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  • Price tags for top coaches reaching stratosphere

    Jan. 25, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Good news for all of us mere mortals worried about next month's mortgage payment ...

    The $3 million per year threshold for top college football coaches is about to be crossed. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione admitted at the Orange Bowl that Bob Stoops would have almost reached that mark had the Sooners won the national championship.

    Bob Stoops isn't having much trouble feeding his family. (Getty Images)
    Stoops would have made approximately $2.66 million with the addition of incentive bonuses with an Oklahoma win. The Sooners got blown out, but the point is that $3 million per year isn't far away. Currently, there are at least nine I-A coaches making more than $2 million per year. An estimated 35 make at least $1 million.

    Nick Saban left LSU making an average of $2.6 million per year. Either Texas' Mack Brown (new 10-year, $26 million contract) or Stoops is believed to be the game's highest-paid coach. Stoops made approximately $2.51 million in 2004 after incentives.

    This at a time when NCAA president Myles Brand is preaching financial restraint. The problem is any talk of financial reform is hit by double roadblocks. The NCAA is limited legally by what it can do to curb spending. Second, more and more athletic departments have become separate "corporations" responsible for their own budget and profit.

    Try telling any corporation it has to limit salaries and expenditures in a competitive market. The hamster long ago hit the treadmill. You've got to win to keep producing revenue. In order to win, you've got to pay top dollar to coaches.

    "The economic model for college athletics has to be one of the worst on record ..." said Castiglione. "None of us like it but it's part of the (landscape). Let's face it, we are the NCAA. If we don't like it, we're the ones responsible for coming up with a different plan. We have to quit complaining about this model and give ourselves a chance to survive."

    That comes from an administrator at the top of his game. Castiglione helped lead a $100 million capital campaign that improved Oklahoma's facilities. But a lot of that money came from the momentum generated by the 2000 national championship and subsequent Big 12 titles and championship games.

    Even then, there's always another school around the corner willing to do more.

    "Because of the antitrust laws, the NCAA is very constrained in the way it can actually limit the way of expenditures," said Robert Hemenway, the Kansas chancellor and chairman of the NCAA board of directors.

    It has only been 10 years since Florida's Steve Spurrier was the first to break the $1 million (per season) barrier. It was 23 years ago that some were outraged when Texas A&M's Jackie Sherrill became the first coach to sign a million-dollar contract. Not per year -- the total package. Sherrill's original deal was six years for $1.722 million ($287,000 average per season).

    After a failed shot at the NFL, Spurrier took $1.5 million to return to college at South Carolina. He designated that $250,000 of that be given to his assistants.

    Stoops gets an automatic $100,000 every Jan. 1. If Oklahoma reaches the promised land of a national championship the bonuses could total $350,000-$400,000. That's the going rate of keeping a top coach at a top program.

    "We're not cavalier about it, but you've got to pull your head out of the sand," Castiglione said. "The marketplace is changing at an even more rapid rate than people want to admit. The chance for moderation is close because the revenues are starting to flatten out."


    Administrators agree that the spending won't slow down until television revenues drop. The new BCS contract that starts in 2006 basically guarantee the same money, although it will be stretched further with the addition of a fifth BCS bowl.

    The Oklahomas of the world have long argued that each school should run its athletic department as it sees fit. Those that can step up, will. The others will fall behind.

    "You do the best you can with what you have," Castiglione said. "That's the way it's been. If you do it right, people have a chance to break through now and then. There is such an insatiable appetite for having the best program year in and year out."

    What isn't going to happen, Hemenway said, is any backsliding in order to get in the black. That's code for no playoff.

    "There is a free market out there," Hemenway said. "What happens in all markets is when the market can't sustain itself, it implodes.

    "The thing we have to focus on is what are the values of intercollegiate athletics? What's the value of amateurism? We'll let that free market operate, but we're not going to compromise any of those values. We're not going to go to play-for-pay. That would be a denial of amateurism."

    Recruiting chat
    The surprise of the recruiting season might be Nebraska.

    The Cornhuskers, having missed a bowl for the first time in 36 years, have bounced back quickly with a class that is generally rated in the top five nationally.

