Category Archives: College Football

One nation, under college football

Heather Dinich, of all people, gets the long-term trend to which this first college football playoff has contributed.

By doubling the number of teams contending for the sport’s greatest prize, the playoff simultaneously broadened the scope of interest in the entire season and drew the attention of fans and coaches to more games outside their region into a race that criss-crossed the country like never before.

Ohio State mattered to Baylor. TCU was leery of Mississippi State. Boise State was watching Marshall, which kept an eye on just about every other league frontrunner in the Group of 5. Everyone was tuned in to the Big 12 — a controversial conference race that became a national storyline only because the inaugural playoff made it one.

“You’re all in one big conference now,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.

Her article focuses on how the coaches dealt with the season, but the more important story is how the sport is changing from one based on strong regional fan affiliation to where it’s viewed as a more homogeneous, national one.  You know, just like every other major commercial sporting enterprise.

It didn’t start with the playoff, of course.  We’ve already gotten indications of the new direction with conference realignment and the wholesale uprooting of traditions in its wake.  The postseason is simply contributing to the process.  Accelerating it.  And it’s changing our mindset.

“Absolutely, all of those other teams that were kind of in it — the Marshalls and where Ohio State was going to fit between Baylor and TCU — I think it added and made it better for the fans and people involved to pay more attention to not just their teams but all the teams, which helped us,” Harsin said. “We probably got a few more fans on the East Coast staying up late to watch what Boise State does to see if that’s going to affect Marshall or whatever.”

I don’t think this is necessarily what people like Delany and Slive planned as they set things in motion.  (ESPN, on the other hand…)  But it’s where it’s going nonetheless.  And that’s why many of our assumptions about how the postseason will adapt and change in the future are likely inaccurate, because they’re based in a context that is becoming outmoded.  What we should probably be asking ourselves in the near future is what helps the suits market the sport to a national audience, and not just what sells in, say, Tuscaloosa.

You need a hint?  Here’s one.

34 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Wednesday morning buffet

It’s cold, and you’re hungry.

  • Chad Kelly plea bargains; Hugh Freeze remains coy about Kelly’s fate at Ole Miss.  C’mon, man.
  • Jonathan Taylor’s next stop is still up in the air.  Just remember, you can’t spell second chance without SEC.
  • Very nice breakdown of how Ohio State attacked Alabama on both sides of the ball.  You can bet there will be plenty of SEC coaches who will be breaking down Sugar Bowl film over the offseason.
  • Bill Connelly continues to refine the way he analyzes tempo.
  • Matt Hinton ranks all the new head coaching hires here.  (Bobo’s ranks ninth.)
  • How bad were those SEC West defenses in their five bowl game losses?  Really bad“Averages of 39.6 points allowed, 501.4 total yards allowed and 314.6 rushing yards allowed, not to mention a combined defensive third-down percentage of 55.4 percent.”
  • Life as a recruiting coordinator ain’t easy.
  • Ed Aschoff previews the SEC East for 2015.  His conclusion?  Georgia “returns arguably the East’s best team”, but don’t sleep on Tennessee.

30 Comments

Filed under College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Friday morning buffet

New year, new buffet.

  • John Chavis is your new Texas A&M defensive coordinator.  Pay is in the Muschamp range.  Sore point with LSU was a clause in Chavis’ new contract, which he never signed.
  • Seth Emerson tells us something that should come as no surprise after watching the Belk Bowl.
  • I admit that sometimes I’m still a sucker for the romance of college football.  Jonathan Chait swoons over Michigan’s hire of Jim Harbaugh.
  • Shorter Utah AD:  what is this “rift” with Kyle Whittingham to which you refer?
  • “But Coach,” Grange said. “You make money off of football. Why can’t I make money off of football?”
  • And here’s a liberal’s criticism of this era’s head coaching salaries.
  • Mark Richt had a Plan B after Mason’s Belk Bowl injury:  “Then being able to react once we lost Hutson and had to go to Plan B. Plan B was kind of I guess it made it a little bit simpler. Just give it to Nick.”

25 Comments

Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Spend like a champion.

I just thought I’d throw out some numbers for you to absorb and react to.

First, Jon Solomon put together this handy chart showing what the four schools in the CFP spend on athletics.

