POSTED: March 1, 2024

Pac-12/Big 12 Notes

Pac-12/Big 12 Notes – Postseason

March 10th

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College Football attendance highest since 2017; CU leads Power Five in increased attendance

From CBS Sports … College football attendance increased in 2023 by a number that’s likely equivalent to the crowd attending an average game-day tailgate: 27. It’s small growth but a rise nonetheless as the average attendance ticked up from 41,840 fans per game in 2022 to 41,867 last season.

That rise continues to shatter long-standing fallacies. In court filings the past few years, the NCAA has preached that player compensation would be the death of the amateur model. As a result, fans would stop watching and attending games. Rollicking tailgates would be reduced to Kool-Aid socials!

Well, drink up, loyal tailgaters. The truth has proved to be the exact opposite.

The 2023 attendance figure is college football’s highest since 2017, based on official NCAA records. In fact, FBS attendance has risen across consecutive seasons for the first time since 2008. Not since the all-time record of 46,971 fans per game that same year has the sport been more popular in the stands and the living room. TV ratings last season were arguably the highest ever, depending on preferred metrics.

In 2022, average attendance rose for the first time in eight years. The per-game increase of 1,992 fans was the second-highest in history, and it also contributed to the largest year-over-year increase in 40 years. (The NCAA has been keeping attendance figures since 1978.)

Attendance changes by conference

SEC77, 154+0.63Highest since ’16
Big Ten66, 589-0.102nd-highest since ’14
Big 1255, 115-7.82nd-lowest since ’00
ACC48, 962+0.05Highest since ’16
Pac-1248, 790+9.7Highest since ’17
Independents35,473+4.7Up consecutively for first time since ’14
AAC24,100-14.72nd-lowest ever*
MWC23, 223+2.73rd-lowest ever*
C-USA15,860-18.0Lowest ever
Sun Belt20,838+8.67Highest ever
MAC14,055-1.40Lowest since ’91

* Since inception of the American (2013), Mountain West (1999)

The on-field product on our treasured fall Saturdays has triumphed over any off-field distractions. Few care if Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders drives a Maybach or Florida State’s Jordan Travis’ NIL value last season was well over $1 million. (D.J. Uiagalelei is currently rated No. 1 in NIL valuation at FSU.)

All that matters is whether the team is winning.

On-field success helped Florida State enjoy a similar attendance boost up to a nation-leading increase of 11,457 fans per game. It was a comeback of another kind during an undefeated regular season and ACC championship victory. Just four years ago, FSU had posted its lowest average attendance (54,019) since 1999.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders played a big role in both the attendance and ratings increases across the board. Having come off a 1-11 season, the Coach Prime-led Buffaloes accounted for four of the top 25 highest-rated games last season. That interest peaked when 10 million viewers watched the Sept. 23 clash at Oregon.

In the stands, Colorado sold out all its home games for the first time. Attendance in Boulder was up more than 30% from 2022, leading all Power Five schools. Folsom Field was filled to 105% of its capacity (53,180), the highest average in program history. As Sanders himself would say: “You know where to find me.”

Attendance superlatives

  • The Pac-12 led the FBS with a 9.7% attendance increase per game in the conference’s last year of existence as we’ve known it. The average of 48,790 was the league’s highest figure since 2017. Five of the top 10 increases among Power Five schools — by percentage — were from the Pac-12: Oregon State, Colorado, UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford.
  • The SEC and ACC each posted their highest average attendance since 2016.
  • For the 25th consecutive year, it was the SEC leading the country in attendance among its peer conferences.
  • Michigan led the country in attendance for the ninth straight year and 26th out of the last 27 seasons.
  • The top 13 in attendance were all Big Ten and SEC members.
  • The SEC’s total attendance in 2023 (7,715,363) was more than the entire Group of Five combined (7,492,672). The SEC is up 6% over the last two seasons.

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March 11th

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Automatic byes for Big Ten/SEC in 14-team playoff format losing steam

From ESPN … College Football Playoff leaders are inching closer to a 14-team playoff for the 2026 season, but sources have indicated that the proposed idea of the SEC and Big Ten champions receiving guaranteed byes is starting to lose some steam among conference commissioners following public backlash.

It’s likely the details of the 14-team format aren’t determined in advance of the TV contract, which sources said remains on target to be done in the coming weeks. CFP leaders want to ensure they are aligned on revenue distribution and CFP governance before signing the TV deal, and they have had multiple meetings and calls recently to make progress in both areas.

While there continues to be support for a 14-team field starting in 2026, discussions about how teams should qualify for the CFP remain a sticking point. Commissioners are still debating whether conferences should have automatic qualifiers and, if so, how many for each. ESPN recently reported that the Big Ten and SEC had asked that their respective conference champions receive the only two byes in a 14-team field — an unpopular proposal that was met with significant pushback.

“Automatic first-round byes for the Big Ten and SEC is like the NFL saying the Cowboys get a first-round bye since they have more fans than the Bengals,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN last week. “How preposterous is that?”

Sources cautioned that as long as the format is up for debate, all options will be considered but that “some things will be punted” until after the TV deal is done. It’s possible that CFP leaders will wait to see how the 12-team format unfolds this season, but sources have indicated they would like a resolution sooner than later.

The CFP will use a 12-team format for the first time in the 2024 season. The five highest-ranked conference champions will earn a guaranteed spot, followed by the next seven highest-ranked teams. The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive a first-round bye. The 12-team playoff will continue for the 2025 season.

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March 8th

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Friday Night Lights: Fox to feature weekly prime-time game, starting this season

From The Athletic … Fox Sports will feature a Friday prime-time college football game on its broadcast network each week beginning this season, the network is set to announce, a source with direct knowledge of the network’s plans told The Athletic.

The games will emanate from the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Mountain West. The first matchup is still to be determined because the television schedule, coordinated with the other networks, does not take place until May. The move further concentrates the network around football with Friday night and Saturday centered on the college game and Sunday featuring the NFL.

Fox still intends to showcase its biggest game of the week Saturday during its “Big Noon Kickoff” spotlight.

The regular Friday night games were largely anticipated after Fox did not renew the rights for WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown. Fox Sports executives believe the college game will produce higher ratings than WWE.

WWE, though, is 52 weeks of the year, while college football extends for a little more than three months.

Fox’s goal is to have the No. 1 college football game on Fridays and Saturdays and then the top-rated NFL contests on Sunday afternoons, the network’s president of insight and analytics Michael Mulvihill said. The extension of college football into a regular Friday prime-time broadcast means that in the fall, the top NFL and college games will be featured every night of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday.

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March 7th

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Sports Illustrated on Big Ten/SEC Alliance: Next-level gluttony – and next-level cowardice

From Sports Illustrated … Way back at the beginning of February, when news first broke about the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference forming a “joint advisory board” to address pressing issues in college sports, the leaders of the two leagues wanted people to know: This isn’t a power play. It was simply an aligning of leaders in the two most powerful conferences to try to steer the enterprise through the turbulent waters of our time.

There was no intent to secede from the NCAA, they said. No intent to walk away from their fellow Division I conferences—particularly the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast, the other two power leagues. Don’t go jumping to paranoid conclusions. Trust us. Really. We want what’s best for everyone.

Such innocent times those were, way back on Feb. 2.

Four weeks later, the Big Ten and SEC are acting like the robber barons they claimed not to be.

There was news Wednesday that a proposed expansion of the College Football Playoff from 12 to 14 teams was circulating that included at least three guaranteed bids for the Big Ten and SEC, with two for the ACC and Big 12 and one for a Group of 5 team. And here’s the thing: That was a step back from the initial idea broached by Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti of four automatic bids each for his league and SEC. That was obnoxious.

Then came Thursday, when more news leaked of the CFP proposals under discussion for 2026 and beyond. Sources confirm to Sports Illustrated that the latest push, for a 14-team playoff format that would give the top two teams byes and pit the other 12 in first-round games, the Big Ten and SEC want the byes guaranteed for their leagues. Yahoo Sports first reported the proposal.

This is next-level gluttony. And next-level cowardice.

The two most powerful conferences in America are scared to compete. They want to begin every season with advantages built in—the most bids, the easiest playoff path—without proving it on the field. They might well end up with those benefits, but at least earn them. Instead, the richest of the rich want the biggest tax breaks.

Predictably and understandably, most of the rest of college football is appalled. This is unchecked greed in action, a further mocking of competitive balance and a nationally cohesive sport. It’s crass and offensive and unapologetically so.

If you’re the ACC, there is every reason to be outraged. That conference produced five top-two seeds in the four-team playoff era, the second most of any league. The SEC had eight, most of any conference (nine if you count future member Oklahoma Sooners). The Big Ten had four (six if you count future members Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies). The Big 12 had one, but none going forward after the departures of Oklahoma and the Texas Longhorns.

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March 5th

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EA Sports at over 10,000 “opt-ins” for video game

From ESPN … More than 10,000 college football players have already opted in for EA Sports College Football 25, the new EA Sports video game set to launch this summer, which will feature the athletes and pay them through a name, image and likeness deal.

EA Sports reached 10,000 opt-ins Friday night, just eight days after opening the process to players at FBS programs, a spokesman for the company told ESPN. Each player who opts in to have their name, image and likeness used will receive $600 and a copy of the game, valued at around $70.

By surpassing 10,000 opt-ins, EA Sports has reached 87% of its goal for the game, which will feature teams with 85-man rosters.

“The response to the athlete opt-in opportunity for EA Sports College Football 25 has been phenomenal,” Daryl Holt, senior vice president and group general manager for EA Sports’ Tiburon Studios and American football division, said in a statement to ESPN. “In the little over one week, over 10,000 athletes across the FBS have opted-in to the offer with more saying ‘yes’ every hour. We’re excited to welcome more athletes in the weeks ahead and to debut this first class of athletes in the game when it launches this summer.”

The company spokesman told ESPN that more than 100 of college football’s most recognizable players have opted in during the past week, including Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter, Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Georgia quarterback Carson Beck, Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe and Oregon quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

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CBS “24 Things for Spring” includes keeping an eye on Coach Prime

From CBS Sports … It’s been less than two months since we last left college football on the field. In the void, the suits and stakeholders have done their best to redirect the spotlight away from the beloved game.

The NCAA continues to sink in the mud. NIL contracts outshine full-contact drills. Unionization and revenue sharing are on the table. FBS commissioners are squabbling over an expanded College Football Playoff that debuts 34 months from now. It takes a law degree to cover college football these days.

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the game itself. Attendance continues to climb. Last season might have been the most-watched in college football history.

Here’s to hoping spring football gives us some relief so we can focus on position battles, depth charts, folding chairs and Styrofoam coolers full of adult beverages. This time of year is supposed to be a laidback approach to getting fired up for the fall.

Here’s why …

1. Playoff goal: Everything changes the moment teams hit the field for spring practice. There is unprecedented hope for scores more schools. “Success” has been redefined with the playoff field tripling to 12 teams. That provides more attainable goals to schools like Ole Miss, Missouri, Arizona and Oklahoma State — programs coming off good seasons that seldom, if ever, compete for a national titles. Duplicate last season, and they would be in (or nearly in) a 12-team playoff. Hey, someone has to win the Big 12. Coaches in the Sun Belt and Conference USA can now legitimately look their players in the eye and say, “We can play for a championship.” None of that is a bad thing. In fact, it will be exhilarating.

9. Head games: Expect widespread use of helmet communications this spring as teams integrate the technology for the first time. The NCAA Football Rules Committee is awaiting approval of its proposed use of the helmet comms beginning this season. That should come in April. The average fan won’t notice this change — other than a reduction in those huge, random play cards and some quarterbacks staring at the sideline before snaps — but the game continues to be streamlined to more resemble the NFL.

15. Toothless NCAA: The next portal window is April 15-30, right in the middle of spring practice for a lot of schools. There will be players who enter spring as a starter, go through a position battle, lose it and end up transferring all in the space of spring practice. (All of it without transfer restrictions, thanks to recent litigation.) Influencing that movement is a recent preliminary injunction in the Tennessee that loosens NIL restrictions. NCAA enforcement has paused investigations on that issue. Player movement is basically unfettered.

18. Pour one out for the Pac-12 … or welcome to the first spring of what the latest round of realignment has wrought. Minus one incredibly mismanaged major conference, it is now a Power FourElsewhere, the latest consolidation of conferences has meant the migration of 14 schools to other leagues in FBS. That includes 10 Pac-12 schools being scattered to the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. For the first time, all the power conferences have at least 16 teams. That would be a nice, tidy package if some entity or another (hint, hint — NFL) would want to buy and separate it from the NCAA. As for the late, great Pac-12? Its diminished network will actually be visiting the 12 campuses for spring practice coverage. Why?

24. Prime in Year 2: Deion Sanders’ September was one of the most significant months in the game’s history: crowds, headlines, hype, bling, smack. But all of it was short lived, and we must reassess Colorado and Coach Prime going into 2024. In the end, CU finished last in the Pac-12, lost their final six games and improved by only three games to 4-8. Prime relied less on the portal this time around, landing Jordan Seaton, a five-star offensive lineman who as the No. 13 high school player in the country. Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter return, but until and unless Prime improves his lines on both sides of the ball, this remake will be delayed.

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March 4th 

No Holds Barred: NCAA halts NIL violation investigations

From ESPN … Following another courtroom loss, the NCAA has halted investigations into booster-backed collectives or other third parties making name, image and likeness compensation deals with Division I athletes.

In a letter to member schools Friday, NCAA president Charlie Baker said the Division I board of directors directed enforcement staff “to pause and not begin investigations involving third-party participation in NIL-related activities.”

The move comes a week after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia. The antitrust suit challenges NCAA rules against recruiting inducements, saying they inhibit athletes’ ability to cash in on their celebrity and fame.