    Coach Bill Callahan was known as a good recruiter when he came in. He scrambled in 2004 to land a serviceable class. That was forgotten when the Huskers stumbled to a 5-6 record.

    Callahan has recruited approximately 10 junior-college players to get help right away. Half of those already have signed letters of intent, including Zac Taylor, a three-star quarterback from Butler County (Kan.) Community College.

    After the disaster that was Joe Dailey, quarterback obviously is a concern. Callahan held onto a commitment from four-star prospect Harrison Beck, a pro-style quarterback from Clearwater, Fla. ...

    No matter what else happens from now until kickoff, Joe Paterno gets credit for snagging the nation's No. 1 player, receiver Derrick Williams from Greenbelt, Md.

    JoePa aggressively recruited Williams from the beginning and beat out the likes of Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. If recruiting is an indicator, it's like old times at Penn State.

    With Pittsburgh defensive back Justin King also committed, Penn State has more five-star recruits (two) than Tennessee, Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio State, Miami, Auburn or Texas.

    That means Joe seems to have landed a solid top 25 class. The kids obviously believe Paterno is going to be around for their senior years. JoePa has the contract to prove it too. ...

    Virginia Tech isn't the throw-in in the ACC expansion it was supposed to be. First, the Hokies got the league's BCS bid in its first year in the conference. Frank Beamer has followed it up with a solid recruiting class that right now is rated ahead of Maryland, Virginia, Clemson and Florida State.

    Now that it is in the ACC, Tech is heavily into the Carolinas able to sell its message to those states' top players. It was a mild surprise that tight end Jonathan Hannah of Hope Mills, S.C., went with the Hokies. ...

    It's official now that the Patriots are in the Super Bowl again: New Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis won't start full time until Feb. 7, the day after the big game. Without a sitting coach, the Irish have assembled what is generally considered a top 30 class.

    The Notre Dame staff did come hard on Akron, Ohio, defensive end Travis Wilson, who questioned the Irish when Tyrone Willingham was fired. Seven Irish assistants reportedly showed up at Wilson's house at the same time recently to show the program's commitment.


    Notre Dame officials aren't sure how the announcement of the signings will be handled on Feb. 2. Weis might be on a phone hook-up from Jacksonville. ...

    Washington fans are griping over the sleepy recruiting results under Tyrone Willingham so far. had U-Dub at only nine commitments as of Tuesday and ranked the class 89th in the country. ...

    Slick courts
    Rick Neuheisel ended up where a lot of us said he would when he tripped over the NCAA's gambling taboo. That is, not in college.

    Neuheisel recently found work as quarterback coach with the Baltimore Ravens. Nineteen months after the whole affair at Washington started, college football still won't have anything to do with him. Not Division III, not Division II, not Division I-AA, not even NAIA.

    That speaks volumes about a sport that has welcomed back the likes of Mike Price and Hal Mumme. Fans and administrators can forgive a lot of things. Gambling and arrogance aren't two of them.

    The former Washington coach's breach of contract suit begins this week. Neuheisel is trying to get $2.1 million he says is remaining on his contract after he was fired, as well as punitive damages. Washington has contersued to recover a $1.5 million loan it injected in Neuheisel's final contract.

    He is also suing the NCAA over its investigative procedures that eventually cost him his job. Opening statements probably won't be heard until Jan. 31. The trail could last three to five weeks.

    Will Neuheisel ever coach in college again? Suing a former employer and its governing body is not a good way to answer that question. Remember, the only reason the NCAA didn't find Neuheisel guilty of lying to investigators is that, in the same day, he finally admitted to participating in an NCAA Tournament pool. That is, after denying it twice.

    Becoming an NFL assistant might be his only avenue back to head coaching. But the league has only 30 openings with scores more qualified candidates with more experience in front of him.

    If a college touches him again, it will take years for his reputation to be healed. Or at least ignored.

