March 27, 2017

You Name It: The Football Four

So far it appears that the name for college football’s new playoff format is, flatly, the “College Football Playoff.”

Makes us want to watch from before kickoff to after probation.

Granted, it’s football and people will watch it even if it’s called by some other lame name like “night golf” or “neck shaving.”  But can’t we come up with something a little spicier for the loudest thing to happen to football since the tear-away jersey?

Regrettably, “Final Four” has long been appropriated and so has “Frozen Four” which would not make a lot of sense for football anyway but is still a splendid name.

 

What can we come up with?

 

“The Football Four.”  Simple, direct, honest, old school.

 

“The Pigskin Quartet.”  It has a classy ring to it but also would be a reminder that an animal, many animals, died for us to have so much fun.

 

“The Chosen Foursome.”  This sounds like something out of a martial arts movie or a religious ceremony, two things which, when combined, create football.

 

“The Stanley Cup.”  Umm…

 

“The Bryant-Schembechler-Rockne-Roosevelt.”

 

“Last Four Leatherheads.”  (Imagine the marketing!)

 

“January Is Not For Juco.”

 

“Quarternity For Eternity.”

 

“Ha-Ha, Boise State Will Never Be Here.”

 

“Alabama-FSU-Auburn-Ohio State.”

 

“Sugar Rose Cotton Orange.”  Who, incidentally, is the protagonist in a Faulkner novel.

 

“Joe Namath.”

 

“The Gorgeous Four.”

 

“Proof That Your Vote Counts.  Especially If You’re From a Power Conference.”

 

“For God and Saban.”

 

“Nobody Cares About Basketball Until After the Super Bowl, Anyway.”

 

“The Fonzie Four.”

 

“Keyser Soze.”

 

“As Above, So Below.”

 

“The Jim Thorpe Four.”

 

“Alabama Plans a Parade.”

 

“E Pluribus Champion.”

 

“We Don’t Call It Soccer.”

 

“The Freedom Four.”

 

“Four Teams and a Cloud of Losers.”

 

“The Few, The Proud, The SEC.”

 

“Four.”

 

“The Only Four.”

 

“Death Race 2015.”

 

“Union?  We Don’t No Stinking Union!”

 

“ESPN.”

 

“Eight Is Too Much, Three Would Be Silly.”

 

“The Four With More.”

 

“IV, But Not the Ivy League.”

 

“IV.”

 

“The Glory Four.”

 

“The Righteous Remaining.”

 

Any others? Surely you can do better. Send us your thoughts. Let’s give the event we’ve been waiting for a name worthy of the mighty stage. Just, please, don’t use the words “Super” or “Packer.”

The Getting Bigger Ten

Thanksgiving should be about being appreciative of family, friends and freedom.  Instead, it’s more about food and football.

That’s perfectly fine, not just because “f” is everyone’s favorite letter, but also due to the fact that the Big Ten epitomizes the modern spirit by gorging itself on ripe little football schools that, to most observers, would not appear to be terribly appetizing.  However, Maryland and Rutgers went down nicely with a little butter and gravy and are now part of an expanding collegiate sports empire as the Big Ten pats its stomach, lights a cigar, and farts all over tradition and convention.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a conference called the “Big Ten” having 14 teams but there is something increasingly odd and incongruous to it.  When Penn State joined two decades ago it seemed weird to have a decidedly Eastern school sitting at a table of Midwesterners but hey, it was Penn State, back when those two words translated into “great football” and not “ugly scandal.”

It was the same when Nebraska joined the party, but at least Nebraska is considered by some to be part of the Midwest (but try telling that to someone from Kalamazoo and you might be subjected to a randy Haiku and a cheek-pinch so be careful) and it’s tough to misstep by welcoming a school that has a trophy case full of Heismans, National Championships and autographed photos of Max Baer.

But now Maryland and Rutgers want to play, and it feels like Thanksgiving, 1997 when you walked into the dining room and were greeted by two homeless guys your parents got talked into inviting after a drunken night of bingo and charades in the church basement.

