Category Archives: College Football

Maybe they’re not as smart as they think they are.

Here are a couple of viewership tidbits from last night’s broadcast to digest.

I’m sure Baghdad Bill will do his usual fine job of dissembling with regard to those numbers, but here’s my question:  what if they’re an indication of an inherent structural problem?

More specifically, I would suggest that both Disney and the brains behind the CFP have adopted a marketing strategy that amounts to converting college football’s regional brand into a more national one.  After all, a bigger audience is where the money is.

But what if they’re wrong about being able to change public attitudes about college football?  (New Year’s Eve wasn’t exactly a success in that department.)  What if the sport’s regional appeal is as good as it gets?  What if moving the title game from ABC to ESPN will always result in reduced viewership?  How does matching teams up from small Southern college towns in a national title game ever resonate with the same kind of passion outside of the South that it does inside?

Most importantly, if this really is a reflection of reality, how long do the people running ESPN and college football keep beating their heads in a futile effort to create a market that will never exist?  And how hard do they beat their heads doing so?

It’s not that I have an answer to any of that.  It’s that I doubt people like Delany do, either.

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UPDATE:  Nick Saban has a related question.

94 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

College football been berry, berry good to some.

When you don’t have to pay the hired help – much, if you prefer a qualifier – life is so much nicer for the people at the top.

In a decade, tax records show, average commissioner pay in the so-called “Power Five” — the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Southeastern and Pacific-12 conferences — has soared from about $541,000 to $2.58 million. As a reward for making an industry fueled by unpaid athletes more lucrative than ever, the men who run these conferences have enjoyed staggering pay hikes doled out by the leaders of many of America’s largest universities.

In 2014, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott made $3.4 million, which is more than six times the $533,000 his predecessor made in 2004. (All 2004 figures in this story have been adjusted for inflation.) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby made $2.3 million, more than quadruple the $495,000 the position paid a decade before.

While Scott and Bowlsby are still relatively new, three longtime commissioners saw their pay skyrocket from 2004 to 2014 to do the same job. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany’s pay jumped from $549,000 to $3.1 million; ACC Commissioner John Swofford’s went from $571,000 to more than $2 million; and former SEC Commissioner Michael Slive’s increased from $558,000 to $2.05 million. (Slive retired last year; his successor Greg Sankey’s pay has not yet been made public through tax filings.)

I think we can assume Sankey won’t be missing any meals.  And judging from this quote, I doubt he cares what we think, anyway.

These guys don’t give a shit about anything except how to keep the money flow going – and they’re not really even particularly skilled at that. They’re arrogant because they can be.

 

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

“Whenever a marching band would come through, it would take me to pieces.”

If you enjoyed Southern University’s marching band when it journeyed to Athens, you might want to take a look at this review of an art photography book of marching bands.  And make sure you check out the slideshow at the link for some remarkable pictures.

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Filed under College Football

Hands-on officiating

This seems a bit much.

Jeez, man, I get that he needed to stop running, but couldn’t you have just blown your whistle or something?

10 Comments

Filed under College Football

Bill Hancock, steward of the game

You know, I’d really like to buy into this kind of thinking:

I have no problem with the so-called commercialization of college sports. The players and coaches who participate in nonrevenue sports aren’t conflicted, either; they know they are kept afloat because of money generated by football and men’s basketball.

The reality is that every industry, including journalism, is trying with varying degrees of success to figure out ways to sustain itself without compromising its values. In some instances, we have had to reconfigure our definition of values.

The challenge for administrators like Hancock is to preserve the collegiate atmosphere even as the event grows. I enjoy the N.F.L. playoffs, but there is a difference that should be preserved between top-tier college football and the N.F.L.

For a traditionalist like Hancock, this means using marching bands, rather than headliner acts, at halftime. It means making sure that the colleges, not corporate sponsors, receive most of the tickets, ensuring that most of the fans in the seats actually — and passionately — care about who wins the game.

But then Hancock has to open his mouth and I realize it’s just a pipe dream.

“It’s important to those of us who are stewards of the game to resist the outside pressures to make it something other than college sports,” Hancock said. “We do not want this to become a Super Bowl or even talk about it as a Super Bowl. We want to create a collegiate feel about the game so that when people leave the event, they knew that they were attending a college football game.”

That’s a tough task, but an achievable one, if university presidents can wrest college football away from the conference commissioners and business interests that have controlled it for decades.

Oh, puh-leeze.  If the presidents were that unhappy with the direction their commissioners – fuck it, their employees – were taking their business venture in, they could sack the lot of them.  Instead, those guys are getting raises along with everybody else.

The battle over souls was lost a while ago.  Don’t try to make this out to be anything other than the commercialized product it is.  We’ve had our intelligence insulted enough already.