    Quick hits

    Bet you didn't know ... Miami's much-maligned Brock Berlin led the ACC in total offense (218.9 yards per game).
    Or that the ACC was the only I-A conference that didn't have a rusher average 100 yards rushing per game (over a full season).
    Or that Virginia finished tied for third in the standings but led the ACC with five first-team all-conference picks.
    Rice coach Ken Hatfield is considering installing a form of Utah's spread option offense. Makes sense since the Owls led the nation in rushing (360 yards) but were dead last in passing (75.3 yards).
    Michigan is planning a $150 million-$200 million project to add luxury suites and restrooms. The renovation might mean the loss of 4,000 seats from the largest stadium in the nation (107,501). A loss of 220 seats would allow Tennessee (107,282 seats) to regain that title.
    Good to see Temple stay at Division I-A. A school task force made the announcement last week. The program deserved better after its crass treatment by the Big East. (What was the difference between Rutgers and Temple?) The MAC is reportedly interested in admitting the Owls in football only as soon as 2006.

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    Gundy, Stillwater run deep with optimism for OSU football
    by DJRamFan
    Feb. 14, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    STILLWATER, Okla. -- This is what a couple of victories over Oklahoma will get you ...

    Interest from a millionaire donor.
    Interest in your coach.
    Interest in getting better?
    Oklahoma State is in the business of answering that question -- again. It's a common one in Stillwater, where rookie Mike Gundy is the fourth coach since crippling NCAA sanctions tore OSU football apart in 1988.

    QB Donovan Woods will have the spotlight next year. (Getty Images)
    Its perpetual starting point is being the other program in the state, seldom dealing from a position of strength. On its own campus, Eddie Sutton consistently fields a top 10 basketball program. OSU football constantly fights for recruits, attention and victories against that national power 90 minutes down the road.

    Ah, that's where the Cowboys can claim some progress. Quick, name the only school to beat Oklahoma more than once since the beginning of the 2000 season.

    Yep, Oklahoma State, which has won two of the past four meetings and five of the past 10.

    "Our staff, in my honest opinion, does a great job of game-planning them," said Gundy, who ascended from offensive coordinator to replace Les Miles on Jan. 3. "We challenge them. We go after them. Some teams go out there and say, 'Let's get this over with.' Our players go right after them."

    Sooners everywhere have about eight months to let those words soak in. Until then, I-A's youngest coach (Gundy is 37) is brash enough to keep crowing. Miles wasn't shy about the subject while leading the program out of a decade-long malaise before departing for LSU. While his record wasn't spectacular (28-21), his organizational skills and game-planning were outstanding.

    Ask Oklahoma. A going-nowhere Cowboys team beat the No. 4 Sooners in Norman 16-13 in 2001, Miles' first season. They did it again the next year, winning 38-28 against a team ranked No. 3.

    Based largely on those two results, LSU swept in and hired Miles, the only coach to guide Oklahoma State to three consecutive bowls. Also based on those victories, Oklahoma State quickly replaced him with Gundy. Millionaire T. Boone Pickens was already on board, having given a combined $200 million to the school and athletic department.

    Mike Gundy file
    A brief history of Oklahoma State's new coach:
    Birthdate: Aug. 12, 1967 (youngest I-A coach)
    Wife: Kristen
    Children: Gavin, Gunnar, Gage
    School: Oklahoma State
    Playing experience: Four-year starter at quarterback, 1986-89; still holds school career passing record (7,997 yards)
    Coaching experience: assistant Oklahoma State, 1990-1995; Baylor, 1996; Maryland,...
    -02-18-2005, 08:48 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Penn State has Coke-bottle glasses about JoePa
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 27, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    National feature | Notebook
    At least Florida had the power to fire its coach.

    Penn State has no such option. The only person who can determine the future employment of Joe Paterno is Joe Paterno. And at last check the 77-year-old was armed with a four-year extension as a foundation for an increasingly obvious stubborn streak. odds
    Florida coaching candidates
    Coach, School Odds
    Steve Spurrier EVEN
    Bobby Petrino, Louisville 2-1
    Butch Davis, Browns (NFL) 3-1
    Urban Meyer, Utah 10-1
    Jeff Tedford, Cal 100-1
    Rick Neuheisel, H.S. $11,000-1
    Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 1 million-1
    The silly season kicked off early Monday with the firing of Ron Zook at Florida. The 2004-05 round of coaching changes apparently won't include the departure of Paterno. What was merely uncomfortable the past couple of seasons could get flat-out embarrassing in Happy Valley.

