Thursday, July 05, 2012

Catching up has a ginormous pile of money

Boise makes it official: Some conference-affiliation ambiguity was cleared up Saturday night when Boise officially withdrew from the Mountain West about three hours before a deadline to do so without incurring a $5 million withdrawal penalty. Translation: Boise will be a member of the Big East starting in 2013.

The reason for said ambiguity: Boise's nonrevenue sports, which were adrift in the wind pending the WAC's extinction. My understanding was that the Big West had offered a home for those sports, just as it did for San Diego State; that apparently wasn't a for-sure offer but a "why don't you apply and see what happens" offer. The Big West will be comprised entirely of California schools and Hawaii, and some of the California schools weren't super thrilled about the idea of adding a lengthy trip to Boise. It sounds like that'll get resolved, though:
The school announced Sunday that it was in ongoing discussions with the Big West to make that conference the home for the majority of its other sports. The Big West will hold a meeting of its presidents before the upcoming academic year to make a decision on Boise State's membership in the conference beginning July 1, 2013.

A Big East source told that Boise State will receive financial help to pay the Big West for travel costs. San Diego State has been lobbying Big West schools to invite Boise State, as well, since the Aztecs need and want a Western partner for their football presence in the Big East.
It should be noted that the Big East was so desperate to get Boise that it agreed to indirectly pay the Big West for its members' nonrevenue-sports travel costs to get to Idaho. Whatever. I guess getting Boise was pretty much a necessity in order to maintain the illusion of being a major-ish conference. And as for Boise, the alternative was sticking it out in the Mountain West and playing a blah schedule that would've made getting in the playoffs about as likely as getting in the BCS championship game in the current system.

So ... as of 2015, the Big East will be complete and consist of the following football programs: Boise State, San Diego State, Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, South Florida and Navy. Woo.

The Orange Bowl really wants to be relevant: The ACC champion will play in the Orange Bowl from now until a long time from now:
The Discover Orange Bowl will be played on New Year's Day at 1 p.m. ET and annually feature a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning after 2014, results of a 12-year agreement announced Tuesday by the ACC and the bowl's committee.

The game will feature the champion of the ACC, unless that team is chosen to play in the newly announced four-team playoffs. In that case, a replacement team from the ACC would play in the Orange Bowl. The ACC team playing in the Orange Bowl is likely to face a highly seeded at-large team in the annual game, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad.
The announcement wasn't at all surprising but was still noteworthy since there was some uncertainty about whether the Orange Bowl would be one of the bowls included in the future six-bowl BCS rotation. Interestingly, the ACC took advantage of that uncertainty by taking over the game's TV rights ...
Sources told Schad that the ACC will negotiate and sell the Orange Bowl TV rights and plans to keep at least 50 percent of the revenue. Whatever network gets the Orange Bowl will get to broadcast it, even when it's a semifinal.
... although I'm a little unclear as to exactly how that works within the overall postseason-rights package. Regardless, the Orange Bowl previously had those rights and now doesn't, which means the bowl committee is about to get squeezed out of a big chunk of revenue (last year's payout to the ACC was about $22 million). That continues a trend started by the Big 12 and SEC via the Champions Bowl, which will be run by the conferences rather than a bowl committee and thus eliminate the typical ticket guarantees and hotel requirements and various other needless expenses that usually make a bowl trip a maybe-break-even-if-you're-lucky venture. This probably goes without saying, but anything that removes power/money from the bowl-committee leeches and redistributes it to the schools/conferences is a good thing (especially in the case of the somewhat-tenuously-held-together ACC).

Also of note: The ACC will reportedly be playing an at-large team rather than a probably uninspiring Big East champ, as has been the case since 1998. I'm gonna assume that "at-large team" is the approved phrasing for "Notre Dame," which hasn't finished in the top 10 since about 1836 but still draws eyeballs and, most importantly, doesn't have a tie-in deal with any of the bowls that will definitely be a part of the New Postseason Order. All things considered, just having the option to take a qualified Notre Dame team is probably worth more in TV negotiations than any deal that could've been put together for a second- or third-place team from the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12/Pac-12.

No word yet on exactly what happens with the Big East champ; expect a deal with one of the better bowls that ends up getting left out of the BCS rotation (maybe the Liberty Bowl or whatever the Champs Sports Bowl is becoming).

So much money: The playoff thing will produce money. A lot of it. Like a ridiculous, incomprehensible amount of it.

This is from The Sporting News:
A new four-team, three-game playoff could be sold to television for as much as $5 billion over a 10-year deal, a BCS source close to the process told Sporting News.

The 2011 BCS contract paid out $174 million, and the newly restructured postseason would nearly triple that number.

Great googly moogly. Exactly how that gets split up is yet to be determined; the one certainty is that it'll be disproportionately distributed to the five power conferences before everybody else gets a split of the leftovers.

