Musical palate cleanser, Skydog’n edition

If you don’t own Duane Allman — an anthology, you should, if only for this:

The instrumental break at the five-minute mark is just the set-up for what’s to come three minutes later.  Which is friggin’ otherworldly.  As far as I’m concerned, the last three minutes of that song could go on forever.

In other words, if you haven’t, go buy the album already.

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In APR-land, children do it for you.

What a country!

The recent classroom performance of Arizona State athletes will look good for the university — and even better for athletics director Ray Anderson. He will get nearly $350,000 in bonuses based on how well Sun Devils teams did in the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate figures it released Wednesday…

Among those also getting APR bonuses are:

North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams: $75,000 for a perfect 1000 APR that comes in the aftermath of an academic scandal at the university that included allegations of improprieties by men’s basketball players but resulted in no NCAA sanctions.

Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari: $50,000 that is only bonus he can received under the terms of his contract.

Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl: $150,000.

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn: $75,000.

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson: $100,000.

Florida State AD Stan Wilcox: $17,000 — a total based on him getting $1,000 for each team that had an APR above 950. 17 of FSU’s 18 teams were at 964 or greater. The football team was at 941.

Last fall, Louisville’s athletics department confirmed that football coach Bobby Petrino would be getting the $500,000 bonus called for under his contract if his team’s APR is at least 935 (the final figure, announced Wednesday, was 977). Petrino’s APR bonus, if he achieves it, increases the bonus he gets if the Cardinals go on to play in a bowl game.

If there was ever a time for a Steve Spurrier quip about Auburn academics, this would be it.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Academics? Academics.

David Pollack’s rules for success

Evidently, making it on ESPN is easier than we might think.

Pollack was hurt playing linebacker in his second season in the NFL, suffering a career-ending neck injury. It wasn’t until months later that he realized he had what it took, he thought, to be a college football analyst.

“While I was injured and recovering,” he said, “I would sit at home and watch ESPN and think to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I’m loud and I’m opinionated, that’s what they want, right?”

Since taking his job with ESPN, Pollack has worked hard to avoid being “a homer,” as he called it, for his former university. In his time as an analyst, Pollack has often picked against his old school in an effort to be honest in his analysis.

“I hear about (picking against Georgia) everywhere I go,” Pollack said. “But I remember when I was injured and studying broadcasting stuff, I vividly remember watching (former Notre Dame head coach) Lou Holtz on TV. I watched him pick Notre Dame every single time. I said, when I started my career on television, that I would never be a homer.

Works for me.  LOL.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

When Matt Borman speaks…

you know money is involved.

The new west end zone project in Sanford Stadium is not only bringing a new home locker room, recruiting lounge and bigger video board, it’s also allowed Georgia to add more premium seats on the opposite side.

Coming this football season: 12 field-level suites overlooking the east end zone for big Bulldog donors.

“With the number of individuals that have come up and stepped up and supported our department in the past couple of years, a lot of them don’t necessarily have seats commiserate with the support that they’re giving us,” said Matt Borman, executive director of The Georgia Bulldog Club. “This gives the opportunity to put some of those people that have helped us out a bunch in seats that they’re very happy with.”

… More catering will be in there and, like other stadium suites, alcohol can be served.

Getting into a suite, as you might imagine, will cost you: a $40,000 donation counted towards your gift to the Georgia Bulldog Club and an additional $10,000 for tickets and catering.

It’s Butts-Mehre’s laser-like focus on improving the game day experience for literally dozens of fans that gives me such hope for the future.

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Filed under Georgia Football

What’s the SEC’s problem with beer?

A few tidbits from this David Ching piece:

  • “Truth be told, most SEC programs already allow alcohol in their stadiums, just not for the common folks in the general seating areas.”
  • “… 50 college football programs – 36 with on-campus stadiums and another 14 that play off campus – sell beer throughout their stadiums. And even the stodgy NCAA recently removed its restrictions on alcohol sales at championship events, following a pilot program that started with stadium-wide sales at the College World Series for baseball and the Women’s College World Series in softball.”
  • “… the SEC remains as the only major conference that refuses to allow its member institutions to formulate their own policies on the matter, and there is some reason to doubt that alcohol sales proponents will be able to muster the necessary majority vote of SEC presidents and chancellors to end the ban.”

David ponders the reasons why.  Bible Belt morality is an obvious guess, but perhaps too facile, as most SEC programs allow for alcohol consumption in the luxury booths.  “Southern politics and reasonable concerns over fan safety”?  Well, let’s not forget we’ve seen more than one state legislature poised to allow guns inside college stadiums, only to be pulled back by SEC displeasure.

Then, there’s this one, which, admittedly, I’ve never thought about.

… there are also economic factors in play.

Some SEC schools are either unwilling or unable to do a cannonball into the booze pool, and that affects their leaders’ opinions on the matter. But for those who are willing, there is often a nifty revenue stream available to tap.

