Ed’s End of Season Top Ten…

 

 

About this time every year fans gear up for another football season.  Football experts make tons of money selling magazines with their preseason top ten lists.  These lists are based on criteria similar to what I listed on Day Two.  Making preseason predictions before the start of the season void of injuries, defections and/or team chemistry is a fairly simple process.  The hard part is to predict how teams will finish the season.    

By predicting end of season rankings a process similar to March Madness can be created.   By keeping track of your end of season bracket each week of the football season becomes an event.   For the end of season list, the actual order or ranking of the ten teams is immaterial.  Select your own top ten teams and we will compare notes following the BCS championship game in January.  Let The Games Begin…

The End of the Year Top 10 teams in no certain order…

(2014 Conference in parenthesis)

 

AAC/ACC             Louisville

Big 12                    Texas

Big Ten                 Michigan

Big Ten                 Ohio State

Pac 12                   Oregon

Pac 12                   Stanford

SEC                         Alabama            

SEC                         South Carolina

SEC                         Florida

SEC                         Georgia

 

Teams on the cusp of being a top ten team…

 

  • LSU
  • Clemson
  • Oklahoma
  • Arizona State
  • Texas A&M
  • Notre Dame
  • Nebraska
  • Miami
  • Oklahoma State
  • TCU

 

Advertisements

Ed’s Big 12 picks…

Ed’s  Big 12 picks…

                 

  • Oklahoma – 1st          

I have the Sooners winning the conference for a couple reasons.   First,  I was never sold on the Belldozier as a full time offense.  As a result, I was delighted to hear that Trevor Knight had won the job.  He may not be Johnny Manziel, but if he can be anywhere close, it will jumpstart the offense.    With a strong offensive line, receiver corps and stable of running backs this offense could be scary.   A versatile offense will take the pressure off the defense which will continue to be a work in progress.     I do expect the defense to be improved with the new recruits in the secondary.  I also predict that Mike Stoops in his second year will finally settle-in and as result his defense will be much improved. 

  • Texas – 2nd                 

The Longhorns will be better this year.  Eventually a program can compile so much talent that 

talent that it has to will overcome its coaching.    This will be the case for the Horns in 2013. 

Thankfully for Sooner fans, the OU/Texas game is still played in the Cotton Bowl and Mack Brown is               

still the Texascoach.  The Sooners will own the Horns once again in 2013.  The Longhorns will

bounce back from the OU loss and win home games against the other top-tier conference teams for

2nd place. 

 

 

  • TCU – 3rd

TCU is the stylish pick for the conference championship in 2013, but many prognosticators have not checked out their schedule.  The Horned Frogs will be very good on offense with league best Casey Pascal calling the shots and will be well coached on defense, but must play all the big boys on the road.  After getting beat down by LSU in the opener, the Frogs will follow up that game with road games at OU, OSU, Tech, and K-State.  It will be next to impossible for the Frogs to maneuver through that road schedule.  

 

  • OSU – 4th

The Cowboys will be better on defense, but will miss Joseph Randle, a graduated offensive line and Wes Lunt.  There was a very good reason why Mike Gundy threw a hissy fit when Lunt left.  While the Cowboys will come out on top against the SEC’s 9th best team in Mississippi State, they will lose the war by getting beat down physically.  As a result the Cowboys will lose a conference game early and to Texas late to create a downward spiral before hosting the Sooners in December.     

 

  • K-State – 5th

Colin Klein will be missed in a big way in Manhattan this year, but the Silver Fox may have the last laugh by recruiting the top juco quarterback in the country to take his place.   With three powder-puff games to build his confidence the Cats will use a powerful offensive line and a solid running game to make a run at both the Horns and Cowboys early in the season.   A win in either of these road games will set K-State up for bigger things late in the year.   Because one of those late season home games is against OU, Sooner fans may want to root for Texas and OSU against the Cats.

 

  • Baylor – 6th                

       

The Baylor program is surging with a new on-campus facility just one year away.   The year away fact is good news for the Sooners as OU must play a sneaky-good Baylor team in Waco this year.  The  game has been set for  Thursday night which means a trap game for OU.   Lache Seastrunk is the real deal and Baylor’s defense will be better in 2013 making the Bears a threat against any team in the conference, particular at home.   

 

  • Texas Tech – 7th

 

Tech will be better under new head coach Cliff Kingsbury, but will not be ready for primetime in 2013.  The Raiders will be dangerous at home with its revitalized fan base and will upset one of the big boys this year.  Coaching changes take time to take hold, but recruiting on the south plains is going well so expect the Tech to be back in 2014.  

 

  • West Virginia – 8th

 

I still believe the West Virginia/Big 12 move was a bad one, but I do believe that Dana Holgorsen can coach offense.  His mistake as a head coach was hiring is fishing buddy to coach defense.  Only time will tell if he survives that move.   In the meantime, he must put together a decent season in 2013 to buy another year.  This means upsetting OSU or Texas at home will be a necessity.  In either case, a win is doable if he can get the Cowboys or Horns into a shoot-out.   Short of that happening, Holgorsen and West Virginia should recognize their Big 12 mistake and petition the ACC for membership. 

