Declaration of war

This comes as no real surprise.

Nor this.

Prepare to up those travel budgets, fellas.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

A dollar here, a dollar there… and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Marc Weiszer reports that Georgia’s football budget for the next fiscal year will increase by more than one-third.

Georgia’s budget for football will increase 35.66 percent from $17,275,044 to $23,434,888, according to figures presented to the UGA Athletic Association board of directors last week.

Compensation and monthly payroll totals increased from $7,810,479 to $10,732,324.

This is my favorite part of the news:

Richt said additional support staff helps “to manage all the issues that our young men have. I don’t know exactly where every single dollar is going but the great majority of it is to help make it better for our players.”  [Emphasis added.]

For once, I guess that means he really has lost control of something.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Not as smart as they used to be

Seth Emerson gives a straightforward rendition of why Mark Richt has lost control of Georgia’s APR:

Georgia’s APR score this year is 960, which ranks ninth among the SEC’s 14 football programs. But the program is still well clear of any potential penalties, which begin only when a team’s score is 930 and below.

The APR formula measures a team’s ability to retain student-athletes and their progress towards graduation. A team’s score is hurt when a player leaves early, particularly during a semester, so last year’s departures (such as Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Shaq Wiggins) did not help.

I blame Pruitt, of course.

By the way, nameless AJ-C editor, what’s with the header?  “Early departures hurt Georgia’s APR rate”?  What kind of click bait is that?

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football

You got to grab money to spend money.

If you don’t look at anything else today, make sure you check out the latest chart USA Today has assembled, showing the rankings of 230 public colleges and universities on the basis of their revenues for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

For context, you can read some stuff here, such as the information detailing Oregon’s big jump.  But the truly staggering numbers are easy to see on the chart itself:  scroll down to No. 52, Cincinnati, and look at how much revenue some of these schools are generating from non-athletic sources, such as student fees, direct and indirect institutional support and state money.

It’s not that I have a problem with subsidies per se.  It’s that I strongly doubt all the parties ponying up know exactly what’s going on.

By the way, notice what kind of deficit Auburn ran?  Maybe we ought to let them run wild with that COA stuff after all until they wind up filing for bankruptcy.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Keying on the keys

Jake Rowe’s got a list of five keys for Georgia to make the 2015 CFP.  It’s certainly a decent list – hell, we’ve probably discussed every item on it already – but what I’m curious about is how you would prioritize one as the single most important of those.

So let’s have a reader poll!

Feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comments.  Or, if you don’t like any of Rowe’s options, tell us about your own.

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

The Whiny Conference

I really enjoyed reading Dan Wolken’s take on all the bitching in Destin yesterday.

The $7 million coach with waterfalls in his locker room is worried. The league with a smashing success of a television network and the best brand name in college football is sounding the alarm. The big, bad Southeastern Conference — which used to flaunt its seven consecutive national titles and dare the rest of the country to catch up — is suddenly on the run.

Go ahead and change the SEC’s name to Conference LPF — as in Level Playing Field. Because after one day of the league’s annual spring meetings, that now appears to be the mantra of a group of football coaches who simply do not understand the new normal of college athletics.

He mocks Saban’s outrage perfectly with this:

“These things need to be global, otherwise we’re going to become a farm system for all the other leagues.”

If you need to read that last sentence again, go ahead because it is shocking in its disengagement from reality. And yet, it came directly out of the mouth of a coach who has won four national titles, reeled in five consecutive No. 1-ranked recruiting classes and works at a school that spends more on football than anyone in the country.

And this:

“This is an issue, to me, that is completely different than anything else we’ve had to deal with. I’m all for the players getting more. I always have been. I’ve always promoted it. I still think that is important that we improve the quality of life. There’s just some unforeseen consequences of this that may affect the competitive balance we’ve always tried to keep relative to college football.”

Saban, of course, failed to mention the unforeseen consequences of paying a coach $7 million or whether it would promote a level playing field to cap coaching salaries at $3 million so that Mississippi State doesn’t also become a “farm system” for schools like Alabama.

Well, some fields are meant to be more level than others.  And the truth is that Saban and the rest of his SEC brethren don’t really want things to be too level.

“Are we playing by a different set of rules than, say, the Pac-12 or the Big Ten?” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “I think we need, as college football in general, to make sure we’re all on the same playing field.”

But why? And what does that really look like?

This is not the NFL, which shares revenue, negotiates a salary cap with a players union and hires a commissioner to make decisions. This is college football, which has 128 independent operators in the Football Bowl Subdivision governed by different academic standards, athletic missions and state laws.

