Category Archives: Big 12 Football

“This was about way more than a T-shirt.”

I carp a fair amount about Greg McGarity’s lack of PR skills, but compared to this, he’s a friggin’ PR guru.

After OSU players got a text message from team officials on March 17 telling them there’s “no need for you to return to Stillwater for any football related activities” because of COVID-19, they had little contact with Gundy as a team in the following two months.

Gundy compounded his lack of leadership and presence in front of the players with a series of actions and comments that simmered an undercurrent of anger in the program.

In his infamous COVID-19 news conference in early April, Gundy did more than issue his decree for the players to return to Stillwater to “run money through the state.” It wasn’t lost on the players that their coach, who makes $5.25 million per year, cast the players as robotic economic pawns rather than humans vulnerable to the pandemic.

Along with trying to restart the economy, Gundy resisted a pay cut.

He said of salary cuts, which have become commonplace for millionaire coaches: “I personally don’t want to get involved in that. It’s too early for me.”

Some of the internal frustration came from an announcement in late April of the athletic department taking away the football players’ stipends and a limit on access to summer school classes. While the players eventually received stipend money from the school when they returned to campus in early June, the uncertainty amid the pandemic led to a period of frustration and a rise in tensions.

On April 23, a few weeks after Gundy’s remarks about “running money through the state,” Oklahoma State football players received a group text message from Rod Johnson, the assistant director of football operations. It came under the header: “IMPORTANT SUMMER SCHOOL INFORMATION.” Johnson told the players that access to summer classes would be limited to scholarship players “making progress toward summer or fall graduation or eligibility purposes for fall competition.”

Johnson also told them in text messages viewed by Yahoo Sports: “THERE WILL BE NO ROOM & BOARD STIPENDS.”

That news blindsided many of the Cowboys’ players during the financial crunch of the pandemic. Stipends pay about $1,200 per month. The lack of access to summer school classes for players meant some players wouldn’t be eligible for federal Pell Grants, which pay up to $3,000 for summer classes.

In an environment where many coaches rallied for their players, Gundy didn’t announce the cuts to the players or address them directly. Instead, Gundy had an underling text them.

That raises tone deafness to a whole new level.  “But wait,” you might say, “maybe there were other schools doing the same thi…”

A poll by Yahoo Sports of Big 12 schools showed that Oklahoma State was the only school that both announced cuts on summer classes and a stipend withdrawal while not cutting coach or athletic department salaries. Many cringed at the perception OSU presented, as Gundy has made nearly $45 million in salary as a head coach and athletic director Mike Holder is slated to make $950,000 this year.

Never mind.  No wonder the players reacted the way they did.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy

T-shirtgate

I touched on it briefly in yesterday’s comments, but thought I’d flesh it out with a post today.  What’s interesting about what happened yesterday between Oklahoma State’s head coach and its star running back isn’t the politics.  It’s that Gundy, who’s got a history of making the kind of comments that can only come from a guy who feels untouchable in his job…

Gundy, as it turns out, has never been shy about telling us who he is. He’s bullied reporters in public, dismissed criticism of his coaching from fans online as “people sitting home drawing an unemployment check,” called players who transfer “snowflakes” and, more recently, wanted players to come back to campus in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic because the school needed to “run money through the state of Oklahoma.”

… suddenly has come face to face with a change in the wind, that players are feeling a sense of power.  Consider that yesterday wasn’t Gundy’s first show of support for OAN.

In the middle of that rant in April, Gundy touted his viewership of OAN, which is known as a favorite news outlet of President Trump and peddler of absurd conspiracy theories.

Gundy said he had gravitated toward OAN because he “wasn’t happy with the way the mainstream media” has handled the coronavirus story and that OAN was “so refreshing” because “there’s no left, there’s no right, they just reported the news.”

Notably, at the time Gundy expressed those thoughts, he got no pushback from his players and only mild criticism from the school — not about OAN, but about his take that everybody needed to be back at work by May so the program could get back to making money.   Not so yesterday, as Hubbard’s tweet ignited a firestorm of support for the player and criticism of the coach from a variety of sources.

Gundy felt it, too, as this joint message from him and Hubbard appeared within hours.

Gundy: “… I realized it’s a very sensitive issue with what’s going on in today’s society. … I’m looking forward to making some changes, that starts at the top with me, and we’ve got good days ahead.”

You can question the sincerity (he just now realized it?), but you can’t question the awareness.  And if you’re focusing on the t-shirt instead of the reaction, you are missing the big picture, as David Hale explained.

Gundy has done well as a football coach at a place where it’s hard to do well.

Oklahoma State has put up with plenty from Gundy during his 15-year tenure, mostly because he wins at a place where that isn’t terribly easy. His record is 129–64, with six seasons of 10 or more wins.

