Category Archives: It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

You can never go wrong blaming Auburn.

The reaction of Alabama’s players to the “Central Florida national champs” cheeky narrative is about what you’d expect

… but I do love this one, for obvious reasons.

Hmmm… maybe Gus tanked it on purpose.

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Filed under Alabama, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

In for a penny…

Sure, why not?

If there are a bunch of UCF fans willing to spend on this — they don’t call ’em “vanity plates” for nothing, you know — why shouldn’t the state step up and separate them from their money?  Somebody’s gonna.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Political Wankery

Two words. Two simple words.

No, silly, not those two words.  These two:

The College Football Playoff management committee, which is comprised of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, are in unanimous agreement that the CFP should not expand beyond four teams right now[Emphasis added.]

The big boys are tossing a $15 million bone to the mid-majors and those conference commissioners know that’s the best they’ve done and the best they’ll do — for now.  For all the talk about UCF’s national championship parade and the “Some critics of the system have said that what’s missing in college football is the Cinderella stories that are seen more frequently in the college basketball tournament…” garbage, the money is what this has been and will always be about.

And you know what?  These guys are patient.  They know sooner or later that what ESPN is raining down on Delany and Sankey won’t be enough anymore and when that day comes, there will be more to pass through.  So what do they have to lose by waiting?  It’s not like they’ve got better options, anyway.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

“I think it’s hard to pick a number.”

You’ll be shocked, shocked to find that adherents of The Process have a decidedly different take on the ideal size of support staffs than those who aren’t — or, perhaps more accurately, can’t afford to be.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Nick Saban Rules

“There’s a big gap between a need and a want.”

USA Today has another college football haves and have-nots story that doesn’t really break much new ground, other than offer a little more emphasis on what the haves… um, have.

Colorado State’s athletic revenue was just under $40 million, which ranks in the top half of the Mountain West but is still $18 million less than Washington State, which ranked last among the Power Five’s public schools.

Twenty-eight Power Five schools reported athletic revenue of more than $100 million, with Texas A&M leading the way at nearly $195 million. Each of the Power Five conferences made payouts to their members ranging between from $42 million in the Southeastern Conference to about $29 million in the Pac-12.

The College Football Playoff distributed at least $60 million to each Power Five conference last season , with the Big Ten netting $70.9 million.

If you’re in a P5 conference, you ain’t starving.  Washington State, mentioned above, just gave Mike Leach a five-year contract extension worth about $20 million.

They’re rolling in it, peeps.  Those waterfalls and $10,000 lockers aren’t paying for themselves.

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Filed under College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

There’s always gonna be somebody jonesing for Cinderella.

Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen laments the selection committee’s missed opportunity.

A precedent was set in college football on Sunday: More than half of FBS teams are ineligible for the playoff.

No one announced this, but the College Football Playoff committee might as well have when it ranked 12–0 UCF, the American Athletic Conference champion, No. 10. The only remaining undefeated team in the country, the Knights were coming off two straight wins over ranked teams, and as all of college football fervently debated which flawed traditional power—Ohio State or Alabama—might get in, the team wrapping a perfect season was all but ignored.

It’s not a good look for a sport that claimed its new playoff system, now in its fourth year, would be a progressive move.

This year marked what could have been a turning point for the playoff. After Saturday’s championship games, three spots were set in stone—Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia, all bona fide contenders. But after that consensus top three, things looked murky. Even two-loss USC, left for dead after getting blown out by Notre Dame in October, seemed to be in the conversation. For the first time in the playoff’s history, the bracket was unsettled not because there were too many qualified teams, but because there might just have been too few.

It was an opportunity for the playoff to do something different. Instead, it made the most predictable move possible: It picked Alabama.

UCF is certainly a nice story.  Scott Frost brought the program back from its absolute nadir under George O’Leary.  But notice that not even Niesen is arguing that the Black Knights are a better team than Alabama.  The problem is that there’s little context to evaluate how good a team that was 0-12 in 2015 is now:  the toughest opponent UCF faced this season, according to ESPN’s FPI, is #29 Memphis.  According to Sagarin, UCF has played the nation’s 83rd toughest schedule.  Bill Connelly, who’s been very positive about Central Florida’s season, has it facing two opponents all season in his top twenty in terms of S&P+ rankings — and five running between 103 and 123.

