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27 Nov 2006

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Back to His Future?

by Russell Levine

The winds of change often blow through college football this time of year, as teams concluding disappointing seasons opt to get a jump on the sport's "silly season" by announcing coaching changes, while other programs, in possession of the ultra-desirable candidates, move to keep their most valuable commodities in place.

No program is caught more in the middle of this brewing storm than Rutgers, where coach Greg Schiano has brought a laughingstock to the doorstop of a Bowl Championship Series berth. But for the Rutgers administration, which is already struggling with budget deficits and cost-cutting, Schiano's success may come at to steep a price.

That's because Schiano's past is about to catch up with him. Before arriving at Rutgers in December of 2000, Schiano served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami, which is currently seeking a new coach after dismissing Larry Coker Friday, one day after the Hurricanes completed a 6-6 regular season with a win over Boston College.

Schiano-to-Miami speculation has been going on since the first month of the season, or as long as it took for Miami and Rutgers to get off to divergent starts. If there is a textbook definition of "hot young coach," Schiano is it. Just 40, he has turned one of the worst programs in Division IA into a budding powerhouse that just earned the second 10-win season in school history and will win the Big East and earn a BCS bid if it beats West Virginia next Saturday. The Scarlet Knights routed Syracuse Saturday to bounce back from their lone loss of the season.

Schiano is a dynamic recruiter with the audacity to continue to mine South Florida for talent even after he arrived at Rutgers. Conventional wisdom surrounding Rutgers had always been that all a coach needed to do to turn the program's fortunes was recruit talent-rich New Jersey, but Schiano saw things differently. Having come from Miami, he had an intimate understanding of the dynamics of Florida high school football -- namely, that there were more good players than the state's three powerhouse college teams, Miami, Florida, and Florida State, could accommodate. By bringing some of the leftovers north, Schiano gave his developing program the athletes to compete with the better teams of the Big East and gave it a chance to get back on its feet while he worked to repair long-damaged ties to leading Garden State high school programs.

But the factors that make Schiano attractive to a program like Miami are not limited to football. In a big-time college football world that has gone fiscally mad, Schiano's guaranteed salary of $911,000 for 2006 makes him both New Jersey's highest paid state employee and underpaid for his position. According to a recent study by USA Today, the average annual income for coaches in the six BCS conferences is $1.4 million. What's more, Schiano's buyout figure -- the amount another school would have to pay Rutgers to get him out of his contract -- is just $250,000, which won't be an impediment to any school that feels Schiano is its man.

Speculation that Miami feels that way about Schiano is just that, speculation. At this point, it's clear that the Rutgers coach may have a strong financial incentive to depart, especially from a cash-strapped university that will struggle to match any offers he may receive.

Schiano received a seven-year contract extension last December, but Rutgers may have to come up with another one in order to hold on to him. Some coaches have made a living at this practice, parlaying interest from other schools into ever larger commitments to stay. Louisville's Bobby Petrino has received a pair of hefty raises after being courted by Auburn, LSU, and the Oakland Raiders.

Even if finances are removed from the equation, comparing the Miami and Rutgers jobs looks at first to be a one-sided debate. But is it? Miami has won five national championships since 1983 and sent a host of first-round draft picks to the NFL. It sits in the middle of the most fertile recruiting ground in America. But beneath the surface, Miami and Rutgers have more in common than, say, Miami and Ohio State. Miami has been a national power for a quarter century, but it has done so without investing in its infrastructure. Both the on-campus practice facility and the off-campus, city-owned Orange Bowl are in need of upgrades. The Orange Bowl, which could charitably be described as decrepit, was abandoned by the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 1987, and by its namesake bowl game in 1996.

Here again is where Schiano's past and potential future collide. In his more recent past, he has built the Rutgers program from the ground up, winning battles with the administration to increase budgets and upgrade facilities. That work is largely done. The next coach at Miami will have to endure similar travails, though school president Donna Shalala has suggested Miami is ready to undertake the necessary upgrades.

The Scarlet Knights' success this season has also turned Rutgers into a tough ticket, and given Schiano's team the kind of home-field advantage he only dreamed of upon taking the job. Games against Louisville and Syracuse sold out well in advance, and temporary bleachers were added for the Louisville contest. Miami, despite its long-term success, does not have legions of loyal fans like most traditional football powers. The Hurricanes drew just 23,308 against Boston College.

Another glimpse of Schiano's past versus his future was on display this weekend. In the weekend's biggest game, USC routed Notre Dame to move within a win over UCLA of qualifying for the BCS championship game opposite Ohio State. The star for USC, with three touchdown catches, was receiver Dwayne Jarrett.

Jarrett grew up next door to Rutgers in New Brunswick and was recruited by Schiano. He said in a recent interview that he saw the talent Schiano was accumulating but opted instead for the proven power, USC. If Jarrett were being recruited this fall, would his decision be different? Maybe not, but after this season, a top recruit choosing Rutgers will no longer be an upset.

After beating Syracuse, Schiano was asked about his future. And while his response of "I have no plan to go anywhere else" was probably not as definitive a statement as Rutgers fans would have liked, it does appear the coach, a New Jersey native, is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Will Schiano's past remain in Florida and his future in New Jersey? The answer may depend on Rutgers's willingness to further increase its investment in football.

John L. Smith Trophy

I had a terrific suggestion for the JLS Trophy from reader Sophandros, who nominates Southern Jaguars coach Pete Richardson for a play call during the Bayou Classic against Grambling Saturday. With just 10 seconds left in the first half, Richardson accepted a penalty, taking a field goal off the board and giving his team a first-and-goal from the Grambling 1-yard line. Despite being out of timeouts, Richardson ignored the quick pass and instead called for a QB sneak. The play was stuffed and the clock ran out, leaving Grambling with a 7-0 halftime lead. That Southern went on to win the game is inconsequential, Richardson's call is an awful one and could have cost his team.

Richardson's candidacy is strong, but this week's award goes to Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, for one awful play call and one awful series in the Razorbacks' loss to LSU Friday. If you haven't seen Arkansas play this year, do yourself a favor and tune into the SEC Championship this Saturday. The Hogs have the most unique and exciting offense in college football, and perhaps the best player in tailback/quarterback Darren McFadden. There's just one problem with Arkansas -- none of the three actual quarterbacks it has started this season can throw the ball. Arkansas was locked in a tight duel with LSU despite getting zero production from Casey Dick, who completed just three passes on the day. McFadden spent perhaps two dozens snaps at quarterback in what Arkansas calls the "Wildcat" formation, running a variety of quarterback draws, option plays, end-arounds, and even the occasional pass.

McFadden is a freak of nature. LSU had no answer for him or backfield mate Felix Jones. Arkansas averaged 7.6 yards per rush, and just 3.1 yards per pass attempt (a figure that includes McFadden's 2-for-2 passing day). Yet on one of the game's most critical snaps, Nutt put the contest in Dick's hands. Trailing 17-12 a minute into the fourth quarter, Arkansas had a fourth-and-3 at the LSU 26. McFadden lined up next to Dick in the shotgun formation, yet stayed in to block as Dick rolled out of the pocket to pass. He never got the ball off, getting sacked for a 15-yard loss that not only snuffed out the drive, but also gave LSU good field position.

After a wild exchange -- including 240 yards gained and three touchdowns in just over a minute of game play -- Arkansas had one final chance to win the game. Taking over at its own 27 with two minutes and no timeouts, Nutt still had time to run the ball, especially with a team averaging nearly eight yards per carry. Yet he went into desperation mode. The first down play was a deep ball to McFadden, who then came out of the game for two snaps to catch his breath. After two more incompletions, McFadden returned for one final incomplete pass on fourth down.