 

  • Iowa State  – 9th       

 

Iowa State will always be Iowa State.  A team with an avid fan base in a state that has no high school football from which to draw blue chip talent.  Just like in years past, the Cyclones will play everybody tough and will likely knock off one of the upper level teams at home.  This year’s likely candidates are OSU and/or TCU.   

 

  • Kansas – 10th

 

When does basketball practice start?  Actually, with an infusion of JUCO talent the Jayhawks will be improved this year and will have the potential to win a conference game or two, particularly at home and early in the season.   The best chance for a win for the Jayhawks will be against Texas Tech early and West Virginia late.   

 

                         

                                                     

Big 12-2013 predictions based on objective criteria…

Big 12-2013 predictions based on objective criteria…

 

By taking all of these variables into account, a person can make an educated guess to a team’s potential for 2013.  These predictions are based strictly on the four variables of recruiting, coaching, returning starters and the 2013 schedule.

2013 Big 12 Predictions based on set criteria…

Conference record in parenthesis…

 

  • (8-1) Texas                

       

The table is set for a Longhorn run of the top of the Big 12.  The Longhorns have 19 returning starters to go along top five recruiting classes in 2011 and 2012.  Like it or not, with OSU in Austin and OU in Dallas the Horns must be the odds on favorite to win the title.   Overcoming the Mack factor will be the biggest issue for Texas, an issue that makes the Horns only a co-favorite.  With the Red River Rivalry being a series of streaks, I expect that the Sooners will extend the streak one

more year by taking down the Horns in mid-October.   At the same time the               Horns play other key games at home.   The Texas title run will hinge on the late season home date against Oklahoma State.                                              

Must win:  Texas over Oklahoma State…

Upset special:  Texas over Oklahoma…

 

  • (8-1) Okla. St.           

 

2013 is a pressure year for the Cowpokes, a must win year.  Oklahoma State has the talent level with a ton of starters including two quarterbacks back for 2013.  This will be one of the most experienced, talented  squads ever in Stillwater with 18 seniors on the two deep.  More importantly, the rest of the conference is catching finally catching up with the Pickens’ as almost every Big 12 school is undergoing a facilities facelift.   That extra boost that the Cowboys have enjoyed in recruiting over the past few years is about to evaporate.    With mid-level teams like Tech, TCU and Baylor on the rise, 2013 may be OSU’s last chance for the Cowboys to establish themselves alongside OU and Texas as a Big 12 elite team.   An early season home win against K-State capped off by late season wins over Texas in Austin and OU in Stillwater will hand the Cowboys the title.  

Must win:  Oklahoma State over Texas…

Upset special:  Oklahoma State over Oklahoma…

 

  • (7-2)TCU                     

 

With a difference-maker coach and a boat load of returning starters including one of the best quarterbacks in the conference in Casey  Pachall.   The Horned Frogs may be the surprise team in 2013.  The good news for the rest of the conference is that TCU is still being punished for joining the conference.  The Frogs will be playing at Oklahoma State for the second year in a row.  A home game here would have made TCU a contender.  As it is a loss for the 2nd year in a row to the Cowboys can be expected.   Making matters worse is the fact that the OSU road game is combined with road tests at Texas Tech, OU, and K-State.  The Frogs will be good, but will not run the table against the schedule.          

Must win:  TCU over Texas at home on October 26…

Upset special:  TCU at home over Texas…

 

  • (7-2) Oklahoma       

 

Predicting the Sooners to finish fourth is extremely hard for me, but facts are  facts.  The 2013 schedule makers did the Sooners no favors.  A serious downturn in recruiting over the past few years has produced the weakest defensive line in decades.  Making matters worse is the fact that the Sooners will start an unproven quarterback for the first time in six years.  Early season road games in South Bend and Dallas could not have come at a worse time.  As stated earlier I blame the OU leadership authorized Big 12 conspiracy for the blueprint that has moved OSU up the charts.   This year’s schedule for both OU and OSU are the final parts to this puzzle.   The good news for Sooner fans is that Oklahoma has UT’s number in the streaky OU-Texas series and Oklahoma State reverted back last year to its old self by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against the Sooners.   The Texas game is a must win game for the Sooners in 2012.  OU must win in Dallas to give the Sooners needed momentum for a late season stretch on the road games at Baylor, K-State and OSU.    

Must win:  Oklahoma over Texas in Dallas on October 12…

Upset special:  Oklahoma over Oklahoma State…

 

  • (6-3)Kansas State    

 

K-State fans will miss Colin Klein in the early going this year, but master coach Bill Snyder will retool the offense to fit the new guy.   I expect Daniel Sams and John Hubert will run effectively behind a stalwart offensive line.   The down side for K-State is a defense was devastated by graduation as the 2010 junior college             class graduated enmasse.   Early season losses at OSU and Texas can be expected before the Cats find their footing under Bill Snyder and make a late season run.  Unfortunately, that adjustment session could possibly include a home date against OU. 