That’s how you start feeling untouchable, and for the most part, that’s how Gundy has been treated.  It’s a different world now, though.  We’ll see how easily he adapts.  And if he doesn’t feel he needs to do more than offer a few sympathetic words, they’ll let him know about that on the recruiting trail.

One other question remaining is how many others out there are like Gundy?

************************************************************************

UPDATE:  

Two observations:

  1. It’s a different world now.
  2. Would Gundy have done this had Hubbard not tweeted?

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Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy

Jeff Long, hoisted on his own petard

After two years, it suddenly dawned on America’s Sharpest Athletic Director that invoking NCAA violations in an ultimately ineffective attempt to weasel out of a buyout provision has unpleasant consequences.

Kansas officials have asked the NCAA to separate infractions cases involving alleged rules violations in its men’s basketball and football programs.

In its response to the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ referral to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), the school agreed that a referral to the IARP is appropriate for the men’s basketball allegations, but argued that the football portion should be remanded to the Committee on Infractions (COI) for adjudication.

“[T]he type of violations that KU self-reported in football are regularly processed through the peer review model, and therefore, the COI is best positioned to resolve any remaining issues and to do so in a prompt manner,” the school said in its response. “Here, it is clear that there is a significant difference between allegations involving men’s basketball and those involving football. Specifically, the football allegations were self-reported, the institution and enforcement staff substantially agree on all aspects of the football allegations, the allegations involve only Level II and Level III violations, and the football allegations are not contemporaneous with the men’s basketball allegations.”

Hey, you can’t have a pattern leading to a NCAA ruling of institutional loss of control if you break up the pattern into parts, amirite?

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Other than Larry Scott, I’m not sure there’s another figure in college football administration who’s just flat out stealing his salary like Jeff Long.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy, The NCAA

America’s sharpest athletic director

A little over a year ago, I wrote this about Jeff Long’s struggle to weasel out of a $3 million buyout of David Beaty’s contract after Long sacked him:

You can stop chuckling now.  What’s impressive here, as you may have noticed, is that Beaty’s suit has caused the school to admit to possible NCAA violations, which should make for a lot of fun in discovery.  Not that this is going to get anywhere near the point of Jeff Long sitting for questions under oath.  Either the NCAA comes up with something relatively quickly, or Kansas settles, probably for an amount north of the buy out.  (Beaty’s lawyers aren’t gonna pay themselves, after all.)

And here we are.

Former Kansas football coach David Beaty and KU Athletics have reached a settlement for $2.55 million that effectively ends Beaty’s lawsuit against the athletic department, KU announced in a release on Friday.

The agreement comes 15 months after Beaty first filed his lawsuit, where he alleged that KU Athletics sought to concoct a reason to fire him for cause to avoid a $3 million payout…

Though KU settled for less than Beaty’s original $3 million buyout in his contract, the department likely did not come out ahead financially. In a Jan. 31 memo that was later unsealed, KU blamed Beaty for violations that “resulted in several hundred thousand in legal fees for Kansas Athletics.” This accusation came four months before the case settled Friday, meaning KU’s lawyer fees were likely to have exceeded the half-million mark on Beaty’s lawsuit alone…

Big picture, though, this appears to be a sound move for KU Athletics in regards to risk management. Beaty’s legal team was still going through discovery, and had already sent out a subpoena to former Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola. That could have been disastrous for KU’s looming NCAA case, as anything said in Gassnola’s deposition could have been used against KU, with that new information also coming out late in the process.

A Kansas judge also had approved an order for Beaty’s lawyers to receive practice footage from Les Miles’ first year as coach, along with un-aired footage from KU’s “Miles to Go” documentary that was broadcast on ESPN+ each week.

So, to recap:  Long, in trashing Beaty, opens his athletic department up to NCAA inquiry, and, in the end, pays out more than was owed his fired coach when you include legal expenses and hands it over in one lump sum instead of the six installments originally agreed to in Beaty’s contract.

I know the bar is fairly low at Kansas — I mean, this is the place that gave Charlie Weis another big contract after everyone else in the country had figured out he was a fraud as a head coach — but Long is working hard not to clear it.  The surprise, though, isn’t how this turned out, or even that Long won’t face any consequences for this botch job.  It’s that there are people in the industry who still think he’s credible.

It’s good to be an AD.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy, See You In Court

The Iowa State Way

Damn, this is… harsh.

As of today, approximately 22,000 season tickets have been renewed for this fall. That leaves us approximately 8,000 seats to be filled. Because we need to make plans to accommodate those fans who will be allowed into the stadium (based on state and local guidelines), we have decided to implement the following:

  1. Any fan who does not renew their season tickets and make their Cyclone Club donation by June 12, 2020 will not be provided the opportunity to attend any games this fall unless it is later decided that we can safely exceed the 50% capacity restriction.
  2. The only fans who will have the opportunity to be in the stadium this fall are those who renew their season tickets and their required Cyclone Club donation (if applicable) by June 12, 2020. If you have not done so already, please contact our staff ASAP to complete those processes.