Nutt deserves a lot of credit for getting a team with some serious offensive limitations to 10 wins and the SEC title game, but he was guilty of out-thinking himself at his season's most critical moments. For that gaffe, he earns this week's JLS Trophy.

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'm again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by MGoBlog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment -- my rankings may change based upon your suggestions.

Rankings that may need some further explanation include:

  • USC passes Michigan to no. 2. It's not that I'm so impressed with the win over Notre Dame, which is a seriously flawed team that will have two half-decent wins and two BCS at-large berths in two seasons. USC moves up because of the body of its work. I think the Pac-10 is stronger than most people believe, and I also can't ignore the Trojans' non-conference wins over Arkansas, Nebraska, and Notre Dame. If USC played Michigan on a neutral field this week, I'd lean toward picking USC. And anyone who dismisses USC because of its midseason struggles -- that also happens to be the period when Jarrett was out or not at full strength. Ask any Notre Dame fan what he brings to the USC offense.
  • LSU takes a huge leap after beating a very good Arkansas team on the road. LSU will go to the Rose Bowl and play Michigan, and as a Michigan fan, the Tigers scare the daylights out of me. Yes, they were gashed by the Arkansas rushing attack, but who hasn't been?
  • Notre Dame is the big loser, for obvious reasons. Notre Dame's wins over bad to decent teams kept it moving up as everyone else lost. But the Irish lost to the only two really good teams on their schedule by a combined 46 points. If anyone feels they deserve to be ranked higher, feel free to comment
  • .

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State --
2 Southern Cal 1
3 Michigan 1
4 Florida 1
5 LSU 6
6 Louisville 1
7 Arkansas 3
8 Wisconsin 2
9 Auburn 3
10 Oklahoma 5
11 Rutgers 3
12 Wake Forest 6
13 Notre Dame 7
14 Boise State 2
15 Texas 6
16 West Virginia 8
17 Tennessee --
18 Boston College 5
19 Virginia Tech 1
20 California 1
21 Hawaii 1
22 Brigham Young 1
23 Nebraska 1
24 Texas A&M 2
25 Penn State --

Dropped Out: Georgia Tech (#19).

Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 27 Nov 2006

95 comments, Last at 30 Nov 2006, 11:45am by hrudey


by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 7:30pm

Notre Dame should be around #20 if they even deserved to be ranked. Their best win this year was against Georgia Tech, who you now have unranked.

by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 7:34pm

I forgot about the win over Penn State. Notre Dame should probably be ranked in the top 25, but not very high up.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 7:42pm

At the rate Schiano is going, one figures he can at the minimum compete in the Big East most years - given it's, well, Rutgers, just getting them to a yearly bowl game, with the occasional higher-profie game or BCS berth, will make him a Rutgers legend.

What does he gain by going to Miami except "challenge"? Significantly worse facilities, smaller crowds, expectations that are through the roof (after all, Coker did win them a national title and had an insane winning percentage in his time there), and a tougher conference all detract from the allure of the job.

It wouldn't shock me if Rutgers could get some boosters (who now actually care!) to pony up the dough to give him a financial boost in his contract.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 8:07pm

Shula's out today, so why not Schiano to Bama? He'd be a complete outsider, so he'd have to be judged on his own terms, not in how well he measured up to Bear. He's a proven recruiter, with ties to New Jersey and South Florida, and all of the Miami concerns about money and facilities disappear. If I were Schiano, I'd look at something like 5 years, with $10-12M guaranteed. I'm starting to think I'm not crazy for thinking of this; Erasmus or any other Bama fans, comments?

by bowman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 8:10pm

If USC gets some leeway because of injuries, why not also say that they beat Arkansas when they were without McFadden?

Also, once Miami realizes that they won't be able to field a competitive team without better facilities, etc., it will happen. They are private, and don't have to worry about the legislature to approve finances. They don't have much going for them as a school (location, largest university in Miami, decent to good Law and Medicine, not much else), so their football has been a major selling point. They should invest in football to retain their advantage over the other small private schools in Florida (and especially the "small" public universities that are growing fast (UCF, USF, FAU).)

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 8:36pm

McFadden had 9 rush attempts in the USC/Arkansas game, more than any other Arkansas player.

He also caught two passes.

It may be true that as of that point, Nutt hadn't fully placed him in the offense, but at the same time, it was also John David Booty's first game, along with a number of other freshmen.

But he most definitely did play.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 8:41pm

What is wrong with aemrica that college coahces and CEOs alone (I am sure I am forgetting one or two other groups) escape the constant push of market forces on wages?????????

by Sandman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 9:11pm

Leaving aside the CEO comment as beyond the scope of this forum, in what way are the college coaches of America escaping the push of market forces on wages? That's exactly what's driving salaries up. Increased revenues (both market and booster) available to successful college programs (how many seats in the Horseshoe now?) drive increased salaries to those responsible for success (excluding the players, under current rules -- at least officially). What: you expected Notre Dame to outsource its head coaching job to a call center overseas?

by Sandman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 9:12pm

Sorry about the bold. I rarely post on the Interweb, and I'm clearly not so good at the posting with html thing. If someone knows how to fix it, please do. (I was actually trying to quote #7.)

by Robert (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 9:50pm

Re: 8,9

I think #7 is refering to the fact that CEOs and coaches are perceived to be more special than they really are.

Charlie Weiss justified his huge salary by getting that giant BCS payout last year. But he's an exception.

My school is paying Ron Zook $1 million a year. Geez, how does Ron Zook rate a job much less one that pays that well.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:17pm

Of course, Ty Willingham also took Notre Dame to a BCS bowl, and ended his first season with a record better than that of Weis' first season and that got him, well, nothing. Certainly not a ten year, $30 million contract.

by bowman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:18pm

5.6. Gaak, posting without refreshing my memories. Arkansas did play with significant injuries, just not that particular one.

(SEC homer alert) I can't wrap my head around why the computers think the Pac10 is stronger than the SEC. I know it is due to the non-conference schedule, but looking with SEC-tinted glasses.


by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:31pm

Re #12
The less than sign is treated as the start of an HTML tag, wiping out the rest of your comment.

McFadden did play in the USC game, but was questionable entering the game and played at maybe 80%. It's not unprecedented for a team to grow enough during the season to the point where an early season blowout loss is discarded (the 1983 Miami team that upset Nebraska in the Orange Bowl lost their first game at UF 28-3), but (i) losing 50-14 (ii) at home is a bit much to ask for; Arkansas might beat USC in a rematch played in Boise, but without that happening we have to go with what we've seen.

by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:35pm

Re: 12

The Pac-10 is ahead of the SEC in just 3 of the 6 BCS computers; the others all have the SEC at least one place ahead.

(Ignoring the Big XII and ACC, both in down years.)

The Sagarin, Massey, and Anderson & Hester computers all have the conferences ranked 1) Pac-10; 2) SEC; 3) Big East; 4) Big Ten.

Wolfe swaps the Pac-10 and SEC.

Colley ranks the conferences 1) Big East; 2) SEC; 3) Pac-10; 4) Big Ten.

Billingsley somehow has 1) Big Ten; 2) SEC; 3) Big East; 4) Pac-10.

by Robert (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:38pm

Re: #11

Which BCS bowl did Willingham go to? A search shows the 10-3 2002 squad going to the Gator and the 2004 squad going to the Insight.

Also, Willingham's first year and Weiss first year are a push in my opinion. Willingham beat a couple good teams, but so did Weiss.

As for Weiss contract, didn't the BCS bearth get Notre Dame $14 million? That is half Weiss salary for just one game.

by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 10:49pm

Having watched the LSU and Florida games this past Saturday, I can't imagine now how the Tigers managed to lose in Gainesville back in October. What happened there?