Must win:  K-State over TCU…

Upset special:  K-State on road at Oklahoma State…

 

  • (6-3) Texas Tech      

 

New excitement in Lubbock will create at least one unexpected Red Raider home win .  The new quarterback, Michael Brewer was good enough to start in 2012, but the Tuberville coaching staff had other plans and the team paid the price.   Additional good news for new coach Cliff Kingsbury and Tech fans is that Tuberville left the cupboard full.   An improved defense and a top receiver in Eric Moore await Kingsbury.  More importantly, Tech has a chance to be this year’s surprise team as the schedule makers have created a possible 7-0 start for the Red Raiders.    With this momentum the Raiders will face OU and OSU on consecutive weekends.  If Tech can hang with the Sooners in Norman, a win at home against OSU the next week becomes a possibility.  The OSU game will make or break the Red Raider season.                                                                                                                     

Must win:  Texas Tech over TCU at home…

Upset special:  Texas Tech over Oklahoma State at home…

 

  • (5-4) Baylor                               

 

Art Briles and Baylor have arrived.  With a new on-campus stadium only a year away the Bears are upgrading their talent level dramatically.  While this Baylor team is still a year or two away, the Bears still have the league’s best running back.  An upset win over the Sooners in a Thursday night game is extremely possible which will bump up the Baylor league standing.  On the downside, the Bears play road games at K-State and OSU which are likely losses.  Big 12 teams had better take advantage of
Bears this year as Baylor and Briles are loading up for the future.                                           

Must win:  Baylor over Oklahoma at home on November 7…

Upset special:  Baylor at home over Texas…

 

  • (3-6) Iowa State       

 

Iowa State is still Iowa State which means the Cyclones will always put up a good fight in every game with marginal athletes.   The problem for Paul Rhoads and ISU is how anyone can recruit to Ames Iowa.    The Cyclones will always be         short-handed.   Regardless, Rhoads will orchestrate one upset win at home against a top flight team.  A home win against Kansas and a road win at West Virginia will create another 6 win and bowl season for the Cyclones.     

Must win:  Iowa State over Kansas at home…

Upset special:  Iowa State at home over Texas…

 

  • (1-8) Kansas              

 

An Infusion of juco talent will make Kansas more competitive in 2013.  If the Jayhawks can overcome a weak coaching staff, KU can stay out of the cellar and actually be completive in some games.   With a weak non-conference that should produce 3 wins and needed momentum the Jayhawks will win its first conference game in years with a win against West Virginia at home.   These junior college players will mature into players next year and will allow the Jay Hawks to make their first bowl appearance in years.  For this year,   however basketball starts for KU fans on November 1.   

Must win:  Kansas over Texas Tech at home on Oct. 5… 

Upset special:  Kansas at home (early in season) over Baylor…

 

  • (1-8) West Va.          

 

Tell me again why the conference made the West Virginia move.   They are way `the heck out there and have the worst defense in the Big 12 which is hard to believe.    Louisville on the other hand would have added an authentic top 15 football program.    The only talent on the West Virginia squad graduated last year.   The only hope for this team and this program is for the Mountaineers to get up for OSU at home early in the season and knock off the Cowboys.  Otherwise, it will be another long year for Dana Holgorsen and the Mountain Man.                                                                        

Must win:  West Virginia over Iowa State at home on Nov.  29..

Upset special:  West Virginia at home over Oklahoma State…

 

Big 12 Predictions for 2013…

Predictions based on objective criteria…How objective predictions are made…

 

When making predictions for upcoming college football seasons, it is important to discount the opinion of local media outlets and one’s own personal bias. By and large the media guys are arm-chair quarterbacks who simply to go with the flow.  For the rest of us, avoiding personal bias is next to impossible.  Being an OU homer, this part is the hardest part for me.   Most people in the know realize that college football is a highly sophisticated game that requires tireless research and even then, surprises happen every season.   College football is so much different than its pro football counterpart.   It is so much harder to predict winners with the college game.  While Alabama is on a dynasty roll right now, the Crimson Pride is just one loss to an LSU or A&M during the regular season or a Florida or Georgia in the championship game to being knocked off its lofty perch.  Pro coaches can hang on for years by putting together respectable seasons while college coaches must win early and win often in order to keep their jobs.   A new coach must produce by their second year or be shown the door.   Alumni and former players are much less patient than owners… This is just one of the many reasons why the college game superior to the pro version. 

In today’s football world, almost every major program has its very own Boone Pickens  or Phil Knight who can buy out a coaches’ contract if that coach is not producing.    For the most part, coaching staffs have three years to make it happen so these staffs must work fast to put their system and their players in place.   Many times new coaches get a late start in recruiting and  get a pass for that first year, but by the second year blue chip players are expected to appear on campus.  Weeding out the chaff both in terms of players and left over staff members will allow new head coaches one year to improve the on- field performance.   By the second year results are expected both on the field and in recruiting process. The window of opportunity will close quickly if 2nd year improvements in both these areas are not realized.  In today’s football world, few coaches survive a third year without substantial improvement in the win column.  

