didn’t somebody think of that before” reaction.  Such is the case for me with Michigan’s 2014 student ticketing policy.  (h/t mgoblog)

The University of Michigan Athletic Department and the Central Student Government announced Tuesday (March 11) a new and improved student ticketing policy for Wolverine football games. The new policy will feature an attendance-driven reserved seating plan that will assign students reserved season seat locations based on attendance points accumulated during the previous season. Seating will no longer be first-come, first-served general admission.

Here are the goals of the policy:

Objectives of Attendance-Driven Reserved Seating Plan

·       Create a home field advantage by having students attend games and arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the contest

·       Enhance students’ game day experience by allowing group seating; groups can be formed with a minimum of two (2) students and a maximum of 100 students.

The way it works is pretty simple.  This season is set as a baseline.

For the 2014 season, all student football season ticket holders will have reserved seats. The reserved seat locations will be based on a combination of 2013 attendance and class level. Following is the order of the seat location for the 2014 season:

  1. SuperFans – Returning students who attended at least five games on time during the 2013 football season (estimated close to 6,000 students; returning seniors/graduate school students among these 6,000 students will be seated in lowest rows)
  2. Returning Seniors/Graduate School Students
  3. Returning Juniors
  4. Returning Sophomores
  5. Returning Freshmen
  6. New incoming students (freshmen, transfers and graduate)

Students can form reserved seating groups (maximum of 100 members). In 2014, groups will be seated based on average class level in the group, with the exception of SuperFan groups consisting of all returning students who attended at least five (5) games on time in 2013. These groups will be seated with priority group #1 in the lowest rows.

Going forward is where it gets quite clever.

Starting with the 2015 season, all reserved seat locations will be decided strictly by attendance points. Attendance points are accumulated for each game attended (3 points). Arriving 30 minutes prior to kickoff earn an additional three (3) points, for a total of six (6) points. There will be no class standing-based perks or points starting with the 2015 football season. A group’s standing (and seat location) will be calculated by an average group score from the previous year’s point total.

Students can earn up to 36 points for the 2014 season, the equivalent of showing up to six (6) games at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Lochmann stated that the athletic department would only count six games instead of all seven, providing students with the benefit of the doubt for situations like holidays, student break, weather, etc., that can affect their attendance.

All attendance points will be tracked through scanned ticket data. Students will be seated by point totals, with the highest accumulated points at the front (maximum 36 points) and descending back to the top of the student section.

They’ve created a positive feedback loop that will net the most motivated students the best game access.  And the loop reboots annually.

There will be no carryover of points from season to season. The prior season’s point total will be used to determine the seat location for the upcoming year.

Yeah, there’s a little more work involved.  But given the result, it sure seems like it’s worth it.  Anybody down here paying attention?


Filed under College Football

The difference between college football in the North and college football in the South

Dabo Swinney thinks that spring practice ought to wrap up with an exhibition game against another school.

Paul Chryst will wrap up Pitt’s spring practice… with a practice.


Filed under College Football