“There will be no penalty for conduct that occurs consistent with the injunction while the injunction is in place,” Baker wrote. “I agree with this decision, while the progress toward long-term solutions is underway and while we await discussions with the attorneys general. In circumstances that are less than ideal, this at least gives the membership notice of the board’s direction related to enforcement.”

The judge’s decision had prompted speculation about whether the NCAA would make a long-shot appeal as it fights to maintain its decades-long amateurism model for athletes in the face of rapid change. Baker noted that three specific policies involving NIL compensation remain in place and will be enforced, including prohibitions on schools directly paying athletes and any payment or compensation being tied specifically to athletic performance.

The move was not a surprise.

“The NCAA is essentially saying we’re not going to do something that’s been deemed illegal,” said Joshua Lens, a former attorney and college athletics administrator who is now an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas.

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March 1st

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Big 12 coaches opposed to proposed 14-team format: “We need to let the teams decide it on the field and reward those who are most deserving”

From ESPN … The College Football Playoff hasn’t unveiled its first 12-team field yet, but discussions on a 14-team competition beginning in 2026 are already raising eyebrows among Big 12 and ACC coaches.

In the 12-team playoff structure, the five highest-ranked conference champions are guaranteed a spot in the bracket and the four highest-ranked conference winners will earn a first-round bye. But multiple sources told ESPN that one 14-team model that’s currently being considered includes provisions for the SEC and Big Ten to get three automatic qualifiers each — and the only two byes for their conference champions.

“Automatic first-round byes for the Big Ten and SEC is like the NFL saying the Cowboys get a first-round bye since they have more fans than the Bengals,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told ESPN. “How preposterous is that?”

Dykes’ 2022 Horned Frogs, the Big 12 runner-up, beat Big Ten champion Michigan in a CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl. Under this proposal, Michigan would have a bye as the league’s champion.

Coaches don’t have the power to change the format; that lies with their respective commissioners and ultimately the presidents and chancellors on the CFP board. Their feedback, though, is part of the process along with that of athletic directors and university presidents. Sources have cautioned that nothing is done yet, but several coaches told ESPN they aren’t fans of this new proposal.

“A playoff format that guarantees a first-round bye to any team, division or conference before the season starts is unheard of in any sport as far as I’m aware,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Friday. “Based on the premise proposed, a team could be undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country and still not receive a first-round bye because teams were awarded one before the season even began.”

A source told ESPN this week that balancing the desires of the power wielded by the SEC and Big Ten with their combined 34 teams is a delicate juggling act.

“The balance in the room is how to recognize contributions of the Big Ten and SEC while also being fair and collaborative to the collective room,” the source said.

That naturally includes revenue, with sources saying the SEC and Big Ten could earn between 25% and 30% of CFP revenue. The ACC and Big 12 would follow with between 15% and 20%. That leaves a smaller chunk — somewhere around 6% to 10% for the other leagues and nearly 1% for Notre Dame.

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14-team Playoff Model: Is 3-3-2-2-1 a good deal for Big 12? Or a ticket to permanent second-class status?

From The Athletic …  Most of the headlines accompanying the recent discussion of a 14-team College Football Playoff have focused on the Big Ten and the SEC, and understandably so. The two most influential conferences’ consideration of a model in which they receive three automatic qualifying spots each and both first-round byes in a 3-3-2-2-1 AQ format is an unprecedented and obvious power play.

But the fate of the CFP may actually hinge on the other two Power 4 conferences. Only the ACC and the Big 12 had any real power to push back on the initial suggestions of as many as four automatic qualifying spots for the Big Ten and SEC.

Now it’s the ACC and Big 12 with the toughest decisions to make. In the 3-3-2-2-1 model, those two conferences have the most to gain and the most to lose. In exchange for more guaranteed CFP access, they would solidify themselves as second-class conferences. That’s an offer on the table (among other options, yes, but this model has gained the most traction, according to sources familiar with the discussions).

It’s not hard to see why two guaranteed CFP spots each could be appealing to the ACC and Big 12. In 2023, the leagues had just one team from each of their future memberships finish in the top 14 of the College Football Playoff rankings: Florida State (ACC) and Arizona (Big 12). Under this model, the last team left out of a 14-team field last year would’ve been LSU, which finished 13th; meanwhile, Louisville (15th) and Oklahoma State (20th) would have made the cut. In many years, the ACC and the Big 12 could get teams outside the top 14 into the field, likely at the expense of a higher-ranked Big Ten or SEC team.

But there’s the other side of that deal, which requires the ACC and Big 12 to relegate themselves to lesser-than status, admitting that the Big Ten and the SEC are better conferences that deserve more guaranteed spots, more guaranteed money and the only byes. That would still leave them ahead of the Group of 5, yes, but the Power-2/Middle-2 disparity would be an extremely hard sell to fans, many of whom feel insulted that this tiered model is even being discussed. And if you’re the ACC trying to keep Florida State and Clemson from leaving, the admission that more postseason opportunity lies elsewhere definitely doesn’t help.

The perception of equal access and opportunity separates American sports from other sports like European soccer, where the best leagues and teams constantly have rules and formats bent in their favor. But college football has never really acted like U.S. pro sports. Its recent consolidation of power is the latest in a long line of moves leaders have made to narrow the paths of money and influence.

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February 29th

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Big Ten and SEC Flexing their collective muscles in 14-team Playoff proposal

From CBS Sports … It was never going to be easy formalizing the moment the Big Ten and SEC were partners. Certainly, the leagues themselves wouldn’t always admit to being chummy. For a long time, the conferences were rivals in every sense — recruiting, championships, TV contracts.

In a famous 2007 letter to fans, former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s took a not-so-veiled shot at the SEC. Delany compared the two leagues at the time, saying there were “appropriate balances when mixing academics and athletics” in the Big Ten.

At the time, the SEC was about to put a death grip on college football — one that has lasted to this day with the conference winning 13 of the last 17 national championships. At the same time, the Big Ten was, well, losing its grip.

Little of that rancor still exists as we step out to the edge of a new College Football Playoff. In fact, it will be a bigger, ground-breaking CFP largely because of the combined swagger of the Big Ten and SEC. A partnership between the two leagues announced earlier this month as an “advisory group” went way deeper.

The depth of that combined power was laid bare at the latest College Football Playoff Management Committee meeting when the Big Ten and SEC reportedly proposed multiple automatic qualifiers for their leagues beginning in 2026. Conference commissioners emerging from the meeting confirmed that field expansion to 14 teams — or as many as 16 teams — starting in 2026 was a possibility, this before the CFP has even played its first season as a 12-team bracket in 2024.

So far, this lobbying from the Big Ten and SEC is not so much an ultimatum but an inevitability. Realignment and consolidation have left the nation’s two most dominant conferences with most of the best brands. The resulting windfall in media rights has put unprecedented separation between those leagues and everyone else.

The Big Ten and SEC have combined to occupy 113 of the 184 BCS/CFP slots (62%) since the BCS started in 1998. That includes all BCS-affiliated bowls and New Year’s Six games.

The pair are now arguably the most powerful “single” entity in college sports. As the NCAA’s authority declines and realignment has redirected power, influence and cash to the Big Ten and SEC, last week’s CFP meeting was an inflection point.

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February 27th

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Next up for the Pac-2: Try to find someone to broadcast their games

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Cougars and Beavers must find broadcast partners for their football games in the 2024-25 seasons and determine the future of the Pac-12 Networks’ production studio.

The latter should be resolved sooner than later — perhaps in the next month, Washington State president Kirk Schulz said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” he explained.

The networks will cease to exist as a media company this summer when their distribution agreements expire. But WSU and OSU are exploring options for the networks’ cutting-edge infrastructure and the 42,000-square foot production studio in San Ramon, Calif.

Could the technology be used by the outbound schools, which must produce hundreds of on-campus events for their new conferences’ digital media partners?

Would Apple or Amazon lease the Pac-12’s production team and equipment for their sports content?

Could the Cougars and Beavers somehow make use of the networks for their own events in the future?

“It could turn into an entity that’s a real revenue generator,” Schulz said. “We’re exploring what that looks like.”

The two schools are also shopping their home football games for the next two seasons and hope to have clarity “relatively soon,” Schulz said.

One reason for the urgency: settling on game times.

Schulz said WSU’s attendance is more correlated to the kickoff window (afternoon or night) than to the opponent.

Adding to the complicated calculation: striking a balance between revenue and exposure.

Should the schools, for example, accept more lucrative deals on less visible networks at inconvenient times? Or should they prioritize being seen, both in person and on TV, over an extra few million dollars per year?

“We’d love lots of money and exposure, but there’s really a tradeoff,” Schulz said.

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February 26th

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NCAA Rules committee: Helmet-comms coming soon to college football

From CBS Sports … The NCAA Football Rules Committee this week is likely to propose the use of coach-to-player sideline communications. What are widely known as “helmet comms” — giving coaches the ability to talk to players through wireless helmet technology — have been used by the NFL for quarterbacks since 1994. Defensive players were added to the mix in 2008. Tablets debuted in 2014.

Thirty years later, it appears as if time has finally come for major-college football to adopt the technology.

The insertion of a small receiver in the helmets of players on both sides of the ball will revolutionize the sport, at least for the participants. Fans will barely notice unless they’re shrewd enough to perceive a significant decline in those wacky sideline play-calling signs featuring Bart Simpson, the Michael Jordan crying meme and Dr. Evil.

“Instead of stealing signs, you’ll be worried about stealing my frequency,” one former Power Five official said in jest.

It seemed so easy and obvious for college football to follow the NFL. The NCAA was considering detailed wireless technology as recently as 2015. Three decades after the pros adopted the technology — the NFL actually started dabbing with helmet comms secretly in 1956 — it may have taken an out-sized scandal to push the issue across the collegiate goal line.

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February 24th

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Federal Judge issues injunction prohibiting NCAA from enforcing NIL rules

From CBS Sports … NCAA rules barring the use of NIL compensation in recruiting received a blow in federal court on Friday when a U.S. district judge granted a temporary injunction in a lawsuit stemming from NCAA violations investigation Tennessee. The injunction stops the NCAA from enforcing any rules relating to third-party negotiation on NIL compensation until a final decision is reached in the case.

Attorney generals from Tennessee and Virginia sued the NCAA on Jan. 31 on antitrust grounds amid news that the University of Tennessee was under investigation for multiple alleged Level I infractions. The NCAA’s case against Tennessee in football centers around quarterback Nico Iamaleava, who signed an NIL deal that’s believed to be in the $8 million range.

“The court’s grant of a preliminary injunction against the NCAA’s illegal NIL-recruitment ban ensures the rights of student-athletes will be protected for the duration of this case, but the bigger fight continues,” said Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said. “We will litigate this case to the fullest extent necessary to ensure the NCAA’s monopoly cannot continue to harm Tennessee student-athletes. The NCAA is not above the law, and the law is on our side.”

In the lawsuit, the attorneys generals alleged that the NCAA had violated antitrust laws by denying athletes their ability to earn full compensation for their name, images and likeness.

“The NCAA’s prohibition likely violates federal antitrust law and harms student-athletes,” U.S. District Judge Clifton Corker said in the decision handed down on Friday.

NCAA athletes have been permitted to earn NIL compensation since July 2021, but within certain parameters. For example, schools are not allowed to directly recruit players — high school prospects or transfer portal entrants — using NIL opportunities.

Friday’s ruling changes that for the time being and is merely the latest example of the NCAA struggles in court. A U.S. District Court judge in West Virginia issued a ruling in December against the NCAA’s transfer restrictions that led to numerous second-time transfers around the country gaining immediate eligibility in basketball.

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February 23rd

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A two-minute warning coming to college football?

From The Athletic … College football officials are expected to discuss the idea of adding a two-minute warning to games in a rules committee meeting at the end of this month.

The possibility has surfaced one year after the committee adjusted clock rules to bring the college game closer to the NFL, continuing to run the clock after first downs outside of the last two minutes. The two-minute warning idea, which might be formally referred to as a stoppage or break, could provide help for clock, rule change and commercial break purposes.

“With our change in the clock rules, we have a number of things that hinge on a certain period in the game, like the first down situation,” NCAA national coordinator of officials Steve Shaw told The Athletic. “If you had a definitive two-minute break, then you could flip all of your clock rules.

“Like today, the 10-second runoff (for penalty and injury timeouts) doesn’t kick in until one minute (left). So we think there might be some value in having a two-minute stop and then now we go to post-timing rules and make all of it contingent on the two-minute.”

The NFL has had a two-minute warning since 1942; the concept was first introduced simply because officials kept the official time, not the stadium, so the stoppage let everyone know the clock situation. As the sport grew, stadium clocks became official and TV took over, the two-minute warning stayed in place to support commercials and drama.

It’s unknown how much support there could be for a change at the college level. Shaw added it’s possible the committee simply leaves the current rules in place for another year and gathers more feedback before making any changes.

“I’m anxious to get to the meeting and talk about it and see the thinking behind it,” said Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock, another member of the rules committee. “What are we trying to change? From a strategy standpoint, that would greatly change the strategy of how you end a game. But length of game and those things, I’m interested to see the thoughts behind it.”

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Signing Day may be moved up to early December; dead period may be expanded

From CBS Sports … The SEC is pushing for major changes to the early signing period in college athletics, including making the entire month of December a recruiting dead period and moving early national signing day up two weeks closer to the start of the month, league commissioner Greg Sankey told Yahoo Sports. According to Sankey, the league’s coaches have already approved the proposed changes.

“Putting signing day in the middle of December with playoff games no longer works,” Sankey said. “Move it to early December, the Wednesday before championship games.”

December tends to be crunch time for college coaches. This year, the transfer portal opened on Dec. 4 and the early signing period commenced just over two weeks later on Dec. 20. So, at the same time coaches are trying to keep their roster together and evaluate potential areas of need through the portal, they’re also closing up the high school recruiting ranks and tying up any loose ends on the trail.