    Those Coke bottles might help JoePa focus on his world, but they're still blocking his view. Saturday's 6-4 loss to Iowa proved that -- or rather reinforced it. The Nittany Lions have few Big Ten-quality athletes, even fewer playmakers.

    They are 2-5 this season and 5-14 over the past two seasons. In the last four-plus seasons, Penn State has lost 31 games. That's not a blip on the radar, friends, that's a trend. The school lost a total of 22 games in the 1970s, 28 in the 1980s and 26 in the 1990s.

    What little Big Ten talent Paterno does have, he doesn't seem to know what to do with. The coach lashed out at reporters last week after calling quarterback/receiver Michael Robinson "one of the best football players I have ever coached."

    Steve Spurrier is getting in some golf in Florida before a widely anticipated return.(AP)
    "Don't question me," Paterno added.

    Robinson promptly went out and threw two interceptions and fumbled on plays that ended Penn State's final three possessions. Most troubling, and usually a sure sign a coach is in trouble, is thousands of empty seats at Beaver Stadium.

    Apparently, not at Penn State where the school would be firing one of its biggest donors who has ties to bigger donors. That the final score was the same as the first college football game played in 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, taints those first noble football warriors.

    Back then, didn't each "touchdown" count for a point?

    Considering the issues, jobs, coaches and schools this could be on the most interesting offseasons in recent history. Now that Florida has broken the seal, here the top potential openings in the country ...

    He's coming...
    -10-27-2004, 12:14 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Virginia Tech offers Beamer raise to more than $2 million
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 23, 2005
    CBS wire reports

    BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech has offered football coach Frank Beamer a new contract that would boost his average annual compensation from $1.3 million to more than $2 million for the next seven years.


    "The university and myself believes that coach Beamer is the one who built this program, and we absolutely want coach Beamer to be here for the very rest of his career," athletic director Jim Weaver said Monday night on the weekly Hokie Hotline radio show.

    He said he hoped the deal could be completed before Virginia Tech's Sept. 4 opener at North Carolina State. The holdup is Beamer's refusal to agree to any new contract that doesn't include raises for each of his nine full-time assistant coaches.

    "That's all I'm looking for," Beamer said Saturday. "I don't need all the other stuff."

    Weaver said Beamer and his agent, Jimmy Sexton of Memphis, Tenn., asked him and other university officials to examine assistant coaches' salaries at other top programs and pay Beamer's aides accordingly. He said that analysis is in progress.

    "I'm not sure when we'll get to the end of the line, but we're committed to getting there," Weaver said.

    Beamer, 58, who is starting his 19th season as Tech's coach, signed his current contract in 2000. At the time, Beamer's salary and the combined $1.1 million being paid to his assistants ranked among the highest in the sport.

    Since then, coaches' salaries have skyrocketed, with several signing deals for $2 million or more annually. Virginia's Al Groh received a new deal last week worth $1.7 million this season and more than $2 million when the contract runs out in six years.

    Compared to other top programs, Tech's assistants are being paid below the norm. Seven schools in the Southeastern Conference paid their assistants an average total of $1.3 million in 2004.

    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -08-24-2005, 08:07 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Gutsy Mountain West banking on big plans
    by DJRamFan
    Feb. 19, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Give the Mountain West credit for having a huge set.

    And we're not necessarily talking television.

    Last year the Mountain West became the first I-A conference to leave ESPN. Mountain West TV (carrying league football and basketball games) kicks off in 2006 on new cable network CSTV.

    College Sports Television is trying to stay a step ahead of the copy cats. (Provided to SportsLine)
    Having to play midweek games and perceived second-class status became too much for the conference's presidential board. Commissioner Craig Thompson was charged with finding a new TV home. In what was a largely ignored, but significant, deal, he was able to sign a deal with fledgling CSTV in September.