If you don’t pony up in the next couple of weeks, we’re not letting you in the stadium?   Because, plans?

Maybe I’m missing something, but it doesn’t seem like it would be hard to plan on 30,000 attending from the start and working down from there if you don’t wind up selling that many.  It would certainly be a lot better from a PR standpoint than shaking down fans with a pandemic.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, It's Just Bidness

Friday morning buffet

All of today’s entries are at least 6 feet apart from each other.

  • It’s a small sample size, but the results of this survey don’t surprise me.
  • Against his toughest opposition, Jamie Newman wasn’t exactly Joe Burrow last season.
  • That being said, Newman’s got to hope Georgia’s next left tackle is as good as the last one was.
  • David Hale looks at what teams lose when there’s no spring practice.
  • Just to prove that every cloud has a silver lining, the NCAA pushes back its recommendations on a one-time transfer rule because it can’t walk and chew gum deal with the coronavirus crisis at the same time.
  • On Tuesday, national coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said he thinks by the fall “we will have this under control enough that it certainly will not be the way it is now, where people are shutting schools.”  From his lips…
  • Bob Bowlsby said the Big 12 has eliminated all year-end bonuses for conference staff, which begs the obvious question of what conference staff had to do to earn bonuses in the first place.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, College Football, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“Big 12 teams don’t recruit particularly well.”

Allen Kenney argues Big 12 coaches make up for that with their coaching acumen.

On the other hand, Big 12 teams often punch above their weight. Take a look, for instance, at how their SP+ efficiency rankings for 2019 shook out relative to their 247 roster rankings.

There are some notable underperforming teams in there – looking at you, Longhorns. For the most part, however, teams either played up to the potential of their talent or well above it. (Bear in mind that four programs had brand new coaching staffs in place last season, including two underperformers, KU and WVU.)

It’s only natural to compare that to the SEC, the land where recruiting just means more.

How did that compare with the Mecca of college football last season?

Lots of underachieving once you get past the big dogs.

True, but there were a fair number of those big dogs — five in the SP+ top ten, compared with one Big 12 team.  Based on the above, Allen reaches the conclusion that, “You could argue that the trend towards doing more with less speaks to the quality of coaching in the Big 12.”  He goes on to propose the data shows the Big 12 has the best assemblage of coaching in the P5.

To which I say, eh, maybe, but so what?  First of all, I can’t ignore the fact that four SEC coaches were shown the door this offseason.  Given what it takes for a head coach to lose his job these days, that’s certainly an indication that some programs were not being managed at the highest level.

Whatever, though, because how can you fully evaluate the job a college head coach does when you exclude recruiting from the equation?  Look no further than the Sugar Bowl — even if you are of a mind that Matt Rhule can coach rings around Kirby Smart, Baylor still came up well short against a Georgia squad missing a number of regular season starters that still had more than enough depth on the roster to spare.

There’s only so much scheme can make up for over the course of a season.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics

Today, in Dawgrading

Love the admission of self-sabotage combined with a shred of guilty delusion here from Matt Rhule:

Sure, fella, sure.  If only the NFL hadn’t come calling…

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.

What’s the harm in looking?

While we’re absorbed over Georgia’s roster numbers and motivation, let’s not overlook the fact that Baylor’s got its own distraction issue.

As news about NFL teams, like the Panthers, expressing interest in interviewing Matt Rhule started to get shared on major networks and social media for all to see on Sunday, Baylor players were getting ready for Sugar Bowl practice when Matt Rhule decided to have a team meeting.

The goal of that meeting for Rhule was full transparency – something not all coaches who are being pursued by other teams or organizations are willing to provide.

There, players shared with the Dallas Morning News that Rhule told them that he’d be “dumb” to not take an opportunity to talk with an NFL team.

Wonder if Rhule thinks it’s dumb for players not to explore transfer opportunities that might be beneficial for their careers.  But I digress.

Anyway, you have to wonder how hard kids will play for somebody who’s at least open to the possibility of bailing on them after a special season.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, It's Just Bidness

“You want to go to the pros, play well against Georgia.”

Because I know you care deeply, here’s the first bit of Baylor news I have to share.

Baylor starting quarterback Charlie Brewer remains in concussion protocol more than a week after being injured in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Coach Matt Rhule gave his first update on Brewer to reporters Sunday ahead of the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl meeting with Georgia.

“Just step by step,” Rhule said, declining to say whether Brewer would play in the bowl. “I have no idea. It’s really all up to the doctors. They kind of monitor every step.”

Brewer left the Big 12 title game in the first half after official Mike Defee noticed something off after he had taken a couple of hard hits, including one where his head struck the turf.

Brewer ranks third in the Big 12 in passing efficiency, completing 65.2% of his passes for 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 337 yards and 10 TDs this season.

I’d say that’s kind of a big deal.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football