THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, JULY 9, 2019
SAVED BY THE BUYOUT, DUMB CONTRACTS, ETC.
My grandmother once told me, “Just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it works.” She also made this profound statement: “Some people have more money than they’ve got brains.” Ivey Van Sickle, who never went to college, told me these things in the early 1960s. Little did she know she was talking about things to come in college sports.
Take college football, for example. Chris Ash is the coach at Rutgers where he has fashioned a 7-29 record over the last three seasons which means each win has been worth $985,714.29. Contrast that with Nick Saban at Alabama. Yes, Rutgers football and Alabama football are like comparing apples and oranges, or in automobile terms like comparing a Yugo with a Mercedes (Nick owns a few Mercedes dealerships in case you didn’t know it.) Over the same last three years, Saban and Alabama have won 41 games which means each Alabama win costs a mere $607,829.27. That’s an absolute bargain when you consider also that hardly anybody watches a Rutgers game on television and is inspired, while Alabama’s presence on TV generates tons of money for the U of A athletic department to spend on such things as new air hockey tables in the football locker room.
A good idea would be to fire Chris Ash and hire a new coach but this is a good idea that doesn’t work. Why? Because firing Ash would cost Rutgers $10,350,000. This isn’t like Aggieland where the AD can call an oil gozillionaire and say, “Uh, how ‘bout writing me a little check unless you want to get so drunk up in your skybox that we’ll need a gurney to cart you out before the first quarter is over.” When the Aggies wanted $480 million to turn Kyle Field into a palace, boosters wrote the checks and the Aggies had all the cash they needed before the first shovel hit the dirt. Rutgers would have to dip into its $1.33 billion endowment to pay Ash off because the athletic department doesn’t have the money and well-heeled boosters aren’t exactly beating a path to the Rutgers doors to throw cash at them.
Here’s another one. Florida State is paying Willie Taggart $5 million a year, which means that each win last season cost a cool million. They’re banking on a better record this year but even if Willie has another disaster (a real possibility), he’s going to be coaching in 2020 and for the foreseeable future. Why? Because buying out his contract would only cost $21,958,333 at this point. Firing Willie might seem like a good idea at the moment, but when you’re FSU and there is as much red ink in the athletic department budget as you might find in your typical red ink manufacturing sweatshop in the suburbs of Wuhan, China, you grin and bear what’s about to happen.
Last season Louisville came up with this brilliant idea to fire Bobby Petrino, who was cruising along at $4.5 million a season with three seasons remaining on his contract. Mind you, this is the same Louisville that had pay deposed athletic director Tom Jurich $7.17 million, is trying to negotiate with Rick Pitino for something far less than the $38.7 million buyout that was in his contract before he was fired and who paid off Chris Mack’s contract at Xavier before agreeing to pay him $4.08 million a year for seven years. So what did Louisville do? Fire Petrino, of course, and counting bonus and longevity money that he would have received, Louisville is on the hook for a cool $14 million.
I love this one. The University of Connecticut athletic department buys its red ink from the same factory in Wuhan as FSU. Comparatively speaking, FSU has a bunch of Wall Street wunderkinds running its athletic department compared to UConn, which is a mere $41 million in the hole. UConn is leaving the American Athletic Conference for the Big East. It will cost $12 million to leave the ACC, $3.5 million to join the Big East. Leaving the AAC also means UConn football will forfeit its $7 million a season of football revenue from ESPN as part of the AAC deal with the network. UConn will have to either go independent or drop down to D1AA since there isn’t a single Big East school that has a Division I football program. I’m sure the UConn fans are licking their chops at the idea of bringing Georgetown, Butler or Villanova to 40,602-seat Renstchler Field.
Some people indeed have more money than brains.
ALONSO WINS HR DERBY; EDWARDS TRANSFERRING OUT
Former Gator Pete Alonso saved the best for last Monday night to win the Home Run Derby in Cleveland. While Vlad Guerrero Jr. set an all-time record with 91 home runs for the three rounds, Alonso hit 14 to win his first round match with Carlos Santana, then knocked off Ronald Acuna Jr. in the second round, 20-19. In the third and final round, Alonso didn’t need to bonus time to hit 23 home runs to beat Guerrero, who needed the bonus time to hit 22 for the round. The win was worth $1 million to Alonso who will donate a portion to the Wounded Warriors Project and Tunnels to Towers Foundation.
With the announced transfer by corner Brian Edwards, Florida football has 79 players on scholarship. While the overall numbers are good, the numbers in the secondary are somewhat of a concern if there is any kind of injury bug as the Gators have eight scholarship corners and six scholarship safeties heading into the season.
THE LIST FOR TUESDAY
Ranking the best running backs in Florida football history.
1. Emmitt Smith: Emmitt’s career stats are even more impressive when you consider (a) The Amedeeville Horror (UF OC Lynn Amedee in 1988) wanted to use him as a decoy, (b) he had three offensive coordinators in three years and (c) he played only three seasons. He still ran for 3,928 yards (36 touchdowns) while catching 56 passes for 463 yards (1 TD). He was a 3-time All-SEC selection (1987-89) and first team All-America (1989).
2. Errict Rhett: Nobody can remember a third and two or a fourth and one when Rhett got stopped short of the first down marker. For a guy who cried because FSU didn’t want to sign him, he turned out great for the Gators. He ran for 4,163 yards (34 TDs) and caught 153 passes for 1,230 yards (2 TDs). A first team All-America pick in 1993, Rhett was first team All-SEC in 1991 and 1993.