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 11:05pm

#16-bad JaMarcus Russell and a questionable holding call that brought back a LSU TD (and LSU later turned the ball over).

Shula is gone! I called it 3 weeks ago after the Miss. State lost (if he did not beat Auburn)..Its kind of sad, because I think he sort of had Alabama on the right course. But this is the 2nd year in a row that the team got worse on offense as the season went on and the scoring woes got to be too much. The lack of accountability also began to rub people the wrong way as well (either excuses about injuries or being almost around the corner)...

Will Bama be better next season with whoever their new head coach may be? They get Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas, and I think Georgia (who replaces Florida) at home...they play Florida State in Jacksonville, they have to go to Auburn. They also have to go to Vandy, both Mississippi schools, and have home cupcake non-conference games. They get 9 starters back on offense (unless Hall leaves early) and they get about 6 or 7 starters back on defense. The team should be good for at least 9 wins.

Schiano to Alabama has been mentioned. I am not sure if he is the front-runner. 3 names being mentioned a lot is Jim Grobe, Rich Rodriguez, and Paul Johnson-with some Jeff Tedford and Bobby Petrino (along with Schiano) thrown in as well. Pipe dreams of Spurrier and Saban (who were rumored after Shula was pretty much guarenteed to be fired after the non-decision before Thanksgiving) seem to be just that...

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 11:09pm

and it does not matter-they always have to measure up to Bear (or at the very least Gene Stallings...)

Alabama has a newly expanded stadium, a great fan base, I think one of the best football facilities in the country, and an athletic department not afraid to throw around money. Plus if you can do a Stoops/Carroll/Brown-you will be treated like royality.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:14am

8 No I expect them to do what is done with every other position in America. The fact is nowhere else are people paid with an eye on their "contribution" instead of the market.

When employee A makes his company an extra 300,00 grand through hard work an intiative, he doesn't see any of it because, well we could get someone else for the same pay.

When employee B does the same but is in one of the few "star system" professions, the company somehow feels justified in paying B a huge cut of that same increase. Saying something like "well we wouldn't have made that x dollars without B"

I just think the whole star system of employee compensation is broken. There are probably what 20,000 high school coaches out there? You telling me one of them cannot do an adequate job of coaching Rutgers for say 150,000 a year?

I don't understand it at all. Same thing with some of the highest paid CEOs. What possible vision could this person be providing where he is worth more than the entire graduating class from Harvard's Buisness School would cost. Someone out of there, or some group of 10 or 20 people got to have a better skillset and ability. and in some cases woudl probably cost 1/1000 as much.

by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:19am

Rutgers gave Schiano a bunch of land near the stadium and he is reportedly building his dream house. He might make more money by leaving, but he could be a god in New Brunswick. Is it better to make more money at a job where the expectations are astronomical or stay at a place where every future coach will be judged against your accomplishments?

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:33am

But the Irish lost to the only two really good teams on their schedule by a combined 46 points. If anyone feels they deserve to be ranked higher, feel free to comment

I'm not a Notre Dame fan- at all.

Having said that, ND lost to #2 and #3. They beat Georgia Tech and Penn State. Wisconsin lost to #3, and they're best win was Penn State, but after that...Minnesota? Iowa?

My point is that it seems Wisconsin is getting a free pass here. I mean, they missied tOSU, and check out that non-conference schedule.

Just for kicks:

1. Ohio State
2. Southern Cal
3. Florida
4. Michigan
5. LSU
6. Wisconsin
7. Arkansas
8. Oklahoma
9. Auburn
10. Notre Dame
11. Rutgers
12. Boise State
13. Louisville
14. Tennessee
15. Wake Forest
16. Texas A & M
17. Virginia Tech
18. Texas
19. Nebraska
20. BYU
21. Georgia Tech
22. Cal
23. West Virginia
24. Boston College
25. Hawaii


1. There's not a lot of difference between 2 and 4.

2. Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin could finish 1-2-3. Have the three top teams ever come from the same conference, or has any conference ever put three teams in the final top five?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:36am

Re: #19

I'm sure that one of those 20,000 high school coaches could coach any of the big programs to success. The problem is finding that high school coach, because a good percentage of them, probably a large percentage of them, are not going to succeed.

How much risk is an institution willing to take in finding that coach? How much does the school (especially big football school) want to risk losing ticket sales, national prestige, etc.?

In addition to this, there's the "blame" factor - if the school hires a big-name coach, and he fails, rarely is the athletic director/president blamed. If the school takes a risk, and it doesn't work out, at the minimum the athletic director may be out the door.

USC is one example. A lot of people dismiss what Pete Carroll has done at USC, saying "Well, anyone could have done what he did." But you know what? From the time John Robinson left the first time, USC tried about half a dozen anyones (including a second stint of John Robinson). A lot of people have forgotten, given USC's recent resurgence, how far USC had fallen in the 90's.

During the last years of Paul Hackett's tenure (and the first year of Carroll's, since there's always some spillover), home game attendance for non-Homecoming/UCLA/Notre Dame games was, in some cases, down to ~40,000 people or less.

By the end of Carroll's second year, it was above 80,000. Since then, the team routinely plays to a sold-out Coliseum (~92,000). The least expensive ticket to a USC game is roughly $35 or so. That's millions of extra dollars flowing into the athletic department coffers, even with minimum price tickets (and most of the boosters aren't buying minimum price tickets).

And it's not just football. USC had tried for decades to raise money to refurbish the track stadium, and to build an on-campus basketball arena. Even in successful basketball years (not very many), money was hard to come by. Voila - the football team does well, and checks start flowing in. Now they have a new track area and a state-of-the-art arena.

Interestingly enough, Carroll was about the seventh coach they extended an offer to, all of the other coaches either turning them down or being unable to get out of their existing deals. Carroll was considered an incredible risk, and it was widely believed that if he did not work out, Mike Garrett (athletic director) would have been fired, as the "hiring committee" did not recommend Carroll's hiring, but Garrett hired him anyway. Of course, in hindsight, Garrett looks like a genius, and numerous institutions that had taken a look at Carroll before USC say "Why did we not hire him again?" Hindsight is always 20/20 after all...

That said, in the case of many CEOs, I agree with your statement - particularly amazing to me is how sometimes a management team runs a company into the ground, lays off thousands of workers, yet still rewards itself with millions of dollars. But that's a debate for another time.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:56am

Re 11/15- If I recall ND in Willingham year 1 was a smoke and mirrors team that rode a bunch of "luck of the Irish" turnovers and a solid defense to a long undefeated stretch. The kind of team that, while they were undefeated, you knew weren't really that good. A lot like Alabama last year. They ended up in the Fiesta vs. a good Oregon St team, and suffered the fate of most ND teams- overvalued because they're ND, they get matched against a superior opponent and get steamrolled.

So Willingham got them to the BCS, but the team never looked as strong or as dangerous as Weiss had them looking last year. The difference was night and day.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:22am

Tarrant this may sound silly, but I am really not trying to be facetious. For 1.4 million dollars a year I honestly believe I or any of the more intelligent people who frequent this site could perform at the level of BCS conference head coach. I certainly DO NOT have the knowledge base. But I am a very quick learner and am as intelligent as anyone in coaching (Wies included).

I am sure I could retain the advice and analysis of the best football minds on this site for what 10,000, maybe 15,000 at most? I could also then hire some retired coach to advise me for an hour a day at say 100,000. Then of course there are the assistants and staff who are paid to help me. My grandfather was also a football and hockey coach for 35 years, so he might have some good advice.