When it comes to football, Maryland is best known as a school that used to be good in basketball.  The Terrapins are 4-7 this year, were 2-10 last year, 9-4 in 2010 and 2-10 in 2009.  Hey! They are a Big Ten team!

Rutgers is 9-1 this season and has a had a winning record nearly every year this decade but there’s still the troubling matter that the football team stole its nickname, “The Scarlet Knights,” from a character on a 1980s prime time soap opera.

What Maryland and Rutgers lack in pigskin legacy they provide in geographic opportunity.  The Big Ten now gets to stretch its recruiting fingers and sponsorship possibilities for the lucrative Big Ten Network from the plains of Nebraska, to the shores of Maryland, to the golden roads of New Jersey.

It has been documented several times, including in an article posted this week on “Grantland,” that the Big Ten, despite being a punching bag on the football field compared to the SEC, annually brings in as much money if not more than the mighty conference down south, much of that thanks to the BTN.  Now, with ad dollars coming in from two more large metropolitan areas, the Big Ten will continue to roll in the coin even while getting eaten alive in the Rose Bowl.

What’s next for the conference of on-campus farms, stately fraternity houses and the pastiest cheerleaders outside of Northern Europe?  Will the Big Ten absorb Notre Dame?  Texas Tech?  Newfoundland?  Perhaps the conference that Hayes built and Schembechler ruled will adhere to manifest destiny and welcome Boise State, Stanford and Guam A&M.

May the sun never set on Big Ten football.  May mediocrity and polarity proliferate.  May Brent Musburger be at the call for fullback dives and snowglobe homecomings. Ride the expansion wave.  Pick your teeth with the past and then go back for seconds.

Happy Birthday, College Football!

After a very humble beginning on a cold and windy November 6th day (143 years ago today), the sport of college football has seen changes upon changes—some for the good and others maybe for the not so good.

Just 100 or so fans turned out to witness history being made on that blustery day—though few, if any, realized the importance of the game.

Today’s games, from the smallest crowds to massive stadiums filled to the brim, witness the happenings on the field and share it with the world within seconds.

Two schools from the state of New Jersey, Princeton and Rutgers, took to the field that chilly afternoon.

Taken by surprise, the Princeton men fought valiantly, but in five minutes we (Rutgers) had gotten the ball through to our captains on the enemy’s goal and S.G. Gano, ‘71 and G.R. Dixon, ‘73, neatly kicked it over.

And the sport of college football, had begun; in earnest.

But, the early game was more along the lines of soccer or rugby; as the ball could only be advanced down the field by kick it.

Princeton made the proper call, winning the toss and promptly took the wind.

Today, each team consists of 11 players attempting to score—or stop the opposition from finding the end zone. In 1869, each side lined-up with 25 players each

The teams lined up with two members of each team remaining more or less stationary near the opponent’s goal in the hopes of being able to slip over and score from unguarded positions. Thus, the present day “sleeper” was conceived. The remaining 23 players were divided into groups of 11 and 12. While the 11 “fielders” lined up in their own territory as defenders, the 12 bulldogs carried the battle.”

Even though Rutgers emerged victorious, not one of its players scored a touchdown.

One-hundred forty-three seasons ago scoring was determined by the team converting the most goals; or as they were called at that time, “games.”

That day, after scoring history’s first points, Rutgers would rally and hold to win 6-goals to 4-goals.

Naturally, there were no statistics recorded that day; but a few terms of the era can be highlighted as follows:
• game by game (play by play)
• game (name for each play)

Each score counted as a “game” and 10 games completed the contest. The teams would change direction following each score.

During pre-game meetings the two captains discussed several rules or guidelines that were to be observed that day.

One such was that a winner was to score 6 goals. (In the rematch a week later, the leaders indicated 8 goals were needed to victorious. Princeton won the rematch, scoring the contest’s first 8 goals.)

Scoring Summary from Game 1:

1st Rutgers, 1-0
2nd Princeton, Tied, 1-1
3rd Rutgers, 2-0
4th Princeton, Tied, 2-2
5th Rutgers, 3-2
6th Rutgers, 4-2
7th Princeton, Rutgers, 4-3
8th Princeton, Tied, 4-4
9th Rutgers, 5-4
10th Rutgers, 6-4

Worth noting: Princeton’s seventh goal was scored by a Rutgers player; who mistakenly sent the ball into his own goal.

