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May 23, 2014

All About the Money

Filed under: Athletic Department,Bowls,Football,Money — Chas @ 7:43 am

Year one in the ACC was a mixed bag for football and basketball. The teams finished about where they were expected before the season began. How they ended up there, made it feel like it could have been better.

What isn’t in dispute is that the money was a lot better right from the start.

Pitt’s annual share is about $17 million.

After almost a full year in the new conference, where has that money gone? Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said he decided to put it in the hands of the people who knew best what various sports needed to be successful.

“Basically, what we did at this point with additional revenue is we’ve let the coaches put that into their recruiting budgets and their travel and competition budgets,” Pederson said in a meeting with reporters earlier this month.

“We tried to make sure that our coaches had enough money to recruit the way they felt they needed to recruit, and so they got significant increases in their recruiting budgets — some cases more than others — then also in their travel and competition budgets so that they could go to meets and games that they needed to play or bring teams in here that they wanted to play.”

The money also has, at least partially, allowed Pitt to make capital improvements to facilities for its flagship sports. This summer, the men’s and women’s basketball team areas in Petersen Events Center are undergoing a renovation. The football weight room at Pitt’s South Side facility also is getting a significant expansion.

And I’m sure some is being set aside for the eventual increase in the total cost of scholarships if the stipend or other methods are passed for the major conferences.

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May 20, 2014

The watch lists for college sports awards are more than a little waste of time. They either are too big to be useful or they simply take the best returning players at the position from last year and slap them on the list. For the most part, I don’t even waste time posting on a preseason watchlist any longer.

The Rimington Trophy belongs in the former category. The award goes to the best center in college football. Artie Rowell made the list. Which he should, given that it has 64 names on it. That’s more than half the teams playing 1-A football. Frankly, I’m a little concerned about the quality of centers in the ACC when only 8 of the 14 starting centers could make a watchlist this big.

I have no idea if the deal to expand the seating in Heinz Field by 3000 seats — in the South Plaza — will result in yet more reshuffling and reduction in parking around the stadium. At this point, though, I just assume that will happen since every other “improvement” to the fan experience at Heinz Field has been to reduce surface lots and tailgating.

Oh, hey, a new HD scoreboard as well. Swell.

One of Pitt football’s associate team physicians (he’s also an assistant professor at Pitt’s Center for Sports Medicine, but I’m focusing on the important thing) gets quoted about breathe-right nasal strips in relation to a story on horse racing.

Yes, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel for news.

Good luck with those Wing Stops, Shawntae Spencer. At least it isn’t a BW3. I guess.

 

May 16, 2014

Other Basketball Things

Filed under: Basketball,Coaches,Dixon,Money — Chas @ 7:42 am

So, the ACC is going to experiment with a 30 second shot clock in exhibition games this year.

“Our coaches and ADs both felt it would be an enhancement to the game in today’s world,” Swofford said. “It adds more possessions and potentially would speed up the game.”

NCAA men’s teams have used a 35-second shot clock since the 1993-94 season.

Swofford said league coaches submitted the proposal to the athletic directors during the spring meetings, and the athletic directors embraced the idea. The ACC would give its feedback on the use of the 30-second shot clock to the men’s basketball rules committee.

“That’s where the game is headed,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon told ESPN’s Andy Katz at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. “We want to be ahead of the game. We want to provide data and see what it’s like.”

Presumably, Coach Dixon is at the NBA draft combine to support Lamar Patterson.

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August 16, 2013

Hounding Autographs

Filed under: Fans,Football,Money — Chas @ 8:12 am

After the age of 13, I can’t say I’ve cared too much for autographed items. I have a few things tucked away that I have been given or came into. Waiting in line for an autograph, however, let alone the idea of paying money for it. No. It’s just never been a thing for me. To this day the whole concept of the market for signed memorabilia and pictures of players, is a bit odd. Autograph shows blow my mind. I guess like comic books and baseball cards, it is some part of our childhood that some people just do not let go. Just when you get older and have your own money you can spend it on those things.

With that, the whole Johnny Manziel autograph scandal-story (and the issue of his eligibility)  has spooked colleges as the season approaches.

Louisville has forbidden players from signing autographs, replacing its annual event with an open practice. Texas A&M will not allow players to sign anything but specially designed autograph cards.

At West Virginia, officials took no chances last Sunday when players and coaches signed autographs for two hours. The school provided autograph sheets, posters and NCAA compliance handouts outlining regulations prohibiting the sale of items bearing the name of the athletes.

That presumes, though, that the WVU fan is capable of reading.

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July 28, 2013

Nary a Bubble in Rights Fees

Filed under: Media,Money,TV — Chas @ 9:30 am

If it wasn’t for live sports, I’d probably be a cord cutter. It isn’t that I dislike stuff on TV. Far from it. I watch plenty. It’s just that it is all time-shifted and when I get around to it. I’m not overly concerned about being at the water-cooler discussing last night’s Archer.There’s stuff over 2 years old on my DVR that I still haven’t gotten around to watching (no spoilers for the season/series finale of Awake, please). So between on-demand subscription services and the ever-dropping prices of series on DVDs, the wife and I could easily save money and drop DirecTV. But for sports.

