Thoughts of the Day: April 2, 2020

THERE WILL BE FOOTBALL: WHEN AND HOW MUCH IS THE QUESTION

There is going to be a college football season. Count on it. The only questions that have to be answered are when – fall or in the spring – and how much. Will it be an abbreviated season – perhaps 10 games instead of 12? Those questions will be answered, most likely in the next 6-8 weeks, but one thing you can know for sure, whether it’s fall or spring, 10 games or 12, college football will be played.


The reason there will be a college football season has everything to do with the bottom line. Take away the ticket sales, booster fees, concessions, merchandise sales and network money and athletic departments would shrivel up and non-profit sports would be lopped off. We’re already seeing Iowa State cutting coaches salaries and that’s from a reduction in NCAA Basketball Tournament money. Take away football and Iowa State would be eliminating programs right and left.


At Florida, which has an athletic department budget in excess of $160 million, more than $90 million in revenue comes from football. The last thing in the world Scott Stricklin wants to do is bring the bean counters together to figure out whose job gets axed and which teams go non-scholarship or are eliminated completely. He’s got a brand new baseball stadium being built on the west side of campus and plans for a football facility where McKethan Stadium currently stands idle once its business as usual in the state of Florida. Take away the 2020 football season and Florida athletics might survive but at what price?


The next 60 days will go a long way toward determining if there will be a football season in the fall. If the corona virus isn’t on its way toward elimination nationwide by then we could see plenty of schools cancel their fall classes, but even if it is contained, there could be delays in cranking up school, which, in turn would mean delays in re-starting football. Delays in the fall could mean going to a reduced schedule, perhaps 10 games.


We got along fine with 10-game football seasons until the 1970s, when schedules were expanded to 11 games to bring in more revenue. The 12-game schedule became the norm in 2006, again for the purpose of providing more money to offset the high cost of non-revenue sports. When Division I opted for 12-game schedules, it provided opportunities for paycheck games among the Division I bottom feeders and Division 1AA. Take two games away from the power conference schools and it’s going to cause serious financial problems in leagues like the MAC and Sun Belt in Division I, and a good portion of the D1AA schools.


In the event of a two-game reduction in the schedule, the upper levels of Division I would take a financial hit, but not like the one they would take if there were no season at all. So maybe football in the fall would start mid-September, conclude the regular season after Thanksgiving and then there would still be conference championships, bowl games and playoffs.


The networks would lose all those games that fill the 12 noon and late night time slots. Don’t you know you would dread missing out on Vanderbilt-Mercer at noon on September 5 if the schedule got reduced. But, at least there would be a season and 10 game schedules will get the money flowing.


Spring football is an option, but only if fall classes are cancelled at enough institutions. Playing football in the spring as well as the other sports that fill up the fall and winter calendars, would be a nightmare but if there is no football, there won’t be the other sports to worry about.

Spring football might also require a reduced schedule to accommodate the schools up north where the weather is a problem, plus you’d have to give adequate time for practice, conditioning etc. If there is football in the spring semester it probably wouldn’t start until March. You’d have to play something like 10 games so that football doesn’t run until July with things cranking up again in August for the 2021 season.


Watch closely what happens in the next 6-8 weeks. That will determine when football is played again but unless this virus causes a national shutdown that lasts well into next year, the game will be played. Either it’s played or college sports as we know them will change radically.


PARTIAL WILL WADE TRANSCRIPT FROM “THE SCHEME”

Trey Wallace of FOX Sports in Knoxville has the complete audio of LSU basketball coach Will Wade speaking with now convicted agent/runner Christian Dawkins. Here is a portion of the transcribed audio:


Wade: “We could compensate him [Javonte Smart] better than the [NBA] rookie minimum.” Dawkins: “You are probably right about that, too.”

Wade: “We’ll give him more than the D-League.” Dawkins: “Exactly, God bless us all. God bless us all. So what’s the good word, though?”

Wade: “I was thinking last night on this Smart thing. I’ll be honest with you. I’m f#$%ing tired of dealing with this thing. Like, I’m tired of dealing with this f#$%ing s#$t. What do you think? ‘Cause I went to him with a strong ass offer about a month ago.”

Dawkins: “Uh-huh.”

Wade: “F#$%ing strong. Now, the problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now. It was tilted toward the family a little bit.”