On top of all that, coaching changes frequently happen throughout December as assistants and even head coaches will look to make a move once the regular season ends. For most teams that won at least six games, there’s also bowl prep to worry about.

The 2024 season also marks the first year of an expanded 12-team playoff. First-round games will be played the weekend of Dec. 20, which falls right in the same window as the current early signing period format. All of that culminates in creating a grind that has started to wear on coaches.

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February 22nd

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CFP Committee discussing 14-team (or 16-team) playoff starting in 2026

From ESPN … The idea of a 14-team College Football Playoff starting in the 2026 season was discussed at CFP meetings in Dallas on Wednesday, just months before the start of the first season with a 12-team playoff.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock acknowledged the idea was discussed but declined to provide specific details, saying, “There’s work still to be done.”

With CFP officials pushing to finalize a deal for a television contract for the next eight years, three lingering issues remain unresolved: access, distribution of money and governance. Hancock said the issues need to be resolved within the next month.

The CFP management committee, which is made up of the commissioners and incoming Notre Dame athletic director Pete Bevacqua, met Wednesday and discussed potentially expanding the field after the current contract runs out following the 2025 season.

According to sources, the most dominant discussion of a new model revolved around a 14-team playoff, and CFP leaders left Wednesday’s meeting feeling there was momentum. The bump from 12 to 14 teams, as opposed to 16, would mostly address the issue of access rather than finances.

Officials will still need to discuss how a 14-team playoff would split up automatic qualifiers — for example, could the Big Ten and SEC get as many as four automatic bids? Those early discussions were had Wednesday, with no definitive conclusions.

Everything, of course, boils down to finances. The Big Ten and SEC have made it clear the next contract will be more financially favorable than the current one, where 80% of the money is split evenly among the Power 5 leagues. Now there are four power conferences, and the Big Ten and SEC have a combined 34 teams.

While officials didn’t dive too deep into financial issues at Wednesday’s meeting, Hancock said there was “more ground-level, detailed conversation than we’ve been able to have.”

“I think everybody rolled up their sleeves and just said, ‘We need to get to work and share what’s on our mind,’ and they all did,” he said.

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EA Sports sending out $600 NIL contracts to every FBS scholarship football player

From … When you fire up a copy of any EA Sports football video game, one of the first things you hear is the iconic “it’s in the game.”

Today, we finally have more information on exactly how the company plans to include thousands and thousands of current college football players in their upcoming release of EA Sports College Football 25.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of EA’s plans tell Extra Points that starting today, the company will send proposed NIL contracts to over 11,000 FBS football players to pay them for their participation in the video game.

EA believes that this contract will be one of the largest, if not the largest, NIL brand activations in history, with over 6 million dollars committed to pay for athlete likenesses.

Sources familiar with the proposed contract tell Extra Points that the base contract will pay athletes $600 for usage of their digital name, image and likeness in the video game, along with a copy of EA Sports College Football 25 on a system of their choosing. This contract offer will be sent to all 85 scholarship football players on all 134 FBS programs for next season.

In addition to the base contract offer, EA will also offer additional ambassador contracts to a select number of college football players, who will be paid to promote the video game on social media.

Athletes will be able to opt into the contract via the Compass app, just like they do for other group license opportunities.

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February 21st

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NCAA President not in favor of imposing any limitations on second (or third) transfers

From ESPN … NCAA president Charlie Baker said he is not in favor of rules or federal laws that would place new limits on the way college athletes transfer between schools.

During a wide-ranging, hourlong interview with ESPN on Tuesday, Baker harbored no sympathy for the many coaches who have publicly complained about the difficulties they have in maintaining stable rosters in the new college sports environment that carries fewer restrictions on player transfers and allows for name, image and likeness deals that have proved to be incentives for players to consider changing teams.

“I’ve had conversations with a bunch of coaches who didn’t … walk out on their contracts,” Baker said. “One of the things I hear from kids when I talk to them about this issue is, ‘Coaches walk out on their contracts. What about us?'”

Baker said he thinks the rate of transfers in college sports reflects a larger trend of all college students changing schools more frequently than in the past.

“Do they transfer more than they did ten years ago? Yes. Do they transfer more than their peers who aren’t student-athletes? No,” Baker said. “… They actually transfer less than students who aren’t student-athletes do, and kids just transfer more because they have more information, more data, and they’re more impatient about a lot of things.”

Baker, who is approaching the end of his first full year as the NCAA’s president, and many other leaders in college sports have petitioned Congress for help in regaining some control over the future of college sports amid myriad legal challenges to the NCAA’s rules. Several of the bills and proposals generated by Congress include provisions that would make it more difficult for athletes to transfer.

“I’m not much on that. I’m not,” Baker said when asked about the potential of a law that would restrict player movement and thus limit some of their economic power.

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February 20th 

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CFP Committee unanimously approves 5+7 Playoff model

From CBS Sports … The inaugural 12-team College Football Playoff will feature five automatic bids and seven at-large bids after the CFP Board of Managers voted unanimously on Tuesday to tweak the access formula for the expanding postseason tournament. The move will grant guaranteed access to the sport’s top five conference champions as college football moves into a new era following the splintering of the Pac-12. The format will stay in place at least over the course of the next two seasons as the CFP negotiates a new television contract for 2026 and beyond.

“This is a very logical adjustment for the College Football Playoff based on the evolution of our conference structures since the board first adopted this new format in September 2022,” CFP Board of Managers chair Mark Keenum said. “I know this change will also be well received by student-athletes, coaches and fans. We all will be pleased to see this new format come to life on the field this postseason.”

Previously, the format was set to be 6+6 with the top six conference champions gaining guaranteed access. But when the Pac-12 imploded last year while essentially leaving college football with just four power conferences, CFP leaders returned to the drawing board.

The CFP Management Committee approved the 5+7 model in November, putting the final decision in the hands of the Board of Managers, which is meeting this week in Texas.

A 5+7 format still leaves the door open for a non-power conference team to make the CFP on an annual basis as the sport transitions to a de facto “Power Four” comprised of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC. Had the CFP opted to keep the 6+6 model, it would have assured two bids to teams from outside the power conference structure.

Mirroring the original intent

Staying with the 6+6 format amid the Pac-12’s implosion would have given the College Football Playoff a decidedly Cinderella tint as it would have guaranteed access for the two highest-ranked conference champions from the following five leagues: AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt. In 2023, those teams were No. 23 Liberty (C-USA) and No. 24 SMU (AAC). SMU ended up losing to Boston College in the Fenway Bowl while Liberty lost 45-6 to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.

By moving to a 5+7 format, CFP leaders are simply realigning with the original premise of affording access to one team from outside the power conference structure. Though the Pac-12 could eventually re-form by adding schools from other leagues to compete alongside Oregon State and Washington State, its hopes of realistically being viewed as a peer of the ACC and Big 12 are gone despite the best efforts of its remaining leaders.

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February 19th

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Pac-2 appoints first woman Power Five commissioner

From ESPN … The Pac-12 has appointed Teresa Gould, the league’s deputy commissioner, as its new commissioner beginning March 1.

Gould, who takes over for George Kliavkoff, will become the first woman to be commissioner of a Power 5 conference. She was appointed by the presidents of Washington State and Oregon State, who make up the Pac-12 board because of the impending departures of the league’s six other members to the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. In December, the two schools received full control of the league’s decision-making after settling a legal dispute with the 10 other members.

The Pac-12 last week announced it was parting ways with Kliavkoff, who took over as commissioner in May 2021.

“Teresa’s deep knowledge of collegiate athletics and unwavering commitment to student-athletes makes her uniquely qualified to help guide the Pac-12 Conference during this period of unprecedented change in college sports,” Washington State president Kirk Schulz said in a statement issued Monday. “As the first female commissioner of an Autonomy Five conference, Teresa will be able to bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the table as the industry works to find its way through this shifting landscape.”

Washington State and Oregon State have entered a football scheduling partnership with the Mountain West, and will be affiliate members of the West Coast Conference in 12 sports for the next two athletic seasons. The Pac-12 will “sponsor select sports, sign media rights partnerships, and produce live events and content.”

Gould joined the Pac-12 in 2018 and oversaw the league’s championship events, as well as compliance, governance and operations. She previously worked as an administrator at Cal and served as interim athletic director in 2015 and 2016.

Arizona financial deficits leading to substantial ticket price increases

From The Athletic … In their final contest as Pac-12 members, the Wildcats wrapped up their first 10-win season since 2014 and only the fourth in program history. This looked like a program on the rise. One that had found a safe landing spot out of the dying Pac-12. On to the Big 12.

Eight weeks later, as the Big 12 entry draws closer, a difficult reality has set in. Fisch is gone, hired as the new coach at Washington. Athletic director Dave Heeke found himself out of a job days after hiring Fisch’s replacement, and university president Robert Robbins is under fire from faculty and city officials as Arizona tries to navigate its way out of a nearly $200 million financial crisis that might compromise its ability to compete.

“They’re in a tough spot,” said Scott Rosner, director of the sports management program at Columbia University. “When you start having these kinds of cuts, it will be felt inevitably in some way, shape or form by the student-athlete.”

Approaching his seventh year, Robbins has remained confident since revealing the financial shortfall in November. But he has not sugarcoated the challenges Arizona faces. Everything is on the table with athletics, including layoffs, compensation freezes and the elimination of sports, although the latter seems unlikely.

Robbins initially told the board of regents the university had a $240 million miscalculation. Since then, after closer evaluation, an operation deficit of $177 million has been revealed. Of Arizona’s 81 colleges and divisions, 61, including athletics, face a budget deficit.

Robbins disclosed during a November meeting with regents that the athletic department has underperformed financially since the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the university has loaned athletics $86 million in recent years, money that Robbins acknowledged to the Arizona Daily Star might not get paid back. During the 2023 fiscal year, Arizona athletics overspent by $32 million.

“We haven’t seen any sustainable revenue growth in athletics for six-seven years now,” interim chief financial officer John Arnold told faculty during a recent meeting. “We need to get after that and see if we can change that. Does that mean the cost of hot dogs at (basketball games) are probably going up? The answer to that is yes.”

Rosner wondered how this would affect recruiting. Fair or unfair, rival schools will take advantage of Arizona’s situation, he said, coaches asking prospects, “Do you really want to join a sinking ship?”

“Then you think about your really successful coaches,” Rosner said. “Do they want to be in that atmosphere? When you start cutting positions and eliminating jobs, then you worry about morale for those who remain.”

UA has provided record subsidies to the athletic department since 2021, according to The Arizona Republic, including $53.3 million in 2021 in institutional support and internal loans when the athletic department was hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic. Arizona athletics, which reported annual total operating revenues of more than $120 million, has yet to release financial records provided to the NCAA for the 2023 fiscal year that detail revenues and expenses.

On Jan. 22, Arizona ended Heeke’s nearly seven-year run. In a statement, Robbins thanked Heeke for guiding the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs on a strong trajectory, and for improving Arizona’s student-athlete experience.

In addition to downsizing, Arizona plans to “modernize” the athletic department to make it more sustainable. It will bring in a third-party national firm to help with this process and to review the administrative structure. The athletic budget will be reset and a hard cap on spending installed. The plan is to protect student-athletes as much as possible.

The university already has announced a hike in ticket prices — about 20 percent for the average price of a season ticket in men’s basketball and about 17 percent for the same in football. Other potential revenue streams will be explored.

“Ultimately, we’re going to have to set some long-term goals about what we want out of the university athletics,” Arnold told faculty. “And then we’re going to have to be realistic about funding those goals. The idea that athletics can operate as a standalone, self-sustaining unit of the university moving forward is probably not realistic.”

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February 17th

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5+7 v. 6+6 Playoff Format: 5+7 Better for New Big 12

From CBS Sports … After years of debates and multiple rounds of voting, the College Football Playoff finally approved a new, expanded 12-team format for the 2024 season. And for about eight months, the future of the sport’s postseason seemed to stabilize. Then, last summer, the Pac-12 as we knew imploded.

The Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC all swooped in and picked at the Pac-12’s remains, swelling their numbers and drastically changing the math in the college football landscape. The result sent the CFP power brokers back to square one. Since then, we’ve seen debates on format, meetings with no votes and votes with no results.

The CFP Board of Managers will meet again next week, and it’s expected (according to ESPN) that they will vote to move from the current 6+6 model to a new 5+7 format that will reduce the number of automatic bids for conference champions to five, adding an additional at-large bid.

It’s not a perfect change without flaws or downside for some, but it should have a positive impact for both the regular season and the CFP’s first round.

Why the hold up? 

Expansion to 12 teams was formally approved for the 2024 and 2025 seasons on Dec. 1, 2022. At that time, a 6+6 format provided access for champions from more than half of the FBS conferences. Any changes to the playoff format or the financial distribution model requires a unanimous vote, and to this point a change off of that 6+6 has not garnered unanimous support from the board.

Because while the Pac-12 no longer has enough teams to hold a regular-season conference schedule or a conference championship game, it does still have a seat in the CFP meetings. Its representative, Washington State president Kirk Schulz, is reportedly the hold up. He is concerned on how the two remaining schools — Washington State and Oregon State — will be paid out in the next CFP contract without knowing what their affiliation would be.

The hope is next week’s meeting will allow the board to resolve the issue one way or another, bringing clarity to the playoff race for 2024.

More potential opportunity for ACC and Big 12 

On paper, adding an at-large seems to play into the hands of the third- or fourth-best team from the Big Ten or the SEC. But don’t overlook the value that it could have to the ACC and the Big 12. Those two leagues will be looking to get as many shots as possible to prove on the field that the gap between their leagues and the Big Ten/SEC is not as large as the narratives might suggest.

The Big 12 would have put a champion and an at-large team into an expanded field in 2021 (Baylor, Oklahoma State) and 2022 (Kansas State, TCU), and that’s not even counting the would-be appearances by new members Utah and Cincinnati during those seasons. The ACC would have been in a similar position in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with both a conference champion (Clemson) and an at-large team in the 12-team field in either the 6+6 or 5+7 formats.