So that still leaves me 1.290 million of which say I can spend another 270,000 for professional advice. Maybe Steve Mariucci needs a bit of extra cash. I could live off 25,000.

Then I could give 500,000 to charity/taxes.

And stuff 500,000 in the bank and never have to work another day in my life if I don't want.

When it comes down to it it is a hard job requiring great dedication, BUT HUMANS ARE SMART CREATURES! And Adaptable too!

I don't know I guess I have seen too many people do just fine in jobs they are completely "unqualified" for. I am not saying I am special, there are just too many talented people out there for someone who coaches a football team to be worth 20 times what an average professor makes.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:36am

2. Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin could finish 1-2-3. Have the three top teams ever come from the same conference, or has any conference ever put three teams in the final top five?

The Big Eight had the top 3 teams in the final 1971 poll, 13-0 Nebraska, 11-1 Oklahoma (who lost to Nebraska), and 10-2 Colorado (who lost to Nebraska and Oklahoma).

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:39am

To add a bit more theory on top of all this. I am not sure the correlation between coach and team success is nearly as causal as it might appear. Each year there are 6 or 7 new coaches in the NFL and BCS schools, and each year beside one or two obvious exceptions (Art Shell, Dennis Erickson), there is little to no idea how they will fare.

If FO has taught us anything it is that wins are so contigent on a varity of factors, including dumb luck, that it is a wonder coaching matters at all. To use a Madden analogy I have a suspicion the real coaching ratings if there were such a thing would look like.

54 Bellichick or whoever you think is best
52-53 A few other top coaches
51-49 Say 70% of all coaches
48-45 Really sucky coaches
08 Art Shell 2006 edition (I kid, I kid)

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:50am

Re: 23

That was the 2000 Bob Davie-coached Notre Dame team that played Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl, and got steamrolled 41-9. Willingham never led Notre Dame to a BCS game.

Without getting too deeply into it, I seriously disagree with #26.

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:02am

Didn't Willingham take Stanford to the Rose Bowl?

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:18am

Didn’t Willingham take Stanford to the Rose Bowl?

Yup, in 1999, with probably one of the worst BCS-bowl teams in history (along with 2004 Pitt). Their season included no wins over ranked opponents, a 69-17 loss to Texas, and a home loss to 3-7 San Jose St.

by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 3:01am

Re high school coaches: In the early 1980s, Notre Dame hired a high school coach, Gerry Faust. He had been one of the most successful high school coaches ever as the coach of powerhouse Moeller High in Cincinnati. However, he utterly flopped as Notre Dame's head coach.

by BHW (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:52am

Was the Rose Bowl in the BCS in 1999?

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:34am

Thanks Travis... guess my memory is a little hazy.

and Re: 26- I don't think that's what FO is trying to teach us.

by Russell Levine (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 10:19am

Re: 31

Yes. The Rose joined the BCS beginning with the 1998 season.

Count me in the group who thinks Schiano will stay at Rutgers after the school finds some boosters to pony up. James Gandolfini anyone?

by kal (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 10:56am


Tarrant this may sound silly, but I am really not trying to be facetious. For 1.4 million dollars a year I honestly believe I or any of the more intelligent people who frequent this site could perform at the level of BCS conference head coach. I certainly DO NOT have the knowledge base. But I am a very quick learner and am as intelligent as anyone in coaching (Wies included).

Coaching skill is a very small part of what makes a successful coach in college. And knowledge of football is not at all the same as being able to tell a bunch of 18-23 year olds what to do and how to do it.

The big thing that Carroll, Schiano and other perennially successful coaches do is recruit. This is tough, especially in this world of super competitive play. A good college coach needs to be able to judge talent quickly and accurately, be a great salesman, be a good public speaker, have charisma, schmooze alumni, deal with college issues, correctly hire talent around you, campaign for better facilities...and that's just the non-football coaching aspects.

Now do you get an idea of why these guys make 1-3 mil?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:32am

I would agree with #34 - coaching at the college level is more than just coaching.

There's recruiting, which is a key issue. There's motivation. Passion on the sidelines. There's meeting with alumni and boosters. There's attending pep rallies. There's keeping track of academics.

Sometimes you see a TV commentator make a statement like "It's so much easier to be a college coach than an NFL coach, because you don't have to do the draft, you get more time off, etc.!" That's hogwash. Ask any coach at a big football school and they'll tell you next season's recruiting begins a year before this season even starts. And college recruiting means recruiting from a gigantic mass of high school students from around the country, many of whom there is little "game film" about, and no "combines" to base decisions on, and no "draft" that forces them to deal with you "or else."

And if you can recruit well, but can't keep the team interested, or if you're a great game-day coach but can't recruit, or what have you, it's not going to work out.

USC under Paul Hackett still recruited well. But you could tell on game day that they just weren't that interested. You'd have the crowd cheering, the band playing, the announcer pronouncing "Ladies and gentlemen...now taking the field...your USC Trojans!" and the team would listlessly jog, and sometimes walk, out onto the field as if they were heading into surgery.

Karl Dorrell (UCLA) and Ty Willingham often suffer from Art Shell-itis. The team always seems motivated, but no matter what seems to be going on on the field, the coaches look stoic on the sidelines. The team could have just made the game-clinching interception to beat a rival or given up 80 yards in three plays to let Notre Dame come back and win in the final seconds, and they look identical. These things matter!

I'm not saying lots of people out there couldn't be decent college coaches, but rather that there are a lot of things that don't come into play in the NFL or in high school that can make or break a coach.

by jdb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:55am

I thought that 4th and 3 call by Houston Nutt was terrible. I'm not sure why Arkansas even messes around with QBs. It's crazy, actually much of the offense in the SEC (this year, at least) seems to be from the Dark Ages-McFadden and the wildcat, Alabama's feebleness, Georgia for most of the year, etc. Even Urban Meyer's playcalling, which seems to be too smart for its' own good with all the Chris Leak option plays and sweeps/endarounds followed by the hammer of TEBOW QB draws, which are apparently indefensible.
The Arkansas/LSU game was one of the most entertaining of the year, not only with McFadden/Jones (who are pretty much unstoppable at this point) but also JaMarcus Russell and the great LSU defense. I still think LSU is one of the best teams in the country, and with Russell coming back next year will contend for a national title. Does anyone else have a feeling that an LSU/Michigan Rose Bowl is going to be about 1,000,000 times more entertaining than watching a tOSU/USC title game?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:12pm

Wisconsin lost to #3, and they’re best win was Penn State, but after that…Minnesota? Iowa?

I don't see the problem here: Wisconsin's 8, Notre Dame's 13. Their wins are roughly equal in quality, and Wisconsin's loss to Michigan looked better than Notre Dame's. It's not that much of a stretch.

Most computer rankings have Wisconsin and Notre Dame ranked pretty much identically, and a handful of those which use margin of victory (though not Sagarin's, since Sagarin's simplistic game output function hates 13-3 type victories) pop Wisconsin ahead of Notre Dame. Pretty reasonable.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:19pm

Thanks for the Tip of the Hat, Russ.

And my Wag of the Finger goes to...no one.

