I’ve posted a fair amount of commentary from coaches, athletic directors and school presidents about their hopes for the timing of a 2020 football season, not out of a sense of mockery so much as an illustration of what frustrates all of us. Hell, who doesn’t want college football, at least as long it’s not being staged insanely? There is a difference, after all, between hope and crazed indifference to people’s health, and the people running college sports are a long way from the latter.
But you know what does deserve mockery? The idea that post-coronavirus lockdown, athletic directors are going to change, baby, change ($$).
For years, people almost have become inured to the spending, writing off football expenses as the cost of doing business. “The roads of the last 15, 20 years are paved with all kinds of ideas that maybe it’s time to have a conversation about,” Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour says. Barbour sits on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, and amid the pandemic, the group has had conversations about ways to reduce spending, discussing everything from hotel stays on the nights before home games to staff sizes, which have grown exponentially over the years. Clemson paid its football support staff $6.2 million in 2018-19, a figure that doesn’t include the $8 million paid to 10 assistant coaches but does count the four staffers who make up the Clemson aviation department — a director, pilot, captain and captain/hangar manager. No other program in the entire department paid its support staffs or assistant coaches $1 million. According to the Knight Commission, Michigan’s coaching salaries rose 101 percent from 2013 to ’18. Not to be outdone, Florida State’s increased 137 percent in the same time period.
Few would argue that the staff sizes — and payments — have gotten out of control. No one wants to be the first to do anything about it for fear of falling behind. “If you’ve got 10 analysts and they are preparing two weeks ahead, that’s a huge advantage over someone not doing that,” Barbour says. “Are there things we can do to compensate? Absolutely, but only so long as everyone is on the same plane. As long as everyone does the same thing.”
Riiiight. Unless something is very different, the money will still be rolling in, the schools still won’t be paying the labor and Jimmy Sexton’s kids will still need a new pair of shoes.
And ADs will still be good at talking.