Good morning! Thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Before we dig into the #news, I wrote a few other things you may be interested in:
- I spoke to the commissioner of the West Coast Conference about what she thinks of the term Mid-Major, how the NIL debate impacts her schools, conference identity, and more. I think the WCC is a really interesting conference, structurally, and I think Gloria Nevarez is an interesting and candid leader. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to talk to an athletics administrator about NIL stuff and not hear doom and gloom…but hey, I’m used to talking to Jim Delany.
- I also wrote my first story for Banner Society, on the famed Rutgers-Princeton game you’ve probably read a lot about this week. SPOILER: I don’t think Rutgers REALLY invented college football. Or at least, not as anything we know it today. Banner Society wrote a ton about Rutgers this week, and if you’re sick of all that Rutgers talk…uh…maybe just skip the last part of this newsletter.
Moving forward, I don’t expect stories on Banner Society to be a regular occurrence, but there may be more ways for us to work together more this offseason. If there are more college basketball-y stories that fall in my wheelhouse, I may continue to write those for SBNation.com. If you’d like me to write a story (or stories) for your website, DM me, or email me at MattBrownOhio@Gmail.com. I love writing this thing, but I’d probably love working with you too.
Okay! Enough for all that. Let’s talk about THE BIG GAME
Did Alabama tell students not to protest Trump's visit or not?
This weekend’s LSU/Alabama game is going to be massive for so many reasons. There are no shortage of on the field subplots, of course. It features two of the best teams in the country, two of the best quarterbacks in the country, with probably a division title on the line, plus a whole heaping load of drama and expectations and dread on LSU’s side. I cannot stress this enough. This program is sick and tired of losing to Alabama.
So it should be a great game! I’d be happy to spend the next 700 words breaking down the particular position battles on the field, but that isn’t really the purview of this particular newsletter. I’d direct to, oh, the rest of the college sports internet.
I’d like to talk about this. Via USA TODAY:
Alabama will not punish students who boo President Donald Trump at Saturday's game against LSU at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the university's Student Government Association said an earlier message that threatened to revoke seating at future games for "organizations that engage in disruptive behavior" had been taken out of context.
"The SGA strongly affirms its belief in free speech and the rights of all students to express their opinions," the statement said. "Today’s report erroneously assigned a political context to a message meant only to remind students about heightened security and the consequences of altercations or other behaviors unbecoming of a University of Alabama student."
The SGA’s letter, per AL.Com:
Apparently, the SGA did not send out any similar letters ahead of any other football game this season.
One of the things that sucks about the Trump era, is that almost everything feels like a referendum of Trump. Given the enormous amount of publicity and energy ahead of this game, the SGA sending out a note might make sense.
But because Trump is showing up, and this entire everything is going to be even more of a circus, this becomes political. Maybe the note actually was always meant to be political. Maybe a college kid clumsily sent out an email without understanding how it would be interpreted. But now, Alabama officials are going to have to be extra careful, because everything the university does during a weekend when tensions are already going to be high, will be under a microscope.
Also, apparently this balloon thing is going to be in town? And Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn coach running for US Senate in Alabama, will also be there, right after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (a guy Trump HATES) announced he would enter the fray? Maybe there will even be booing?
I’m just saying…regardless of what happens ON the field, I think the potential for something very stupid to happen OFF the field is pretty high.
Could football investments cripple basketball?
Rutgers was the first FBS program to make a coaching change this cycle, ditching Chris Ash in late September. I wrote a little bit about who Rutgers might consider shortly thereafter, and many industry reports have the search centering on one man. Former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.
On many levels, that makes sense. Schiano isn’t current coaching, so he could theoretically come in and either salvage or improve the current recruiting class. He has unquestioned credibility among high school coaches in New Jersey, and he was the only guy to have meaningful success coaching Rutgers since they started playing modern schedules.
Schiano is a lot of things, but he isn’t ignorant about how hard this job is going to be. According to NJ.com, Schiano apparently had some “significant demands”, which is not typically what a candidate has during a job interview. Via NJ.com:
Greg Schiano met with Rutgers officials in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday to discuss returning to his old job as head football coach, but that meeting ended without any decision as officials grapple with what one person familiar with the discussions described as his “significant” demands
Schiano is believed to want significant improvements to the football infrastructure in Piscataway, including an indoor practice facility that is a common recruiting tool on every rival Big Ten campus and would likely move the team out the existing headquarters at the Hale Center.
I would assume that a deal with either a very hefty buyout, or some plenty of guaranteed years, would also be a requirement for Schiano to take this gig, although that was not mentioned in the article.
I think it’d be pretty smart to insist on quite a bit if you’re going to coach football at Rutgers. Given who you are recruiting against (and who you’re playing against), this could be the hardest job in the Power Five. Insisting on some facility parity, even if that is going to be very expensive, seems reasonable! The path is a potentially competitive Rutgers football team runs through recruiting, specifically local recruiting. If Schiano doesn’t think that can be done given the current infrastructure, well, he’s probably right.
But hiring a guy like Schiano, who has coached in the NFL and served as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, isn’t cheap. Building huge new facility projects in New Jersey isn’t cheap. Paying a head coach $3 million, plus his staff, plus buyouts…that isn’t cheap either.
Now, Rutgers is about to get some huge Big Ten checks. But even with that money, they won’t have unlimited resources. Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press raises an interesting point…what if a massive investment in Rutgers football chips away at the gains they’ve made in basketball?
When Schiano co-ran the athletics department with Bob Mulcahy—and make no mistake, they worked in lockstep—men’s basketball was abandoned in a roadside ditch as football hoarded resources. Wednesday’s report outlining Schiano’s demands to return is a reminder that Greg is not interested in sharing the financial pie. He eats the entire pizza.
If you were deciding investment based on which program was closer to achieving meaningful success, or even where it would be most likely, the answer seems clear. You’d cut big checks to men’s basketball.
Rutgers basketball hasn’t ever really been good, (the program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since the 1990-1991 season), but they were at least average in the 90s and early 2000s. And after bottoming out horrifically, Rutgers could contend for at least an NIT bid this season. They’re currently 63rd in KenPom, and the advanced stats service predicts an 18-13 record.
Rutgers football, if we’re being nice, is probably two years away from being two years away, and cracking the top three in the Big Ten East might not happen for at least a decade. The hole the program needs to dig out from, from a recruiting perspective, roster perspective, marketing perspective, everything, is massive.
But in terms of maximizing revenue? That’s a different equation. Being just “okay” at football would almost certainly bring in more money than say, making the NCAA Tournament 3-4 times a decade.
I’m not sure this has to be an either-or proposition. After all, Rutgers already has a good basketball coach and a decent facility, and a successful football program would increase revenues for everybody. But there aren’t many schools that manage to have even better-than-average football and men’s basketball programs, and the ones that do, (Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Oregon, etc), tend to be loaded. Even schools in the Big Ten have basically made their choice. Look at Penn State and Indiana.
Hopefully, Rutgers doesn’t have to gut any program to try and build at least an average football team.
But if growing that program, under Schiano or anybody else, proves more expensive than anticipated, maybe there are some difficult questions to answer the next time the wrestling program, or baseball team, or anybody else, wants a check.
Thanks again for your support of Extra Points. If you enjoyed this newsletter, or previous newsletters, why not share them? And if you have questions, comments, concerns, ideas for what term we should instead of Mid-Major, or more, hit me up at Matt.Brown@SBNation.com, or @MattSBN on Twitter dot com.