BTW, Houston currently has a former high school coach in Art Briles, and with all of the talk regarding what it takes to be a BCS conference coach, I think that recruiting is the most important. Which brings me to this question: I find it hard to believe that Chan Gailey could not recruit another QB in the last four years, and some of my UGA friends are lobbying for Reggie Ball to get a fifth year.

by Dennis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:26pm

Re 20: I totally agree. It amazes me how many coaches leave good positions where they have done well and are well-liked to take a "better" job. I went to Illinois when Mackovic was there, and everyone loved him. He totally turned the program around and could've stayed there for 20 years and become a legend. All he needed to do was win 8 games a year and go to a bowl and everyone was thrilled. Instead, he bailed to go to Texas, and that worked out so well for him that a few years later he was doing analysis on ESPN2.

by Sandman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:29pm

With regard to the "star system" structure of the college coach labor market (and the CEO market, for that matter, although that really is an argument for another place), I won't get into the underlying economic theory here, but conceptually it's important to realize that the larger the stakes, the more valuable marginal differences in management talent become. To use your Madden rating system (#26), in the modern college football market (see #22) the difference between a 53 rating and a 49 rating could have millions of dollars per year impact on the bottom line -- well worth an extra $500K per year. Caveats about random fluctuations in performance and ratings imprecision all apply -- but anyone who's worked in a regular career can tell you that employers inaccurately evaluate employees' performance all the time. (That's why coaches get hired and fired so often.) But the pay for someone hired with an expectation of superior performance stays high because of the high marginal return to superior performance.

by KJ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:31pm

I just wanted to say, I couldn't agree more with Becephalus in posts 19, 24, 26, especially the Madden ratings. I've been anti "sports guy effect" where you completely exaggerate individual differences, for years.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:47pm

Re: #20, #39

I think one of the things that's almost required before a school that was "once at the top" can turn itself around, as it were, is for alumni to finally shed themselves of the comparisons to previous coaches at the school, and to stop comparing everything to the "glory days", especially comparing things to decades ago when scholarship limits etc. made college football a very different place - especially given that when "remembering" those previous coaching tenures, one generally only remembers the good parts, and not the bad.

Everyone at Alabama is compared to Bear Bryant - if they aren't Bryant within two years, they're practically a failure. Miami is comparing everybody to their glory years. Notre Dame wants everyone to be the next Rockne. UCLA basketball wants every coach to be John Wooden. Imagine being the next basketball coach at Duke when Coach K retires.

This was USC's failing, in hiring coach after coach after coach prior to Carroll - the continual expectation that "Because it's USC", that top name coaches, recruits, etc. are all going to just drop into their laps and winning will come easy. Despite almost two decades of that, well, not happening, it was still the expectation of alumni and boosters. It took the incredible lows of the Paul Hackett era, followed by the embarrassment of being turned down by half a dozen coaches, for the 'core' at USC to finally realize that USC "Just wasn't USC anymore." You could tell there was a change in attitude, if you followed the program.

Of course, at this point, any future coach is going to be compared to Carroll, so the cycle continues anytime there is success.

That, I think, is what Miami is going to have to face. Miami is still a great coaching job, but, like USC, they can't simply say "It's the U" and have their next coach beg to be hired, and have recruits knocking on the door. The recruits didn't for Coker, and they've already been publicly turned down by a few coaches they've made overtures to. They'll be better off when the internal culture is shifted a bit, and I think the chances of returning to their previous level would be higher, as well.

by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:51pm

I've always thought the real reason Spurrier jumped to the NFL was because he was tired of recruiting...

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:55pm

Re: 39

Of course, Mack Brown did the same thing at North Carolina, and I doubt he regrets leaving for the Texas job. When one of the elite positions (Notre Dame, Michigan, Texas, Ohio State, Florida, maybe a couple others) opens up, I have no problem with a coach leaving one school to take it.

What doesn't make sense (except in a financial way) is a Dennis Franchione-type move.

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:56pm


In response to the market forces question:

Think of the demand curve as a risk evaluation based on the number of teams you will have to beat in order to get a BCS berth. The amount of top-division schools has remained relatively unchanged for some time now, meaning that you still face similar odds now that you did a decade ago.

In terms of reward, however...the potential revenues from BCS births have been growing geometrically since the 90's. Coach salaries are rising to compensate for the greater potential for reward as the odds stay relatively constant.

Yuck, loose metaphor. Simple answer: the amount of money available to the victors is increasing much faster than the amount of competition. Therefore, competitive advantages (coaches, facilities) have greater value and command higher prices.

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:57pm

Crap, that was a lot of spelling/grammar mistakes. Sorry about that, I'm trying to sell futures to suckers

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 12:58pm

40 That is absolutely true. But the probalem is no one has access to those "true ratings" floating out in the ether somewhere. SO in the vast majority of cases you are going to be overpaying. Giving tyop dollar for what is in fact going to be average performance. This is exactly what got the NHL into trouble.

Basically I think the heart of the issue is that it is a quick fix nothing more. People can place a false hope that by spending a little bit more this year on one guy they can fix everything. When really they are very likely to get exactly the same performance they were getting anyway.

And yes I know a huge portion of the work of being a college coach is recruiting, I am not a neophtye. For the sake of brevity I was trying to avoid a 10 page essay.

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:16pm


Stop judging the risk/reward relationship in college football coach pay on the basis of the perceived expertise of the coaches. Statistics have shown that the correlation is equally vague in the workplace and hundreds of industries. Also, stop comparing college coaching to NFL coaching, as it is Apples to Oranges. Not only is the situation vastly different in terms of team composition, the games are played with different rules, with different objects, on different fields.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:19pm

We don't have access to true ratings, but Division 1-A football programs usually hire a coach with a track record that can be analyzed to get an idea of what their "true Madden rating" is.

Also, going through many coaches until you find a good one is probably a somewhat efficient economic strategy. I haven't seen this proven, but I would bet that 5-7, 8-4, 5-7, 11-1, 6-6 is more profitable than going 8-4 every year. Volatility is profitable in college football.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 1:57pm

That's an interesting question, actually.

After all, Frank Solich was fired at Nebraska because it was believed that while he could go 8-4 every year, he wouldn't be able to take them to "the next level" using the traditional Nebraska option offense. Under Callahan, they have struggled, but are now back in the Big 12 North championship game, and he has done a decent job of converting their offense to something more modern - you can see it there. So while their record now isn't much different from that under Solich, you can see things developing.

Does that give the fans "hope" that wouldn't have been there under constant 8-4 seasons?

There's also a question of expectations. 8-4 every year at Rutgers could probably keep Schiano (or some other coach) there for life. But 8-4 every year at Miami, or Alabama, and such, is going to get you fired (especially, as Mr. Shula learned, if you can't beat your rivals).

In what situations is 8-4 a good thing, in what situations is 8-4 bad? If a USC coach goes 10-2 every year, but the 2 losses are UCLA and Notre Dame, at some point that coach is going to get fired (Cooper learned that at OSU, if I recall). All these things have to come into play - things that in the NFL, really don't arise.

by Sandman (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:10pm

Re: 47

I disagree. In the vast majority of cases you'll be paying an average salary (the mode, actually) for average performance. The programs that pay substantially higher salaries are expecting superior performance. Often they're wrong, but that usually works itself out in a few years. But being able to tell the difference in advance is certainly not guaranteed -- it's a skill, just like hiring in any field.

Now, if you want to claim that the *average* salary is too high for *average* coaching, then I would refer you to the concepts of average vs. "replacement." I find the idea that you (since you proposed it above) could hire a staff that enable you (as head coach) to fully replicate *average* college head coaching, all on an identical budget, pretty dubious. Besides recruiting and alumni relations noted above, there's an awful lot of technique that gets taught at the college level. Furthermore, teaching itself is a skill -- I can't imagine it's easy to get through to a bunch of athletes who have probably been the stars of every team they've ever played on, particularly without the credibility of experience and a track record.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:26pm

Every year folks have preconceived notions about what conference or conferences are "tough" and until the bowls occur it is all conjecture. Conjecture because teams in September are VERY different from teams in November and all of the inter-conference matchups happen early in the season.

I understand that I am stating the obvious, but I think folks are losing sight of the fact that Penn State versus Notre Dame (as a quick example) would be a VERY different game today.