While new coaches will take different approaches for infusing talent into the program, taking the juco route is a common practice.  This move can add needed bulk and experience to a program very quickly.   Bill Snyder and K-State perfected this system, but their counterpart at Kansas has stepped up the process even more this year.    Charlie Weis recruited 19 junior college players as part of his 2013 recruiting class, a move that would have been scoffed at by the academically elitist KU crowd twenty years ago.  Desperate times create desperate moves by football coaches and alumni.   The unpredictable nature of junior college players can also add to the excitement that a juco class can create.  This move many times creates a feast of famine situation for a college football program. 

Regardless of how a program generates recruits, recruiting is the first of four variables I will discuss that can go a long way in objectively predicting a football season.   For an accurate view of the impact that recruiting may have on an upcoming season, it is important to take a two year view of this variable.   The other variables that prognosticators should consider when making preseason predictions are coaching, returning starters and the 2013 schedule.  

Variable # 1 – Recruiting…Without talent, the greatest coach in America will experience limited success as a football coach.  Barry Switzer figured this one out early on and said so often.   As a result, he went about becoming America’s premier recruiter.   In spite of what amateur media pundits may tell you, recruiting does matter and the number of players on a roster with four and five stars by their names can go a long way in determining future success for a program.   As stated earlier two years of solid recruiting is essential for a program to experience long term success on the field. 

Variable # 2 = Coaching…The coaching fraternity knows up front who the great coaches are and more importantly which coaches are difference makers.    A great coach can overcome a lack of talent, particularly over the short haul.  A great coach with underrated talent can win toss up games and use these wins to infuse athletic talent into the program.  This formula can create perennial winners.   Scout.com rankings of Big 12 coaches will be used for this purpose. 

Variable # 3= Returning starters…The third variable for a winning season is experienced talent.   Granted this variable is a tough one to measure.    Returning starters on a subpar team will not necessarily translate as a good thing.   At the same time, a viable approach here is to combine the number of returning starters with a team’s record from the previous year.  For this purpose I used the Phil Steele returning starter list to go along with each college team’s 2012 record.  

Variable # 4 = Schedule…The fourth and final variable that impacts a college football season is that of scheduling.  Professional football teams have it easy.  These guys play home and home series against conference teams.  Same goes with most other college sports including basketball.  This fact lessens the importance of a home field advantage for a season.   In college football where a game will be played can have a huge impact on the outcome of a game and subsequently on preseason predictions. 

The Breakdown of variables that will impact the Big 12 2013 season…

 

Variable # 1…Recruiting…These players will be playing as either red shirt freshmen or true sophomores.  It generally takes two years for a recruiting class to have real impact on a football program.   While coaching and team chemistry can speak volumes about a team’s success, without talent neither of those components can work.   The Bud and Barry golden years would never have happened without the infusion of talent. 

Two year recruiting average (2011 & 2012)…

Rank

  1.  (2.5) Texas                                                
  2.  (12.5) Oklahoma                       
  3.  (23) Texas Tech                        
  4.  (30) Oklahoma State             
  5.  (30.5) TCU
  6.  (44) Iowa State                       
  7.  (45.5) Baylor                                             
  8.  (47.5) West Virginia               
  9.  (54) Kansas                               
  10. (63) Kansas State    

 

 

Variable # 2…Head Coaches…The next major component is one that can overcome talent deficiencies and in some cases bad scheduling.    The following list is coaching list compiled by Scout of Big 12 coaches.  Their national ranking is in parenthesis.

Rank     Coach         (National Rank in parenthesis)            

  1.         Bill Snyder (3)
  2.         Bob Stoops (7)
  3.         Gary Patterson (10)
  4.         Art Briles (13)
  5.         Mike Gundy (15)
  6.         Mack Brown (28)
  7.         Paul Rhoads (38)
  8.         Dana Holgorsen (50)
  9.         Kliff Kingsbury (66)
  10.         Charlie Weis (106)

 

Variable # 3…Returning starters, particularly starting quarterbacks can have a huge impact on an upcoming season.   Phil Steele provides with Big 12 teams and their returning starters. 

Rank…

  1. Texas (19) from a 2012 9-4 team
  2. Oklahoma State (14) from a 2012 8-5 team
  3. TCU (15) from a 2012 7-6 team…
  4. Texas Tech (13) from a 2012 8-5 team…
  5. Baylor (13) from a 2012 8-5 team…
  6. Oklahoma (11) from a 2012 10-3 team…
  7. Kansas State (8) from a 2012 11-2 team…
  8. Iowa State (9) from a 2012 8-5 team…
  9. West Virginia (9) from a 2012 7-6 team…
  10. Kansas (11) from a 2012 1-11team…

 

 

Variable # 4…Scheduling…

 

Rank…

 

  • Oklahoma State comes into the 2013 season with the easiest schedule as the Pokes host top line teams Kansas State, TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma in the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium and play only Texas on the road.   

 

  • With the 2nd easiest schedule Texas hosts Oklahoma State and TCU in Austin and Oklahoma in Dallas.  Dec. 7 game at Baylor could be a tricky one for the Horns. 