You can’t say a team is weak simply because it’s played a weak schedule, of course.  What you can say, though, is that playing a weaker schedule makes it harder to judge a team’s worth.  That’s something especially true for a team going through a meteoric rise as UCF has.

Is UCF Boise State versus Oklahoma good, or Hawaii versus Georgia overrated?  We don’t know.  Maybe we’ll get an indication when the Black Knights face off against Auburn, although I don’t see how they can stay in the ball park if the Tigers show up motivated.

It seems to me that when Niesen writes,

But I’m bored, and I’m tired of watching the teams that should be playing in January rather than a team that could be if only everyone broadened their horizons.

… she’s asking the committee to entertain her in the abstract rather than put the four best teams in position to win a national title.  A mid-major hoping to crash the CFP party is going to have to have more on its résumé than novelty.  As long as there’s a four-team playoff, anyway.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

No conference can serve two masters.

The Mountain West has to choose between that sweet, sweet television revenue and asses in the seats.

At the University of Wyoming, the trade-off the Mountain West is making for television is apparent.

The Cowboys drew more fans to Memorial Stadium for each afternoon game in September against nonconference foes Gardner-Webb and Texas State than they did for the conference opener against Hawaii, which kicked off at 8:15 p.m. Mountain time.

The Hawaii game was broadcast on ESPN2 as part of a deal that pays the Mountain West more than $100 million over seven years. The Texas State game was streamed exclusively on Facebook, which pays the conference nothing for the content.

The Mountain West has three years left on the TV contract that puts most of its members’ home football games on an ESPN channel or CBS Sports Network. As conference officials ponder their next move, the Mountain West is experimenting with alternatives to traditional broadcasting and weighing whether filling all those late TV windows is worth the money its members are making.

Actually, the TV money isn’t that sweet — about $1.1 million from their deals — which is what makes this a closer call than, say, the Pac-12’s, also home to the same dilemma. (HINT:  TV is winning.)

Ironically, their situation is more complicated because of Boise State.

Boise State’s membership agreement gives the school an additional $1.8 million, approximately, per year…

Then there is Boise State. Back in 2012, when the Broncos were still new to the Mountain West and not far removed from their BCS-busting days, they were wooed by the then-Big East during conference realignment. To keep Boise State, the Mountain West agreed to a deal that guaranteed the school more appearances on ESPN and more TV revenue than the other schools.

Going forward the agreement calls for the rights to Boise State’s home games to be negotiated separately from the rest of the conference.

Boise State is still a perennial contender in the Mountain West, leading the Mountain Division this season, but the Broncos have only won the division once in the last four seasons. Whether Boise State still deserves special treatment is something the rest of the conference wants to consider before another television deal is struck.

“I don’t want to say Boise’s brand is different, but when they came off Fiesta Bowl runs they were a national story. They’re not there today. They’re still excellent,” Burman said. “Boise still has a brand that’s different than the rest of us. But that discussion needs to happen between presidents and the commissioner about what does Boise merit three years from now and how does this get resolved.”

Boise State AD Curt Apsey said the school is open to having that discussion. He also added that while the Broncos and their fans would welcome more day games, they can’t come at the expense of TV revenue.

“It would be very difficult for us to give up the TV money and make it up in ticket sales,” he said.

Yep, the school that believed it should be treated like the big national kids cut itself a special deal that is no longer justified.

Maybe it’s a negotiating tactic.

Thompson is cautious about playing his negotiating hand with ESPN and CBS publicly, but the reality is this: If Mountain West teams want to play less night and weekday games it will drive down their value to traditional TV partners. But maybe it’s worth it.

“Yes, you’d hate to have to replace (the revenue). But does it put us out of business? No,” Thompson said. “However, I’m not an AD and they may say, ‘You’re an idiot for making that kind of statement.'”

Or maybe they’re just caught between a rock and a hard place.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major