The expanded College Football Playoff is going to change the way we talk about the national title race, and fans are going to be engaged to see it all play out in 2024. There is a lot of noise around decisions like this as college sports continues to experience growing pains, but if the CFP managers want to put together the best-possible championship bracket and add importance to the regular season it will move forward with a 5+7 format for the 2024 season.

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February 14th

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Pac-2 finally moving on from George Kliavkoff 

From CBS Sports … The Pac-12 has started the process of moving on from commissioner George Kliavkoff as 10 programs prepare to exit the conference this summer. Teresa Gould, the conference’s deputy commissioner, has been targeted as Kliavkoff’s replacement, according to Yahoo Sports.

The proposed change in leadership is hardly a surprise given the effective dissolution of the West Coast’s premier athletic conference, which leaves Oregon State and Washington State battling for their future. In December, the Washington Supreme Court granted the two remaining programs — unofficially known as the “Pac-2” — control of the conference and all of its assets after some back-and-forth with the departing 10 schools.

“The Pac-12 Conference Board has given the departing 10 schools notice of a proposed leadership transition with an invitation to provide comment,” the Pac-12 said in a Tuesday statement. “We expect to provide more information following a decision in the coming days.”

Kliavkoff, a former lawyer who held front-office positions with the MLB and MGM Resorts International, was announced as Pac-12 commissioner in 2021. In May 2022, the Pac-12 sustained its first big blow of Kliavkoff’s tenure when USC and UCLA — two of the conference’s most prolific institutions — announced they were leaving for the Big Ten at the start of the 2024-25 athletic calendar.

Other schools eventually followed suit. In the summer of 2023, it was revealed that Oregon and Washington would follow to the Big Ten while Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado announced their move to the Big 12. California and Stanford will compete in the ACC starting in 2024.

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February 13th

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ESPN renews exclusive College Football Playoff contract through 2032

From … The College Football Playoff is staying on ESPN through the beginning of the next decade.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that ESPN has reached a six-year, $1.3 billion/year renewal of its College Football Playoff rights deal through the 2031-32 season. ESPN itself was first to report late last year that the company was close to a deal.

While ESPN will remain the exclusive CFP rightsholder — a position it has held dating back to the final years of the playoff predecessor Bowl Championship Series — the new deal may still satisfy CFP executives’ publicly-stated desire for multiple broadcast partners

As previously reported, ESPN’s contract includes the right to sublicense games to other networks, opening the door for a competitor like FOX, CBS or even Amazon to potentially air games. Under the 12-team format that begins next season, there will be 11 total playoff games — four in the first round, four in the quarterfinals, the two semifinals and the National Championship — meaning that there will be sufficient inventory available for ESPN to potentially shop.

It is likely that any sublicensed games would take place in the low-wattage early rounds of the playoffs, and it is worth questioning whether there will even be sufficient interest from competitors for such games. The scenario floated by Front Office Sports last year — the National Championship alternating between networks a la the Super Bowl — will no doubt be a nonstarter.

That the CFP is remaining with ESPN is another indication that the sports rights market may not be as flush with competitors as the leagues may have hoped. There were any number of outlets said to be interested in the rights — from the obvious ones like FOX to dark horses like Warner Bros. Discovery — and CFP executives spoke on the record of their openness to having games air exclusively on streaming.

Some of those possibilities remain on the table, but it is surely the case that the CFP was hoping for any newcomers to bid on the open market, rather than pick up a few games ESPN was willing to part with.

The price tag of $1.3 billion a year is considerable, but also only double the current level of $685 million. Given the playoff now consists of 11 meaningful games, compared to three meaningful games and four exhibitions in the current format, the new deal is a borderline bargain — or at least more of one than the current contract. There had been talk, reported by Front Office Sportsof the CFP going for as much as $2 billion a year.

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Estimated Pac-12 FY ’23 Distributions: $36.1 million/school (SEC: $51.3 million/school)

From the San Jose Mercury News … The college sports earnings season began last week when the SEC released its financial data for the 2023 fiscal year.

Stakeholders were undoubtedly pleased. The conference reported $853 million in revenue, a 6 percent increase over the previous year, and distributed more than $50 million to each campus, according to USA Today.

The results will add context to the Pac-12’s fiscal situation when it reveals FY2023 revenue and campus distributions in a few months. They also underscore the irresponsible spending that placed the Pac-12 on its low path to extinction.

… The SEC distributed an average of $51.3 million per campus in the 2023 fiscal year, per the USA Today report.

When it’s released this spring, the Pac-12’s financial statement for FY2023 is expected to show campus distributions of about $36 million — a Hotline estimate based on data currently available from the campuses.

The Pac-12 has three primary revenue sources. The total is sent to the schools after accounting for conference expenses and the $72 million being withheld by Comcast in the aftermath of the overpayment scandal.

The three revenue buckets are:

— Media rights from the Tier I contracts (ESPN and Fox) and the Pac-12 Networks’ distribution deals.

— The college football postseason (bowls and the playoff)

— The NCAA Tournament

The schools itemize their revenue differently, depending on which of three documents is made public: the NCAA agreed-upon-procedures report; the NCAA statements of revenue and expenses; or the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act filing.

Complicating matters: The distributions from the Pac-12 to the campuses aren’t identical because of various withholdings that change from year to year.

For instance, Cal’s statement of revenue for FY2023 shows the following:

Media rights: $25.5 million
NCAA distributions: $2.7 million
Conference distributions: $6 million
Total: $34.2 million

Utah’s statement of revenue features the same categories but different amounts:

Media rights: $21.8 million
NCAA distributions: $3.6 million
Pac-12 distributions: $12.7 million
Total: $38.1 million

Meanwhile, Washington State’s website provides the NCAA agreed-upon-procedures report, which itemizes the revenues as follows:

Media rights: $25.5 million
NCAA distributions: $1.6 million
Conference Distributions (Non Media and Non Football Bowl): $8.8 million
Conference Distributions of Football Bowl Generated Revenue: $0
Total: $35.9 million

When the Pac-12’s tax filings for FY2023 are made public this spring, a single line item will display the distribution amount that incorporates the aforementioned revenue buckets (after expenses).

If we average the total revenue for the three schools noted above, the result is $36.1 million in conference distributions per campus.

While the figure cited on the Pac-12 tax filings could be a tick higher or lower, it should be close to that number.

And that number won’t be close to the SEC’s number.

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February 12th

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UCLA names former running back DeShaun Foster as the school’s next head coach 

From ESPN … UCLA hired DeShaun Foster as the school’s next head coach on Monday.

Foster, who had taken a job as the Las Vegas Raiders’ running backs coach in recent weeks, is in the UCLA Hall of Fame as a player, is a longtime assistant coach and played seven seasons in the NFL. He emerged among a pool of 11 candidates who UCLA interviewed, many of whom were a sitting head coach.

“This is a dream come true,” Foster said in a statement. “I always envisioned being a Bruin ever since I was young, and now being the head coach at my alma mater is such a surreal feeling, and I’m grateful for this opportunity. The foundation of this program will be built on discipline, respect and enthusiasm. These are phenomenal young men, and I’m excited to hit the ground running.”

Foster impressed the UCLA brass with his ability to lead and command a room. Per sources, school officials believe that Foster can resonate in the Los Angeles market and emphasize recruiting and fundraising.

He’s consistently produced NFL tailbacks while at UCLA and was the overwhelming choice of the current players. Foster has worked under Kliff Kingsbury, Jim Mora, Chip Kelly and played in a Super Bowl with the Carolina Panthers under John Fox. They see him as a modern CEO coach who can identify and develop players.

“While undergoing a comprehensive search for our new head coach, DeShaun resonated from the start and throughout the whole process,” athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “We are looking for a coach with integrity, energy and passion; someone who is a great teacher, who develops young men, is a great recruiter and fully embraces the NIL landscape to help our student-athletes. DeShaun checks all of those boxes and then some. He is a leader of men and a true Bruin. I am excited to partner with him as we usher UCLA Football into an exciting new era.”


February 10th

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Two candidates for UCLA job which could benefit CU

From ESPN … Some coaching candidates lists are easy to compile, like Alabama’s. Despite the shock of Nick Saban’s retirement, the top names who could replace him were fairly obvious.

Then, there’s a situation like UCLA’s. The school is replacing Chip Kelly, who is expected to become offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Kelly had been rumored as an NFL coordinator candidate for several weeks, and clearly wanted out. The feeling was mutual for some in UCLA circles. Still, the timing of Kelly’s exit is extremely challenging.

UCLA simply doesn’t have many obvious options, especially right now, at the tail end of an active coaching cycle. Jedd Fisch, a Bruins assistant in 2017, took the Washington job. Jonathan Smith, a Southern California native, left Oregon State for Michigan State in late November. Brent Brennan, a former UCLA wide receiver who has coached up and down the West Coast, replaced Fisch at Arizona. Although a lot of coaches have ties to Los Angeles, there aren’t many currently in the region, either top assistants at other power conference schools or Group of 5 coaches, who would be obvious fits.

Athletic director Martin Jarmond could go with a temporary/interim/tryout situation for the 2024 season, UCLA’s first in the Big Ten. There are a few options within the program who might be able to keep the roster as united as possible.

… Jarmond has challenging work ahead. Here’s a look at who UCLA could consider to replace Kelly.

Baylor coach Dave Aranda: Hear me out on this one. Aranda’s profile obviously has dropped significantly since helping Baylor to a Big 12 title and a No. 5 finish in 2021. After a 3-9 clunker last fall, he’s firmly on the hot seat entering the 2024 season. He also might be the perfect coach to elevate UCLA as it makes its Big Ten transition. Aranda turned down several Pac-12 opportunities in 2021, but he has always looked at UCLA in a different light. He grew up not far from campus in Redlands, California, and attended Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks. His personality and approach fits UCLA better than Baylor, and he also would bring Big Ten knowledge after three highly successful seasons as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator. UCLA would be rescuing him, to a degree, but it still might be the right move.

Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White: He’s a UCLA alum who has established himself as a coordinator away from Westwood, but should gain consideration to come back. White, 44, was a UCLA graduate assistant in 2007 before spending much of his career learning the 3-3-5 defensive scheme under guru Rocky Long. He has been a coordinator at Arizona State, Syracuse and Nebraska, where his work last season stood out. White has charisma and coast-to-coast experience after living and working in different spots. He soon will be ready to lead his own program.

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February 9th

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Chip Kelly leaves UCLA – to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State

From ESPN … UCLA coach Chip Kelly is expected to become the next offensive coordinator at Ohio State, sources told ESPN on Friday. UCLA announced that Kelly is departing the program and a national search for a new head coach has begun.

Kelly is expected to replace Bill O’Brien, who is set to become the head coach at Boston College later in the day. Ohio State had hired O’Brien in mid-January as part of head coach Ryan Day’s move to no longer call plays and run the program more holistically.

Ohio State will have to pay a $1.5 million buyout for Kelly, sources said.

Kelly went 35-34 during six seasons at UCLA, concluding his tenure with three consecutive winning campaigns. He becomes the fourth college head coach in this cycle to leave a head-coaching job for an assistant spot, joining Jeff Hafley (Packers), Mo Linguist (Alabama) and Kane Wommack (Alabama).

“I want to sincerely thank Chip for his service to UCLA Football and our student-athletes across the past six seasons and wish the best to him and his wife Jill moving forward,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement.

Kelly has interviewed for multiple NFL coordinator jobs in the cycle, including most recently the Seattle Seahawks’ OC position. He instead turns to college, where he’ll reunite with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, his longtime friend and former assistant coach. Kelly has a decades-long relationship with Day, as both are New Hampshire natives. Kelly coached Day in college at New Hampshire and Day worked for Kelly in the NFL with the Eagles and 49ers.

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February 8th

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Before there was Mahomes, Vick and Lamar Jackson, there was “Slash”

From the Fiesta Bowl … Following his MVP performance in his final game in a Colorado Buffaloes uniform, Kordell Stewart knew he was a quarterback.

“My position is quarterback and if they try to put me at something else, they’ll be cheating themselves because I have a lot to offer,” Stewart said in the moments following the 1995 Fiesta Bowl. “I can pass the ball. I can run the ball and I can read defenses. I feel I’m an all-around quarterback and capable of getting the job done.”

His numbers in Colorado’s 41-24 win over Notre Dame on January 2, 1995, spoke for themselves. Stewart took home Offensive Player of the Game honors after throwing for 205 yards, rushing for 143 more – on just seven attempts – and accounting for two touchdowns, one each through the air and on the ground. He became the first quarterback in Fiesta Bowl history to rush for 100-plus yards in a game and it took 24 more years before another quarterback (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence in 2019) threw for at least 200 yards and rushed for 100 yards in the same game.

“Kordell Stewart played in his last game and I think that he showed everybody that he’s a top notch quarterback,” said legendary Colorado Head Coach Bill McCartney in 1995. “I’ve always felt that he was.”

The 1994-95 Colorado team was littered with future NFL Draft picks, including Michael Westbrook, the fourth overall pick in the 1995 Draft, Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner, and Shannon Clavelle, the 1995 Fiesta Bowl Defensive Player of the Game. With that roster, it was no surprise that the Buffaloes posted a school-record tying 11 wins and ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll. In the near three decades since, Colorado has yet to match that win total or finished a season ranked as high.

At the helm of the “mini pro team” as Stewart refers to them today, was the multi-faceted Stewart, who left quite a legacy in Boulder. Originally from New Orleans, Stewart finished his career as the Big Eight Conference’s all-time leader in total offense (7,770 yards) and Colorado’s career leader in passing yards (6,481). Stewart posted a 27-5-1 record as a starter (.833 winning percentage), the best of any Colorado quarterback in school history.

Despite the records and the accolades, including AP All-American, Stewart still faced doubts. A Black quarterback who could sling the ball 70 yards down the field and run a 4.4 40-yard dash, Stewart was in many ways, ahead of his time.