Category Alabama
Alabama
Ohio State
Ohio State
Oregon
Oregon
FSU
Florida State
Total Revenue $143,776,550 $139,639,307 $115,271,040 $91,382,441
Athletic Revenue Increase (2005-13)* $81,489,358 $49,938,328 $75,264,435 $34,805,508
Sports/Number of Athletes 21 sports/563 athletes 36 sports/1,003 athletes 19 sports/454 athletes 20 sports/515 athletes
Annual Debt Service for Athletic Facilities
(pct of university’s total annual debt service used for athletics)
$15,980,449 (30%) $15,882,000 (5%) $19,243,594 (34%) $0 (0%)
Potential Cost of Attendance Stipend to Players $4,332 (in-state)
$5,662 (out)
$4,691 (in-state)
$5,411 (out)
$2,430 (in-state
and out-of-state)
$4,124 (in-state)
$5,720 (out)
Football Ticket Sales $36,199,233 $46,317,719 $21,604,651 $17,611,185
Donations to Athletic Department $34,233,035 $22,204,606 $46,627,597 $18,894,097
Direct Institutional Support $5,791,200 $0 $0 $0
Student Fee Revenue $0 $0 $1,524,045 $7,859,734
NCAA/Conference Payouts $23,855,929 $23,635,519 $19,123,125 $19,814,702
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet Rights $10,926,979 $1,962,000 $120,000 $355,000
Royalties, Licensing, Advertising and Sponsorships $11,203,182 $12,714,758 $7,139,035 $11,859,646
Football Camp Revenue $584,616 $574,771 $248,312 $0
Nike 2014-15 Contract Value $3,570,000 $4,164,014 $2,985,000 $4,400,000
Football Scholarship Costs $3,632,607 $3,243,001 $3,057,727 $3,120,676
Football Coach Pay* (From 2014) Nick Saban
$7,160,187
Urban Meyer
$4,536,640
Mark Helfrich
$2,000,000
Jimbo Fisher
$3,591,667
Football Coach CFP Bonuses $200,000 (semifinal appearance)
or $300,000 (championship appearance)
or $400,000 (championship win)
$200,000 (semifinal appearance)
or $250,000 (championship appearance)
$175,000 (semifinal appearance)
or $200,000 (championship appearance)
$75,000 (semifinal appearance)
$200,000 (championship game appearance)
$200,000 (championship win)
Football Assistant Coaches Pay* (2014) $5,213,400 $3,592,025 $3,277,584 $3,386,000
Football Support Staff Pay $2,896,666 $2,587,481 $1,481,515 $1,141,275
Football Recruiting Expenses $983,721 $564,152 $674,755 $425,796
Athletic Department Medical Expenses/Insurance $2,346,604 $1,787,936 $1,216,954 $1,483,445
Athletic Department Money Transferred to University $5,934,130 $8,279,172 $0 $3,706,921

The figures are from the 2012-3 fiscal year, but you get the gist.

The first point to take from this is that even in the new era of a four-team playoff, it takes money to make money.  It’s all well and good to talk about a Moneyball approach to building a football program, but that’s a lot easier said that done, especially because it’s hard to build a sufficient reputation to crack a top four pool if you aren’t a member of a P5 conference.  Would that change much with playoff expansion?  If the postseason were opened to all conference champs regardless of ranking, sure.  But in the meantime, you’d better be raking in the dough if you want to go to the show.

And how does Georgia compare?  Not too badly, if you go by the numbers submitted to the NCAA.  Total revenues are bigger than FSU’s.  (Note that football turned an almost $50 million dollar profit, which means the rest of Georgia’s athletic programs combined to lose something like $16 million.)  Outside of Alabama’s excess, coaching salaries don’t seem too out of line.  Georgia’s football recruiting budget is about $600,000, which also seems to fit.

You can find details on items like debt service, revenues from ticket sales/contributions and student fees, along with money transferred to the university here.  Again, nothing particularly egregious jumps out in the comparison.

Just for yuks, there’s this, too.

Looking at all this, it seems fair to say that money isn’t Georgia’s problem.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments.

25 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

It’s clock cocking time again.

Here’s something the Wiz of Odds posted a few years ago in the wake of 2008’s new clock rules…

… Given the lack of protest from the rest of the coaching fraternity, there is a strong possibility that the 40/25 rules could be here to stay. That would swing open the doors for more commercialization and the likelihood that in two or three years the length of games will once again be pushing the 3:20 mark.

Take notice of what’s happening. Long commercial breaks often suck the energy out of the stadium. For fans sitting at home, commercials are now being inserted after kickoffs, following the NFL blueprint.

And something I wrote in response to another post of his:

Subjectively speaking, it strikes me that coaches seem to be able to affect the pace of the game more than before, particularly in terms of how the 40-second clock is utilized.

Well, guess what?  It sounds like it’s time to take another look at the clock rules.

All that scoring caused this season’s average length of game to hit 3 hours, 23 minutes in late November, according to the NCAA. That was up from 3:17 last season. Games are, on average, 14 minutes longer than in 2008. By comparison, this season’s NFL average is 3:07.

“I think it’s trending in the wrong direction, and it is a concern,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said.