 

  • Cliff Kingsbury inherited a great first year schedule as Texas Tech plays only one tough game in its first six.  While that game is TCU, it is at home and an upset win against the Horned Frogs will make the Red Raiders 6-0 the week they travel to Norman to face the Sooners.    A late season game at Texas will be tough, but Tech will get Baylor Jerry World, its home away from home.

 

  • Kansas State hosts front line teams Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU at home.  The placement of the K-State game at OSU this year is eerily similar to last year’s K-State game at OU.  Can the silver fox pull out another upset?

 

  • Baylor hosts Oklahoma and Texas at home, but must go on the road to face K-State early and OSU and TCU late. 

 

  • Kansas host winnable games against Texas Tech and West Virginia at home with grudge match against K-State in Lawrence this year.  With sparse crowds at home even KU home schedule is tough regardless of where they play.

 

  • Iowa State hosts winnable games against Kansas at home, along with OSU, but must go on the road against Tech, K-State, and OU.  

 

  • West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State and Texas at home, the Mountaineers must travel to OU, K-State and TCU.

 

  • While TCU is being tab by many experts to win the conference, to do so means the Horned Frogs will have to do it against a tough schedule.   The Frogs hosts top line teams Baylor and Texas at home this year, but must play top line teams OU, OSU and K-State on the road.  

 

  • Big 12 officials did OU no favors this year with league’s worst conference schedule.   Oklahoma’s schedule includes road games against top-line teams K-State, Baylor, OSU on the road to go along with the Texas grudge match in Dallas.  Sooners host only one top line team (TCU) at home.  

 

 

Do Facilities Matter…

Do Facilities Matter…

One can apply a Physics law to football programs or for that matter any organization.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest.   As Jim Collins stated in his “Good to Great” book, organizations are either ascending or descending, there is nothing in between.  More importantly, once a slide of an organization starts, turning that slide around can take years.    A case in point is the rock slide that OU experienced back in the post Switzer era.  There was concern by many back in those days that the slide might never end. 

For a refresher course, let’s flash back to the Donnie Duncan days when OU football was in danger of being placed on the endangered list.   Athletic Director Donnie Duncan and ex-Aggie David Swank combined to create one of the lowest points in the history of OU football.    Long story short, Swank, OU’s interim President ushered out Barry Switzer and ushered in the likes of Howard Schnellenger and John Blake.  While many OU fans tend to heap excessive blame on John Blake for those abysmal years, the real blame should go to the OU leadership team that made it happen. An organization is only as good as its leadership team and the OU trustees, along with Swank and Duncan effectively proved that point.   Reinforcing the point is the leadership team of Boren and Castiglione that eventually brought OU football back to respectability.   While coaches like Bob Stoops should be given credit where credit is due, only through able leadership can solid coaches do their thing.   

Having said all of that, even the most successful of all leadership teams can become jaded over time.  After approximately 15 years on the job the current OU leadership team appears to be in funk of sorts.   A jumpstart to the program that only a major renovation project can accomplish is in order.   While the OU program today is nowhere near the state it was in in the mid 90’s, it is still at a crossroads.   College football is changing and OU must keep up or be left behind.    Head Coach Bob Stoops realizes this fact and has begun campaigning for stadium changes.   Every program in the conference with the exception of OU and Kansas are in the midst of major stadium renovations. Stoops understands that keeping up with the Jones means making plans now for a stadium expansion.  No one wants to emulate the KU football program in any way so drawing up stadium plans now is critical.   The OU football gods are watching and want to see a ground breaking on the west side of the stadium sooner than later.   

The OU program under Boren, Castiglione and Stoops has become one of the most financially stable programs in America, so the reason for stadium expansion is not due to financial considerations.  Stadium expansion is about program momentum.  The move here is about jumpstarting the program, a move that will put the Sooners in good stead as the playoff era arrives next year.   This program needs a shot in the arm that stadium changes to the west-side  would create.   Instead of new look uniforms or helmets the program needs a new stadium look. With the 2014 playoff season and possibly more conference jockeying on the horizon, OU officials should begin working in earnest to make the Sooners attractive to conference suitors. 

Finally, in case OU fans need additional incentive for such a move, a look to the north and to the south should do it.   With the purchase of the university up north by Boone Pickens, Oklahomans have seen the meteoric rise to that program.  Same goes for the southern Aggies as their move to the SEC has created all kinds of momentum, a move that has led school officials to lay out plans for a new 110,000 seat stadium.  In both cases, facility improvements have and will create program momentum that will produce improved recruiting and wins on Saturday.   Staying ahead of the Jones or in this case the Aggies will be essential as the Sooners reestablish themselves at the head of the Big 12 and national football class.    

Finally, with only two weeks left before kickoff, I will begin breaking down the 2013 season with a series of postings next week.

Day One…

Objective criteria for making preseason predictions…

 

Day Two…

Criteria breakdown…

 

Day Three…

Big 12 preseason predictions based on identified criteria.  