Essay to the Old Southwest Conference; Reflections on the “New” SWC

In the 1999-2000 college athletics era, a small hue and cry raised its head again.

“Boy, I wish we could be back in the old Southwest Conference,” was heard on probably eight or nine campuses of the old membership as the new leagues arranged primarily for revenue and television purposes were working but just did not have the traditional rivalries and “oomph” of the defunct circuit.

Yes, the SWC did have its problems for the last 20-plus years of its existence. Squabbles over ending the traditional Humble/Esso/Enco Radio Network and allowing Mutual Network and later Host Communications to pick up the broadcasts left some ruffled feathers. Still, the format allowed broadcasters to “cut into” other games during an exciting time or scoring drives and then go back to studios for additional information.

That was the precursor of many of ESPN’s and CBS Sports’ techniques of “throwing back” various broadcasts at NCAA basketball and baseball tourney times as well as college doubleheaders or “split” national/regional telecasts in recent years. It also made the SWC Radio Network’s Saturday broadcasts some of the longest-running (from 1934-95, 62 seasons) in radio history other than the immortal Texaco Metropolitan Opera programs from New York City.

SWC schools had differences of opinion about game gate guarantees and which teams would receive the most television coverage (even providing a hardship stipend for teams which had there or more games televised). Professional teams were cutting into attendance at both the high school and college levels throughout Texas and Arkansas, and the private school members – Baylor, Rice, SMU, and TCU – were feeling the effects.

A Rice ticket office employee once summed up the meat of the issue when he spoke of summer season ticket sales.

“We rotated football players, especially the starters and youngsters who were well known, coming into the office and making calls to previous and prospective ticket holders,” he related. “By the late 1980s, the fan base was shrinking so much that we were calling the older season ticket holders first before they became too ill to attend the games.”

SWC marketing people were tearing out their hair trying to offset fan indifference, competitive issues, fighting highly-funded pro franchises, and a number of obstacles.

Then in 1991 Arkansas became the first team to withdraw from the loop since Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) in 1925 and joined South Carolina to give the Southeastern Conference 12 teams and the chance to have a divisional playoff and championship game annually starting in 1992.

Initially, panic sank in but SWC directors of athletics later removed one financial onus (a game guaranteed fee for all SWC contests for each team regardless of attendance) and allowed the home schools’ to keep all game receipts starting with 1992 football. Though Arkansas felt betrayed and as the Razorbacks suffered in SEC football competition for several seasons after being dominant from 1957 through the 1980s in the SWC, the new financial policies literally forced most of the private schools such to step up to the plate and increase season ticket and gate receipts.

The results have been apparent in recent years after a bit of a hiatus. Baylor produced its first Heisman Trophy winner in 2011 in Robert Griffin III (RG3) and won its most games since the 1986 season under National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame head coach Grant Teaff. SMU has gone to bowl games a school-record three consecutive years under coaching genius June Jones. Rice played its first bowl game since 1961 in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl and later the ’08 Texas Bowl (thrashing Western Michigan 38-14 for the Owls’ first postseason triumph since downing Alabama 28-6 in the famed Dick Maegle Bench Tackle Game – by Tommy Lewis – in the 1954 Cotton Bowl). TCU has enjoyed its best 11-year run in school annals with a 108-30 composite record under head coach Gary Patterson since 2001 and 11 bowl games in 12 seasons.

Even a public school Houston program which had major ebbs and flows in the 1970s and ‘80s stabilized with a 36-16 record since 2008, six bowl appearances from 2005-11 (capped by a 30-14 win over powerful Penn State in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl). In 2009 six of the SWC teams from the 1980s, and there have been years in the 2000s where as many as 7-8 of the old members, had winning marks in football.