People like me are the reason those rights fees keep rising. It is mostly immune to time-shifting which means sitting through ads, promos and everything else. In light of the recent spate of new rights deals for college sports programming. Along with the new FoxSports1 and their negotiations for carriage. Well it means cable/satellite TV rates keep going up.

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July 27, 2013

Random Link Clearance

Filed under: Conference,Money — Chas @ 9:36 am

Okay, time for links I just found interesting. Some related to Pitt. Some just about college football generally. Some of it stuff to put in the back of your mind for later:

Mike Morgan, a former Panther O-lineman is now the headcoach at Plum High School. He had been on Terry Smith’s staff at Gateway. He’s got work to do.

Morgan faces a major rebuilding job. Plum, which plays in the WPIAL’s ultra-competitive Class AAAA Southeastern Conference, has not won a game in nearly two years. The Mustangs will enter the season on a 16-game losing streak. Their previous win came against Kittanning in the second game of the 2011 season. A season ago, the Mustangs scored only 69 points and lost all but one of their games by at least 28 points.

Yeesh. Good luck, dude.

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July 24, 2013

Plans For D4

Filed under: Conference,Money — Chas @ 1:37 pm

In a previous post I said there were a couple themes running through every major conference media day. The other theme was the idea of the major conferences sort of splitting off from the rest of the 1-A.

They wouldn’t leave the NCAA. Oh, heavens no. They want that protection. They want to give their fans, media, and the courts that pinata to pin all the blame on when trouble hits. But they want to have a different division that appreciates their unique status.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said Monday the next six months are “very important” to the future of the NCAA and predicted that significant structural and governance changes could be implemented at the governing body’s annual convention in January.

Among the changes up for discussion would be the formation of a so-called “super division” that would allow athletic departments with high-revenue football programs to make some of their own rules and implement things like athlete stipends. Many of those initiatives have been blocked by lower-revenue programs, which make up the majority of the NCAA.

This echoes the comments from Mike Slive of the SEC and Bob Bowlsby at the Big 12.

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July 22, 2013

But the Money’s All Right

Filed under: ACC,Conference,Money — Chas @ 10:56 am

Sorry. Busy weekend, and we had a big deluge that kept internet access wonky. Completely out for the last 12 hours, aside from my cell service. But it’s back now, and it will be catch-up time with recruiting, good stories and the whole ACC Media Days.

This, though is worth sharing right away.

Huge. Most of the time — and it was so for BC, VT and Miami when they joined — you don’t get a full share right away. They slowly give you the cut. Like

Louisville will also get a full cut when they join next year.

July 19, 2013

I would have hoped people would understand this after the last ten years of the Big East, but now I have to put on a condescending tone and talk down to people. Not really. No. Well… maybe a few.

Bowl games are meaningless. There are so many now that they have lost their meaning. They are just exhibition games. Unless it’s a playoff/BCS bowl, who cares. I think we all know old man complaints. But woe unto the coach that doesn’t get their team into a bowl game. And by god, it better be one in a good location. So, yes, bowl games have reproduced to absurd levels when over half the 1-A programs go bowling. Yet they still matter despite the contradictions and complaints. So be it.

Among the — now — 5 major conferences, it is not unreasonable to say that the ACC has the weakest bowl line-up. Here’s the reality. There is nothing the ACC can do about it.

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June 13, 2013

Last week the ACC put out its match-ups for the next twelve years. Predictably there was some teeth-gnashing by fans of programs in the ACC over the infrequency of many of the opponents from the other division. It’s one thing to know that it would be like that with an 8-game schedule and 14 teams. It’s something else to see it laid out in an official release.

The Virginia Tech blog, The Key Play has a proposal on the scheduling that does away with fixed cross-over games in favor of priority partner scheduling.

A priority partner would be chosen for each team every two years, and result in a home-and-home series. Priority partners would be determined by closely matching teams according to total number of regular season ACC wins in the previous two years, while avoiding permanent crossover pairings. The following example uses 2011 and 2012 ACC wins to set the schedule in 2014-2015 (because 2013 games haven’t happened yet).

It’s an interesting idea because it is a bit like the approach taken in the Big East with basketball scheduling. Unbalanced schedules in Big East basketball set to maximize competition and make TV partners happy with marquee games.

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June 10, 2013

In case you weren’t already aware of this, there won’t be an ACC Network for at least 3 or 4 years. There are some issues to overcome. There is a whole infrastructure to set up. Even the SEC Network that has been announced was more than two years in the works.

For the ACC, there are some added layers that complicate thing. Such as their deal with Raycom.

The Sports Business Daily did a fine — if somewhat pessimistic piece — detailing the hurdles to a ACC Network.