None of his numbers were enough to erase the perception that an athletic Black football player could not ultimately be an NFL franchise quarterback.

“Going back to the combine, I was asked the question: ‘if we needed you to play another position, would you?’ I say of course. What do you think I’m going to say? I understood when that question was asked, what I was in for,” Stewart said. “Because we – as an organization – see his abilities in this player, which is something outside of a quarterback.”

While Doug Williams notably became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 1988, the NFL had just three Black starting quarterbacks (Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Jeff Blake) when Stewart entered the league as a second-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995.

Continue reading story here


February 6th

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“Pac-2” holding up CFP agreement with veto power over format

From CBS Sports … On Jan. 8, the morning of the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship, the commissioners and conference presidents who oversee the organization (known as the CFP Management Committee) met in Houston to finalize what was thought to be a formality. The goal: address the final access point for the expanded 12-team playoff field starting next season.

In the wake of realignment and the demise of the Pac-12, it has been thought that the 6+6 model would become a 5+7 model with the number of conference champion automatic qualifiers decreasing from six to five. (The four highest-ranked such teams would receive byes into the second round.)

“I would be shocked if we don’t have a 5-7 playoff,” said CFP Board of Managers chairman Mark Keenum, president at Mississippi State, on that day. “The Pac-12 Conference has asked to wait a couple of weeks.”

Four weeks later, there has been no movement on the issue, and there really isn’t a Pac-12, either. What’s left of the conference — Oregon State and Washington State — might as well be considered the “Pac-2.” The plucky leftovers from the Pac-12 asked to delay the vote during that Jan. 8 meeting.

The two schools — battered and bruised after being left out in conference realignment — could essentially control the CFP on any issue going forward over the next two years. All CFP decisions must be made unanimously through the end of the current media rights contract, which concludes after the 2025-26 playoff.

As a result, less than 11 months until the 12-team playoff kicks off, the CFP is once again stuck in the mud. It helps the Pac-2 cause that Washington State president Kirk Schulz just happens to be the Pac-12 representative on the board.

“What I know for certain is that Kirk wants to use that vote for leverage,” said a source close to the Pac-2. “Kirk Schulz has the Pac-12 vote, and he effectively has a veto vote.”

That indicates this entire process is hardly the formality it was once thought to be. But the question becomes, to what end are Schulz and the Pac-12 attempting to wield their leverage? Keenum said four weeks ago the two schools had “legal issues” to work through.

Schulz is apparently seeking “voting rights” and revenue assurances going forward, Yahoo Sports reported Sunday.

The CFP Management Committee convenes Monday and Tuesday in regularly scheduled meetings.

Continue reading story here


February 5th

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Beginning of the end, Part III: NLRB regional director – Dartmouth athletes are employees; orders union election

From … A National Labor Relations Board regional director Monday ordered a union election for the men’s basketball players at Dartmouth, concluding that the athletes are employees of the college within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act.

This is a consequential development that could potentially pave the way for at least some athletes to usher in an employment model in college athletics.

Laura A. Sacks, the Boston-based NLRB regional director, ruled, “Because Dartmouth has the right to control the work performed by the Dartmouth men’s basketball team, and the players perform that work in exchange for compensation, I find that the petitioned-for basketball players are employees within the meaning of the [National Labor Relations] Act.”

The decision comes months after four days of witness testimony in October during a virtual pre-election hearing. On Sept. 13, a petition filed with the NLRB by the Service Employees International Union identified 15 players from Dartmouth as seeking representation.

The date of the election has not yet been determined.

“It is a positive step – it is one further step,” Michael Hsu, co-founder of the College Basketball Players Association (CBPA), told On3 on Monday. Hsu himself in October filed a separate unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB against the Ivy League.

“We believe Dartmouth will appeal this, just like the Northwestern case. We’ll see if they actually can conduct the vote before it gets appealed to the NLRB. Then the question will be how long will the NLRB wait around before they make a decision. I think this is going to actually put pressure on the whole system, including what the NCAA is going to do next.”

Mit Winter, a college sports attorney with Kennyhertz Perry, told On3 the decision was significant for a couple of reasons.

“It shows how the NLRB and courts are likely going to assess and rule on the employment issue going forward,” Winter said. “Plus, it shows that the future of college athletics will likely involve a model where at least some of the athletes are employees, will unionize, and will collectively bargain rules on things like player compensation and movement.”

Continue reading story here

Tennessee AG on lawsuit to lift NIL restrictions: NCAA defending “a world that doesn’t exist”

From ESPN … In reply to the NCAA claiming college sports would be thrown into “disarray” if rules banning name, image and likeness compensation being used as recruiting inducements were lifted by court order, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a Sunday filing the association is defending “a world that doesn’t exist.”

The attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction as part of their federal lawsuit arguing the group’s NIL rules violate antitrust law.

The NCAA asked a judge to deny both motions in its 25-page response filed Saturday with the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee. A judge on Feb. 13 will hear a request by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia for a preliminary injunction.

“The NCAA waits until page 16 — two-thirds of the way into its brief — before it defends the NIL-recruiting ban on the merits. And even then, the NCAA defends a world that doesn’t exist,” Sunday’s reply said. “It says it must ‘prohibi(t) NIL compensation’ to protect amateurism, competition, and athletes.'”

The AGs said student-athletes will suffer irreparable harm if the TRO is not granted by Tuesday because college football’s traditional signing period of high school football players begins Wednesday.

“And it’s not Plaintiffs’ fault that the NCAA has decided to regulate NIL and recruitment through a byzantine set of overlapping rules of guidance. To the extent there’s confusion the NCAA thinks give its power to enforce the NIL-recruiting ban, that problem is one of the NCAA’s own creation,” Sunday’s reply said.

The lawsuit was filed last week, the day after it was revealed the NCAA is investigating the University of Tennessee for potential recruiting violations related to NIL compensation.

“There is no reason to upend this process, invite chaos on a moment’s notice, and transform college sports into an environment where players and schools match up based primarily on the dollars that can change hands,” the NCAA wrote.

“Requests for radical change require sound deliberation.”

Continue reading story here


February 3rd 

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Beginning of the end, Part II: SEC and Big Ten form advisory group to “address the significant challenges facing college athletics”

From ESPN … The Big Ten and SEC have formed a joint advisory group of university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to “address the significant challenges facing college athletics” and how to improve the student-athlete experience, the conferences announced Friday.

The move is significant because it reflects a growing relationship between the two largest and wealthiest conferences and their respective commissioners as the balance of power continues to tilt in their favor in the evolving collegiate landscape.

Sources have told ESPN that Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey have been working closely together — more than their predecessors had — at a time when conference expansion has further separated their leagues from the other FBS conferences. The SEC will welcome Oklahoma and Texas this summer, while the Big Ten will add Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA from a Pac-12 that is on the verge of extinction.

The advisory group was formed in reaction to “recent court decisions, pending litigation, a patchwork of state laws and complex governance proposals,” according to the Big Ten’s news release.

“The Big Ten and the SEC have substantial investment in the NCAA and there is no question that the voices of our two conferences are integral to governance and other reform efforts,” Petitti said in a statement. “We recognize the similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face.”

Continue reading story here


February 1st

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Getting away with it: NCAA investigation of Arizona State nearing conclusion

From CBS Sports … Arizona State and the NCAA are seeking to conclude negotiations on a resolution that would end a 2 ½-year investigation into alleged football recruiting violations within the Sun Devils program, multiple sources tell CBS Sports.

The school is expected to agree to findings of major violations in the case, which revolves around recruits being brought on campus during the COVID-19 recruiting dead period in violation of NCAA rules. A further postseason ban is not expected to be among those penalties. ASU in August self-imposed a postseason ban for 2023 in hopes of mitigating future penalties.

On the table are potential show-cause penalties against former coach Herm Edwards and members of his staff, sources tell CBS Sports. That group includes current Las Vegas Raiders coach Antonio Pierce, who is considered a central figure in the investigation. Recruiting sanctions and a fine imposed on the program are also possible for ASU.

It is not clear whether any sanctions would follow Pierce to the NFL. Edwards could also be subject to punishment under the NCAA’s head coach responsibility bylaw. Though the bylaw was strengthened on Jan. 1, 2023, Edwards would be subject to previous language that states coaches are “presumed to be responsible” for the actions of their staff.

The NCAA describes a negotiated resolution as an end to a case that sees both sides agree on the “violation, level, classification and penalties,” citing that the process “uses fewer resources and expedites review by the Division I Committee on Infractions.”

A negotiated resolution is subject to approval by that committee.

In May 2021, what has been referred as a “dossier” was sent to the NCAA detailing alleged violations at Arizona State. The information contained documents and pictures, one of which reportedly showed Edwards escorting a recruit around the ASU weight room during that dead period.

Arizona State has been under investigation since June 2021.

Tennessee recently faced similar NCAA violations. The Volunteers’ case ended last summer with the program being put on probation, suffering recruiting sanctions and paying an $8 million fine. Despite admitted widespread Level I violations, Tennessee did not receive a postseason ban.

Read full story here

CU to open Big 12 play v. coach on the ESPN “Hot Seat”

From ESPN … College football’s last two coaching cycles had dramatically different rhythms.

The most recent carousel started slowly and went pedal-down after the national title game. There were only two changes before mid-November and both — Northwestern (Pat Fitzgerald) and Michigan State (Mel Tucker) — occurred because of off-field problems. Texas A&M’s historically expensive firing of Jimbo Fisher made a splash, but the cycle seemed relatively uneventful until Alabama coach Nick Saban retired Jan. 10, setting off a flurry of movement. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s somewhat expected departure to the NFL — followed by the Wolverines’ expected promotion of offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore — put an end to the activity.

The 2022 carousel, meanwhile, took a different path, defined by early firings. Six power conference coaches were let go before November, creating longer searches and several notable hires, including Colorado’s Deion Sanders and Nebraska’s Matt Rhule.

What’s in store for 2024? The cycle could more closely resemble 2022, as there are more coaches squarely on hot seats who might not make it to November without strong starts to the season. Notable programs will be under the microscope, namely Florida, where Billy Napier must show tangible progress in Year 3, despite what looks like one of the nation’s most taxing schedules. The SEC could be a hot spot for the upcoming carousel, as Arkansas’ Sam Pittman and Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea join Napier in needing to deliver strong results. And two seasons removed from guiding Baylor to a Big 12 championship and a No. 5 finish, Dave Aranda is facing job pressure.

Realignment certainly is a factor with the hot seat, as coaches who are struggling in new conferences are often in greater danger of being fired.

The early coaching hot seat list that follows is separated into three categories: coaches clearly on the hot seat, coaches whose situations are worth monitoring when the season begins, and potential retirement candidates.

On the hot seat

Dave Aranda, Baylor: When the 2021 coaching cycle took shape, Aranda was one of the hottest names in the market. He drew significant interest for multiple Pac-12 jobs, including USC, but opted to remain with Baylor following the Big 12 championship. Baylor has since gone 9-16, including a 3-9 mark last season that began with a home loss to Texas State and ended with five consecutive defeats. Athletic director Mack Rhoades retained Aranda, but Baylor will have new playcallers in Jake Spavital (offense) and Aranda (defense). Aranda likely needs six or seven wins to remain in Waco for 2025.

Keep an eye on

Kalani Sitake, BYU: After some initial hesitancy, BYU awarded Sitake with contract extensions that ultimately took him through the 2027 season, a reward for a 21-4 stretch and consecutive AP top-20 finishes in 2020 and 2021. But BYU went 8-5 in 2022 and then 5-7 in its first season as a Big 12 member. Sitake is a popular BYU alum who has had only one other losing season, back in 2017 (4-9). But after dropping five straight games to end the 2023 season, he could use a strong start to quiet down any hot-seat talk.

Retirement watch

Kyle Whittingham, Utah: Whittingham has stated that he doesn’t expect to be coaching past his 65th birthday, which he will celebrate Nov. 21. He already has cemented himself as the most significant coach in Utah history, winning two Pac-12 titles and a Mountain West title, and recording nine AP Top 25 finishes. Whittingham will lead Utah into the Big 12 this fall and would love to reach the CFP in his career. But he doesn’t have anything left to prove and could see this season as a natural endpoint, especially with expected successor Morgan Scalley in place.

Read full story here


January 31st

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Beginning of the end: Tennessee/Virginia sue NCAA over NIL regulations

From CBS Sports … Attorney generals from Tennessee and Virginia on Tuesday filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA challenging the legality of the association’s name, image and likeness guidelines. The suit comes one day after CBS Sports reported that the University of Tennessee is dealing with an ongoing NCAA investigation into potential NIL violations involving marketing firm Spyre Sports Group.

In Tennessee and Virginia v. NCAA, the states are seeking to do away with NIL guidelines adopted by the NCAA in July 2021. Those guidelines have been modified since their initial introduction.

The suit alleges that the NCAA has violated antitrust laws by denying athletes their ability to earn full compensation for their names, images and likenesses. The plaintiffs — including the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia — may, in a matter of days, seek a temporary injunction that could suspend the NCAA’s NIL rules and limitations.

Should the NCAA push back, the parties would likely go to trial; it could ultimately take years to litigate the case. However, the association certainly hopes to avoid another federal lawsuit challenging its ability to govern given the case load it is already managing.

Continue reading story here


January 28th

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“Pac-2” all-in on Florida State bringing about a collapse to the ACC

From the San Jose Mercury News … The NCAA grants a two-year waiver to conferences that have been whacked by realignment, allowing the OSU and WSU football programs to exist under the Pac-12 banner in the 2024-25 seasons.

Starting in the fall of 2026, the Beavers and Cougars must relocate or rebuild.

In the current environment, two-and-a-half years feels like a decade.

By 2026, the ACC or Big 12 might have determined its current structure is suboptimal.