 

Day Four…

Ed’s Big 12 picks…

 

Day Five…

End of year top ten list…

 

 

 

Pay for Play = the Johnny Manziel Story

Pay for Play = the Johnny Manziel Story

With all the hubbub surrounding the latest episode of the Johnny Manziel circus, many have come to his defense by suggesting that Manziel was simply taking what was rightfully his.  The issue at hand is the NCAA allegation that Manziel may have profited from signing autographs last January.   Ironically the preseason timing of this matter is eerily similar to the Rhett Bomar incident that OU and Bob Stoops faced back in 2006.  Bomar was paid thousands of dollars by a Norman car dealership for not showing up for work.   It seems that Manziel shares that same sense of entitlement shown by Bomar back in the day.  Stoops immediately did the right thing and sent Bomar packing.   The move that jeopardized the 2006 season was the right thing to do and more importantly it helped OU avoid severe sanctions from the NCAA. 

 

There has been no indication that Kevin Sumlin will take the high road and do the same thing with Manziel.   The Manziel family is complicating the matter for the Aggies by hiring an attorney to fight the NCAA.   It appears that this matter may be headed for court.   Finding a Texas A&M-based judge that will invoke a temporary injunction or restraining order against A&M and the NCAA will effectively keep Johnny Football on the field this season as he finishes out his required third year in college and turns pro.   

 

While this move may be welcomed by Aggie fans petrified by the thought of facing Alabama without Manziel, the move will only serve to aggravate the NCAA sheriff and make the eventual punishment more severe.   One of the reasons Stoops acted so quickly with Bomar back in 2006 was to avoid the wrath of the NCAA.  Teams that self-report violations and self-impose penalties are much more likely to get a break from the NCAA Godfather.  OU has learned this lesson the hard way over the years and Sumlin a former OU coach would have been wise to have given his OU buddies a call for all of this leaked out.  Now Sumlin and A&M are in a proverbial pickle with Manziel calling the shots.   

 

In A&M defense’s school officials are still basking in the glow of their move to the SEC that has paid huge dividends.  A booming national image, a Heisman Trophy winner, recruiting that has taken off and a new 106,000 seat stadium on the drawing board has Aggie fans besides themselves.   The thought of facing SEC-type teams this year without Manziel may be too much for an Aggie to deal with.    With everything coming up roses in Aggieland, some are hoping that simply denying the existence of an issue will cause it to go away.

 

Regardless of the Aggie response to the Johnny Manziel fiasco, A&M is headed for trouble.  The only question left to be answered is how deep the Aggie hole will be.  The NCAA is likely to levy penalties based on the greatest sin an athletic department can commit, that of the “lack of institutional control.”  This catch-all phrase is used by the NCAA to cover a myriad of sins, but the Manziel crime will provide investigators a text book case.  Athletic departments are expected to educate players to avoid pay for play opportunities.   The fact that Manziel over slept the morning of this meeting after a night of partying will not been seen as an appropriate excuse by the NCAA.  A&M is at a crossroads…The University can sit Manziel down and get a slap on the wrist or play hardball with the NCAA and get nailed. 

 

OU and Stoops did the right thing by sitting Bomar down and actually came out of that situation in pretty good shape.  Paul Thompson became the OU quarterback for the 2006 season and led the Sooners the Big 12 championship.   Granted, today’s SEC is tougher than the 2006 Big 12, but doing the right thing is always the best way to go, particularly when the NCAA is involved.  The more time and effort and yes expense, that the NCAA spends on a case helps them decide on the eventual punishment.   It will be interesting to see how A&M handles this character-building opportunity.    

 

Regardless of what happens with Johnny Manziel, this story will serve to reignite the age old debate about paying college athletes.  Media pundits are already jumping on this story suggesting that if players were paid a stipend, players would not have to stoop to these measures.   As the argument goes, with everyone making money off college football why not allow the players who are the most responsible for bringing to games to us make their fair share.   What will be lost in the shuffle in terms of this discussion is that college football players are paid already.  

 

In addition to receiving college education conservatively valued at $100,000 for instate players and $150,000 for out of state player at public universities; the value of an education at a private university is worth over $250,000.    Of course, an education also ensures future earnings that dwarf what would be made over a lifetime without a college education.   While this argument may be lost on some people, the fact that players can actually pick up paychecks while in college should not. 

 

Football players can pocket up to $13,000 per year with little or no effort.    First off,  almost all college football players’ quality for federally funded Pell Grants.  A Pell Grant awards college students including football players $5,500 dollars per year.   Once the clothing allowance is added in, the player’s income reaches $6,000 for simply signing up for federal money.    For those few players who do not quality for Pell Grant money, family incomes are such that their sons are well taken care of financially anyway.  

 

Football players also benefit from housing policies that allow players to live off campus and receive extra money for a housing allowance.   At OU, players are allowed $8,000 per year for off campus housing.    By doubling up with a roommate, players can easily pocket half this amount or $4,000.  For those players wanting extra spending money, summer jobs arranged by the athletic department can add another $3,000 for eleven weeks work.  For the year players can easily make over $13,000.  A lot of pizzas and movie tickets can be bought with $13,000.