    "Us leaving ESPN was the chink in the armor," Thompson said. "They lost a client for the first time ever, so to speak. Not that we meant that much to them."

    Time will tell whether the move to CSTV (College Sports Television) was progressive or ill-advised. ESPN is still the 800-pound gorilla but even it can't account for the increasingly fragmented college sports market. Conference USA followed the Mountain West to CSTV, although some of its inventory will remain on ESPN.

    Sure, the Mountain West got a 71 percent rights fees increase but it also lost "reach," the pairs of eyeballs that could see its product. CSTV, which debuted in 2003, is on most major cable systems but lags far behind the Worldwide Leader in terms of viewers and clout.

    "They realized they were not going to get the attention they deserved for the sports they deserved stuck as one tiny piece of ESPN's (empire)," said CSTV cofounder Brian Bedol.

    One industry analyst says CSTV has a good chance to get into 60 million homes in the next year or so. Bedol says the goal is 40 million homes in the next two years.

    "It's particularly a great move for a conference like the Mountain West," said the analyst, who did not want to be identified. "Without a large population base you struggle in competition against larger leagues. To create your own destiny is really a great move. There is risk associated with it, I think it's going to work."

    Both sides are betting on the idea that they will get better together. The Mountain West is arguably the best non-BCS league. CSTV was founded by Bedol, Steve Greenberg and Chris Bevilacqua. Bedol and Greenberg co-founded Classic Sports Network, which they eventually sold to ESPN. It is now ESPN Classic.

    Their financing includes Coca-Cola, JP Morgan and sports entrepreneur Dave Checketts.

    Bottom line, college sports' television landscape is changing. Both Fox and ESPN are launching...
    -02-24-2005, 09:10 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Schnellenberger building a fourth power in Florida
    by DJRamFan
    Sept. 23, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer

    Why not flip a coin to pick a starting quarterback?

    Howard Schnellenberger had done wackier things in his career. Twenty years ago it seemed like he was throwing that career away. Miami had won the national championship in 1983 and Schnellenberger, the celebrated architect of Hurricanes football, bolted -- try not to laugh -- to the USFL.

    Needless to say, that didn't work out. There was an inspiring stop at Louisville and a disappointing one at Oklahoma but, really, his career arc was never the same again.

    "In my opinion, he might have as many championships as anybody, ever (if he stayed at Miami)," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "It's crossed my mind many times."

    So why not flip that coin three years ago? How is that more outrageous than creating a football program at an unknown campus in Boca Raton, Fla.? A place where the burrowing owls on campus were the inspiration for the school's nickname?

    Or agreeing to go door-to-door soliciting community leaders for the mere $15 million needed to go from germ of an idea to kickoff?

    Really, it wasn't weird at all for the 70-year old who, well, let's just say he still has extreme confidence in his abilities. So, yeah, it really was Schnellenberger who suggested in 2001 that freshman quarterbacks Jared Allen and Garrett Jahn flip a coin to start the first game in Florida Atlantic's history.

    "They were too close for a human being to call so God called it," Schnellenberger said this week, considering his latest construction project. "Certainly I would do that. Why wouldn't I?"

    Ridiculous is sublime again in Schnellenberger's world. Amid this season's talking points -- hurricanes, instant replay, kickers who can't kick -- is the job Schnellie has done at that owl-laden commuter campus of 13,000 students in Palm Beach County.

    Three victories, all on the road, all against I-A competition in Florida Atlantic's final season before joining the big time, which in this case is the Sun Belt Conference in 2005. Next year, this college football IPO will be eligible for -- please stifle your laughter again -- a bowl.

    All of it after playing organized college football for all of four years. All of it according to plan.

    "He was basically semi-retired in Miami selling municipal bonds," said Dr. Anthony Catanese, the man who hired Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic in 1998. "I said, 'That's not the place for Howard Schnellenberger.'

    "He told me in five years he'd have this program nationally recognized. He did it in three."

    Almost all of it has been done with kids from the state of Florida who couldn't go to one of the Big Three -- Miami, Florida or Florida State....
    -09-23-2004, 02:14 PM