Daily Archives: May 4, 2011

D-1 football’s oncoming fault line

Stewart Mandel and I see eye to eye on one consequence of the Pac-12’s ginormous new TV deal:

… The playoff zealots keep telling us that the schools and conferences are committing a grave injustice by refusing to pursue the hypothetical windfall that would come from a hypothetical playoff. Well, there’s nothing hypothetical about the Pac-12’s staggering new contracts with ESPN and Fox. According to The New York Times, the deals are worth a combined $250 million per year — and that’s before additional revenue from a forthcoming Pac-12 Network. That’s about nine times more than the league made from the BCS last season ($28 million) and about 17 times more than it made from the 2010 NCAA basketball tournament ($14.7 million). Each school will earn more than a $20 million share. And to get a sense of just how rapidly things have escalated, consider that just seven years ago no conference was yet earning $10 million per team.

And you wonder why these guys talk so much about protecting the regular season?

The other part of this to keep in mind is that the big boys don’t share.

… And some estimates do suggest that a playoff would net three to four times what the BCS contract does. But first of all, that doesn’t mean each of the conferences would automatically make three to four times as much. An NCAA-sponsored tournament would require certain operating costs, would likely follow a performance-based distribution method and would be spread more evenly among all 11 conferences.

Over the long haul, that’s what a move to an expanded, NCAA-run football tourney risks for every Big Six conference.  And that’s why Mandel is right to ask if you’re a president or commissioner in a BCS conference, what the point is in risking that in moving to an expanded postseason model.

On the other hand, if you’re a mid-major on the outside looking in, the view is only getting gloomier.

… Which completes the continental divide between five of the six “BCS conferences” along with Notre Dame and the rest of the alleged Division I football members. In limbo is the Big East, which remains sort of a stepsister to the others, still in the process of attempting to negotiate a reasonably lucrative TV deal of its own.

So, that makes 61 members of the gated-community football elite; nine others in the Big East counting future immigrant Texas Christian, all of which have cloudier horizons but also a measure of hope; and 50 outliers who have absolutely no chance of catching up.

(In purgatory: FCS Villanova and Conference USA’s Central Florida, either of which might be invited in from the kitchen table to the Big East within the next month or two, neither of which might ultimately survive the move.)

That Forlorn Fifty — consisting of the Mid-American, C-USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences — has no more prospect of dining at the main table than uninvited walk-ons have of starting on Saturday. In fact, that’s a very good analogy of what they are. Those 50 bottom-feeders are practice-squad meat. Not even scout-team caliber. Blocking sleds. Warmup fodder.

Overwrought, but basically correct.  The money difference is becoming so great that I don’t see how much longer the status quo can be maintained.  Either the money gets spread over a greater number, or there’s a divorce.  At this point, I don’t see where the middle ground is much more than a convenient fiction.  As Jones hyperventilates,

In the meantime, the hourglass sands dwindle for all the pretend D-I schools such as Temple and Troy and Boise State. They shouldn’t be labeled as equals if they aren’t. And if it’s decided they should be, then give them a level playing field. What’s going on now is ludicrous.

Yep, and you can guess which way Delany, Slive and Scott will jump when the time comes.  It’s one reason I’m somewhat amused reading about the alarm over how the SEC’s TV deal is being eclipsed and what the conference may be stuck with for a long time.  The reality is that’s likely to become a moot point in the near to medium future.


UPDATE:  The Department of Justice has written a letter to the NCAA asking why there isn’t a D-1 football playoff.  No word on whether that was posed rhetorically.


UPDATE #2:  According to CNN, the question definitely isn’t rhetorical.

In a letter to the NCAA on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it has opened an antitrust inquiry into the current Bowl Championship Series system, which excludes some athletic conferences from the formula for choosing schools to play in major bowl games…

… In her letter, Varney asked Emmert to explain why college football does not have a playoff when so many other college sports do. She also asked what steps, if any, the NCAA has taken to create a playoff, and whether the NCAA has determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players.

I can’t help but wonder why she’s asking the NCAA this.  Is there a purpose here I’m missing – is she pushing the NCAA to explain why it’s not a competitor to the BCS, for example – or is she just another person who fails to grasp that the NCAA has nothing to do with the BCS?