The main roadblock is rights. When it signed its ACC deal in 2010, ESPN and Charlotte-based Raycom Sports cut a deal that grants Raycom the ACC’s digital and corporate sponsorship rights, plus a heavy dose of live football and basketball games. Through a sublicensing agreement, Raycom owns the rights to 31 live football games and 60 live men’s basketball games.

Even if the conference is able to buy back those rights from Raycom, a second roadblock remains. Raycom sublicensed 17 of those football games and 25 of those basketball games to Fox, which carries the games on its regional sports networks throughout the ACC footprint. Live local sports programming is important to Fox’s RSNs, and they are not likely to give up those games cheaply.

The games that stay with Raycom make up the ACC’s long-running syndicated package that is distributed to more than 50 million households on over-the-air networks, and reaches 25 of the top 50 U.S. TV markets.

Those deals extend through 2027.

It’s unlikely that ESPN will try to launch a channel without those rights. ESPN brought all of those rights — TV, digital, sponsorship — together as it formed the SEC Network, which launches in August 2014.

That’s because a syndicated model that the ACC follows (and the SEC had been operating) really doesn’t work when you want your own channel.

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May 19, 2013

Oh, so many choices.

Let’s get target one out of the way: Steve Pederson.

Fifth-highest paid was athletic director Steve Pederson. His total compensation of $844,008 included base pay of $500,161, bonus and incentive compensation of $283,333, other reportable compensation of $10,674, retirement and other deferred compensation of $35,525 and $14,315 in non-taxable benefits.

Now due to the quirk in the state  of public records (read: insane lobbying to keep as such; treatment of Temple, Lincoln, PSU and Pitt in terms of Pennsylvania open records laws), it isn’t the easiest thing to compare. Still, it is a good roughing tool thanks to the USA Today databases. The AD salary surveys has Pederson’s total compensation lower which is important. The USA Today survey is an excellent resource but it is hardly perfect.

The USA Today survey puts Pederson in the top-40.  But the tax reporting suggests closer to top-20. Now before you fly off the handle, please keep in mind that if the differential between what the USA Today survey found for Pederson versus what Pitt ultimately reported then it is safe to assume that there are some more discrepancies in the list. That said, we can safely assume his pay rate is somewhere in the top-30 for ADs.

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April 23, 2013

The Grant of Rights put in place by the ACC does not stop expansiopocolypse. It does, however, severely slow it down and minimize it. The movement in the next five to ten years will almost entirely be by conferences and programs below the Big Five.

Oh, sure, it’s possible at some point that the Big 12 feels it has no choice but to actually go to 12, at which time it goes for Cinci and BYU or some other team from the Mountain West (Boise St.). And it is conceivable that the Big Ten could go to Mizzou and say, yeah, come into our playground — since the SEC does not have any exit fees or penalties.

And, yes, there is always a chance that some program locked into a Grant of Rights might mount a legal challenge. But unlike a challenge to an exit fee like Maryland is engaged, losing the challenge to a Grant of Rights contract is much bigger. Even if a challenge to the ACC Grant of Rights came with five years left (2023), the potential loss by the school challenging is $100 million. Not many schools are going to make that gamble.

But that is about it. Things are relatively locked in right now. There will be no easy way for the major conferences to poach teams from each other while the Grant of Rights (GoR) are in place. The Big 12 is at 10. The Big Ten will be 14.

As usual there is more to the story than mere stability.

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April 22, 2013

That’s been a big part of my summer posting for the last few years. How? How? How do they expect me to fill that gap if this is happening? What’s left?

The ACC is expected to announce a Grant of Rights agreement among its 15 members as early to today, CBSSports.com has learned.

ACC presidents are in the process of clearing this with their departments. The agreement will go to 2026-27, the duration of the league’s contract with ESPN. The deal is not official just yet but, barring an unforseen snag, will be completed.

Unless a league member decides to go to litigation to escape this down the road, the ACC believes a Grant of Rights will protect it from conference realignment poachers.

The North Carolina-based David Glenn Show reported the news Monday afternoon.

And all news outlets are saying their sources are saying the same thing. And unlike the raised exit fee issue from last year — where FSU and Maryland voted against it — this one is unanimous in the ACC.

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March 16, 2013

More like the after-affects and details of expansiopocolypse.

How badly did the Big 10 want the Baltimore/DC market for the Big Ten Network Maryland? Enough to sweeten the pot for Maryland by subsidizing their looming jump in travel costs.

Since financial details of the agreement are kept private — the amount of the subsidy is not publicly available. But the amount is in the range of $20 million to $30 million, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Maryland got the subsidy after assessing the travel-cost implications of leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference, its home for 60 years.

The cost of sending its teams halfway across the country — as far away as Lincoln, Neb. (1,201 miles), and Iowa City, Iowa (905 miles) — was projected by the school to approximately double its travel budget.

Wow. Jim Delany really wanted to get back at John Swofford for the Notre Dame arrangement. That is a hell of a deal. It isn’t clear if it will be a lump sum or an annual subsidy.

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