8 Comments

Filed under Blowing Smoke, College Football, It's Just Bidness

If you hated what I wrote about player compensation yesterday…, part two.

What I’ve observed with these discussions about player compensation is that much of it is driven on one side by what I’ve referred to as the romance of amateurism.  People don’t like the idea of players getting paid because it interferes with their vision of participation purely for the love of the sport.

Believe it or not, I don’t have a problem with that.  I stopped feeling that way a few years ago, but I can respect the position.  Where my respect stops is at the point where some try to dress up their emotional investment in the notion with economic arguments that make little sense.  And where my anger starts is with the NCAA’s obvious and cynical milking of that romance.

The NCAA has responded that fans don’t want college sports to go pro. As NCAA President Mark Emmert recently put it, “one of the biggest reasons fans like college sports is that they believe the athletes are really students who play for a love of the sport.”

But, could there be something else in play that explains why folks don’t want student-athletes getting paid?  Um… you tell me.

Could racial prejudice also affect attitudes toward paying college athletes? There are good reasons to believe that it could.

According to NCAA data from 2014, blacks constitute the majority of players in college football and basketball, the two sports that most people think of when they think of college athletics. Given this reality, it would be strange if questions about paying college athletes did not conjure up images of young black men in the minds of survey respondents.

To find out whether racial prejudice influences white opinion on paying college athletes, we conducted a survey of opinions on “pay for play” policies using the 2014 CCES.

In a statistical analysis that controlled for a host of other influences, we found this: Negative racial views about blacks were the single most important predictor of white opposition to paying college athletes.

The more negatively a white respondent felt about blacks, the more they opposed paying college athletes.

Before your knee begins instinctively jerking in response, consider such comments as this

“I don’t think paying all college athletes is great,” said Cowherd. “Not every college is loaded, and most 19-year-olds [are] gonna spend it – and let’s be honest, they’re gonna spend it on weed and kicks! And spare me the ‘they’re being extorted’ thing. Listen, 90 percent of these college guys are gonna spend it on tats, weed, kicks, Xbox’s, beer and swag. They are, get over it!”

… and tell me you can’t detect even the faintest whiff of prejudice there.  And yes, Cowherd is a major ass, but he’s hardly alone in that department.

Read the linked piece in its entirety and draw your own conclusions.

(h/t)

148 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

If you hated what I wrote about player compensation yesterday…, part one.

A sample comment from yesterday’s post thread:

Senator you can’t compare professional athletes with the collegiate system. There is a lack of talent to fill major league rosters. Therefore the market value dictates a players salary, and the television (especially for the NFL) dictates a lot of the national revenue. But Mike Trout playing for the Angels can affect the revenue by a much larger % than Todd Gurley for UGA. UGA fills the stadium regardless of an individual athlete. Plus the NFL owner keeps all the revenue in colleges it goes back into non revenue sports and improved opportunities for student athletes. Its not even close to a valid comparison.

To which, reality responds.

Rising administrative and support staff pay is one of the biggest reasons otherwise profitable or self-sufficient athletic departments run deficits, according to a Washington Post review of thousands of pages of financial records from athletic departments at 48 schools in the five wealthiest conferences in college sports. In a decade, the non-coaching payrolls at the schools, combined, rose from $454 million to $767 million, a 69 percent jump.

College sports officials long have cited rising costs both to justify mandatory student fees supporting athletics and to argue against paying college athletes. One of the fastest-increasing athletic costs at many of America’s largest public universities, however, is the amount of money flowing into the paychecks of the people running those athletic departments.

From 2004 to 2014, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero’s salary increased from $299,000 to $920,000 to do the same job, and his administration grew from 97 to 141 employees, boosting UCLA’s non-coaching payroll from $9.1 million to $16 million. (All 2004 figures in this story have been adjusted for inflation.)

In 2004, University of Michigan Athletic Director William Martin made $361,000, and 15 of his administrative employees made $100,000 or more. Ten years later, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon made $900,000, and the number of his administrative staffers making $100,000 or more had risen to 34.

In 2004, 12 football teams in the “Power Five” conferences — the ACC, Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pacific-12 — spent more than $1 million on staffers who were not coaches. A decade later, 34 football teams had seven-figure support staff payrolls. At Clemson University, the football coach’s chief of staff — his official title is “associate athletic director of football administration” — makes $252,000, a salary that exceeds what some athletic directors at big colleges made a decade ago.

The money’s coming in and it’s not going to the labor force.  As Ramogi Huma puts it, “The money has to go somewhere.”

Please, read the whole thing and let me know why you really think there’s nothing wrong with big time college football’s financial status quo.

10 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness