April 29, 2016

No, nothing about Laremy Tunsil’s moment of honesty — before a PR (or assistant agent) hurriedly hustled him out of his press conference. Good times coming to Ole Miss.

The satellite camps are still allowed. This has been one of the sillier controversies of the spring.

The SEC and ACC pushed for a complete ban — and got one — on the camps because of paranoia and wanting to protect their natural recruiting areas. They can dress it up however they want, but it was only about protecting their own self-interests. And yes, Coach Pat Narduzzi was fully in support of such a ban, but  I still don’t get it.

If he’s worried about Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan coming to Pittsburgh to run a camp; I’m just not seeing it. They are already close enough to Pittsburgh that they recruit regularly, and high school kids can make the trip to their camps near the school without a hassle. Such a camp actually occurring would be an annoyance for Pitt, but would not make much of a difference.

In the end the satellite camp thing was simply an overreaction to Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh going into the SEC (and ACC) recruiting area for a camp.

Here’s the bottom line: The SEC’s legislative crusade against satellite camps was the most transparent, cynical, foolish waste of time that college athletics has ever seen. And given the history of the NCAA, that’s saying something.

Though opinion is certainly divided about whether satellite camps are good or bad or whether the rules should be refined in some way to limit them, people throughout college athletics have spent the past several months mystified at the SEC’s lust to outlaw them.

Because not only did it look like the SEC was pushing a nationwide rule change in response to Harbaugh, which seemed petty enough, but there was never any evidence that satellite camps have made one bit of difference to anyone but an under-recruited kid here or there who might get noticed by a coaching staff and offered a scholarship they wouldn’t otherwise get.

In its righteous indignation about the scourge of recruiting camps, all the SEC accomplished was turning Harbaugh (of all people) into a martyr and exposing that the same people who hem and haw and throw up their hands over the issue of paying players can take action with SEC speed when it comes to protecting their own turf.

The ban has been rescinded for further and future consideration. Especially after a couple conferences claimed their reps on the vote, voted the wrong way.

I do think Narduzzi has a good point in relation to controlling support staffs for programs.

CBS Sports reported in January that Alabama spends at least $2.7 million on support staff for recruiting, scouting, etc. When asked about the idea of capping support staffs on the ACC Coaches Teleconference, Narduzzi joked that he would have to be the controversial guy. Narduzzi doesn’t have a number in mind, but he says there should be a limit, like there is with strength coaches (5).

“I think there has to be some limit. There’s a limit to everything. I guess the only thing there isn’t a limit to is your alumni contributions,” he said. “There’s a limit in the NFL, there’s salary caps, staff limitations. When you think about college football and the business it is, there has to be some type of limitations. I think they went through limitations in football, and football was behind where basketball was.

A lot of these hires are high school coaches moving up, too. Sometimes, they come from a key recruiting area. Jim Harbaugh hired former Paramus Catholic (NJ) head coach Chris Partridge for an off-field role. This offseason, Partridge was promoted to linebackers coach, and Michigan signed the No. 1 player in the country in Rashan Gary, who went to Paramus Catholic. Harbaugh is set to deliver the commencement address at the school this spring.

Narduzzi has no problem with high school coaches moving into college ball to further their career (or make more money), obviously, but he also worries what type of impact such an influx will have on the high school game. Facilities used to be the big arms race. Now, it’s becoming staff members. As revenues increase, the money goes somewhere.

“There’s a chance of ruining a great high school sport, because we’re stealing great high school coaches and people that do a good job mentoring young men,” Narduzzi said. “Where football starts, there’s no more important component to our game than our youth coaches and high school coaches.

When you start hiring coaches to just get their players, that adds to the staff. If you want to hire a guy and make him your quarterbacks coach or a full-time assistant, it’s fine, but there’s got to be some limitations. Overall, talking to a lot of ACC coaches, I think everybody’s firmly behind that. I don’t care what it is. If we want to say there’s 55 assistant coaches, let’s go to 55. At least make a mark of where we are and where we need to go, so there is some even competition. Coaches in the NFL or college football, that’s all you want: the field to be level.”

Not sure I buy the “chance of ruining a great high school sport,” aspect, but this is becoming an issue that will likely be addressed. If for no other reason, that a lot of other schools are going to want to rein in some expenses.

I suppose this is the natural result of the money that is in college football. Every major conference program has done significant improvements to facilities and academic support for recruiting. Now that money is looking for the next outlet.

Meanwhile in the ACC, the question that looms out there is the future of an ACC Network. Reports came out last week that VT AD Whit Babcock said there would be a channel up and running in 2016. Um, no.

“I said that I hoped we would have some kind of clarity, one way or the other, by the end of the calendar year,” Babcock told me Tuesday evening via phone, “and we’d likely get an update at our meetings in May. That was it. I’m quite sure that’s what I said. I’m always very careful about what I say on the (subject).”

That’s likely as the ACC and ESPN have an agreement in their media rights contract that would force ESPN to pay each ACC member an additional $2-3 million per year if nothing is done by the end of 2016. Given the cost-cutting at ESPN in the past year, it seems unlikely they will want to tack on an extra $28-42 million per year on their ACC deal without getting anything.

This was a good breakdown on what ESPN and the ACC will likely agree to by the end of 2016. This is the most likely outcome.

The Hybrid ACC Network – streaming + TV

This is the model that’s gaining steam. Wes Durham has favored this model for a number of years, and there are some existing similar models.  The WWE Network  is subscriber based streaming network, that  is starting to turn a profit having reached the break even number of subscribers of 1 Million a $9.99 at month. MLB.TV is also a possible model and maybe the likely platform model the ACC Network could follow.

That service remains limited to out-of-market games for live coverage, with the ability to watch in-market games on replay. MLB’s deal with Fox reinforces the idea that if you want to watch your home team play, you’ll need a pay TV subscription.

Just substitute ESPN here for FOX. There’s even team specific packages. MLB TV had over 3 Million Subscribers. If the ACC could just get 500,000 full subscribers at $100 a year for a Digital Channel that’s $50,000,000.

That is the most likely thing. The downside — in addition to fans having to shell out extra just for an ACC package — is that it makes it harder to grow popularity of the ACC teams if they are more limited in where they appear. To say nothing of being able to get together with friends in a bar to watch some of the games if they aren’t on the Mouse Monopoly.

Still, it could be worse. You could be stuck with the Big 12’s limitations or the continuing problems for the Pac-12 getting their channels shown.

They have come on board at a time of growing frustration with the Pac-12 Networks and the number of night games, and they are made aware of the issues by athletic department personnel that itself is frustrated and deals weekly with frustrated fans and donors.

The pivot point, in my estimation, came in early September, when Scott was furiously attempting to cut a deal for Pac-12 Networks carriage on DirecTV. The window he had waited for – AT&T’s purchase of the satellite carrier — had seemingly created an opportunity to jump-start the negotiations and reach an agreement. Scott cut the best deal he could and took it to the CEOs …

And it was rejected by an 11-0 vote, with one abstention (Washington State).

Eleven. To. Nothing.

The best deal Scott could get.

The situation left many wondering why Scott even bothered to ask the CEOs for approval in the first place. Didn’t he realize it was a bad deal for the campuses? Was he that desperate to save face, to close a deal with DTV to salvage his Pac12Nets? Did he understand the ramifications for the membership? (Scott told me he felt obligated to take the deal to the CEOs for a vote.)

Frustration is real and ubiquitous on the front lines, and the conference office is a few months away from I would term a nightmare scenario: Fans within the footprint being unable to watch football games on the Pac12Nets because of the push to regional programming.

As much as I hated how many of the Pitt basketball games ended up only streamed on ESPN3, it beats not being able to watch at all.

Thanks Chas…

Comment by Reed 04.29.16 @ 8:29 am

PN push against satellite camps stems from the cost to put them on. Pitt does not have the finances to conduct their own satellite camps in the SE where the bulk of the talent is located.
Those schools with the finances can set up for a couple of days and mine the abundant talent that exceeds the scholarship offers of the local schools.

Comment by Spindler's Spirit 04.29.16 @ 8:32 am

It appears we now know how Ole Miss got so much talent all of a sudden. They pay the players in the SEC. Cam Newton, now this guy.

The NCAA is a lost cause, they are part of the cover up.

In basketball they use the AAU as the bag man.

The NCAA should ban the satellite camps, but it will never happen.

Five tOSU players drafted in the first round Reed, still think there is no correlation?

Comment by gc 04.29.16 @ 8:46 am

So is there a correlation between great recruiting and money? Thirty years ago I was told by a Golden Panther, that Pitt could no longer compete with the Big Boys because our Alumni was not as big and did not have the cash to compete with those that did. It is called the bottom line. Combine that with the will to win at any cost (breaking the rules or in Harbaugh’s case, making the rules) competing for Championships is more of an uphill battle than many think.

Comment by gc 04.29.16 @ 8:58 am

How many classes do you think Tunsil attended?

Comment by gc 04.29.16 @ 9:00 am

When do you think PSU will hold it’s first satellite camp in Pittsburgh?

Comment by gc 04.29.16 @ 9:01 am

There are tons of great players left for today.
The Heisman trophy winner still on the board.

Comment by gc 04.29.16 @ 9:17 am

He may have offered on his own, but I believe Narduzzi was asked the question.

He’s not in favor of them. Ya, PSU, OSU and whoever have enough money that they could do it, and the impact would be minimal to Pitt, only because those schools can be here everyday recruiting anyhow and have the upper hand anyway.

But someone asked him a question, he gave an answer.

All depends on where you stand in relation to a situation doesn’t it??

One could say, “what’s the big deal with satellite camps, why are you bitchin’ about them and against them?”.


“what’s the big deal with NOT having satellite camps, why are you bitchin’ about NOT having them and are FOR them”

What’s in it for me, ehhhh?

Comment by Dan 04.29.16 @ 10:08 am

With 28 boys raped at a cost to us taxpayers of $98 million and growing, satellite camps and paying players is part of THE PENN STATE WAY. Franklin already brags about how they can give more stipend “aid” than Pitt. Anyone notice a Ped State player was charged with indecent assault? Paying players at Ped State would be nothing to be shocked about.

Thanks Chas for the info on camps and the “network”.

Comment by rkb 04.29.16 @ 10:11 am

College sports are minor leagues for the pros much more than in the past. Money has always been a factor but now it is THE factor.

Comment by Frank MD 04.29.16 @ 11:26 am

What amazes me is that even spending and having more money than God big schools do not have success every year. There are many who manage to screw the pooch much more than Pitt!
I guess it’s like MLB, big bucks does not guarentee success but makes it easier to obtain. Small market teams have to be smarter and often luckier.
Big schools with big alum bases make major mistakes. Historic doormat teams, like TCU and Baylor can have success with commitment and UT can have all the bucks and still screw up!
Also, pay for play has always been the standard in college. Like it or not those great Jock Sutherland teams were comprised of a lot of pay for play guys. Even before that with Pop Warner. How bout the Gipper? Always was always will be. Let’s not act like NCAA is at fault!
Only difference is the payers have shifted to south and southwest along with population and talent. Oil money, energy money, construction money, all shift the power. To compete you must be smarter.

Comment by JoeKnew 04.29.16 @ 11:44 am

gc – correlation to what? I’m the guy who said that I don’t think we’d win a national championship unless we cheated which I don’t believe we will do. And if we resort to that then I turn my attention and energy elsewhere and leave Pitt football behind.

But I don’t get your pointing to OSU and five players drafted then asking me that question. I also never said that it was a bad thing to have guys in the NFL – I just don’t really care about that part of it all that much. McCoy played well for us – I don’t follow him in the NFL at all. Once the player leaves Pitt I hope he does well and stays out of trouble.

I care way more about the Pitt players who play football here and graduate and become good and successful citizens. I care way more about our current 4th string QB while he’s at Pitt than I do about Tino Sunseri’s professional career… or Revis, or anyone else. I hope they do well but I’m just not that interested because it is a world away from college football.

It is very obvious to me that you view Pitt football differently than I do. I am not a win at all cost guy – apparently you might be. I’m way more of an idealist and want college football to be rewarding and positive for those involved including us fans, and not just a cash cow for the apparel companies and the universities.

Which is also why I don’t give a shit about the NFL – not the Steelers, Ravens, etc… I just don’t care about that.

Comment by Reed 04.29.16 @ 5:05 pm

“Which is also why I don’t give a shit about the NFL – not the Steelers, Ravens, etc… I just don’t care about that.”

I think you’re missing out then, there is still real drama and players and fans having fun and all that in the NFL. When the games are being played. All the reality shows and tweets and specials and the draft I couldn’t care less about, I want to watch good football games. I understand if you can’t just ignore all the extraneous stuff but I’m pretty happy watching the NFL for the sport of it, which still does exist is what I’m saying.

Comment by deepelemblues 04.30.16 @ 3:36 pm

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