Dawkins: “Uh-huh.”

Wade: “But I mean it was a f#$%ing hell of a fucking offer. Like, a hell of an offer, especially for a kid that’s going to be a two- or three-year kid. I’ve made deals for kids as good a player as him that were a lot simpler than this.”


Wednesday, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said, “There is no change to Coach Will Wade’s employment status at LSU and we will continue to cooperate with all reviews into this matter.”


Until LSU gets a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, Wade isn’t going anywhere. The decision to keep Wade or ride out the storm will be determined by the severity and number of allegations. This is completely a financial matter. If LSU were to fire Wade before the NOA, then the school would be on the hook for the remainder of his entire contract. If the allegations aren’t all that severe, LSU may decide keep Wade. It would be cheaper than spending the money to hire a new coach. However, if the NCAA comes down hard, LSU can fire Wade for cause and won’t owe him a dime.


MORE SEC BASKETBALL STUFF

Arkansas got a commitment from New Mexico grad transfer Vance Jackson (6-9, 220), who averaged 11.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Lobos.


Alabama will have only 10 on scholarship if Kira Lewis Jr., John Petty and Herb Jones all stay in the draft. Most mock drafts have Lewis going in the first round. Petty is such a good three-point shooter that he could easily pick up traction as a second rounder. Jones needs to plan on returning to school.


Georgia assistant Joe Scott is the new head coach at Air Force. That’s a tough blow to Tom Crean since Scott is Georgia’s top recruiter … If Rayshaun Hammonds stays in the draft, Georgia’s height will consist of four players who are 6-8. Tom Crean has at least two scholarships at his disposal. Look for him to go hard in the grad transfer market for someone with size.


When Johnny Juzang announced he was transferring out of Kentucky, his dad said the reason was homesickness (Juzang is from California). So why does his final six list of transfer destinations include Villanova, Notre Dame and Texas Tech? Oregon, UCLA and Arizona are understandable.


This could be as massive a rebuild in the country if all five Kentucky players who are exploring the NBA Draft elect to hire an agent. Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery have all put their names in for the draft. Of the five, Maxey is the only one who is assured he’ll go first round. Richards could sneak into the late first if he gets to work out for teams.


Ole Miss and Georgia are both in the running for Rider grad transfer Dimencio Vaughn (6-5, 220), who averaged 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds last year.


GOOD QUOTES FOR THURSDAY

From former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (on ESPN Sports Center) on his health as he recovers from a broken hip and awaits the NFL Draft:

“I feel like if I had to go out there and perform the same way I did my sophomore year and my junior year, being 100 percent healthy, I feel like I’d be able to go out there and do that.”

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on the financial pressures both colleges and networks are facing to play at least an abbreviated college football season:

“From a purely financial perspective, both the conferences and the networks are facing tremendous pressure to play some sort of season – with or without fans in the stands – to avoid losing more than #2 billion in collective annual TV revenue across the sport. Consider: Alabama football in 2018 accounted for $111 million of the athlete department’s $177.5 million in total revenue.

“Alabama can afford to take a one-year dip in ticket sales, but it cannot afford to go all the way from $111 million to $0 and still fund its athletic department. Nobody could. It’s possible you’d still see hundreds upon hundreds of non-revenue sports get shuttered overnight.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil donated $250,000 to the Gateway Florida Food Bank in his hometown of Lake City and the Star of Hope Mission in Houston to help in the fight against the corona virus … A lack of takers has free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney knocking $2 million off his salary demands. He’ll try to squeeze by in life on $17-18 million a year if someone will simply offer him a contract … Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan signed a one-year deal worth $3.75 million to play for the Houston Texans next season … No NCAA Basketball Tournament has forced Iowa State to lop about $3 million off coaches’ salaries throughout the athletic department. Another $1 million will be saved from not having to pay performance bonuses. We will probably see a number of schools take similar measures due to budgetary shortfalls from radically reduced checks from the NCAA … Oregon got a commitment from Boston College grad transfer QB Anthony Brown, who threw for 40 touchdown passes the last two seasons … Former Kentucky and Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Gillispie has been hired as the head coach at Tarleton State in Texas, which is making the leap from Division II to Division I … Major League Baseball won’t be playing in London this summer due to the corona virus. The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals were scheduled to play June 13-14 at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium.

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