By 2026, athletes might be deemed employees by the National Labor Relations Board.

By 2026, the power conferences might have lost a multi-billion-dollar antitrust lawsuit.

By 2026, the NCAA might have approved president Charlie Baker’s proposal to create a new football subdivision that requires an eight-figure commitment and divides the sport.

By 2026, the structure of major college football could be undergoing a massive transformation — not only a new poker hand but a different poker game.

The moment the Bay Area schools fled to the ACC and locked themselves into a 12-year agreement with a conference in tumult, the Beavers and Cougars took the opposite approach.

They remained as flexible as possible.

The strategy wasn’t merely to prepare themselves for the opportunity to join a new conference (or subdivision) in the second half of the decade.

It was to create a safety net in case The Great Realignment Experiment of 2023 fails and the Pac-12’s outbound schools are forced to reverse course, either in 2026 or soon after.

Specifically, the Beavers and Cougars wanted enough flexibility to offer a landing spot for Stanford and Cal in case the ACC crumbles.

And the ACC just might crumble.

Florida State has taken the conference to court, challenging the grant of rights agreement that is holding everything together.

If the Seminoles leave, they won’t be alone. Clemson, North Carolina and possibly Virginia will flee, as well.

To this point, neither the SEC nor the Big Ten has shown any willingness to accept new members. But that silence is designed to avoid a lawsuit. They can’t make a move on, or utter a peep about, the ACC’s most valuable schools while a contract binds them together.

But if Florida State finds the escape hatch and others follow, then the Big Ten and SEC will swoop in. (North Carolina will be the first pick in the next realignment draft.).

And if Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia leave, the ACC would become a carcass.

What then for Stanford and Cal? Do they remain in a conference based on the Atlantic Seaboard that has little media value and second-tier football competition? Or would they return home, join OSU and WSU and rebuild the Pac-12?

That scenario hinges on Florida State’s legal case and the resulting fallout. But even if the Seminoles fail in court, they seem determined to leave, one way or another. And if one goes, others will follow.

At least, that’s the endgame at the heart of the ‘Pac-2’ strategy.

Read full story here


January 25th

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WSU and OSU having to pay WCC to allow there non-revenue sports to have a home

From ExtraPoints …

On December 22 of 2023, the West Coast Conference made a significant and unusual announcement. They were adding Oregon State and Washington State as affiliate members in 12 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.
WCC institutions share a rare level of geographic and institutional similarities, as all full members are private, faith-based institutions on the West Coast with enrollments under 11,000 students. While it isn’t uncommon for leagues to add the occasional affiliate member from outside that profile to make numbers work for Olympic sports (San Jose State, for example, plays Water Polo in the WCC), large-scale affiliate memberships are uncommon. A public school hasn’t played basketball in the WCC since the late 1970s.
But these are uncommon times, so uncommon solutions make sense. With the Pac-12 mostly disintegrated thanks to defections to the Big 12 and Big 10, Washington and Oregon State needed Olympic homes in the short term while they figure out if they could rebuild the Pac-12, or if merging with another conference makes more sense. The WCC bolsters their athletic profile, OSU and WSU get competitive games in their time zone, and everybody wins.
Thanks to an Open Records Request, Extra Points has obtained a copy of the actual contract between the WCC and the remaining Pac-2 institutions, which sheds more light on the nature of the agreement. This contract is dated Dec 21, 2023, or the day before the official WCC press release.

Here’s how some of the money works

While it doesn’t always happen, it isn’t uncommon for schools joining new conferences as either full or associate members to pay some sort of entrance fee. While not explicitly called an entrance fee, the WCC contract does call for OSU and WSU to pay specific fees, per sport, to join the league:
The agreement also states that OSU and WSU have to pay those fees, even if they decline affiliate membership in a specific sport over the next two years. The WCC also specifically points out that OSU and WSU’s league membership is critical for the WCC to hit certain minimum membership requirements for Women’s Golf and Softball.
If either school decides not to compete as an affiliate in any of the mentioned sports for the 2024-2025 or 2025-2026 season, the school would also be required to pay an additional $125,000 withdrawal fee, above and beyond the specific sports fees. The WCC also reserves the right to terminate affiliate membership in other sports.

What about baseball?

Conspicuous in its absence from the contracted affiliate memberships is baseball. Washington State has struggled a little bit recently but made the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010 and has produced a few Top 100 RPI-level teams in recent memory. But Oregon State is a national power, one that expects to host regionals and compete for NCAA championships. The WCC is a decent baseball league, and WSU would be a nice fit for them, but Oregon State would easily be the best program in the conference.
According to the contract, both schools have until Jan 26 to give the WCC an answer about baseball membership.
I reached out to the WCC, Oregon State, and Washington State about this deadline earlier in the week, and all three said that they have no updates to share. January 26 is tomorrow, so I would expect some sort of update on this front very, very soon.



January 24th

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Three Big 12 coaches on list of candidates to replace Jim Harbaugh at Michigan

From CBS Sports … Jim Harbaugh is off to the NFL to coach the Los Angeles Chargers. Michigan now finds itself in a position where it needs to execute a coaching search to replace Harbaugh, who will become the first national championship coach not to return to his collegiate program the next season since Tom Osborne after the 1997 campaign.

The Wolverines intend to cast a wide net. Perhaps, though, that net will need not extend much further than then end of Schembechler Hall.

Who are we kidding? With Harbaugh off to the NFL, there is one name clearly atop a list of potential replacements: offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore. In his sixth season at Michigan, Moore was already a rising star before he took over as acting coach for four games this past season, including wins over Ohio State and Penn State.

When given a chance to showcase his leadership skills — at least on game day — Moore made a huge difference in Michigan’s national championship season. He knows the culture, the roster, and really, the future in Ann Arbour.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State coach: Campbell’s star has dimmed — 18-20 in the last three seasons with the Cyclones — but he was in the mix at Washington indicating his enduring desirability. His accomplishments with the Cyclones and nearby Toledo still resonate. Without the quirkiness, Campbell would resemble a younger Harbaugh.

Other names to consider: Chris Kleiman, Kansas State coach; Mike Hart, Michigan running backs coach; Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator

Read full story here


January 22nd 

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Scapegoat? Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke out after seven years on the job

From ESPN … Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke is out after seven years on the job.

The school announced on Monday that Heeke will “transition” out of Arizona athletics on Feb. 2 and will be replaced on an interim basis by former Wildcats softball coach Mike Candrea.

“I want to thank Dave for his outstanding efforts in leading our athletics program through a period of significant change,” University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement. “He helped get our men’s and women’s basketball programs and our football program on a strong trajectory, oversaw the success of several of our sports teams and greatly enhanced the student-athlete experience. Dave always displayed the highest integrity, and I am appreciative of his partnership and dedication.”

Heeke arrived in Tucson after serving as the athletic director at Central Michigan and his departure was announced six days after hiring Brent Brennan as Arizona’s head football coach. Heeke also hired Jedd Fisch, who led a turnaround in the football program before leaving for Washington, and basketball coach Tommy Lloyd, the 2022 national coach of the year.

During that time, however, the athletic department accrued debts that have yet to be fully repaid. They include a $55 million loan from the university to the athletic department during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been my honor and privilege to have served the University of Arizona for the last seven years,” Heeke said in a statement. “Tucson and the entire Wildcat Nation are amazing communities that Liz and I have embraced with our hearts,” said Heeke. “I want to thank President Robbins, our talented coaches, devoted staff, and loyal supporters for their partnership on this journey”

Candrea stepped down as the winningest coach in NCAA softball history in 2021 after leading the Wildcats to eight national championships during his 36-year tenure.

Why Washington State and Oregon State, even with Pac-12 settlement money, face difficult choices

From The Oregonian … If Oregon State and Washington State are to rebuild the Pac-12 using Mountain West schools before August 2, 2027, it could cost more than $50 million in fees.

In a copy of the Dec. 1 agreement between the two conferences obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive, the Pac-12 may have to pay the Mountain West a withdrawal fee for every MWC school accepting an invitation to leave. The fee kicks in if the Pac-12 makes an invitation to join the conference and the school accepts before the two-year anniversary of the contract’s initial term expiration date of Aug. 1, 2025.

The withdrawal fee begins at $10 million for the first school. It rises by $500,000 for each school beyond that. For two schools, it would cost the Pac-12 $20.5 million. For four schools, $43 million. Six would cost $67.5 million. If the Pac-12 were to acquire 11 of the 12 MWC schools, the price tag is $137.5 million.

In addition, a school leaving the Mountain West must pay a termination fee of $5.5 million.

The withdrawal and termination fees are waived if the entire 12-school Mountain West is accepted into the new Pac-12.

The agreement between the conferences calls for the Pac-12 to pay $23 million over two years to the Mountain West for football scheduling. It is broken down into three separate fees:
  • An administrative fee of $1 million each from Washington State and Oregon State, payable by Dec. 5, 2023.
  • A general participation fee of $3 million, which helps fund operations, that is paid in four $750,000 installments, with the final payment due April 15, 2025.
  • A payment of $1.5 million for each Oregon State and Washington State home game involved MWC school for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. It’s an aggregate of 12 home games – three each season for Oregon State and Washington State – totaling $18 million.

Continue reading story here

Or, put another way … 

From the San Jose Mercury News

Can you put into plain English the contract terms between the Mountain West and the ‘Pac-2’ teams? Can any MW  school leave and, if so, are there financial penalties? If there are penalties, who’s on the hook for them? — @weelexie08

There are several fees, broken down as follows (based on original reporting by the Oregonian).

— A poaching penalty, by which Washington State and Oregon State would pay roughly $10 million to the MW for each school that agrees to join the Pac-12.

— A termination penalty of $5.5 per school, paid to the MW.

— A departure penalty paid by each outgoing MW school to the conference. The amount would depend on timing but likely approaches $20 million.

The poaching and termination fees are part of the scheduling agreement between WSU, OSU and the Mountain West, while the departure penalty is a longstanding stipulation in the MW bylaws.

By far, the cleanest, cheapest means of executing a reverse merger — with MW schools joining the Pac-12 — would be for at least nine members to vote to dissolve the conference. In that case, the penalties would disappear.

However, dissolution would require a commitment by WSU and OSU to accept at least nine schools, and we don’t believe that’s their preference.

Financially and competitively, the Cougars and Beavers are better served adding only the top tier MW football programs (San Diego State, Fresno State, Boise State and a few more) to form an eight-team conference.

Such an endeavor will be costly, tricky or both.


January 20th

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Wildcat booster accuses Washington and Jedd Fisch of tampering with Arizona players

From … Many Wildcat faithful have turned their eyes to the transfer portal, wondering if stars like Noah Fifita and Tetairoa Mcmillan may follow former head coach Jedd Fisch out the door from Arizona.

All University of Arizona football players have 30 days from the day Jedd Fisch accepted the job at Washington to enter the transfer portal, per NCAA rules.

While new head coach Brent Brennan and his staff are doing all they can to convince the top talent to stay, there’s one man who may have the most influence many people may not recognize.

Humberto Lopez is one of the University of Arizona’s top boosters. An alumnus of the school, his foundation (the H.S. Lopez family foundation) helps fund numerous academic programs on campus, including the new School of Business Analytics unveiled Thursday.

His face can be seen at almost every major event with the University of Arizona as his tireless fundraising efforts and donations spread across the campus. The casual Wildcats fan may not recognize Lopez’s face. On Wednesday, he was spotted with many of the most recognizable Wildcat athletes at McKale Center for Arizona’s basketball game against USC.

“In the front row was KD [Kevin Durant}, Humberto Lopez, Noah and T-Mac and [Humberto] was talking to them talking about, you know, probably saying ‘You should stay at the University Of Arizona,” UA Foundation CEO John Paul Roczniak said.

With Brennan officially at the helm of Wildcat football, Lopez is focusing on keeping some of the players Fisch may be trying to take with him to the University of Washington.

“Right now, [Fisch] is desperate to get some of the players back. We’re trying very hard to keep them. [Fisch] is throwing all types of money at them,” Lopez said.

“Obviously, we cannot afford what Washington can throw the throw around,” Lopez said.

More accomplished college football programs like Washington have access to more resources and more sponsorship partners to work with than a school like Arizona. However, Humberto isn’t just talking money to these athletes while hanging with them courtside in McKale.

Lopez says he is trying to show some of the star football players who were the backbone of the 2023 Alamo Bowl champions that staying in Tucson is more than just money.

“We’re trying very hard to be friends, be honest with them, be open. I told them I’ll mentor you throughout your life as long as I’m alive, I’ll help you throughout your career. They have a friend in me,” Lopez said in reference to a conversation he had with Fifita, McMillan, Jacob Manu and Jonah Coleman.

As of January 18th, ten players from the 2023 roster, including Jonah Coleman and high school class of 2024 recruits, have entered the transfer portal.

Continue reading story here


January 18th

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No love lost: ACC amends complaint against Florida State, seeking “substantial” damages

From ESPN … The Atlantic Coast Conference filed an amended complaint in North Carolina Superior Court on Tuesday seeking damages from Florida State for “serial breaches of critical legal promises and obligations” and questioned FSU’s right to have leadership in ACC positions.

The 55-page filing in Mecklenburg County marks the latest in the procedural jockeying between the ACC and Florida State over that school’s challenge to the league’s grant of rights.

The ACC had initially filed a claim on Dec. 21 to protect the league’s grant of rights, which runs through 2036. FSU filed the next day in Leon County (Florida), claiming that the ACC restrained trade and breached the contract and citing years of mismanagement in the league.

It began what promises to be a prolonged legal battle to test the legality of the ACC’s grant of rights agreement.

The ACC filing on Tuesday includes six claims, including FSU breaching its contract with the ACC, breaching confidentiality in the media rights agreement and breaching fiduciary obligations and obligations of good faith.