 

In case these arguments are not enough to quail the “pay for play” issue, the cost of the “pay for play” stipends would be an astronomical.    Stipend payments would not be limited to football players.   With Title IX being the law of the land, it can be expected that female athletes from all sports would expect their stipends as well.   Finally, if female soccer players get a piece of the pie, so will male soccer players.   OU currently has 500 athletes on various team rosters.  A simple $300 per month stipend for each of these athletes would cost the athletic department $1.8 million dollars.  For Big Ten and Pac 12 universities that sponsor over 30 team sports instead of the required 16, the cost would be over $3 million per year.   Making this issue even more problematic is the fact that a majority of the 128 Division I programs could never come up with an additional $1.8 million per year.   Approval by 51% of the Division I membership is simply not going to happen.

 

Her is one last argument against the “play for pay” idea.  College football is one of the last bastions of amateur sports in America.    Since the Olympics went belly-up to the pro-mongers a few years back, college football is all that lovers of amateur sports have left.   I suggest that those who insist on paying college players turn their attention exclusively to the Sunday game and leave college football alone.   It would be a tragedy to lose the greatest sport in America to the likes of Johnny Manziel.  

 

 

Are Coaches Overpaid?

Are Coaches Overpaid?            

As a follow up to last week’s article, I thought it might be nice to take a look at coaches salaries in relation to their coaching ability.  For this purpose I used  Athlon’s coach rankings along with the head coach salary list published by USA Today.    As we know being the head coach of a major college football program is accompanied with an intense pressure to produce so the thought of college coaches making exorbitant salaries should not come as a shock to anyone.   While all of us gritch about these salaries when our teams lose a big game, the free market system dictates these amounts and these salaries are not set for one game, but for multiple games over multiple years.    Actually given what CEO’s of major corporations make or for that matter members of the entertainment field, the pay for a coach at a major university is a drop in the bucket.  The $4.5 million dollar Bob Stoops salary that increases to over $5 million with his incentive package is simply in line with supply and demand economics and the amount of revenue he brings into the university.   At the same time, it is also a legitimate expectation for these mega-millionaires to produce wins on the field each year.   As you will see from the information I have provided below, not all coaches live up to their lofty salaries.     The reasons for this vary, but four of these reasons include: the longevity of the head coach at the university,   the proclivity of long term contracts for college football coaches in today’s college football world, the wealth of the athletic department itself and finally, the loyalty factor. 

In the case of the most overpaid, overrated coach in America, the reasons are a combination of first three factors.  Mack Brown is ranked #28 among Division I schools by his peers, but ranks 2nd only to Nick Saban at Alabama in terms of pay.   Mack’s $5.4 million dollar salary compares to Saban’s  5.5 million.    The richest athletic department in America at $150 million per year gave Mack a long term contract following the Vince Young national championship year.  Adding to the UT dilemma is the fact that the contract rolls over at the end of each year making the buyout amount substantial.   Of course this is all good news for the Sooners fans as OU has owned Texas under Mack over the years.   The only downside here is that the third variable, that of university wealth will eventually be in play at Texas.   With plenty of T. Boone Pickens of their own, UT is likely to buy out Mack’s contract, regardless of the cost after another mediocre year.   All the more reason for Sooner fans to root for Texas over the Cowboys. 

Another notable example and one that I have never figured out is that of Kirk Ferenz at Iowa.   Iowans are not known for throwing away their money, but this has been the case for 14 years.     Remember when Ferenz was all the rage.  Stoops and Ferenz were rumored to be finalists for the Iowa job some 14 years ago when Iowa hired the up-and-coming Ferenz.   While Stoops has led OU to a national championship and a 80% winning percentage during his time at OU, Ferenz has barely kept his head above the .500 mark.  This guy rakes in $3.8 million per year for an incredibly mediocre performance.       Again the long term contract trap is likely to be blamed here as a former AD is likely to have locked Ferenz into a long term, rollover contract.  What really hurts a team like Iowa is that in order to pull the plug on a head coach, a program must be willing to sacrifice a recruiting class which  can  be devastating to a football program like Iowa.   I suspect this is the only thing keeping Ferenz alive in Iowa City.   

On the opposite side of this ledger is Bret Bielema , the new hire at Arkansas.   Bielema is ranked #25 on the Athlon list of outstanding coaches, not astronomical, but still a lot higher than his .9 million per year would suggest.  The Federal government should hire the Arkansas AD to run its financial affairs.  Grabbing Bielema away from Wisconsin for this price was a steal.   Some said that Arkansas lacked style points in hiring Bielema, but in the long run I suspect that Arkansas and Bilema may have the last laugh.      Arkansas needed a solid coach after the Petrino/John L. Smith train wreck and Bielema came to Fayetteville at a bargain basement price.  The truth be known is that Bielema realized he would never be in charge at Wisconsin as long as fan favorite Barry Alvarez was prowling the sidelines.   He also realized that Wisconsin would always be playing second fiddle to Big Ten bullies Ohio State and Michigan.   With nothing to lose, he opted for Arkansas and a pay cut.   With an SEC type schedule that allows Arkansas to play eight home games a year, winning seasons can be assured.   Blue chip players are flocking to SEC schools so an infusion of talent can be expected.   Not lost on Tulsa area Razorback fans which are plentiful is the fact that Fayetteville is only an hour from the Jenks/Union/Broken Arrow recruiting fields.     Arkansas has some of the most rabid fans in America and an 8-4 season will turn Bielema into a folk hero at which time he can name his price.   