Administrators are wary of turning off fans, especially young ones who crave faster action and represent future ticket buyers. They also are mindful of the risk of injury to fatigued players who are on the field longer and for more plays.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee expects to discuss the issue when it meets in February, secretary-rules editor Rogers Redding said.

“The 14-minute increase has been gradual” since 2008, he wrote in an email to The Associated Press, “but the cumulative effect has generated some concern among some stakeholders so that it is probably something that the committee will want to take a look at.”

Turning off fans?  Increased injury risk?  Nice concerns, y’all, but there are so many other things happening in college football that undercut both, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not buying your crocodile tears act.  This, though?

Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who chairs the College Football Officiating Board of Managers, said it’s imperative to keep the average game under 3:30. That figure coincides with the typical window TV networks allot for a game.

“A shorter game is better than a longer game. That’s painting with a broad brush,” Steinbrecher said. “If a game is exciting, I suppose it doesn’t matter how long it takes. We ought to probably be in that 3:15 to 3:20 range.”

Yeah, that’s gonna be a problem.

You know, I kid about Jim Delany being more a director of broadcast programming than a conference commissioner.  Maybe college football ought to eliminate the middleman and pick somebody from ESPN to become the first college football commissioner.  At least it would all be out in the open.  And maybe they’d quit blaming us for their problems.

Though college football attendance remains robust, administrators are always looking for ways to draw fans away from their high-definition TVs at home and to the stadium. Once there, they need to be entertained when the game is in a lull.

Some schools have hired “fan experience” directors to keep game day fun. Wifi has been enhanced at stadiums, and bigger-than-ever video boards have been installed. Still, many schools are seeing declines in student ticket sales. Those students represent the future fan base.

“People want the experience,” said Jim Kahler, executive director of Ohio University’s Center for Sports Administration, “but they want it convenient and they want it fast.”

Just go ahead and shoot me.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

“I don’t think it’s totally crazy.”

Take as a starting premise that there are more bowl games than ever because we like to watch, not because we show up.  Add to that the profitability that comes from ESPN owning or controlling many bowl games outright.

If not for ESPN, many of these games might not exist. ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns and operates 11 bowl games, including two new ones this year.

All but one of the 39 postseason games this season will be broadcast by ESPN or ABC networks, both owned by The Walt Disney Co.

By owning the games, Charlotte-based ESPN Events can sell tickets and sponsorships to the games and not have to pay an unaffiliated company for TV broadcast rights. It’s an investment that usually pays off with a big live TV audience attractive to sponsors.

“We’ve built a very viable business that we’re really pleased with,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Events…

“They (ESPN) need live content, even mediocre live content,” Maestas told USA TODAY Sports. “Even 400,000 viewers in a sad bowl with 25,000 people in the stands is getting better (viewership) than 100 channels out there.”

Shake gently and voilà!

Sometime in the next several years, the powerful overlords of college football finally might decide they’ve seen enough.

To heck with ticket sales, they might say. Instead of struggling to draw crowds to stadiums, why not just stage some of their postseason bowl games in mammoth television studios?

Even a live studio audience would be optional. All they’d really need is a network to televise the games and sponsors to buy in.

Your idea of who “the powerful overlords of college football” are and USA Today’s may vary.  Here’s where I put my money:

“Fans are voting with their remotes and with their eyeballs,” said Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN’s vice president for programming and acquisitions. “I take issue with the notion of judging what’s a good idea based on how many people are in the stands. There are a lot of sports out there that would kill to have tens of thousands of people in the stands.”

It’s the coming reality.

… The average attendance for bowl games has declined each of the past six seasons, down to 49,116 last season, the lowest mark since 1978-79, when there were 15 bowls, according to the NCAA bowl record book.

At the same time, ticket sales generally have decreased in importance for bowl revenues. They accounted for $150 million – about 33% — of the $445 million in total gross receipts for all bowl games in 2012-13, according to the most recent available data on gross bowl receipts obtained by USA TODAY Sports. That percentage had decreased every year since 2008-09, when ticket sales comprised nearly 38% of all bowl revenue.

Television and media revenue, sponsorships and other sources make up the rest.

“More money in sports is starting to come from TV than from tickets,” Maestas said. “There was a day when the only thing that justified the game going on was ticket sales, because there was no TV. We are heading to the day when it’s possible to put on a college football event with no fans.”

Boy, that’s some progress you’ve got there, college football.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Why you gotta love bowl season, ctd.

In yesterday’s Hawaii Bowl, Rice RB Jayson Carter, all 4’9″/140 pounds of him, got in for a play, gained a couple of yards and took a pretty good lick, to boot.

He’ll always be a college football player.

 

21 Comments

Filed under College Football