So when folks rag on team A or team B and trot out some result two months ago I don't dismiss it but I sure don't think it's the final say in the matter.

I am sure many here will shove this in my face should Wisconsin get routed in the Capital One Bowl.

Like they were supposed to get destroyed against Auburn last year. Yeah, just like that.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:43pm

Why is Louisville ranked well above Rutgers, whom beat them?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:48pm

Boy, a lot to comment on in this thread....

Becephalus, I think you underestimate the skill set required to be a top-level BCS coach. First, one has to be a complete workaholic. Lots of very smart people, like lawyers, go into academia specifically because they don't want work 100 hour weeks, no matter that there is a ton of money to be made by doing so. Next, one has to be an absolutely suberb salesman, and very smart people are quite often nortoriously poor salespeople, and will not make the effort to change their personality to become one, assuming they have the capacity.

Also, while still prior to one even considering the football skills, one has to have super-thick skin, even more so than the typical top-flight salespeople. The population of smart people with at least some football experience (the alumni aren't going to give you two years to learn), the required sales ability, the willingness to have no life outside of football, and the skin of a rhino, is not all that great. Terrific law school professors are much more prevalent, and law school professors don't have the ability to bring in cash to a university in the manner a top-flight BCS coach can. If law schools had moot court competitions between each other, with 15 million riding on the outcome, however, then law school professors would make a lot more money.

Nope, there is no guarantee that the next guy hired will make the difference, but the potential is there, and that's why schools offer the contracts. Barry Alavarez, who, in my mind, has been the best college football coach for the past 20 years, was, if anything, underpaid, given the revenue streams that were created after he arrived at Wisconsin. Do a lot of guys get overpaid? No doubt, but the same could be said for left handed pitchers in major league baseball, especially for the Yankees. It simply is a function of the potential rewards if the right guy is hired. At least there does not exist the severity of the principal-agent problem that is so often the case in the instance of compensation boards and CEOs of publicly traded corporations. Hiring a lousy coach often has severe reprucussions for athletic directors and college presidents.

Tarrant, I think you overestimate the importance of sideline demeanor. I don't think I've ever seen Tressel too animated, and he seems to do just fine. Tom Osborne wasn't Mr. Excitability, and his teams seemed to win their share. In fact, Osborne's lack of demonstrated emotion was criticized at one time, and then, once his players got faster, and he won some national titles, somehow the lack of visible emotion from him became less important.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 2:57pm

Badger, I'll be interested to see who gets Penn State in a bowl game; I think somebody is in for a very, very, physical experience when they try to run their offense.

Also, not that I want to start any irrational threads, but does anybody share my feeling that the guy in Columbus is likely to turn out to be a better NFL qb than the guy in South Bend?

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 3:08pm


To quote a Guy Ritchie film character I think whichever team gets PSU in a bowl is "proper f*cked".

I have this bizarro world notion that given 30 odd days to prepare the Penn State coaching staff will FINALLY realize that Tony Hunt is on the roster, he ain't coming back next year, so why not give him the ball 30 odd times?

Toss in a play or two on special teams and the nastiest set of linebackers this side of the Mississippi and Lions can hang with about anyone.

Brady Quinn is the difference between ND being 6-6 and 10-2. I willed myself into watching the Golden Gomers play and the guy was routinely making wicked passes.

But Troy Smith is spooky good. I know he's "short" and all that but time again he has played well in big games against quality competition. And making accurate passes under duress as opposed to hopping around and then throwing the stuff up for grabs.

Ted Ginn and Co. are good players. But with Smith at QB everyone looks GREAT.

Freaky deaky stuff going on at OSU. (Buckeye fans know what they can do with that "The")

by Derek (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 4:50pm

55 and 56,
Penn State certainly might win the Outback Bowl but I doubt they will be favored over a 10-2 Auburn team that beat Florida.

PSU just didn't play very well away from Happy Valley (2-3 with a very questionable win against Minnesota) while Auburn was 4-0 away from home. Both teams have very good running games (Hunt vs. Irons & Lester) and pretty weak passing attacks. Auburn actually allowed about a point less per game. Auburn also has the better kicker.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:09pm

To dig my heels in.

A: I think a lot more people than you think would be willing to trade in 1 or 2 years of there life for the oppurtunity to join the "wealth" class (People who can live off interest).

B: I just think there are a lot more variables at work and a lot less is attributable to the coach than is conventional wisdom. Kind of like how Preidents get the vagaries of the economy attributed to their stewardship. If you took away rnaodm BCS coach A and replaced him with random bright Division II or whatever coach B but gave him the same support staff etc. How many actual wins would it cost you? 1 2 zero?

Not to mention the fact that since there are only 50 or so positions they could just unilaterally agree to not pay over a certain ammount as is done with most other government jobs.

C: I also think the combination of kissing alumnus ass, saying the right thigns on TV, and being nice in recruiting meetings is fairly common. The hard parts are going to be the decisions. What type of offense to run, what specific players to recruit. What things to pay attention to from game tape and what to avoid. And there are a ton of high quality people who are there to help you with just those decisions!

In fact I am always surprised more unconventional solutions to these problems are not taken. WHy not horror of horrors, instead of having one job that takes 100 horus a week and costs 1.4 million to find someone with all the credentials, make it three jobs that are all much more managable and easier to hire for. With a larger pool of candidates each could pay 100k.

You could have a 100k almnus/recruit relations person. A 100k talent scout, A 100k Game planner/executer. And a 5k clock management person :)

I don't know I jsut really see the whole system as a testament to a lack of imagination and general grasping at straws.

Here is a tip if these people all love their job as much as they supposedly do they would probably do it for 1/10th the pay.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:09pm

Re #53
Why is USC ranked ahead of Oregon State, who beat them?

Because those teams have played other games, and the results of those other games matter. Pretty much everywhere I've seen has Louisville ranked over Rutgers, and furthermore, I believe that's how those teams should be ranked.

by Derek (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:12pm

Some career numbers for the Troy Smith-Brady Quinn comparison...

Troy Smith
416-656 (63.5%)
54/12 TD/Int (4.5:1 ratio)
28 Games Started (including a bowl this year)

Brady Quinn
914-1567 (58.3%)
93/37 TD/Int (2.5:1 ratio)
46 Games Started (including a bowl this year)

Brady's freshman year struggles (less than 50% completion percentage with 15 interceptions) bring his career numbers down substantially but I think the QB projection system will be high on both players...presuming Smith is picked before Round 3.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:13pm

Here is a tip if these people all love their job as much as they supposedly do they would probably do it for 1/10th the pay.
Those are called "assistant coaches," particularly the junior ones. With a few notable exceptions (off the top of my head, Steve Kragthorpe at Tulsa, Dan Hawkins at Colorado), their lives generally range from unpleasant to really unpleasant (think 80-100 hour weeks for low pay). For a brief primer on "tournament pay," see here.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:21pm


Penn State was 2-3 on the road. Correct. But those losses were to the following teams:

Notre Dame
Ohio State

For SHAME Penn State. Shame, shame, shame that you should lose to three top ten teams playing away from home. What a disgrace.

Please. If Penn State holds onto the ball they will compete against anybody. I don't know or care about who will be "favored". What I do know is that come game day the Lions may not BEAT their opponent but they will DEFINITELY beat them UP.

Should be interesting.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:26pm

Becephalus, if you think persuading a very limited population people to choose your top-flight product, as opposed to a couple of dozen competitors' top-flight products, is a matter of being "nice", well, you and I live in such different worlds that we have no common point of reference from which to discuss the matter.

