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Comment 15 Nov 2013
That depends on how you classify Old Dominion. They are in the transition phase to FBS as a provisional member in 2014 and a full member in 2015. This year they are technically a FCS independent playing East Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Idaho, and North Carolina as well as 7 FCS schools. But as you said, that doesn't change the facts.
Comment 15 Nov 2013
As Walshy said, there are currently 125 FBS teams in the NCAA. It looks like there were 63 teams who had zero, one, or two losses following Week 7. It looks like 12 of the 32 NFL teams had zero, one, or two losses on the same date (following Week 6). That means 50.4% of college football teams had 2 or less losses compared to 37.5% of NFL teams. And that was after the college teams had played an extra game. Sounds like there were not only more college teams with better records, but a higher percentage too. Each game definitely matters, as you said, Walshy. I think the OP may have also been pointing out how much more fun Saturdays are with all the big matchups compared to the more even records in the NFL.
Comment 08 Nov 2013
It's always disappointing when people claim to have similar interests, but supremely lack vision. 1) People in the positions of Jim Delaney and Larry Scott should rarely begin a strategy session with "be realistic." It's self-defeatist. Have some confidence, tact, and a vision of where you want your organization to go. Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Texas are actually extremely attainable, particularly the latter two. Think bigger than "realistic ones" like Missouri, Kansas, and Georgia Tech. 2) Maryland was a nice addition that should work out in time, though it looks "meh" in the short term. Good school, good demographics, solid athletic department, great location just outside DC, and solid football tradition (seriously, they finished 4 seasons ranked by the AP since 2001. That's more than Texas A&M, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Mississippi St, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and tied with South Carolina). These are 40+ year decisions, not 4 year decisions. 4 years ago, Cincinnati was 12-0 and Stanford hadn't lost less than 3 games in a season since 1969. Who is the stronger program today? Maryland has a higher ceiling and more potential to reach that ceiling than the Boston Colleges and Louisvilles of the world. Rutgers? Not so much.
Comment 16 Oct 2013
You don't think so? Houston is obviously going to be a huge home field advantage for LSU in that series. But there seems to be a lot of fervor in Wisconsin over tickets to the Lambeau game as well. I would expect both of those games to be less than "neutral." Neutral site games could actually be pretty cool, provided the fan bases are actually given equal access. Unlike that "neutral" site game against Alabama in Atlanta or LSU in Dallas. How would we feel about a neutral site game against Florida in a city like Charlotte or even a marketing/recruiting hotbed like Los Angeles? Make 30,000 seats available to each fan base and sell the rest to local corporations. The key is the local population cannot be predisposed to one school or the other, like the environment of that "neutral" Alabama-TTUN game last year. And good for Wisconsin, demanding a return pseudo-neutral game at Lambeau rather than accepting the typical SEC-in-SEC-Territory scheme most programs fall for. I had not heard of this before, but it might be interesting to see a neutral site series against Oklahoma with games in Dallas and Cleveland. It would especially be cool if the "road" team were allocated something like 25% of the tickets to allow both fan bases to travel. Of course, the environments of the same series in Columbus and Norman will be more electric. But the novelty of games like this can be okay on rare occasions. And I get the budgetary concerns tied to the need for 7 home games, but with the right payout for a desirable enough matchup, a neutral site game can help bridge the gap.
Comment 16 Aug 2013
IMDb had Nicholson as a native of Manhattan, New York. Is that incorrect? I'm sure Jim Delaney would gladly take Jack and his 3 wins in 12 nominations as a product of the Big Ten footprint. Yet another Hollywood heavyweight.
Comment 16 Aug 2013
You, sir, are correct on both counts, though I thought Clooney's win for Syrianna was for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. Regardless, the man won and it should be reflected. I apologize for the lazy transcription error. Is there a way to simply copy a table in excel and drop it in the blog text box? Also, point of clarification: data above is only for Best Actor in a Lead and/or Supporting Role. No awards for Best Picture, Director, etc was included in the tables.
Comment 15 Jul 2013
That is actually the direction a lot of people consider more likely. By bundling a few channels, the companies can charge the higher dollar value to match consumer demand, while pushing less desirable channels to the consumer base. Going back to the ESPN example, Disney could offer a package of ESPN, ESPNU and ESPNews for $27/month. But, if you want ESPN2 for the upcoming Ohio St game, Disney may require you to buy the package of ESPN, ESPNU, SEC ESPN, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, the Longhorn Network, and ESPN2 for $45/month, on a 12 month contract. The goal is to attach more at-risk properties to items of value with high demand. The Big Ten could potentially have been positioning itself for exactly such an environment with its recent addition of Rutgers. This was obviously covered in detail months ago, so here is the brief recap of the hypothesis: Maryland delivers BTN on expanded basic cable/satellite packages in DC and Baltimore. Rutgers does not, in and of itself, have the demand to deliver NYC. News Corp (who owns half of BTN) buys the Yankees' YES network to bundle with BTN in NYC. If the a la carte bundle concept comes to pass, we could see a bundle with BTN, YES, Fox Sports 1, FX, MSG, and possibly a Fox News type channel. A bundle like that could do very well in New York, creating the desired windfall for the Big Ten.