SWC baseball thrived throughout the 1915-96 existence with annual national contenders in Arkansas, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and later in the period Texas Tech. Basketball rivalries thrived with Phi Slama Jama at Houston in the 1980s, Arkansas under coach Eddie Sutton and Texas under coaches Tom Penders and Rick Barnes. SWC individuals excelled in the Olympic sports with hundreds of individual titles and over 200 Olympians since the 1920 games and several qualifiers from old SWC schools for the 2012 Games. The SWC also produced 64 national championships in 17 sports over its 82-year history and 350-plus first team All-America choices.

Events such as The Great Shootout – Texas’ 15-14 win over Arkansas to pave the way for UT’s second national football title in 1969 after a 21-17 Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Notre Dame Jan. 1, 1970 – Texas A&M’s first-ever Associated Press national grid crown in 1939, and the shared college football crown between SMU and TCU in 1935 set the stage for a long and colorful football history.

Only NCAA investigations, which began in the 1970s and culminated with SMU’s death penalty from 1986-88 and seven schools being scrutinized or placed on probation from 1971-90, marred the landscape a bit. And not to minimize the seriousness of the situations, but the SWC teams virtually fought over the same giant talent pool in all sports from the state of Texas and bordering areas for decades. The temptation and proximity proved to be too much in many cases with recruits in all sports.

But, lo and behold, now look at the Big 12 (minus two at this point) membership as of July 1, 2012.

There are now six former Southwest Conference members: Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU, and Texas Tech. TCU starts in 2012-13 along with former Big East and Southern Conference contender West Virginia, coming off a 70-34 Discover Orange Bowl BCS triumph over Clemson in January 2012.

Texas A&M, a 82-year SWC member before joining the Big 12, left the second league to join the SEC for the 2012-13 seasons. Same with initial Big 12 member Missouri, a 87-year member of the Missouri Valley and later Big Eight Conference. Nebraska bolted from the Big 12 to join the Big Ten in 2011-12 while Colorado opted out for the Pac-12 Conference, which played a football championship tussle for the first time in 2011.

Is there a temptation to bring Houston and Rice back to the Big 12 in future years and almost “re-form” the SWC? Probably not… The two Bayou City schools have thrived as members of the Western Athletic Conference (Rice) and later together in Irving-based Conference USA. SMU will leave Conference USA in 2013-14 to join the Big East Conference after being in the WAC and CUSA from 1996-2013.

Yes, those old SWC traditions – first conference ever to sign a tie-in with a bowl game starting with the 1942 Cotton Bowl Classic, which hosted SWC champs from 1942 until 1995 – died hard, but they are being relived in many minds as many yearn for the old days of Kern Tipps or Frank Fallon on radio, Doak Walker singlehandedly leading SMU to a major national upset, Keith Moreland blasting a baseball into the alley, Michael Johnson setting another world record in the 400 meters, or even Kamie Ethridge leading Texas women’s basketball to a 34-0 record and 1985-86 NCAA championship.

Some of those happy days are here again in Austin, Fort Worth, Lubbock, Norman, Stillwater, and Waco on any number of 22 sports’ playing fields or hardcourts.

 

Brief SWC History and Membership:
The first organizational meeting of the conference was held in May 1914 at the Oriental Hotel in Dallas (later the corporate headquarters site for AT&T). It was chaired by L. Theo Bellmont, who came up with the idea of the SWC and was director of athletics at Texas. Originally, LSU and Ole Miss were invited to join the league and decided to remain independent while later becoming part of the Southern Conference and the SEC.

The conference formally came into being on December 8, 1914, at the Oriental Hotel in Houston and began competition for the 1915-16 season. The conference closed its doors at 1300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas on June 30, 1996.

 

Membership:
Arkansas (1915–1991); Baylor (1915–1996); Houston (1971–1996, began competition in September 1976); Oklahoma (1915–1919); Oklahoma A&M, later Oklahoma State (1915–1925); Phillips (1920); Rice (1918–1996); SMU (1918–1996); Southwestern – Georgetown, Texas, restarting its football program in 2013 (1915–1916); Texas (1915–1996); Texas A&M (1915–1996); TCU (1923–1996); Texas Tech (1956–1996).

Teams Leaving (Year, Conference): Arkansas (1991, SEC); Baylor (1996, Big 12); Houston (1996, Conference USA); