College Football Notes: Pac-12 Silence; Chasing the Bag; Stanford Salaries; Harbaugh; Zoom Call
All has been quiet on the Western front, otherwise known as the Pac-12 Conference, the past several days.
When USC and UCLA announced they were departing for the greener pastures of the Big Ten, many fans and media types speculated that other Pac-12 schools might follow the Bruins and Trojans out the door, or that the conference would move quickly to replace the LA schools.
But no other schools have jumped ship. And no new schools have been added.
That's because the league's presidents and chancellors authorized commissioner George Kliavkoff to begin negotiating the Pac-12's next media rights package (set to commence in the fall of 2024), and the exclusive 30-day negotiating period with current rightsholders ESPN and Fox is underway.
That window expires August 4, so don't expect any changes in the composition of the league before then. The 10 remaining members have all adopted a wait and see approach for the time being.
However, the Pac-12's annual Media Day is July 29 in Los Angeles (how's that for some fortuitous scheduling) and Kliavkoff would like nothing better than to announce a new deal with one or both of his TV partners.
Chasing the Bag: Jackson State head football coach Deion Sanders, the former Dallas Cowboys All Pro, weighed in on conference realignment: “What do we want to do? Do we want to sit back and adhere to tradition? Or do we want to put ourselves in a financial situation where our school prospers? You’ve really got to factor that in and weigh those options.
“You call it realignment. You can really call it chasing the bag. That’s all they’re doing, they’re chasing the bag. Everybody is trying to align themselves properly so their program can prosper, and I don’t mind that. I want our program to prosper as well.”
"Play Me Now or I’m Out of Here": The quarterbacks in college football have seemingly adopted that attitude. According to the usually accurate On3 college football news website, nearly half (58) of Division 1 (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools are expected to start a transfer at quarterback this year.
I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I find that very troubling.
Stanford Salaries: Stanford's federal tax records for 2020 show total compensation of $6.15 million for head football coach David Shaw and $2.5 for athletic director Bernard Muir. Shaw had rated in the top three highest paid coaches nationally in 2019 with a take of $8.9 million, including deferred and bonus payments. At 6.15M, he would've ranked 10th. Muir's compensation puts him in the top 15 nationally.
In my opinion, trying to keep up with the country’s top tier football programs and paying those types of "market rates" to the football coach and AD is a losing proposition for Stanford and also inconsistent with the school’s values.
The Cardinal simply doesn't have enough resources, or the willingness to commit the resources, to compete with the big boys in the era of NIL payments and the transfer portal. Nor will Stanford compromise its admissions standards, which greatly limits the number of athletes it can recruit.
Fact is, the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" in college football and basketball is only going to continue to widen as schools pay out more NIL money to attract recruits and transfers, the facilities arms race ramps up, and coaching salaries continue to skyrocket.
As we’ve suggested previously, rather than chasing Alabama and Ohio State, Stanford belongs in an academic conference with other like-minded schools.
Harbaugh's Largesse: Jim Harbaugh is a complicated guy. He can do the most outrageous, petty things. He can behave like a petulant juvenile. But he can coach football. And he is capable of really amazing acts of kindness and generosity.
The former Stanford and 49er coach got $1.5 million in bonuses for his team's performance last fall and gave it all to the 210 employees of the Michigan athletic department. Payments ranged from three figures to six figures.
Harbaugh said he was inspired by two of his players who bought turkeys and food for needy families in Ypsilanti for Thanksgiving, and credited his team for helping him earn enough to cover the whole athletic department.
More Harbaugh: Harbaugh is also due some praise for his stance on NIL payments, announcing a clear-cut policy that his school will not use NIL deals to attract recruits.
"We’re not going to pay signing bonuses for players to come onto the team," he said. "We’re not going to pay recruits to sign here. When they get here and they do well, they’re going to profit pretty, pretty good here off the jersey sales and other examples. Simply put, that’s how I feel about it and what our policy is here."
Zoom Call Tomorrow: My old friend and colleague, Nancy Peterson, has organized a zoom call tomorrow afternoon to discuss the current state of chaos in college sports. I’ll make some opening remarks to assess where things stand, followed by a Q and A. To join the call, please shoot Nancy an email (email@example.com) and she will send you the link, as space is limited.