If you want to let the players unionize and collectively bargain every rule, have at it. If you want to take the multi-million dollar windfall schools are about to get from the SEC Network and redistribute it to the rest of the FBS, great. Otherwise, there is no reason Iowa State should feel the need to operate its athletic department the same way as Vanderbilt, just as Alabama does not want to be stopped from doing things Southern Miss can’t afford.

You want parity?  You can’t handle parity!

When you get down to it, this is no different from something else that got Saban’s panties in a wad last year, the rise of HUNH offenses.  One of the glories of college football is its relative lack of uniformity.  There’s far less parity there than on the professional level, but there’s far more innovation because there’s no centralized framework.  So you have all these experiments conducted by those with fewer resources trying to find an edge against teams that have more.  Field leveling, in other words.  That’s something Saban can’t control.  And it really bothers him.

So I disagree with one aspect of Wolken’s piece, the part where he writes,

What Saban doesn’t understand — and he’s far from the only one in his profession, by the way — is that the days of pining for a level playing field are over. The moment the last round of television deals were signed, creating an entirely new financial ecosystem for schools in the five power conferences, there was no longer a way to contain the market forces we’re seeing play out now.

The problem isn’t that they don’t understand.  They understand just fine.  They just don’t like it.

Imagine how they’re gonna feel when the NCAA loses a couple more antitrust cases.

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Filed under SEC Football

Boys, y’all made the COA bed. Now you have to lie in it.

Man, the logic chopping on display in Destin yesterday over the emerging disparity in COA stipends is hilarious.  Start with the Sabanator:

“They have a salary cap in the NFL, probably one in every pro sport, to create parity and competitive balance,” Saban said. “There should be a cap on the cost of attendance. It’s important we all have the same criteria and we all have transparency in how it is calculated.

“Some people are promoting it (a school’s COA) in recruiting. We have not done that. It’s in the university’s interest to keep the cost of attendance low. That should be the first priority from an institutional standpoint, not really what’s better from an athletic standpoint.”

Skip past the nonsense of the head coach of Alabama being piously concerned about promoting parity in college athletics.  And even give Saban credit for noting what the priority ought to be for a school setting its COA figure.  He’s still saying that college football should emulate professional sports in determining how student-athletes are compensated for their services.  If I’m Jeffrey Kessler, his name’s going on my next witness list.

Ultimately, the problem here is that the schools have seized upon the COA stipend as a fig leaf to side step the NCAA’s amateurism rules.  The straightforward approach would simply have been to use autonomy as the lever to allow the P5 conferences to pay student-athletes, period. That would have allowed each conference to set a single number as a cap for its members. But, of course, that wasn’t thinkable; the schools and conferences simply aren’t ready to concede that.  So instead you’ve got Mike Slive giving mealy-mouthed explanations about what’s been shaped.

“For all these years, the NCAA passed legislation with the premise being a level playing field, which in effect means it’s for the institutions,” Slive said. “But when we put the vision together for the 21st century, we made student-athletes the primary focus.

“We moved from level playing field to student athletes. By definition when you do that, there are issues that aren’t as comfortable if you’re grounded into the level playing field.

“It does create recruiting issues if you have different levels of cost of attendance. It needs to be worked through. We’re going to end up with differentials we’re all going to have to live with.”

Hey, it’s the vision thing!  I’m inspired.

Here’s the point Slive is either missing, or glossing over.  True, accurately calculated COA is a playing field leveler.  Every school paying the correct amount means that a student-athlete’s finances from year-to-year will net the same in the end, regardless of where he/she chooses to attend.

What’s got everyone agitated isn’t that prospect.  It’s the suspicion that certain schools are bending the numbers to pay players enough to gain an advantage over schools that aren’t.  The irony of the free market at work in this environment shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice.

So Mark Richt’s got a point when he says,

“If everybody would disclose how they go about their business, I think it might be helpful to get things on a more equal playing field,” Richt said.

“There’s a lot of numbers out there that no one knows how they got to those numbers. It’d be nice to know how everybody gets to that number. If everybody’s using the same grid, then maybe it’d be a little bit closer.”

But as long as you’re using COA, as it’s currently defined, transparency is only going to get you so far – and that’s assuming you can even get everyone in the conference on the same page about disclosing their formulas.  The numbers are always going to be different because things don’t cost the same amount everywhere you go.  And somehow, I don’t think that will ever satisfy the Nick Sabans of the world.

In the end, it’s the OBC with the only sensible grasp of things as they stand.

Spurrier changed his tune with cost-of-attendance, saying that equality doesn’t happen in many aspects of recruiting, and it probably shouldn’t with finances.

“If one school can give $5,000 a year and another $4,000, hell, that’s just the way it is,” Spurrier said.

“Who knows the reason a young man picks a school, but we would hope four or five hundred dollars wouldn’t be a reason a kid picks a school.”

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football