3. Fred Taylor: Taylor’s numbers are remarkable considering he had only two healthy seasons (1994 and 1997). He finished with 3,075 rushing yards (31 TDs) and had 67 catches for 717 yards. He was first team All-America and first team All-SEC in 1997 when he ran for 1,292 yards and 13 TDs.
4. Larry Smith: Smith is probably best remembered for his 96-yard touchdown run against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl after the 1966 season. He ran for 2,186 yards and 24 TDs at UF (24 TDs) while catching 50 passes for 607 yards (5 TDs). He was 7-12 passing for 95 yards. He made first team All-SEC three times (1966-68) and first team All-America in 1968.
5. Larry Dupree: Don’t pay attention to the numbers. They were great at the time. Pay attention to the fact he made All-SEC three straight years (1962-64) and first team All-America in 1964. Pay attention to the fact the day after his child was stillborn he played the game of his life and destroyed Georgia. He ran for 1,725 yards (15 touchdowns) while catching 21 passes for 183 yards.
6. James Jones: Back when offenses actually incorporated a fullback, Jones was as good as it got. He finished his Florida career with 2018 rushing yards (17 TDs) with 68 catches for 593 yards (5 TDs). He was also 5-6 passing for 51 yards and a TD. Jones made first team All-SEC in 1981-82.
7. Neal Anderson: Anderson came to UF from tiny Graceville but proved to be a big time back, rushing for 3,234 yards (30 touchdowns) while catching 46 passes for 525 yards (2 touchdowns). Anderson was second team All-SEC twice (1983-84) and first team All-SEC once (1985).
8. John L. Williams: Williams would ranks as one of the more complete backs in UF history. He was a devastating blocker but he also ran for 2,409 yards (14 touchdowns) plus caught 92 passes for 863 yards (7 TDs). He was twice named second team All-SEC in 1985.
9. Earnest Graham: Florida lost two football games in 2001, both when Graham was injured. In a career marked by consistently picking up the tough yards between the tackles, Graham ran for 3,085 yards (33 touchdowns) plus caught 59 passes for 402 yards. He also threw a touchdown pass. Graham was a second team All-SEC pick in 2001.
10. Tony Green: Florida ran the wishbone when Green played so he split carries with at least three other backs every game. Still, he ran for 2,694 yards (16 touchdowns) while catching 32 passes for 296 yards (3 touchdowns). He was 2-5 passing for 82 yards and a TD. Green made first team All-SEC in 1977.
Wednesday: Ranking the best receivers in Florida history.
SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR TUESDAY
From Jesse Temple of The Athletic discussing where Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor stands after two seasons compared to some great running backs of the past:
“In the span of just two years, Taylor has remarkably ascended into the stratosphere of all-time greats, and not just at Wisconsin, where he has become a two-time All-American to earn a place on the wall. Statistically, he already is one of the most accomplished running backs in FBS history. He took over as Wisconsin’s starting tailback the second week of his freshman season in 2017, rushed for 223 yards with three touchdowns, and never looked back, finishing with 1,977 yards and breaking Adrian Peterson’s single-season freshman FBS record. For his encore performance, he hit 2,194 yards rushing.
“Taylor became the first player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,500 yards as a freshman and then exceed 2,000 yards as a sophomore. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best tailback last season. He has amassed 4,171 rushing yards in his first two seasons. Only two running backs even reached 3,500 yards through their sophomore seasons: Dayne (3,566) and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (3,507). Both of them are in the College Football Hall of Fame. Taylor needs 2,235 yards to surpass former San Diego State tailback Donnel Pumphrey for the all-time FBS rushing lead — a feat Taylor could achieve in three seasons.”
From Sports Illustrated’s Scooby Axson we see that great recruiting classes don’t always result in championships:
“There have been far better recruiting classes than Texas A&M’s subsequent hauls after the Manziel era, and the only reason they are mentioned here is because of what can happen when you put a premium on replacing a transcendent player. Kenny Hill in 2013, Kyle Allen in 2014, and Kyler Murray in 2015 all came in highly touted and were recruited by Kevin Sumlin. By the time Sumlin was given a healthy payday to go away in 2017, all three star QB recruits had also left the program, with Murray going to Oklahoma, winning the Heisman Trophy and being selected with the No. 1 pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL draft.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Saturdaydownsouth.com released its verson of the top 25 college football coaches Monday. Nick Saban and Dabo rank 1-2 with Jimbo Fisher at #3. Kirby Smart #4? Sorry, but I’m not buying it. Dan Mullen is down at #9. Mark Stoops (#24) ahead of Gus Malzahn (#25). Oh please. SDS also ranked its top 25 teams with Alabama and Clemson 1-2 followed by Oklahoma and Georgia. Also from the SEC #5 LSU, #8 Florida, #12 Texas A&M, #23 Kentucky and #24 Auburn. Kentucky at #23? I don’t think so … You have to wonder if Billy Donovan is willing to hang around long enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder to cash in on all the first round draft picks they’re accumulating. They’ll probably get a bunch more in the next few days because it’s inevitable that Russell Westbrook will be traded. When Donovan came to the Thunder they had Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant left and they got Paul George. Now George is gone and Westbrook will be gone soon … The surprising run of 15-year-old Coco Grauf ended in the fourth round at Wimbledon when she was taken out in straight sets by #7 seed Simona Halep. Also at Wimbledown, 39-year-old Roger Federer beat Matteo Berrettini in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.