Shower Ends Sweat- This “Duh!” headline actually points to an interesting story Tuesday about why former Buckeye Andrew Sweat chose to end his bid at a professional career. According to the Dispatch, Sweat slipped in the shower the morning that mini-camp was to start and experienced concussive-like symptoms similar to what he wrestled with during his time in Columbus. After they lingered longer than he’d expected, he sat down and talked with his family; I’m sure the recent news about health issues in the NFL had to be at the back of his mind (OK, maybe not the best choice of phrase there). Given that he’s also been accepted to several law programs, it does make sense to look at the bigger picture- heck, even Michigan fans think so. Godspeed and best wishes, Mr. Sweat!
Hall Of Fame? More Like Hall O’ Lame, AmIRite?- The College Football Hall of Fame announced their incoming class, and somehow Orlando Pace was not amongst the nominees in spite of the fact that he was a potential candidate. Seriously- the best offensive tackle in the history of Ohio State sports, a two time Lombardi trophy winner and one of two people to win either the Lombardi/Outland three times. Pace was also a Heisman (!) finalist, and should have been a cake walk into the CHoF. Doubt me? Watch this video… Pace wasn’t the only snubbed choice, as Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier also missed the cut. You remember Frazier; three time National Championship Game MVP, Heisman runner up to Eddie George, and dude I met last fall. Video evidence hereabouts. You know who did get in? Ty Detmer, the guy who brought us such memorable moments as this.
Rocketman- JD Weatherspoon announced today what we’d expected for a while- he’s transferring to Toledo to finish his college career. Best of luck, ‘Spoon!
Let’s Duke This Again- The B1G/ACC Challenge matchups were announced, and the Buckeyes will be traveling to Cameron Indoor in a repeat of what was one of the most watched games of the 2011-12 season (and a dang fine ending at that). While the legend of Duke being a difficult place to play is definitely true, Buckeye faithful making a trip to Tobacco Road might be able to score some ducats, according to recent reports.
The football program has had the No. 1 Academic Progress Rate score among the Top 15 teams in the nation twice in the last three years, and its impressive 985 APR among all bowl teams in 2011-12 ranked fourth.
Playoffs, Expansion, and Finances
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war…” 2 Samuel 11:1a NLT
In the war rooms and board rooms of college football, late spring and summer is the time that athletic directors and conference commissioners go out looking for new territory to conquer. This year, the process started with the BCS/Playoff discussion from the luxurious retreat in Florida (even retreats are home games for Southern teams) which brought a commitment to the playoff four team event in the future. Following those conversations, the conference power brokers headed back to start discussions about what a playoff might look like… but that’s not all that was going on behind the scenes.
To understand the state of affairs in college athletics, and without using the old “search” box up there in the right corner, it’s important to understand that the heart of this matter is finances. While Eric was dead on about the foundational nature of Universities in Monday’s post (spoiler: they’re businesses), I believe that the current state of affairs actually craps on his point a bit- while he believes that there are redeeming qualities to major college football (as do I), these qualities are not the ones that are driving these dialogues. No one is arguing for changes in the postseason due to the educational opportunities it will create for students, nor is anyone working to change conference affiliations for the greater knowledge base that this will bring to the undergraduate population (Note- the B1G does have an arrangement that addresses this latter factor, in the CIC/AAU membership agreement). Nope, this is about bringing more dollars to the table.
Still Beating Michigan
In a roundabout way, though, you could argue that this might free up finances for the “regular” students or for academic departments and research endeavors. Here, take a look at this article and especially this interactive table from today’s USA Today (sorry, no pie-chart this time). In the table, you can go and sort by “percent subsidy” over on the right hand column- when you do that, you see that only seven institutions “break even” and do not function on any monies from state allocations or from student fees. The numbers for the rest of the programs are interesting- without looking you probably could have guessed which programs had 10% or less “need” to fall back on “outside” dollars… and it’s significant that many of these programs are in the B1G.
Too many, though, of major athletic programs are not fiscally independent and instead fall back on the student and taxpayers to exist. At a time, then, when finances for students are a real concern and when state budgets are falling shorter and shorter, you can understand how athletic departments would see revenue generation as their most important function (although I’d argue that cutting head coaches’ salaries might also be an option).
It also explains why it’s easier for some programs to “turn their head” with NCAA violations- it could be that they’ve chosen to spend more energy in PR and fundraising than working toward compliance… choosing to seek money rather than monitor the possibility that their amateur athletes might be doing the same.
Which brings us home to the B1G. Always fiscally responsible, the Big Ten Network has significantly benefited these programs’ ability to function in the black. As we’ve talked about numerous times before, ESPN’s decision to “encourage” the conference to create their own network has led us to where we are today- the SEC/ACC/PAC/B1G2/bigEast shuffles are all about television dollars to help support these programs… but not all of them.
So, with that background out there, let’s hit up the latest news and notes. First, conference realignment.
ACC U Later- Ever since last summer, the rumors were swirling that Florida State and Clemson might be headed to the Big 12 to help them reach that number. With recent decisions regarding the ACC ESPN deal, frustration came yet again for the non-basketball members of the conference, and the discussion of at least the Seminoles heading west has heated up extensively.
We are, seemingly, getting closer to a time when there will be four major football conferences (the same number as playoff participants), and the Big East and ACC will be relegated to basketball focused organizations. Speaking of playoffs:
In Case You Missed That- Instead of finally forcing warm weather teams to come north in December/January for a significant game, the powers that be in the B1G have said they’d rather support a bowl system that’s been proven to be bloated, corrupt, and a huge money pit for most participating institutions. Dr. Tom Osborne even said today that doing a playoff outside of the bowls would “Destroy the bowl system.” With all due respect, and knowing full well that this will end up with me sleeping on a couch- Are you out of your everhusking mind, Tom? You say that like it’s a bad thing…
As If It Couldn’t Get Worse- Everyone’s favorite bag of wet sand came out today and supported this initiative, stating that his perspective has “shifted” on it. He also advocates that selection committees be used to make the final decision regarding who the teams would be; which only makes sense given the bang up job that he’s done on the Tournament selection committee. One positive note, though- they are pushing for a “seven wins to be bowl eligible” clause that will either kill some of the stupider bowl games or mean that more cupcake/gate receipt opportunities will be on the future schedules of major programs looking for those easy wins.
Not Alone- Texas’ DeLoss Dodds also likes the idea of having a selection committee, but disagrees with Dr. Tom (big surprise there); holding instead that the “four team event” should be separate from the bowls in locations that are awarded by a bid process.
Incompetence Personified- You know that this is a bullet point about Charlie Weis, given the title. What you might not know is that the “incompetence” alluded to is in reference to whatever idiot agreed to his contract while he was in South Bend- the one that has paid him $8.7 million dollars since he was terminated by the Irish. Oh, and he’ll keep getting paid through 2015- I knew they should have taken him up on his offer of remuneration via polish sausage and sauerkraut.