Also, being a top-flight BCS coach is not a one or two year commitment, espcially when you are trying to sell your product to talent that is going to be making four and five year commitments. Even this ignores that is would take a couple years for even the brightest person to learn the ropes if they started as a novice, as you suggest would be possible.

by Derek (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:33pm


I'm not picking on Penn State...I'll be pulling for them in the bowl game. I just don't see them as a great team and they could run into a pretty strong Auburn team. Remember, the Lions needed a very dubious call to beat 6-6 Minnesota and gave up 41 points to Notre Dame.

Great linebackers though.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:35pm

Is Steven Speilberg worth $10m a movie? Why not hire me- I could get two veteran assistant director for $500k each, hire an special effects guy for $250k, let them do most of the work, and I'd only charge $1m. And you'd have a pretty shoddy movie.

Like Sandman said, this highlights a misinterpretation of the term "replacement level".

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:37pm

wow, apologies for grammar.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:57pm

If Ohio State were to take the multi-person approach to running the football program, the recruiting would fall through the floor so fast that the Temple Owls would be a competitive game in most years.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:00pm


And I wasn't stating they were a "great" team. Just that they will give anyone they play a good scrap.

Morelli did his best Rex Grossman meltdown against ND. It was early and methinks the PSU coaching staff overestimated what the lad could handle. They won't make that same mistake.

Sorry if I am not impressed with the Tigers. They had lots to say before playing Wisky in January, got waxed, then tried to dismiss by stating they didn't really get up for the game because it wasn't a BCS event.

Anyone at the game will tell you that Auburn got HAMMERED. And to describe it otherwise is complete BS.

So color me unimpressed with Auburn until they prove otherwise.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:06pm

Regarding Troy Smith, the guy is a better runner than Quinn (although Quinn is certainly good), but he is every bit as good, if not better, at extending the play behind the line of scrimmage, and then making a good, intelligent, throw downfield. Yeah, he has benefitted by having superior teammates, especially on defense, but I think the guy is going to be a terrific pro.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:18pm

Yeah, that Badger/Tiger match-up last January was perfect game to end Alvarez' coaching career; a prototypical fundamental football Barry beat-down. If Notre Dame had been blessed with great foresight, they woulda' promised Lou Holtz a highly paid administrative position, contractually locked Alvarez into eventually becoming head coach, and won about three national chmapionships over the past 15 years.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:18pm

By the way, before some savvy soul asks me how I can tell others to not lend too much credence to the past and yet seemingly do the same thing with Auburn let me stress that I don't consider THIS Auburn team as good as the one that played in January. And that the team couldn't see fit to give a legit effort (or so they claimed afterward) in a New Year's Day bowl as a reflection of the coaching staff.

Toss both into the hopper and I look askance at Auburn.

LSU? Good to scary good team. Arkansas? Bunch of running freaks I tell ya'. Florida? They get it done.

Auburn? Show me you give a sh*t Tigers. Until then you wear the label of "candy*ss"

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:19pm

-64 Have you seen some of Speilbergs movies? Is he really above replacement level?

-63 No I don't think it is just a matter of being nice. But as I assume you are refering to recruiting, this is basically a sales pitch. And there are literally thousands of top flight sales people in every metro area. I mean what are you going to tell them anyway?

The program will be great. We send X% of people to Pros. We graduate Y% of atheletes. You will be starting in your second year. I really care about making these children into men etc. etc. etc.

I think you think I am underestimating the difficulty in the job. I think you are underestimating the sheer number of talented people out there.

I honestly don't believe selling your university to a football recruit is going to be any more difficult than selling it to an acadmemic recruit. Academic recruiters make maybe 40-80k a year.

Higlight the good minimize the bad, slander opposition if applicable. I mean these people aren't magic, what can you really do?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:21pm

My apologies for typos as well...

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:25pm

Troy Smith's height might really be a problem in the NFL. Outside of Brees, is there another successful 6'0" qb in the league? I think it'll be difficult for Smith to adjust to a league where each OL and DL is 6'5". He might be able to, but I wouldn't say he's a better prospect than Quinn just yet. A better football player, yes. But not a better NFL prospect.

by BB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:56pm

74: Good Rex is a successful 6' QB. Evil Rex is, uh, decidedly not. The difference between Good Rex and Evil Rex has pretty much nothing to do with height and everything to do with what's between his ears (i.e. his tendency to freak out when heavily rushed and lose his mechanics, his Brooksian tendencies to run backwards long distances, and the mindset that the author in the blog post linked in my name rips in amusing fashion).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:05pm

Becephalus, this statement is demonstrably false.... "And there are literally thousands of top flight sales people in every metro area."

....if "top flight" is defined as being able to consistently prevail, when there are only a hundred or so "sales" to "qualified customers" in any given year, and couple dozen very good competitors. Also, there are a lot more very smart high school students than there are quarterbacks like Troy Smith. Also, the difference between getting 30th best academic recruit, and the 30th best qb prospect, does not potentially have 15-60 million dollars in future revenues riding on it. If it did, academic recruiters would be paid like BCS coaches. There are other fields that where really good salespeople make seven figures, if they are selling something which delivers huge revenue streams, and the very best salespeople tend to gravitate to those fields. If you think the champion Ford truck salesperson in your town could likely perform on the level as the best business jet salespeople in the country, you are mistaken.

Really, your argument seems to be mostly with the fact that t.v. networks pay what they do for broadcast rights, and 100,000 people are willing to pay money on Saturdays for seats in some stadiums, since that is what drives coach's salaries. When 100,000 people are willing to pay to watch sociology lectures in The Big House, then the head of the Sociology Department at Michigan is going to get a much, much, much, larger pile of money.

Finally, you or I may not like Spielberg's movies, but dozens of millions of people all around the globe have a different opinion, and it is their opinion, in total, which matters.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:12pm

I don't know of any observable reason yet as to why Smith would be less adaptive than Brees, and Smith is a much better athlete. That said, I could easily see Quinn being a better NFL qb, but I just think it is interesting how Quinn's NFL prospects are played up so much more than the other guy's.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:35pm

I think the juniors-JaMarcus Russell and Brian Brohm will be the best QBs in the draft if they declare.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:45pm

Morelli did his best Rex Grossman meltdown against ND. It was early and methinks the PSU coaching staff overestimated what the lad could handle. They won’t make that same mistake.

Actually, the ND game was more about Penn State's secondary still being young. That was their worst game, by far. It also happened to be their first game against competent competition. It was also the last game they botched.

Brady Quinn in two drives by ND, early in the game: 9/10 for 125 yards and 2 TDs. Yai.

My favorite moment was two weeks later when OSU decided "Let's test the new Penn State corners" and promptly threw an interception... after which they basically never threw deep again. It was almost like "O-kay, guess they aren't vulnerable there."

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 7:49pm

I didn't see that much of Brohm, and Russell looked really, really, good in the times I watched him, but Smith's decision making has really impressed me for the past couple years. Maybe I just saw more of him.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 9:00pm

Every projection I've seen has Tennessee as Penn State's opponent in the Outback Bowl, and Tennessee hasn't looked like a very good team since late September, so I wouldn't be surprised at all if Penn State won.

Re: 68

I agree that lack of motivation should never be used as an excuse for a poor bowl performance (see also Cal in the Holiday Bowl, 2004, or Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, 1998).

by Schlom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 9:36pm

Can we all agree that Becephalus is a moron and move on? His initial statement was so stupid everyone should've ignored it. The fact that he thinks there is no difference between Pete Carroll and Local H.S. coach is just ludicrous. Not sure if he really believes what he is saying or just trying to get people riled up.

by Derek (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:36pm


It could certainly be Penn State vs. Tennessee but click the link in my name to see a projection from Fox Sports (a web partner to FO) posted today with Auburn vs. Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

I don't really care enough about Auburn (or Tennessee) to defend them. I just didn't get all the love for an 8-4 Penn State team.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:51pm

They still have Alabama in the Music City Bowl? Yeah pretty much every local paper have them in the Independence Bowl...

by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 12:16am

What doesn’t make sense (except in a financial way) is a Dennis Franchione-type move.