Comment 15 Jul 2013
At first, the concept of a la carte channel subscriptions sounded great. Take that list linked in the article ($5.06/month for ESPN, $0.67 for ESPN2, $0.80 for BTN, etc) outlining what the cable/satellite companies pay the networks and and simply add up the costs for the channels I want. How great would it be to spend around $15/month for the channels I watch without the overhead of channels like QVC, Boomerang, and Fuel? Then I realized these channels would simply set prices to match demand and within a year consumers would be paying $15+/month for ESPN. Also, whereas games are now placed on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, etc based on a tiered approach of marketability, companies like Disney would likely scatter games of the most marketable teams (Ohio St, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, etc) among its holdings to entice consumers to buy every one of their networks. In the past 5 years, Ohio St has played on ABC 34 times, BTN 20 times, ESPN 17 times, ESPN2 four times, and Fox twice. Under the a la carte system, networks would be incentivized to make those numbers far more balanced, with a few games on ESPNU and ESPN Classic thrown in as well. Sure, we would not have to pay for the channels we would never watch (such as E! and TLC for me), which would feel good in principle. But paying $20ish for ESPN, $8 for ESPN2, $7 for BTN, $7 for the History Channel, $6 for AMC, etc. could quickly exceed what I currently pay to have access to all the channels I want.
Comment 02 Jul 2013
Recruits want to go to Nebraska for the tradition of winning (#5 in ESPN's program prestige rankings), excellent facilities (in the conversation for best in the nation), and fervent fan base (sold out every game since 1962). Sure, Lincoln is about the size of Green Bay or South Bend. But it is also a good school with a nice campus that embraces its teams in a way few outside of Columbus can match. Having been to UN-L a few times for athletics, they have top notch facilities in almost every sport (everything for football, sold out volleyball arena, hydraulic-banked indoor track, new baseball stadium, 2-level basketball training facility with a brand new downtown arena set to open this year). Seriously, check them out. Here is a link: What they do not have is proximity to great athletes. That's why they've traditionally leaned on Texas and California for recruiting. They also struggle early in the recruiting cycle until they can get kids on campus to see what they have to offer. Recruits often take road trips to see schools of interest (a la Jamarco Jones seeing Michigan State, TTUN, and Ohio State on consecutive days), but there are few football programs of note near Nebraska. Per google, Kansas State is 2:30 away, Iowa 4:36 away, Missouri 5:07 away, Minnesota 6:28 away, Oklahoma 6:56 away.
Comment 24 Jun 2013

As much as Alvarez liked to erroneously claim Wisconsin’s assistant coaching compensation scale was competitive, it appears he has upped Wisconsin’s assistant salary pool to $2,495,000 for 2013.  That would be an increase of $721,650 and place it #19 in the nation compared to 2012 salaries.  Andersen is reportedly earning $1.8M in 2013.  Not along the lines of what nationally competitive programs in the country pay head coaches, but then, Andersen has clearly not earned the distinction of an “elite” coach yet.  Also of note: Purdue increased its assistant coaching staff salaries from $1,610,304 to $2,010,000, which would still only place it #42 in the country based on 2012 salaries. 

However, the other schools will be increasing as well.  For example, the #15 assistant staff salary in 2010 was $2,213,250.  In 2011, the #15 ranked staff made a combined $2,460,654.  By 2012, the #15 ranked assistant staff of Georgia earned $2,770,000.  In fact, BCS conference schools have increased assistant salary pools an average of $237,703 per season the past two seasons.  In other words, the magic number for assistant coaching salaries in 2013 will probably be closer to $2.6M.

