The truth behind the NCAA recruiting "dead period", airline savings, the WACSUN and more:
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
There’s a lot I want to share with you today! Let’s get into it.
First, the latest episode of Going For Two should be live at this point. Bryan and I break down the NCAA’s decision to extend the recruiting Dead Period, a move that has made a lot of recruits, and recruiting reporters, pretty upset. If you want to know what the heck a Dead Period even is, who makes this sort of decision, why, who benefits from the extended Dead Period and more, well, then I think you’ll enjoy this episode.
You can download and enjoy Going For Two for absolutely zero dollars. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. All I ask is that if you enjoy the show, maybe leave us one of those five-star ratings, reviews, or at least, a nice Tweet. That helps the show grow, which helps support Extra Points.
Second, it looks like mail service is starting to come back around Chicago’s North Side, which means I can send you mail. If you’d like some Extra Points stickers, you can grab some for just five bucks.
And if you’d like some stickers without paying any money, I have good news! You can sign up for our free referral program. If you share Extra Points using your unique link, and folks sign up, I’ll give you all sorts of free gifts, from stickers, to free subscriptions, to Homefield Apparel t-shirts, even the chance to pick a newsletter topic. Word of mouth is one of the largest referral sources for new Extra Points readers. I’m happy that now I have a system to reward people for spreading the newsletter.
Finally, if you want the complete Extra Points experience, consider a paid subscription. That gives you every newsletter I publish AND access to our Discord chat room. You can grab a subscription for just seven bucks.
Okay! Let’s get to some #news
ALL HAIL THE WACSUN
Okay. It’s not actually called the WACSUN. Or the SUNWAC. The new Just-For-2021 hybrid FCS football league between the WAC and the ASUN will technically be called “ASUN-WAC Challenge'', which isn’t as fun to say out loud.
Here’s the gist of the arrangement. Both the WAC and the ASUN are starting FCS football for this fall season, but neither have enough postseason eligible programs to earn an automatic qualifier for the FCS playoff. To make sure everybody has a shot at the postseason, the postseason eligible WAC programs will play a league schedule with the ASUN programs, essentially creating a temporary “league” that earns an AQ. By 2022, there will be enough teams to have a traditional WAC and a traditional ASUN schedule.
The WACSUN will include Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State from the ASUN, and the Texas Four from the WAC: Abilene Christian, Lamar University, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. ASUN members Kennesaw State and North Alabama will play in the Big South in 2022. WAC members Dixie State and Tarleton State will play in the challenge, but since both programs are postseason ineligible thanks to their D-1 transition period, their games won’t count towards ‘alliance win percentage.’ Dixie will also play several other games in 2021 that were previously scheduled when the program was an FCS independent.
I’ll revisit this story again in the near future, but I’ll say this for now…credit both of these leagues for thinking outside the box, and for working with each other. You can say a lot of stuff about both the WAC and the ASUN, but neither league has been afraid to be bold and experiment, and now, both leagues appear to have brighter futures ahead than they did a few years ago. And hey, the WACSUN should be a pretty good league for this Fall.
Neither league is done expanding. The ASUN still needs at least one more football member before they can earn their own AQ in 2022, and the WAC is looking to add one more football member as well.
I don’t know if we’ll ever see something like the WACSUN again, so we best enjoy this baby Airplane Conference while we can. And hey, it’ll be nice to celebrate college football weirdness that ISN’T directly related to a deadly global pandemic.
Hey, speaking of that global pandemic and airplanes,
Why didn’t schools save more money on flights?
I’ve barely left my own neighborhood over the last year, let alone done any extensive cross-country travel, and I know I’m not the only one. With business travel canceled across many companies, and with state-level travel restrictions making long trips onerous, consumer demand for flights cratered.
So if demand crashed, flight supply should have exceeded demand, and prices should have come down, right? So…college athletic programs, one of the few industries still actually flying places, probably should have been able to save some money?
Well, not exactly, according to this smart story from Sportico:
A Sportico review of financial documents and interviews with representatives of a dozen FBS schools, however, found that the pandemic’s discounting effect didn’t universally translate to college football charter contracts, despite factors that would seemingly have incentivized carriers to make deals…
Yet only three of the 12 schools contacted for this story saw any sort of price adjustment to their charter flights for the 2020 football season. The majority of programs said prices for planes had largely been stable since before the novel coronavirus upended college sports last spring.
Sportico reported there were several possible reasons for this. Schools may already get their charter flights at a heavy discount, so there wasn’t much room for haggling, even once the pandemic started, especially since there aren’t as many vendors offering chartering services. Another industry analyst suggested that chartering companies may have struggled to actually activate enough of their inventory in the right places. And hey, if the airlines are getting obliterated everywhere else in their business, they have a powerful incentive to try and maintain their margins with athletic departments. After all, it’s not like the football teams can afford to just not fly.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard similar stories from athletic programs that are still flying commercially. Often, any savings from declining fares is offset by challenges with reduced flight options, especially if teams are flying into smaller airports. Instead of having six different flight options to choose from, a school might only have one or two. Other travel packages were booked so far in advance that savings from discounted hotels, car rentals or flights might not immediately go into effect.
Every school and every situation is a little different, but these days, every one of those nickels and dimes counts. Might not be a bad idea to call those vendors again, just to double-check there’s not a way to get a slightly better deal.
This week’s newsletter is brought to you by The Browser.
I read a lot to help craft Extra Points, and it can be overwhelming sometimes to track the gazillion news stories that publish every day. That’s one reason why I appreciate what The Browser does. They send you five stories each day on topics like culture, finance, international relations, and more. It’s not a news roundup, but a way to find excellent stories each and every day. I get a lot of newsletters, but I make sure I find some time for The Browser, because I know I’ll find something in there I wouldn’t get anywhere else, something that is going to be worth my time to really dig into.
Extra Points readers can get a 20% discount by using the offer code POINTS20 at checkout.
Quick heads up friends, this is probably going to be the last newsletter for this week. I’m going to the hospital for a quick little procedure that’s probably going to knock me out later on Thursday, and I want to give myself time to recover. We’ll get back to four newsletters next week.
If you’re interested in sponsoring future newsletters, or in securing a 50% discount for your classroom, office or institution, drop me a line at [email protected] For story feedback, article ideas, FOIA tips and more, I’m at [email protected], or @MattBrownEP on Twitter dot com.