For instance, Texas generated more than $3 million in each of the last two football seasons with alcohol sales, netting $1.3 million of the annual totals after expenses. And that doesn’t even include the approximately $5 million Texas will rake in annually thanks to sponsorships with MillerCoors and Corona.

Ohio State made $1,231,280 in net revenue off alcohol sales last fall, up from $1,166,497 in 2016, its debut season with stadium-wide sales.

The earnings are more modest at smaller programs – Purdue reported $550,000 in gross sales last fall in football and another $241,701 from men’s basketball season, its first school year with stadium-wide sales – but the overriding point is clear: Alcohol can be a big moneymaker, and college athletics programs are rapidly warming to the possibilities.

Profitability may be part of the problem for the SEC’s alcohol-sales proponents, however.

At a school like LSU, where in-state colleges like Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane already sell alcohol at sporting events, the state’s festive culture and warm weather indicate that beer sales would be a massive success. Athletic director Joe Alleva has long been one of the conference’s most vocal proponents of lifting the conference-wide ban on alcohol sales. The school has already experimented with beer gardens at sporting events and sells alcohol at football games in premium areas like its Skyline Club, Stadium Club and suites.

Beer and wine sales figures from the 2016 College World Series showed 430 drinks sold per 1,000 fans, and it would be reasonable to expect LSU to at least match those numbers. Were that to be the case, LSU would have made approximately $3.4 million in alcohol sales in 2017 from football, men’s basketball and baseball games alone (with 1,137,124 in reported attendance and $7 per drink purchase).

But in a conference where member schools share TV and postseason revenue, some within the league might view alcohol sales as a potentially unfair advantage for the big programs who sell. Obviously the schools who shun alcohol sales would receive no additional revenue, and even if the smaller programs made the attempt, they likely would rake in only a fraction of the money.

Take Vanderbilt, for example. The Commodores reported 489,019 in combined attendance between football, men’s basketball and baseball in 2017 – about 50,000 greater than LSU’s baseball attendance alone. Operating by the same sales assumptions as above, Vandy would have generated approximately $1.5 million in sales in 2017 if alcohol had been on its concessions menu. Kentucky would have generated roughly $2.6 million based upon its 856,346 in reported attendance from the three sports.

While it might seem petty to quibble over a couple million bucks when your school boasts a $100 million athletic budget, this is the SEC we’re talking about. A conference opponent potentially gaining any sort of competitive advantage is sure to bring out the claws.  [Emphasis added.]

The SEC, where booze sales just mean more.

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Filed under I'll Drink To That, SEC Football

Jeffrey Kessler update

If you’re looking for an easy to follow summary of where the Alston and Jenkins cases currently stand, click here.

If you want the tl;dr version, here it is in one tweet.

Those are going to be tough rows for the NCAA to hoe.

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Thank you for your support. Gotta run now!

Chip Towers visits the second stop on this year’s UGA’s Coaches Caravan and wonders where everybody went.

Anyway, it seems that my collection of observances from the Columbus proceedings touched a nerve with some UGA folks, particularly those who plan and organize these undertakings. I noted in my column Monday night that the event at the Convention & Trade Center in Columbus seemed lightly attended and somewhat compressed in overall length and depth of the program.

Less taste and less filling!  Sounds like a plan.  It also sounds like Butts-Mehre wasn’t amused.

That was indeed the case. But, while there were a few more no-shows than expected, I’m told that it was intimate by design. That’s according to Matt Borman, Georgia’s executive associate athletic director for development (aka, chief fundraiser).

Oooh, there’s a plan!  Tell us more, Matt.

Borman and his staff organize these events, which aren’t to be confused with your father’s and grandfather’s Bulldog Club meetings. These functions aren’t advertised or marketed anywhere, Borman told me. They’re free and open to anyone to attend, but they’re essentially invitation-only events. The people who show up are UGA alumni and/or season-ticket holders — and their friends or children — who received an email telling them that the Top Dawgs are going to be in the area and they should come out and hang out for an evening.

This is not to be confused with the “all calls” of the past, where thousands of Georgia fans from all around were summoned to some massive venue to bark and whoop it up for their Bulldogs. This is what you’d call a “targeted audience.”

“We’re not trying to be more exclusive,” Borman told me Tuesday, “But we are trying to create a more intimate atmosphere for a group of alumni and fans to spend with our coaches.”

Case in point: The 10-minute speech that Smart delivered Monday night to about 290 fans in Columbus was just a small part of his evening there. Before that, he and Crean signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans who stood in line for that opportunity. After their speeches, Crean and Smart were jettisoned across town in Columbus to the Chattahoochee River Club, where they attended a dinner with – well, let’s just say – a very, very special group of donors.

I know the haves and the have-nots are an old story when it comes to college football.  I just never expected that to work its way so deeply into how Georgia markets its fan base.  It’s nice to feel so wanted.

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