Comment 24 Jun 2013
USA Today released its coaching staff databases in December. Here are a couple of the high points: 13 of the 16 highest paid assistant coaching staffs produced AP ranked teams. In fact exactly two-thirds of the AP top-25 teams (not counting the 4 who didn't report) spent at least $2.3M on assistant coaches in 2012. Every team (literally) who finished in the top-10 spent at least $2.4M. How many Big Ten teams spent at least $2.3M on assistant coaches in 2012? Three. Ohio State (#6 highest assistant salary at $3,288,000), TTUN (#12 at $2,926,000), and Illinois (#24 at $2,300,000). By comparison, Boise State ranked #21 in the country, spending $2,375,541 on assistant coaches. That's right. Boise outspent Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Furthermore, Memphis, Iowa State, Utah, and Washington State each spent more on assistants than Wisconsin. The magic combination appears to be a head coach making at least $2.6M and an assistant coaching staff worth at least $2.4M. 12 teams met these requirements and 11 finished the season ranked (including numbers 1, 2, and 3). #4 Notre Dame does not report. The highest ranked team not to meet at least one of these criteria? #12 Kansas State, who was at $2.2M or higher for both criteria. In the Big Ten, only Ohio State and TTUN pay both their head and assistant coaches at least $2.2M, let alone $2.6M and $2.4M respectively. * 8 schools (Miami, Stanford, BYU, Pitt, Temple, Tulsa, Tulane, Vanderbilt) did not report head or assistant coaching salary data. ** 13 schools (TCU, Notre Dame, USC, Penn St, Wake Forest, Baylor, SMU, Duke, Northwestern, Syracuse, BC, Rice, Hawaii) only reported head coaching salaries
Comment 24 Jun 2013
So Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and the AP Pre-season #1 Hoosiers would have played in the MAC last year because Indiana's football team finished last in the Big Ten in 2010 and 2011? In a football-only vacuum, I love the concept of promotion/relegation. However, while many people focus on football, we have to remember there are thousands of non-football student-athletes who take their sports very seriously. These exercises are fun every summer when news is slow, along with player loans (sending Evan Lisle to Illinois to gain OL starting experience before stepping in next season) and trades (backup RB Rod Smith to Michigan State for run-stuffing DT Tyler Hoover?). It would be great, though, to see this system applied to the NBA and see how many teams continue sitting stars the final few games of the season in hopes of winning the draft lottery with the threat of relegation hanging overhead.
Comment 31 May 2013
Wow. Awesome on so many levels. You always knew a punk like Joffrey would be a TTUN fan. And any image of either Joffrey or a TTUN fan being clubbed in the head by Kerry Coombs is a winner in my book.
Comment 04 May 2013
I have liked Northwestern for a number of years now, most of which have been outlined in previous comments: academic programs/standing, location on the lake, Fitzgerald, the basketball team's NCAA near misses, Underdog meets the Little Engine That Could. Now, my wife has adopted Michigan State as her 2nd team because of the aggressiveness of their defense over the past few years. Then she picked the exact same school as a 2nd team in basketball for the exact same reason. When she asked me if she could watch that 2011 Wisconsin at Michigan State regular season football game without me or if I wanted her to wait on me to get home from going out with friends, I knew I had married the right girl!
Comment 25 Apr 2013
This is the exact aspect that piques my curiosity about the hiring. I'm a firm believer that during negotiations, people viewing from the outside (or people who just don't know how to negotiate) focus far to much on the bottom line dollar value. There are always non-salary factors to consider such as schools for kids, additional duties or responsibilities, travel during important seasons, etc. "Unable to receive what he needed to be comfortable moving forward"? What could he have needed that UConn, Maine, or another suitor could provide? Would he really rather take a year off at this stage in his career in hopes a better option would come along next year? Was it really the issue of splitting practice ice time at the OSU Ice Rink with the women's team? French Field House, by comparison, is still used by numerous teams as an indoor practice facility. Gwozdecky was reportedly making $221,000/year, so it's hard to believe salary demands were an issue. Was he not allowed to bring his 2 trusted assistants from Denver? Was he concerned about a few games being moved to Mondays to accommodate the BTN schedule? (Please note, I have absolutely NO inside information here. These are just a couple sample roadblocks I could think of.) I often defend the decisions made by the Ohio State Athletic Department, but what the heck happened here? Stability within the program and a style of play familiar to current players are short-term concerns. Luke Fickell provided stability and a familiar style of play. Then Urban Meyer became available. It's fine to hire an up-and-comer when a proven winner is available, but it's a big risk and you better be right.