The complaint includes a new claim for potentially “substantial” damages from alleged contract breaches: “The Conference have and recover of Florida State damages for its breach of the ACC Constitution and Bylaws in an amount to be proven at trial but which the Conference believes will be substantial.”

The filing also challenges FSU’s ability to have school officials in conference leadership positions, which includes FSU president Richard McCullough being on the ACC’s board of directors and the finance committee.

It asks for a “permanent injunction barring Florida State from participating in the management of the affairs of the Conference while it has a direct and material conflict of interest” with the conference’s objectives.

If the entire legal process plays out, it’s expected to take years. The next key date is Feb. 16, when both sides have agreed to respond to the initial filings.

The ACC’s amended complaint portends the league’s legal strategy, which reinforces how FSU was a willing participant in agreeing to the grant of media rights that it’s now trying to legally unwind from. Florida State has estimated it would cost more than a half-billion dollars — $572 million — to leave the ACC without some type of legal win or settlement between the sides.

The ACC made clear in its amended complaint that FSU accepted “hundreds of millions of dollars” as part of the ACC media agreements for more than a decade. The league is seeking a declaration that the grant of rights is “valid and enforceable” and that FSU “knowingly executed” the grant of rights and knew the terms.

Continue reading story here


73 Replies to “Pac-12/Big 12 Notes”

  1. Not sure how video games work and I sure aint gonna find out but I would be shocked if Travis settled for 600 dollars. Either that was a minimum or there must be some kind of click royalty going on as well.

  2. “…but until and unless Prime improves his lines on both sides of the ball, this remake will be delayed.”

    Didn’t Prime bring in like 10 players on both side of the ball?

    1. The prime method is beginning look like Gump’s box if chocolates. Gotta wait to see what you are going to get.

      1. But last year’s box had too many of those chocolates fillings that nobody wants, Coconut & those rum/cherry whatever filling, the proof is where they ended up, with a few nugget, peanut butter or caramels in the box that made it interesting and it was a big improvement on the previous years’ box of dime store chocolates.

        This year Prime [hopefully] added some more of those peanut butter, caramels and nugget chocolates to the box. And, cooked up a few raw ones from last year too. We won’t know the quality all of the chocolates in the box until we get a taste of them in a little over five months.

  3. The NFL has shown how parity adds to the league overall and brings up viewership and revenue. However, college football is different in that in areas where college football is the only game in town like in Alabama & Lincoln or extremely large fan bases like OSU & Michigan and as long as there are rabid fans who will pay to watch their team beat up on what are essentially D2 & D3 teams, those two super conferences will keep bringing the cash.

    Unfortunately that means no parity for any school that doesn’t make the cut in the next round(s) of alignment. Due to the difference in conference TV monies with the two big conferences getting twice as much money, the 3-3-2-2 part of the equation is probably pretty reflective of how the spots would be handed out even if not preassigned that way just due to the revenue disparity and NIL monies between the four conferences.

    It sucks that it’s preordained that way, but it’s also a probably outcome with TV & NIL monies being the way it is.

    So the Buffs best hope is that Prime can bring them back to relevancy (keep those TV ratings up) and make them competitive enough to land in the super conference when it arrives. Those 56 to 64 teams or whatever will rule the “D1” division and the rest will be the new “group five” or whatever it becomes.

    The unfortunate side effect of all of this will be if the two conferences create a lower tier group TV monies share wise when the finial expansion happens and they are looking like they will try to do that too.

    1. The thing about those ‘only game in town’ towns is this: there is a reason those colleges are the only game in town. There are not enough people to support anything else. Hard stop.

      When the rest of the casual viewers around the country lose interest in watching them and the other ‘big boys’ (which will happen) the game will die. The viewers won’t be there and the money won’t be there. It will become the minor leagues for the NFL, and almost no one watches the minor leagues …of anything.

      You’ll have unlimited free agency (transfers), unlimited ‘salary cap’ (NIL), and no parity (about 15 teams with a realistic chance to win it all). That will not cut it.

      One note as to what could save it all. European soccer style promotion and relegation. But that’s for another comment.

      1. I understand what you’re saying and gave it some thought, the big difference is how many small towns is college football in? How many small towns across the USA have one of the 134 teams in the FBS compared to how many total teams the NFL?

        A major city can lose their NFL team if they don’t produce, just ask St Louis or San Diego, both teams are now in LA, or Las Vegas how they got their team? But WE HAVE followed CU through two decades through the desert of college football and are here today following them.

        AND, we’re debating their future in a world of haves because of Coach Prime and CU’s relevancy again just this year!

        The fanaticism of “college Football” spreads through out all of those towns, cities and programs. They all have a different budget/footprint regarding fan base and money. A small school that rules the FCS (the Jackrabbits) has a major influence on their home town and community, regardless of the fact that they are only a D2 school money wise.

        The big schools will rule their roosts, while the smaller schools will settle into their own league and the rabid fans will follow both. A city not big enough to have a NFL team, but with a school big enough to have a NFL size fan base will still get all of the espn/FOX college monies and their fans’ support for NIL and the school.

        We are fans of CU because we went there… or a family member, maybe a child, but most have ties to their school and carry that where they go in life. But in Lincoln, a lot that follow and love the children of the corn never even went to the school.

        Or had immediate family that did… or could.

        But Lincoln is doing a $450 million renovation on their stadium for a college team!

        In downtown Lincoln!

        That’s four times what the Championship Center cost!

        There are many cities or states with money to spend on “their team” with all of the alumni’s money to boot; who are the difference between the viewership dying or not. As long as a school’s team can have the “Water Boy” effect on a town or it’s alumni TV will keep paying.

  4. As I believe I’ve said in previous comments on the CUATG site, college football is circling the drain. Parity matters as the NFL figured out so many years ago. It drives fan engagement and eyeballs (which translates to dollars).

    If they continue on the current path, in 10 years college football will find out the hard way that they can’t draw eyeballs with the product they are delivering. Mark my words.

    1. Couldn’t agree more ATL. CFB and MLB heading down a similar path. I live in Colorado so I’m a Rockies fan, not a fan of current ownership, but a fan of the team. What I see going on in the MLB is that small market teams are fodder for the big market teams. The Dodgers signed Ohtani and Yamamoto to big contracts, but the Rockies barely signed a relief pitcher.

      The point being is that without competitive balance and a sense of fair play, the audience will go away. CFB is heading down that path. Especially if they start playing favorites like this 14 team playoff proposal. College football is eventually going to kill the golden goose.

    2. My ignorant take on the whole thing is that the Big 10 and SEC are trying to hog as much of the viewership pie as they can and still have the viewers hang around and watch while they beat anyone else in any other conference into a coma. I would think they understand that if they form their own super league it will definitely limit their viewership .
      My own viewership has been waning for some time. I have only watched 2 NC games in the last decade or so. Joe Burrow and the last one because it had a PAC team.
      There are too many teams in each conference now. I dont think I could name every one of the teams in the Big 12 (now 16?). I know there is a team from Virginia and I think one form Florida?
      Oh boy….I cant wait till VA plays FL. I will have plenty of beer on hand, turn the phone off and send the wife shopping.
      The whole thing reminds me of the crash in 2007 when the lack of regulation and unlimited credit blew the housing bubble and the rest of the economy into the weeds.

  5. 8 million for a frosh QB? Of course they are putting in a 2 minute warning and the only reason is more commercials. Is there a point where this will become unsustainable? I cant figure why it isnt now. Has anyone here actually bought something because they saw it advertised on TV? Once in a great while I will see something advertised that I have purchased in the past. I saw some “expert” on TV say that a 7 million dollar spot in the superbowl actually brings in more than that in extra revenue in a relative short period of time. PT Barnum was one of the greatest sages of all time.

    1. I think advertising isn’t so much about getting you to purchase something in the short term, but conditioning people to purchase things in the future over sustained periods of their lives (certain beer brands, Doritos, etc). Most advertising is probably aimed at people not like you or I, but the vast majority of impulsive, casual viewers (who outnumber regular fans by quite a large margin as Taylor Swift has recently demonstrated).

  6. Tryin to imagine myself as a player today with respect to the EA 600 dollar offer.
    My first thought, being a codger of course, is that no way am I going to contribute to the screen face plant disease these days. Video games, those virtual goggles, the phone, and then the killer of them all….AI. What happens when the population spends more time in a fantasy world than what is really going on around them?
    Secondly 600 bucks is chicken feed. Not sure how much it would take for me to capitulate but 600 is ridiculous. Unless I could figure out how much I am worth on whatever happens in a video game I would send them a certified letter making it clear they would hire a lawyer and go after them if they somehow did put me in without my permission.

  7. Gee, I wonder why the head of the NCAA isn’t in favor of restricting transferability of athletes? Wasn’t he the governor of some state? Massachusetts maybe? I wonder if he sees restricting kid’s right to transfer as akin to limiting someone changing jobs to better themselves and their families? Ya think?! He can see those lawsuits a million miles away.

    It’s a brave new world out there.

    Go Buffs

  8. UCLA HC? Hires an NFL position coach, former player, no HC experience….where have I seen this movie before? I just know it doesn’t end well.

  9. Kelly is 60 years old. How much longer do you think he will go? Sabin retired at 72. The competitive spirit dies hard. Maybe the ego plays a part (maybe?) All these guys have more than enough money to enjoy life in a lot more areas than the average person. Why wait until you are too old to do many things? Kelly looks a little on the plump side so you wonder about the heart and possibility of diabetes etc.
    I always admired Mike Leach. He never took things too seriously. After his run in with helicopter ;parent Craig James he took years off in Key West while the lawsuits played out. Only been there a couple of times decades ago but its still one of my favorite places.

  10. The timing of Kelly leaving and the list of coaches that already changed jobs puts UCLA in a similar situation as CU was when they hired KD. UCLA is going to the B1G and that will attract someone, but will they be as right as someone at the beginning of the hire cycle?

    1. I was expecting him to go be a coordinator in the nfl. Although he got an extension last year, I don’t know any ucla fans who wanted him around anymore. Unless they get Pete Carroll or something, it may end up being a case of careful what you wish for for them.

      Go Buffs

  11. I think that would be great if the winner of the annual WSU- OSU game got in the CFP. Hopefully they have some great lawyers and a sympathetic judge or 2.

  12. What is interesting to me is that the NCAA has been able to keep this illusion of the student athlete alive for the last few years. We know that Shadeur has never actually attended a class in person. Every class is online, and well, do we really think he does all the classwork himself? Many of the football/basketball players are in fact employees. Now for those fans who still believe in this illusion of the student athlete, are they willing to continue to support their team/school if the curtain is pulled back and we now can see that they are really not student athletes, but people hired by the athletic department to play football/basketball? Some of them being well compensated under NIL and others not so much. That is the real question and it is also what the NCAA fears the most, disillusionment with college football/basketball’s illusion of the student athlete and the susequent fall off of interest in college sports altogether.

    1. Many years ago my father-in-law talked about club sports replacing college sports. Stating that this is one of the only countries in the world that has college sports. I thought he was crazy, no way would that ever happen. Well here we are, this is basically what we have now. Mercenaries for hire called the transfer portal. I grew up in Colorado and have been a Buffs fan as long as I can remember but if I take a step back and look at this it’s just not the same. The NCAA has been a joke for many years now and needs to go away. The old days ain’t coming back. You were right Cleon.

    2. I agree, CU. When I was there in the glory days, we knew none of the studs on the football team went to class, let alone did their homework on their own. Ok, none may be a slight exaggeration, but the illusion of “student athlete” has been that for a very, very long time.

      I’m all for them getting a piece of the action, over the table. It’s their work that feeds the beast, after all.

      It’s going to be intriguing – mixing up my use of interesting, for the people – to watch this play out.

      I’ll say it again, stealing Art Model’s phrase: The NFL owners were/are 32 republicans who vote socialist.

      College athletics and academics could take a page from that book. I believe there’s plenty of money to go around, and float every college athletic department’s non revenue sports, if they were willing to spread the wealth a little.

      As to inducements? How do you think MIT, CalTech, Stanford et al get the top PhD candidates? Ahem, inducements.

      Go Buffs

  13. I’m not doing enough research to fully understand the implications here. What if the court decides there is no limits on NIL? Does that mean it could also relegate the professional salary caps to the dustbin?

    1. It seems like this is going the way of a collective bargaining agreement. Players are employees with a union; salaries are negotiated (although I doubt there would be / could be any regulation on outside money, so the bidding wars would begin anew).

    2. It seems that if a player is an employee all compensation becomes income, including the value of a scholarship. I think that the Athletic departments compensate the schools for those costs. If my college team is little more than a mostly unregulated conglomeration of professional athletes I’ll probably stick with the actual pros. College football doesn’t seem interested in any competitive balance like the NFL.

      1. Because I am so grateful for the time I spent at CU and Boulder I will probably always follow the team but that “be true to your school” thing has lost some of it’s luster.
        Brings me back to a funny story in high school. Some dimwit on a crosstown school’s baseball team picked a fight with me because he thought it was dishonorable that I was dating a girl frim his school. She certainly wasn’t his girlfriend. I imagine part of his problem was he didn’t have one.
        If it does come to the point of an “unregulated conglomeration of professional athletes” I wonder if some of the schools that are losing money will shuck the program entirely.

      2. 83, college football doesn’t seem interested in competitive balance, like the NFL – yet.

        Neither was the NFL, until they realized lack of parity created lack of interest. Same with NBA, MLB and other professional sports.

        And, they even have data right in front of them w/ viewership #s from the BCS to the playoffs, to the last two years’ playoffs and championship, when some new teams were in the mix. Eyeballs increased exponentially, and seemed to have halted the prior downtrend.

        We’ll see how this all plays out.

        Go Buffs

  14. So the SEC and Big 10 are going to play NCAA?
    Anyone want to bet any of their propositions will actually level the playing field with the rest of the College football world? I’m sure there will be a couple of token ideas.

  15. “The suit alleges that the NCAA has violated antitrust laws by denying athletes their ability to earn full compensation for their names, images and likenesses.”