Supposedly Franchione HATED it at Alabama, so much so that he inquired about the Kansas vacancy after the 2001 season. Kansas couldn't pony up the cash, so he waited a year and went to A & M.

It would have been cool seeing a coach dump 'Bama for Kansas.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 12:19am

Re: 83

The Outback almost always picks SEC East teams (I'm not sure whether it's contractual or not, but the last time an SEC West team went was Alabama in 1997 [1996 season]). That's not to say they won't pick Auburn, but that will likely only happen if 1) Florida beats Arkansas; and 2) the Capital One Bowl picks Tennessee instead of an Arkansas team coming off consecutive losses. For whatever it's worth, SI, ESPN, USA and CBS Sportsline all predict Tennessee in the Outback Bowl.

In other news, a Kirk Herbstreit follow-up: Last week, Herbstreit left Rutgers completely off his AP ballot. Turns out Herbstreit simply forgot, and the AP wouldn't let him change it when he realized the error (whenever that was).

That same week, another AP voter, Jim Kleinpeter of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, was dropped from the poll for failing to realize that Oklahoma had rallied to beat Texas Tech. Kleinpeter had heard the first quarter score and had followed up only by asking a colleague the final result - the game ended too late for the next day's paper. (Kleinpeter never voted for Hawaii in his Top 25 - I don't think this is a coincidence.)

The AP poll is no longer part of the BCS, but I'm sure the same thing happens in the Coaches' and Harris polls, whose individual votes are closed to the public until the last week of the season.

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 12:23am

what he supposedly hated was the administration shuffling its feet with things like facilities and the stadium. All of those things were done after Franchione left. Either it was a wake-up call for Alabama or Franchione really liked the Big 12.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 12:51am

Because all of you care, Tulane fired its coach, Chris Scelfo, today. I bring this up because coaching is a tough business. I think that everyone knows what happened last season, but many alums and fans felt that this move had to be made.

Now, the interesting thing is that one of the top names that keeps popping up in the rumor mill is Jim Harbaugh. Yes, Michigan alums. That Jim Harbaugh.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 12:52am

Well, let's see if Becephalus can pass the linked quiz if he qualifies to be a college coach. Good luck.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 4:29am


Will I just disagree with your position that these markets are functioning they way they should. The professor analogy is completely innappropriate because the people are not there to see the coach. Just as 95% of moviegoers are not there to see a Spielberg movie. They are there to see a good product regardless of who is involved.

This is the heart of our disagreement. I think there are biases in human psychology/our institutions that decieve us into making bad decisions on these issues. You seem to think everything works perfectly which seems like an odd position to me.

On top of this since it is a government position a whole other set of issues comes into play.

Its too bad these things are not testable. I just think replacement level for a lot of these things is much much higher than you do. There is an artifical scarcity introduced by conservatism and the "name" culture. Basically its a lot easir to cover your ass after the fact when thigns go wrong (which they will half the time), if you say "Well we hired the person with the absolute tip top resume and paid top dollar". As opposed to, well we were being responsible and realized that we could get similar performance for 1/3 the cost.

Granted its such a goofy artificial environment anyway heavily dependant on the largess of comparitively few individuals. But that should not be an excuse to waste millions of dollars.

If you even just look at it from an economic standpoint some health policy wonk working in the state HHS mgiht save the government several million or billion dollars with a clever improvment in preventative care.

To put it another way someones compensation is generally going to be some combination of their perceived value and their actual value. I think coaches are an excellent example of a case where the perceived value has swollen all out of proportion with their actual value.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 5:27am

You can probably tell this is keeping me up... I think this is mostly because you seem very sharp Will and we seem to be completely at odds and I really want to try to get across where I am coming from.

Alas after writing it out it is just much too long and too off topic for this thread. If you would like to continue the discussion though Will, my public email is just this "handle" @gmail.com. If not well thats fine too.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:16am

I like the conversation, personally.

There's an article in this morning's LA Times about Carroll, spouting rumors that the NFL league office is pushing Bill Bidwell to hire Carroll and give him complete franchise control. A primary reason (according to the article) is that the NFL wants the Cardinals to make a big-name hire, and not cripple that hire via his usual meddling, prior to the upcoming Super Bowl at the new stadium - they don't want the penny-pinching and meddling of the ownership to potentially ruin what they see as a great possible repeat Super Bowl location.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 2:06pm

Becephalus, I never stated things worked perfectly. In fact, I stated precisely the opposite. One of the things most frustrating about conversing with many people about the efficiency of markets is the predictable, tired, strawman that the assertion is being made that markets work perfectly. There isn't a reputable economist on earth who thinks any market is perfectly efficient, except in the very general sense, over a very long period of time.

When someone asks whether a market is functioning as it "should", and then puts forth the inaccurate notion that someone else has asserted that things are currently "perfect", it seems that the debate is being framed with an agenda in mind, as opposed to an open-minded inquiry. I don't mean this as an an attack, but merely as a suggestion that another path of engaging in the topic may be more productive.

In any case, the people who go to stadiums are most assuredly there to see the players, players which the coach is responsible for attracting. You believe that thousands of salespeople in any metro area, given the required expertise in football, could compete adequately in regard to attracting enough good players, out of an extraordinarily limited pool of talent, needed to obtain the giant revenue streams available to teams which compete consistently at an elite level. There is very little emprirical reason to think this is true, and substantial empirical reason to think otherwise.

Wisconsin went through many decades of futile coaching changes. Either they were unbelievably unlucky, given that thousands of people could have done the job, or Barry Alvarez really does have an extremely unique skill set. Maybe it was just luck that caused Oklahoma and Texas to suffer substantial drops in revenue prior to making coaching changes, and seeing their revenues recover. It is more likely, however, that Brown and Stoops are better at recruiting higher quality players, and organizing them better to win games.

Were the guys prior to Brown and Stoops overpaid? No doubt, because the market is most decidedly not perfect, just like the market for left handed relief pitchers or movie directors is not perfect. The question is not whether a market is perfect, but rather what would make it better, and would attempts to make it better actually make things worse.

As to "wasting millions", well, whether money is "wasted" is often a matter of perception, and that perception is best left to whomever the money belongs to. To the extent that the money belongs to the taxpayers at state supported schools, it becomes everybody's business, which is one reason I'm not a huge fan of college football. I see no reason for the state to have a compelling interest in providing football entertainment. If I were crowned King ,I'd prefer that athletic scholorships be done away with at state supported schools, but then it's a very good thing that I'm not a king.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/29/2006 - 2:18pm

they don’t want the penny-pinching and meddling of the ownership to potentially ruin what they see as a great possible repeat Super Bowl location.

"Dude. Stop sucking. We like your town and stadium, and we don't want it ruined by your constant suckitude."

Is that about right?

Of course, asking him to then hire a coach who's been fired twice as an NFL head coach (whether or not that was fair or not is another story...) is kindof funny.

by hrudey (not verified) :: Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:45am

Of course, asking him to then hire a coach who’s been fired twice as an NFL head coach (whether or not that was fair or not is another story…) is kindof funny.
That's a good point, but Arizona definitely needs to improve the caliber of the coaches they fire. Detroit's even learned that lesson, although they have their own problem with learning to fire broadcasters general managers.