Count me as someone who thinks allowing guns on campus on game days is a bad, bad idea. Not because of politics, but because taken together, booze, youth and unchecked emotions tend to be a volatile mix.
Category Archives: College Football
Dan Mullen’s been where Kirby Smart is.
Mullen was hired at Mississippi State on Dec. 11, 2008, and he didn’t go back to Gainesville until Christmas Eve. He missed Florida’s first few bowl practices for the BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma because he was already working at Mississippi State. He no longer needed to attend Florida’s recruiting meetings because he was now recruiting against them.
“If it was just a regular bowl game, I don’t know if they would’ve wanted me back,” he said, “and I don’t know if I would’ve wanted to do that.”
Because it was for a national title, though, the Gators wanted their OC and quarterbacks coach calling the plays — and Mullen didn’t want to miss it.
“To be in a national championship game, the first thought that goes through your mind is, I want to finish what I’ve started,” he said. “You have a chance to win a championship, especially for the players more than anything. You want to be there for the guys you recruited and the coaches who helped you get there.”
Mullen not only had to balance the two, he had to do so at a time when his wife was seven months pregnant.
For him and Tom Herman, they managed to make a go of things and win rings. For Mark Richt, not so much, as Bobby Bowden somewhat sourly recounts.
Richt had been hired as head coach at Georgia, and was trying to adjust to that role while preparing the Seminoles for the No. 1-ranked Sooners in the Orange Bowl. It didn’t turn out so well, as Florida State lost 13-2.
“No. 1, we didn’t score a touchdown,” Bowden said. “I think I’ve heard [Richt] say he felt like he was unable to do the job he wanted to do under those circumstances. He did the best he could. There’s no doubt about it. He worked as hard as he could, but there’s no doubt they are distracted on something like this. You’re playing for a national championship, man, you need 100 percent attention.”
Maybe that was more a reflection of the head coach than the assistant. Just sayin’ … it worked out at Florida and Ohio State.
If you’re looking to do a little last minute holiday shopping for a college football fan who’s a bit cynical about the business side of the sport, here’s a recommendation.
At Texas, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Penn State, Notre Dame, Louisiana State University and Arkansas, revenues have increased to $762 million from $229 million from 1999 to 2012. That is a whopping 233 percent increase. Mr. Gaul observes that during this period “profit margins had ballooned to hedge-fund levels,” generated by television broadcast rights, luxury suites, seat donations and corporate advertising. Mr. Gaul reports that the big universities “have netted 90 percent of all the new money that has flowed into college football the last decade or two.”
… Meanwhile, the bank vaults remain open and the money is pouring in. No one Mr. Gaul spoke with seemed concerned with whether this incredible growth might be a bubble. He said that when he asked that question of the commissioners of the Big Ten and the Pacific-12, “they only laughed in response.” Until proven otherwise, they and others will do as the former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds suggested: “Football is the train. You ride it for all it’s worth.”
I’m sure this will get spun as a sign of hope for college football’s future, but it’s hard to get excited about it.
Home attendance at major college football games declined for the fifth straight year, though the rate at which crowds decreased has slowed.
Football Bowl Subdivision attendance for home games averaged 43,288 fans per game, down less than 1 percent from 43,483 in 2014, according to a CBS Sports analysis of NCAA attendance data. Crowds declined by 4 percent in 2014.
This year may offer some hope of stabilization for the industry, which in recent years has seen fans stay home due to ticket prices, inconvenience and the comfort of watching on high-definition televisions.
Still, this year’s average was again the lowest since the FBS drew 42,631 per game in 2000. Attendance stayed below 46,000 for the seventh straight season since it peaked at 46,456 in 2008.
A lot has happened in the last fifteen years – conference realignment, massive television contracts and the attendant conference networks, scheduling more attuned to a broadcast audience, etc. – the gist of which has been to favor cash flow to athletic departments and to work against live attendance. I don’t see better Wifi and louder piped in music doing much to stop the bleeding.
Which leads to this depressing thought: at what point do schools say fuck it, and go all in on television? By that, I don’t mean they close the stadium gates, but rather, simply focus all their marketing decisions on what maximizes broadcast revenues. And, believe me, if you think that’s bad now, there’s a lot more they could do if they chose to.
As a kicker, when it happens, they’ll blame it on us for not supporting the sport the way it needed.
This is a sad tale of how media access to college players and coaches is slowly being choked off.
Billy Watkins of the Clarion-Ledger vented about his frustrations in a column about covering college football in Mississippi. In an email to me, Watkins wrote:
“I’m doing a big profile of a player at Navy. He is a senior from Mississippi. They have bent over backward getting me anything and everything I need for the story. They lined me up a 45-minute phone interview with him. They also set up an interview with the Navy head coach.
“It took me five months last year to get into the office of Ole Miss’ coach. And we’re the largest paper in the state. I’m sorry, but the subject kind of works me up.”
I know a lot of you have little sympathy for the media these days, but I gotta tell you as someone who blogs about the sport with no contact at all to the program, the beat writers make a valuable contribution to what I can glean about things. I also think the piece makes a good point about players learning the skill of dealing with the media.
Sure, there’s always a risk of something dumb being said. But that’s just as real, if not more so, on social media. Bottom line, a lot of this sounds like typical control issues. Which, as I started here, is kinda sad.