    That right there is going to take a lot of the NCAA’s power away and the conference alignments will whittle the field down to the top 56 or so teams; and yes geography and old rivalries will come back into play. After that they will develop their own governing body, more like the NFL with some kind of caps, but how can you fully regulate NIL?

    A players endorsement value is different for a “Primetime” v. just “any other starter”, so how can you regulate fully? But, once a super conference is in place, THEY will want some guard rails in place to stop the madness.

  16. Interesting article from the SJMN, but in the end the author is dabbling in serious fantasy. If the ACC fails (which is highly unlikely) then Stanford and Cal come back to the PAC2? Why? Who would they get that is better then the ACC without FSU? The powers that be (ESPN and FS) want to narrow the field to those players that bring meaningful number of eyes to their channels no matter what happens with NIL, etc. No, realignment is about thinning the herd, and that herd looks to be about 56 schools, maybe less.

    1. Little Wilner is running out things to write about. The irony is this is the guy that used to
      ignore all the schools that were east of the Cal – Nevada borderline…..or the few times he did mention them it was usually in a derogatory manner.

    2. CUAlum, I may be the only one, but I’m still convinced everything in college athletics will revert back to geographical divisions within 2-5 years (with the next realignment, whenever that happens).

      Wazzu is actually one of the most watched “small market” teams in the country. I’ve seen those stats a lot over the years, and with a quick search found this:

      Their fanbase is passionate, and spread out (and they have twin flags at both major Saturday pregame broadcasts now, every, single, week).

      Those eyeballs are important to the TV ad revenue (and increasingly streaming ad revenue). They really don’t want to lose a single one. And, there are other similar examples (Gonzaga if you want to toss basketball in there). TV execs know this. They want those ad dollars, too.

      But, that’s not why things will revert back to something like the pacific division and the north central division, south central division, northeast and southeast divisions. It’s the non-revenue sports travel. It’s going to prove unsustainable shipping the UW rowing team from Seattle to New Jersey. Same for the tennis, softball and water polo teams. There’s already a lot of grumblings, and the travel hasn’t even begun.

      And, how do you divest football and basketball from the other sports? You can’t. They support them. The schools need it.

      To me, what we’re seeing now is a placeholder.

      Go Buffs

  17. Stuart,

    Thanks for posting the articles on the financial woes… I do follow this and it is an interesting topic. Man, many of the P-12 teams were a real financial mess even before the conference breakups. This is a topic to follow because much of this realignment (or just football) success will be contingent AD’s being able somewhat balance their budgets, plus the separate issue hitting up booster to pay football NIL to individual players just to be competitive. For some schools, they will get to a point where they cannot fire an under-performing coach or keep up with the facilities arms race. The finances have to be a real nightmare these days.

    1. I am still unable to understand how failed CEO’s get golden parachutes and “under performing” coaches dont fall under “just cause.” When Fisher walked away with 76 million was it the sign of the apocalypse? Would Phil night have covered that? I love the game of football but it seems the obsession with it isnt all that healthy. To call it a “game” anymore doesn’t seem appropriate. Its more of a business competition. On some ways college is more professional than the NFL. The NFL has the draft and salary caps that have some affect on parity.

      1. That parity that you mentioned is why the NFL’s popularity has grown even more the last few years, in the finial weeks of the season, instead of the usual 4 or 5 teams locking up playoffs spots and a few battling it out for the remaining spots you now have 10 cities battling for a playoff spot up until almost the end.

        That’s ten (more) cities who’s fans are still engaged and watching, plus the fans of the teams they are playing. That’s ten cities with hope. Parity from the draft and salary caps have improved the fan experience in much of the league.

        It’s crazy to see a team that due to injuries come back from losing 5 in a row to still being in the playoff picture, but it’s happening with more parity.

        1. As I like to point out, art modell said of the nfl owners “we’re 32 republicans who vote socialist”.

          College athletics and administrations could take a page from that book.

          There’s enough money to go around.

          Go Buffs

          1. That’s funny 83. But that money can be intoxicating, I hear.

            I am just a simple guy, but I believe there’s some $20billion, maybe more, generated annually from college football and basketball. Redistribution is hard.

            Go Buffs

  18. “After an easy home debut against Nebraska, CU welcomed rival Colorado State to town for a physical affair”
    Over thirty years a Buffs fan, never thought I’d read a sentence like that from ESPN

  19. The coaching carousel is basically a zero sum game.

    Here’s to Deion getting it done and then at some point opting to retire from coaching in Boulder.

    Whether that’s five years, two years, or twenty years, if he does what he says he wants to do, and wins championships, I’m all for it.

    Go Buffs

  20. I’m starting to get the feeling that except for Oregon (who is loading up for a big run), that the other three P12 teams going to the B1G are not all that enthused. Except for OR, who had endless Phil Knight funds, the others made the move for $$$.

    It tells me something that UW is looking at competitive B-12 coaches. I’ll be interested to see if one jumps. Campbell would be my choice, since he is proven and his tenure has sort of evened out. Nothing is out of the ordinary, but I sort of doubt Frisch jumps, as Zona is returning a bunch. UW will be a rebuild, since they lost so much to graduation and the pros already + now the portal. Sucks for them. UCLA and USC have been pretty portal neutral, adding some guys but maybe not enough to off-set the guys leaving. USC raided UCLA on defense somewhat. Although he says that he is staying, I’m not sure Lincoln Riley stays at USC if an NFL OC (HC, I see remote possibility) positions comes calling.

    1. It’s going to be fun to watch. Fisch went from $3mill or so to $9mill or so. And the huskies are losing like 14 dudes to the nfl. Will he bring his dudes from az?

      Equally interesting, will be if the recruiting machine saban built is sustained by deboer, whose biggest knock was his relative inability to recruit.

      Go Buffs

  21. Wow. Saban retiring. Inevitable, I guess, but sure didn’t see it happening this year.

    Let the rumors begin that prime takes the job?

    Go Buffs

  22. With the NIL and transfer rules, things have changed so much that 10-15 HS recruits will start to become the norm. That means a lot more HS recruits going to lesser programs or lower divisions,
    those that prove they can play at Power 5 level will stay those that don’t will have to transfer to a lower division. Those that prove themselves at a lowe division will transer to a higher level. It will take a while as some coaches will want to keep recruiting 20-25 HS players because that is what they have always done. My advice to 4/5 star players out of HS, take as much NIL money as you can, because if you don’t prove out that is all the money you will ever see for playing football.

  23. You’re not going to turn around a 4-8 program with 6 one score losses in conference in one year with 25 high school players, but … 18 scholarship transfers (Stuart’s tracker) that’s a top 3 rated transfer class just may.

    As pointed out on another post, most NFL teams draft 3-6 players per year and rookies are like freshmen and the rest are free agents. So, seven quality HS recruits is more comparable to the draft, the rest that fill out a roster have been development players with many redshirting their freshmen year and regulated to the practice squad. In the NFL some free agents come from other teams and others are unsigned rookies and only a few of those make it past camp to the practice squad.

    College has 85 players on scholarship , the NFL only 53, so more freshmen and free agents are needed to complete a class. Before the portal and new transfer rules, sitting out a year kept transfers classes smaller and schools developed more high school players, now a coach can bring in more free agents, and many are.

    Prime can still bring in a few more high school players on the second signing day if someone fills a need. A team of upper class men and grad students is going to produce this year, not in two or three years. UW is a senior laden team and look where their at, the NC game.

    Next year Prime can bring in a few more Sophomores and Juniors to balance out the next two years, and if he’s winning he’ll be winning even more on the recruiting trail, maybe he’ll bring in ten high school players!

  24. I know this a CU site but Congratulations to Under 20 USA Hockey Team on winning the Gold Medal today.

  25. Since Burrow/LSU I will watch another champ game. SEC goes home. yeah baby
    I’m sure Michigan will be favored. Wont bet with a company but maybe some friends on Washington.
    Right now Penix is rated the 4th QB in the draft behind Williams, Maye and Daniels. If he carries the Huskies to win the big one I dont know why that is. The guy is a Consistent Winner.
    Mock drafts have him falling to the donkey’s level. I cant believe they will go for another billion dollar old guy with one foot on a banana peal ….can they?
    Not impressed with payton either. He came in touted as an offensive guru. I dont see it.

  26. George, it was YOUR job to explain the strategy and vision of where the conference was heading! Then to put a plan together to execute that vision. You failed to do so! It is not the school’s responsibility to stay patient.

    And don’t act like Washington making it to the natty was something you have any responsibility for. That’s disingenuous, at best.

    1. Agree completely. What’s upsetting is that a certain commissioner (Koff! Koff!) kept promising a good deal for a year, and when it was finally presented, it s**ked. The P12 membership was actually more patient that he deserved.

  27. Happy New Year.
    Enjoying the “cold” in Florida.
    Bowl games were interesting. Lots of interesting simple plays the Mighty Buffs don’t do. While watching those I was reminded I still don’t know who the OC is. Did I miss the announcement? Defensive coordinator supposedly is already picked and according the minions surrounding Deon, it’s gonna be a wow.

    Okay Wow.

    1. Doesnt make much difference who they are….right?
      According to our verbose resident “guru” its just the dudes, man, just the dudes.
      With all the high school dates and the portal dates there has to be some recruiting left. Someone has to get them dudes. Maybe we can just leave it completely to the resident dudes. Seems like the coaching selections are done within the good ol boy system anyway.

  28. Saw one of the best plays ever today. Oregon ran a fake reverse/flea flicker/screen pass…which went for big yardage and a TD. Almost failed because the tailback pass back to the QB was a little high.
    Good stuff though. All the money at stake these days has squished really entertaining football.
    With the exception of freak players and things like the Buff O line on an island you could put unmarked jerseys on teams and couldnt tell who was playing.

    1. Happy New year Bud………………….You Love that sheet. Me toot. The blocking wall was amazing.

      Go Buffs.

  29. We all know Fisher won the lottery for failing. I wonder how much more money was paid out to all those other fired coaches.

  30. I don’t think FSU will win this case, just because you don’t like a contract doesn’t mean you can invalidate it. Although lawyers will pull out every stop to try, this is a long shot.

  31. Interesting that the Pac 2 get to decide on when distribution occurs, but this is a non issue for CU and some other schools. Withholding distributions means they are withholding from themselves also (OSU & WSU). The schools that need the money ASAP are the most pissed, and CU has had a windfall this season. As the article says, they still have a fiduciary duty to all PAC12 schools and if they withhold too long the other schools will sue to force them to distribute.

    1. They won’t steal from the leaving schools. But they will manage their resources and assets in a constructive way for the 2pac. The rest be damned. I like it.

      2pac will rise again, if by another name.

      And as a pac lifer, I think CU belongs there. And we’ll be better then.

      Go Buffs

      1. Agreed… they won’t steal the money, but will probably have to withhold some until all the conference liabilities are known and wrapped up. I think in the near-settlement talks, they will have an indemnity/claw-back where schools that departed with have to pick-up some liabilities on the back in. For most teams that is fine, but could get tricky for UCLA and Cal whose athletic departments are more than $100M in the red.

        I think the P10/P-12 will come back as:

        1. The easiest approach: Mtn West merger (OSU and WSU are listed as a future associate members). One downside here is that the WSU athletic department is in rough financial shape $50-$100M in the red. Another is that it puts OSU and WSU in a 14 team conference with a lower ceiling TV deal;

        2. The regional approach: A combination of the select MTN West (Boise State, Fresno, San Jose St, Nevada, maybe SDSU); a couple WCC schools who decide to add football (Santa Clara, Gonzaga, LMU–if SDSU joins too) and a few other regional schools (Cal Davis, Idaho, SAC ST) jumping from the Big Sky. Santa Clara has a huge endowment and could perhaps play at the 49’s stadium or Stanford’s stadium until they build their program. The Big Sky teams are interesting since their overall enrollments are similar or higher than teams from the Mtn. West. Cal Davis–38K. This would be a better regional conference than Mtn. West merger in terms of travel costs/time etc…, especially they don’t add the SoCal teams. They probably come up with a Silicon valley based TV deal, that somewhat competitive with MWC with more upside.

        3. The wait and see approach. For reconstituting the P10/P12, I’m not sure whether they decide to wait things out for 2-4 years, and see if some old members are interested in coming back. I foresee some tough sledding for the teams in the B1G and ACC in particular. The ACC made good concessions in terms of travel and schedule. The B1G did not. I could see scenarios where UCLA, Cal, Stanford and maybe another (UW, ASU and even USC) just decide that the travel is hurting their AD as a whole, student athletes, FB teams do not win in the new conference, and conclude that they are much better off just moving home. The grass was not greener in their new conference. This would be interesting because middling or down programs in the B1G/ACC might become favorites in the new PAC.

        If they went #2 leaving a few spots open (P10 or P12) w/ decent silicon valley based TV deal, then add w/ #3 they could be a P5 conference again. This combines their SV TV deal with one other major linear TV player and they get close to the ACC and B-12, without the travel headache. In the meantime, ORE ST and WSU must remain competitive in football winning 8+ games each over the next 2 seasons.

  32. CU needs to keep an eye on Entz…….he’s been one of the best IMHO. He might be a good replacement for Coach Prime at some point.

  33. Looking at the B-12 bowl tie ins this year, and projecting into next year, with the PAC-12 going away and a 12 team CFP, the other bowls I’d love to see B-12 affiliations with are the Holiday Bowl (San Diego) and one of the Vegas bowl games. I always like the Holiday bowl more than the Alamo bowl, although both a cool. It is the outside stadium. It will be nice to see the Buffs have a shot at the Sugar bowl. If they decide to have some conference tie-in for CFP bowls, it would be nice to see the Orange Bowl v. ACC.

    1. I was at the Alamo Bowl when the Buffs played. The lighting was horrible. It was like being in a dimly lit room. I will take an outside stadium too.

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