Comment 24 Apr 2013
I hope Rohlik turns out to be a gifted recruiter, brilliant tactician, and the type of showman required to energize a Buckeye fanbase who loves to support a winner but currently has little vested interest in collegiate hockey. My concern is, there was a proven commodity available who (by most accounts) encapsulates those three things. He is also a proven winner with an entertaining, attacking style more prone to attract a crowd. That leads to the second point: the often cavernous (for hockey games) Value City Arena. A quick look at the past 6 seasons shows average attendance a shade above 4,000/game. There are 2 outliers in the data (3,096 in 2010 and 5,178 in 2012). The first coincides with John Markell's last season at the helm. The second was the season we started hot and rose to #2 in the rankings. While the Schott is obviously too large an arena to generate a good atmosphere for a mediocre Ohio State vs Lake Superior State game, I submit it could be an acceptable home venue given the right circumstances. Consider, with a middling record hovering around .500 all season, Ohio State drew 6,772 and 9,278 in a 2 game series with TTUN. They also averaged 6,173 in a 2-game set against Notre Dame. In 2012, OSU hosted #13 TTUN in front of 9,828 on a Friday (typically a harder day to draw). Even after the losses started to mount up in 2012, OSU drew over 6,000 for a game against Michigan St in February. It doesn't take a focus group to know games against marquee opponents increase fan interest and, therefore, attendance. Next year, we begin play in the Big Ten hockey conference in which we will host Wisconsin, Minnesota, TTUN, Michigan St, and Penn St every year. If Ohio State has NHL talent playing an exciting brand of hockey (2 things the right coach could make happen) against brand-name schools on a regular basis, it should be reasonable to expect average attendance to double with 12,000+ possible when a #2 ranked Buckeye squad takes on a top-5 ranked TTUN team. George Gwozdecky should have been interested in this. He has stated his desire to continue coaching. At 59, it's unlikely he would desire a season off before returning to the bench. What better options does he have? UConn and Maine? The only explanation I've heard which makes any sense (though I vehemently disagree) is that Gwozdecky's age may have scared some suitors off.
Comment 24 Apr 2013
So I told a friend of mine who has been a Wisconsin hockey season ticket holder for years about OSU's hire. His response was, "Oh, good hire. He's good. We were hoping to have him coach Wisconsin down the road." I then asked him if he'd rather have Gwozdecky or Rohlik. "Oh, Gwoz, hands down. Rohlik knows the system and he'd be on the short list of coaches you want running your program, but the thing about Gwoz is he is a great coach and a great recruiter." He then went on to tell me how buckys5thquarter had Gwozdecky to OSU as a lock. The way he describes it, this would be similar to having Urban Meyer (2 NCAA championships) available a year ago, but giving Paul Chryst (the up and comer with potential) a shot instead. He may be good, but this feels uninspired, to say the least.
Comment 23 Apr 2013
What we won is a matter of perspective based self-perception. Specifically, asking ourselves the question, "Who do we want the Big Ten to be?" I would like the Big Ten to be the dominant academic and athletic conference in the country. Despite Maryland's football struggles the past 2 seasons, this is an institution with academics comparable to OSU (25 graduate programs, over $400M annually in academic research, #58 rated school in US News, #28 ranked school in ARWU) and solid athletics (top 30 annually in Learfield Directors Cup, basketball in NCAA tournament 14 of past 20 seasons, and a decent football program which traditionally goes through cycles on the level of Colorado, Arizona State, and Oklahoma State). Maryland's football program has been ranked after 4 seasons since 2001, won at least 8 games 6 times from 2001-2010, and has a surprisingly strong recruiting base in DC/Baltimore/Northern Virginia. Maryland is a solid addition. Rutgers is still an AAU member, but has a lower academic profile (#68 by US News, lower research spending than every Big Ten school but Iowa, and less prestigious graduate programs than every Big Ten school but Nebraska). Rutgers, unfortunately, also has one of the worst athletic programs in the country. The most telling stat to illuminate the difference between Rutgers and the Big Ten is the Learfield Directors Cup, where OSU scores a median 1,060.03 points over the past 4 seasons, followed by Penn State (973.40) and TTUN (970.63). Iowa is last in the Big Ten at 478.15, ranked #46 of all schools with FBS football. Rutgers scores 170.50 (ranked #80). That's not a typo. That's lower than Akron, Kent, Army, Hawaii, and Fresno State. Rutgers' Men's Basketball average RPI over the past decade is about #150, comparable to Penn State and has average gameday attendance of about 5,500. Rutgers also has one of the worst traditions in college football, similar to an Indiana. Sure, they've had a number of 8-9 win seasons against a schedule even Bill Snyder would laugh at. But, it still only has a 47.51% winning percentage in the BCS era, has only finished one season ranked since 1976, only marginally moves the needle in it's home state, and has only once even shared a conference title in a much weaker Big East. Back to who we want to be. The Big Ten is currently one of the best academic conferences in the country. It is one of the best, but not necessarily THE best athletic conference in the country. Adding some combination of Virginia, North Carolina (both more attractive then Maryland or Rutgers), or Georgia Tech assures two things: 1) the Big Ten will be one of the last 4 power conferences standing, and 2) the Big Ten will never be the #1 conference. To me, unless a move is a step toward that end, why make it? The new ACC Grant of Rights does nothing to impact the Big Ten's ability to be the dominant academic and athletic conference in the country.