 

Finally, while the first three variables are the most prominent regarding head coach salaries, there is one exception to the rule.  Bill Snyder and the loyalty clause provide that exception.  Ranked the 3rd best coach in America, Snyder’s salary is a mere $2.2 million dollars per year.   Putting this into perspective 47 Division I coaches make more that the silver fox.    The truth of the matter is that Bill Snyder is never leaving K-State and that for him the money is immaterial.   Moving to K-State from Iowa over 30 years ago, Snyder credits Kansas State for giving him his first chance and he has repaid that fact with his undying loyalty.   It is likely that Snyder was persuaded by the athletic department to take his latest pay bump that raised his salary to just over the $2 million a year.  In a strange twist these moves tend to elevate the status of both the coach and the athletic department.        

Finally, back to the original question; are college coaches paid too much?   Ninety percent of the time, the answer to that question is no.   The actual financial return to the university from a solid head coach is hundreds of times the cost of the coach’s salary.   Football is big business, a business that not only pays the bills for football, but also the bills for the entire athletic department.    The NCAA requires a minimum of 16 sports for a university to be classified Division I.   In many cases universities double that number of sports.  With the exception of an occasional basketball program, none of a school’s athletic programs come close to paying for themselves.    Football picks up the tab for all these sports.  Just as importantly, a high profile football program generates donor money that pays for facility improvements for all areas of the university.      

Not to be lost in the shuffle is a university’s endowment fund that can run into the billions of dollars.  The same goes for public and private research funds that can flow into a university’s coffers. Endowment and research fund accounts are greatly enhanced by a high profile football team.  Finally for those universities not blessed with large endowment and research programs, year to year college enrollment can be positively impacted by winning football teams.    Studies have been conducted that indicate that a winning football season can provide up to a 6% to 10% enrollment increase in the fall which will put additional funds into university coffers.   Putting this percentage into perspective it can be expected that Oklahoma State six winning seasons in a row may have generated an additional $50 million dollars in revenue.   In cash strapped state like Oklahoma that is a lot of extra cash. 

It is obvious that winning football coaches can more than pay for themselves.  All the more reason for the high mortality rate of head football coaches today.  

Coach Ranking/Pay Comparison …

(amounts do not include incentive bonuses)

(Big 12 coaches in bold print)

 

Rank    Salary              Coach             

1.            ($5.5 million)     Nick Saban, Alabama                                                    
2.            ($4.3 million)     Urban Meyer, Ohio State                                                                            
3.            ($2.2 million)     Bill Snyder, Kansas State                                                             
4.            ($2.4 million)     Brian Kelly, Notre Dame                                                                              
5.            ($3.6 million)     Steve Spurrier, South Carolina                                                 
6.            ($2.0 million)     Chris Petersen, Boise State                                                                        
7.            ($4.5 million)     Bob Stoops, Oklahoma                                                                 
8.            ($  .5 million)     Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky                                                          
9.            ($2.4 million)     Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech                                                      
10.          ($3.5 million)     Gary Patterson, TCU                                                                      
11.          ($2.9 million)     Mark Richt, Georgia                                                                       
12.          ($1.3 million)     Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern                                                    
13.          ($2.2 million)     Art Briles, Baylor                                                                                             
14.          ($3.0 million)     Brady Hoke, Michigan                                                                   
15.          ($3.3 million)     Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State                                                   
16.          ($2.4 million)     Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M                                                                           
17.           Private school  James Franklin, Vanderbilt                                                        
18.          ($2.3 million)     Charlie Strong, Louisville                                                                            
19.          Private school   Al Golden, Miami                                                                           
20.          Private school   David Shaw, Stanford                                                     

21.          ($1.3 million)     Mike Riley, Oregon State                                                                            
22.          ($1.5 million)     Rich Rodriguez, Arizona                                                                               
23.          ($2.6 million)     Dan Mullen, Mississippi State                                                   

24.          ($3.9 million)     Les Miles, LSU                                                                                  
25.          ($  .9 million)     Bret Bielema, Arkansas                                                                

 

Other notable coaches…

28.          ($5.4 million)     Mack Brown, Texas                                                                        
32.          ($2.5 million)     Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech                                       

35.          ($2.8 million)     Bo Pelini, Nebraska                                                       
36.          ($2.5 million)     Will Muschamp, Florida                                               
37.          ($2.8 million)     Jimbo Fisher, Florida State                                         

38.          ($1.6 million)                     Paul Rhoads, Iowa State                                                              
39.          ($2.5 million)                     Larry Fedora, North Carolina                     
42.          ($2.7 million)                     Gary Pinkel, Missouri                                    

50.          ($2.4 million)                     Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia                                
60.          ($3.8 million)                     Kirk Ferentz, Iowa                                                                          

 

66.          ($2.1 million)                     Clff Kingsbury, Texas Tech                                          

106.        ($2.5 million)                     Charlie Weis, Kansas