CBS Sports has a piece on an actual proposal featuring a distribution model based on each conference's number of top-25 finishes in the BCS era (that's based on current conference alignment, obviously). The breakdown:

1. SEC 1,054
2. Big Ten 860
3. Big 12 816
4. ACC 673
5. Pac-12 671
6. Big East 240
7. Notre Dame 73
8. C-USA 49
9. MWC 48
10. BYU 45
11. MAC 21
T12. Sun Belt 0
T12. WAC 0

A couple observations: (a) lol at the bottom of that list and (b) there's obviously a massive chasm on either side of the Big East. As for what that means:
One unknown isn't whether the Big East will get an equal share as the other AQ conferences -- the Big East won't -- but rather will the Big East get the same share of the other former non-AQ conferences, or somewhere in the middle between the former-AQ and non-AQ leagues

"It's possible the 'Big Five' get treated in one manner, the Big East in another manner, and the remaining conferences in another manner," a commissioner said.
Makes sense.

BTW, the above-cited list is a data-fied encapsulation of the distribution of on-field power in the FBS. Consider this: The meh future version of the Big East owns almost twice as many top-25 finishes in the BCS era as Conference USA, the Mountain West, the MAC, the Sun Belt and the WAC combined. That's ... like ... wow/

That must have been a for-real cut: Jordan Hall has a serious owie:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jordan Hall, No. 1 on Ohio State's depth chart at running back, will be out for about 10 weeks after undergoing surgery on Friday for a cut on the bottom of his right foot.

Hall, with 817 career rushing yards, is a senior who first-year coach Urban Meyer had singled out as one of the team's top potential playmakers.

He was walking in grass outside his residence in Columbus when he cut his foot.
FYI, Columbus grass is made of beer-bottle shards and used syringes and whatnot.

Hall is/was supposed to be the starter with Boom Herron gone and the other options on the roster being bigger guys who aren't particularly well suited to being the feature back in that offense, which makes this update all the more problematic:
Ohio State believes the foot injury suffered by running back Jordan Hall is "significant" and the best-case scenario is he will return by Week 3, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

The Buckeyes are prepared for him to take a medical redshirt if necessary, the source said.
I see. A relatively brief absence would definitely be manageable; Ohio State opens with an underwhelming nonconference schedule that features Miami (Ohio), Central Florida, Cal and UAB. The first two games after that: at Michigan State and home against Nebraska.

If it's a long-term thing, the running game will suffer -- at least to some extent -- because of a general lack of guys with Hall's skill set. Junior Carlos Hyde (106 carries last year) and redshirt sophomore Rod Smith (29 carries) both have some experience but are also 230-plus pounds, and incoming freshmen Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn are both five-stars but without the experience and with the 200-plus-pound frames. Percy Harvin they are not.

It's obviously possible to run a zone-read-type offense with the running back as the power guy and the quarterback as the edge threat (think Michigan the last two years), but Meyer's preference in the past has typically been the opposite, so it'll be interesting to see exactly how he deploys the Braxton Miller/power backs combination.

We still don’t know ye (and might never know ye): Tom Savage was really good as a freshman at Rutgers a couple years ago. He also was kinda crappy at the start of his sophomore year and lost his starting job, at which point he became a vagabond. He transferred to Arizona, sat out last year and then decided he wanted to be closer to home and left school. He tried to transfer back to Rutgers but was turned away after he had a hardship waiver denied by the NCAA, meaning he'll have to sit out next season because of a second transfer, and is now enrolled at Pitt, according to ESPN and the Twitters:
"Moving to Pittsburgh tomorrow... Nervous and excited... next chapter in my life," Savage wrote Saturday on Twitter.
Savage was a freshman All-American after being a legit four-star recruit who picked Rutgers (over Michigan, Penn State, etc.) back when it wasn't cool to pick Rutgers; he has the talent to play pretty much anywhere. Default starter Tino Sunseri will be a senior this year and thus vacating the Pitt starting job next year, which would seem to make Savage the obvious replacement if not for the existence of (relatively) highly touted incoming freshman Chad Voytik and this weirdness:
The Big East has a rule in place that may keep Savage from playing for Pitt in 2013. Conference rules state that once a player has signed and competed at one league school, as Savage did at Rutgers, he cannot compete at another league institution. Pitt has filed a lawsuit to get out of the Big East to join the ACC in time for the 2013 season. If that does not happen and Pitt is stuck in the Big East for 2013, Savage would not be eligible to play.
That would be ... umm ... inconvenient. Pitt has every intention of being in the ACC next year and probably will be, but the possibility exists that Savage will never play another game. He's apparently not that concerned since he has other priorities, the specifics of which haven't ever been made public:
"If I had to make the decision again (to leave Arizona), I’d make the same decision," Savage told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger in January. "It’s my family. Football is just a game. I had to step up and be a man and be there for my family and help out. It’s a tough decision (by the NCAA), but it’s not the end-all, be-all right now."
Good for him, I guess.

Shayne Skov is still at Stanford: What the headline says:
STANFORD, Calif. -- Linebacker Shayne Skov has been reinstated to the Stanford football team and will serve a one-game suspension this season after he was arrested and jailed earlier this year for driving under the influence.
Skov was nominally suspended after the aforementioned arrest, which was significant because he was unquestionably one of Stanford's better returning players; he actually led the team with 84 tackles and 7.5 sacks two years ago and was an All-Pac-10 first-team pick, then tore his ACL early last season and sat out the rest of the year. He's supposedly healthy now and will be back for all the meaningful games this year (the opener is against San Jose State, which hahaha).

BTW, Stanford's linebacking corps should be pretty good between Skov on the inside and Chase Thomas (a first-team All-Pac-12 guy last year) and Trent Murphy on the outside. So that's nice.

Zeke Pike has some issues: It apparently is possible to get arrested/cited for public intoxication in Alabama:
Auburn freshman quarterback Zeke Pike was arrested for public intoxication in Lee County on Saturday night and later released on a $300 bond, according to multiple reports.
Derp. Pike was a big-time QB recruit whose offer list started going backwards when he committed and started doing stupid things: He got kicked out of a seven-on-seven camp for allegedly throwing the ball at an official, got into a bunch of stupid Twitter wars with Alabama fans, got suspended for his senior-year season opener as punishment for an ejection in the previous year's playoffs, then got suspended for his team's playoff loss for undisclosed reasons (woo maturity!). He then enrolled early at Auburn and looked OK in spring but came out of it third on the depth chart behind presumptive starter Kiehl Frazier, a sophomore, and occasional 2011 starter Clint Moseley, a redshirt junior.

Whatever punishment he gets will be irrelevant in the short term (he'll probably redshirt barring a quarterback disaster reminiscent of last year's) but potentially problematic in the long term; Pike is the best passer on the roster in an offense that's about to become much more pro-style-ish under Scot Loeffler, and even Auburn can handle only so much malfeasance. They'd probably prefer it if he'd stop getting suspended and stuff.

More on drunk quarterbacks: Tommy Rees has been cleared to return to practice, according to Brian Kelly, although his legal status won't be resolved until a hearing on July 17. A let's-all-laugh recap of the charges:
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has been charged with four misdemeanors after allegedly raising his knee and knocking the wind out of a police officer following an off-campus house party early Thursday.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office says the 19-year-old Rees was charged with one count of battery, two counts of resisting law enforcement and one count of illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor.

Rees was among about five people who jumped a backyard fence and ran after officers arrived to break up a loud party several blocks from campus about 12:30 a.m. following the last day of Notre Dame's spring semester classes, Trent said.

When an officer caught up with Rees, the 19-year-old raised his knee into the officer and they both fell down, Trent said. Rees continued to resist, so the officer pepper-sprayed the quarterback so officers could handcuff him, Trent said.
Good times.

I still have no idea what to make of Notre Dame's quarterback situation but now have to account for Rees as part of said situation, which wasn't a certainty until a few days ago. I'm skeptical that he beats out Everett Golson since I don't think Kelly wants him to beat out Everett Golson, but he'll probably end up getting some playing time after Golson starts and does a bunch of infuriating, freshman-y things.

ALL UR SEC FLAMEOUTS ARE BELONG TO US: Remember David Oku? He was supposedly awesome when he committed to Tennessee after some hilarious and memorable recruiting indecisiveness but did nothing other than return kicks for a couple years and is now headed to Arkansas State:
JONESBORO, Ark. -- Former Tennessee tailback David Oku has signed with Arkansas State. ASU coach Gus Malzahn announced the signing of the former standout from Midwest City, Okla., on Wednesday.

Sports information director Jerry Scott said Oku will have two years of eligibility remaining and can play immediately because he sat out the 2011 season.
I would like to point out that I once wrote this about Oku and Bryce Brown when they both committed to Tennessee despite having seemingly little interest in committing to Tennessee:
What are the odds one of these guys transfers by his junior year? 99 percent?

Anyway, Oku is a ridonkulously shifty guy who might be able to do some damage in the Sun Belt despite getting buried at Tennessee ... and he might not even be the starter this year since Michael Dyer is already on the roster after putting up 1,200 yards at Auburn last year and has applied for a waiver so he won't have to sit out a season (the NCAA hasn't yet ruled on it). Crazy statement: Arkansas State might have the best backfield in the SEC. Both guys have two years of eligibility left; the question is whether those two years will be spent together or if there'll be one year with just Oku (in 2012) and one year with just Dyer (in 2014) sandwiching one together. I'm guessing the offense will be OK either way since (a) Gus Malzahn seems to be decent at this coaching/coordinating thing and (b) quarterback Ryan Aplin is the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year after putting up some ginormous numbers in an offense that didn't have a running back worthy of 10 carries a game.

In summary, it will be a traveshamockery if this team doesn't win its crappy conference.

UPDATE: Dyer's waiver request was denied Monday. Good timing.

Marquise Goodwin WOW: Marquise Goodwin is apparently quite good at jumping long distances:
Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has qualified for the Olympics and will compete in the long jump for the U.S. Olympic track and field team.

Goodwin set a personal best with a jump of 8.33 meters at the Olympic trials. That's 27 feet and 4.25 inches for those of us not on the metric system.
Dude ... like ... yeah. That's freakin' impressive, especially for a guy who's a legit football player (30-plus catches in each of his first three years) and not just a track guy playing football.

I really have nothing else to say here but would like to reiterate that Texas has a 5-foot-9 receiver who can jump into the end zone from just beyond the 9-yard line. Amazing.


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