UPDATE #3:  Here’s the letter.  CNN’s read too much into it, but it sounds like Justice wants the NCAA to explain why it hasn’t taken control of the D-1 football postseason away from the BCS.

This may be getting interesting.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, It's Just Bidness

One potential plus about Aaron Murray…

I caught this off of the SEC Rant board at Tigerdroppings.com and thought it was worth posting here:

Mark Richt’s record when returning a starting QB…   (Posted on 5/3/11 at 6:42 p.m.)

is 55-11.

02: 13-1 (3)
03: 11-3 (7)
04: 10-2 (7)
07: 11-2 (2)
08: 10-3 (10)

When he doesn’t return a starting QB? 41-23.

01: 8-4 (22)
05: 10-3 (10)
06: 9-4 (23)
09: 8-5 (NR)
10: 6-7 (NR)

Georgia under Richt has never failed to post a double-digit win total in any season with a returning starting quarterback at the helm.  I’m not foolish enough to suggest that becomes a lock for 2011, but it’s food for thought, anyway.


Filed under Georgia Football

Boise State gets a little less prepared.

Boise State, in response to a number of NCAA rule violations, has self-imposed penalties, one of which may be of some interest to us:

The Boise State University football team will have at least three fewer preseason practices as it prepares for this year’s season opener against Georgia in Atlanta.

The Broncos also will award three fewer scholarships over the course of the next two seasons and be allowed three fewer preseason practices before next year’s opener at Michigan State.

That’s the punishment the school has imposed for violating NCAA rules, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday.

I’m not sure how much real world impact missing three practices (albeit three in pads) will have.  But every little bit helps, right?


Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA

Name names, damn it!

This isn’t the first time Bruce Feldman has made an assertion like this (h/t Oversigning.com):

… One of the points I brought up on the show was about the practice of schools rewarding coaches with bonuses for signing a “top” class (either top 5, top 10 or top 25), or for landing a certain number of four-star players. With coaches having even more of an incentive to meet certain quotas and rankings, they often try to sign certain recruits that they know might have a very tough time qualifying academically.

I wrote about the “Sign-and-Place” method in “Meat Market,” and for schools that deal heavily with junior college recruits, that also factors in. The process is this: Sign the shaky four-star prospect so that you can up your recruiting ranking, impress other prospective recruits, appease your fan base (and, in turn, the administration), increase your own chance of landing that recruiting bonus, and then send the players who can’t get in academically to a junior college as if it’s a farm system. If the kid turns out to be a complete knucklehead or flops on the field, you forget about him. If not, you didn’t take up a spot for two years and then the juco coach, who is thrilled you sent him a talented player, has protected him for you and sends you back a more ready-to-play, developed prospect.

Contra Joshua, I don’t think a recruiting bonus is unethical, but it certainly is the sign of a stupid athletic director.  (And Jimmy Sexton, probably.)  I just wish Feldman would give us a few specific examples.

I will say I think Feldman stretches the sign-and-place stuff a little bit.  Richt has done his fair share of that over the years; I can’t say that I’ve seen the Georgia fan base get that excited about kids who don’t show up on campus with the rest of their class.  Maybe the reaction at other schools is different, though.


Filed under College Football, Recruiting

Under pressure

This is a pretty good list Pat Dooley’s compiled of this season’s biggest SEC pressure points.

I might have tossed something in there about Tennessee’s defense.  Anything you’d add?


Filed under SEC Football

You know it’s the offseason when…

This really is the quintessential slow-news-day-in-college-football story.

Obvious musical accompaniment from The Move:


Filed under Science Marches Onward

Sadly, it’s come to this.

ESPN’s KC Joyner may have set the lowest bar ever for a player in citing Florida as having “reason to feel very positive” about John Brantley heading into the summer based on his performance in the Orange and Blue game.

You read that right.  Brantley’s 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the spring scrimmage is grounds for optimism.  Here’s why, according to Joyner:

… In the spring game, four of Brantley’s aerials fell under the “stretch vertical” designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 — not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis’ new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators’ running game as well.

Charlie Weis let Brantley chuck the ball downfield a few times.  That’s it.  Seriously.

I kinda doubt Muschamp could be dumb enough to share Joyner’s mindset, but, damn, if he is, Georgia might actually have a chance to play on a level field in Jax this year, mentally speaking.  A fan can dream, can’t he?


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Media Punditry/Foibles