Comment 23 Apr 2013
"There's no ironclad rule that says you have to play a home-and-home series in back-to-back years for each opponent." This line is dead on. It would be a mistake to schedule back-to-back crossover series. A conference where teams go 4 consecutive seasons without playing fall into the trap of creating two separate divisions who happen to come together for a conference championship rather than a truly unified conference. There is a way to rotate crossover matchups such that no matchup is absent more than 2 consecutive seasons and every team will play at every stadium at least once every 6 years. That takes into account the protected Indiana-Purdue crossover.
Comment 22 Apr 2013
When did Nebraska bolt on Oklahoma? The Southwest Conference began falling apart in the early 1990's with the defection of Arkansas to the SEC. With the College Football Association (the negotiating entity for college football tv rights at the time) losing partners like the Big Ten, Notre Dame, and the SEC, Texas and Texas A&M began looking for a new conference with more marketable members than TCU, Rice, and SMU. In the mid-1990's, the Big 8 seized the opportunity to invite Texas and Texas A&M. The Governer of Texas, Lt Governor, Speaker of the House, House Appropriations Committee Chairman, and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (2 Baylor grads and 3 Texas Tech grads, respectively) threatened to cut funding if their alma maters were not included. The 4 schools were added to form the Big XII, the new conference was logically divided North/South (separating Nebraska and Oklahoma), and Nebraska was only scheduled to play Oklahoma 2 out of 4 years. Colorado was never considered by Nebraska to be a significant rival. Tom Osborne even said, "For some reason, they (Colorado) decided we were their rival." Since 1962, Nebraska was 40-8-1 against Colorado. That was a rivalry in the way Gallagher's hammer had a rivalry with watermelons. Also, fwiw, Colorado left the Big XII for the Pac 12 the day (10 June 2010) before Nebraska left for the Big Ten, although both moves were considered imminent for days.
Comment 15 Apr 2013
Contracts to host major events (like the one OSU has with the OHSAA to host the boys basketball state championship) are generally signed years in advance. The Buckeyes hosted an NIT game against California at St John Arena in 2008 because of a similarly scheduled Bruce Springsteen concert at the Schott. This was not a Gene Smith controlled issue.
Comment 15 Apr 2013
1st of all, the timing seems strange 23 days after the OSU men's hockey season ends. Second, George Gwozdecky does look like a very good option. A number of Wisconsin fans want Mike Eaves fired and Gwozdecky hired. The guy won NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005, had a 62% winning percentage, and made the NCAA tournament 11 times at Denver (including the past 5 years in a row).
Comment 27 Mar 2013
I remember when Rick Reilly was one of the better sports writers in the country during his SI days. I can also remember the exact article when he lost me as a reader: I remember thinking, "Rick, what happened to you?" Then I read Johnny's spot-on take on the article: Well done, Johnny!
Comment 14 Mar 2013
In my humble opinion, I believe there is a fundamental flaw with the arrest argument. Prudence would suggest a nature of waiting until all the facts come in before passing judgement. However, we demand instant conclusions to whatever has our interest at the time. We don't like to wait to tune in next week to see how the cliffhanger was resolved in the latest episode of Damages. Counting arrests runs directly counter to waiting on all (or even the majority of) the facts to come in. Police officers are human beings who, by and large, do their best to serve and protect. Unfortunately, they are forced to make immediate decisions based on incomplete and imperfect information. They get called to a scene and have to guess what happened based on what they see. Sometimes a person gets arrested for punching someone in a fight where the second person cornered and accosted him. (I've seen that happen) Charges get dropped all the time because more facts come out about an incident after the arrest, but by then we've lost interest in the story and moved on. If the cornered person were an athlete, that hypothetical arrest would still count against the team. The 2nd flaw with comparing arrest counts is in treating all incidents as though they are the same value. Someone can get arrested for playing music too loudly (seen that one too). There is a big difference between unpaid parking tickets and assaulting someone. How many of Urban Meyer's alleged 31 arrests at Florida were for college kids drinking while underage at a campus party? How many resulted in convictions? An arrest is merely the taking of a person into custody. It would be more valuable to compare felony and misdemeanor convictions. The arrest count is simply a flawed and potentially very misleading data point.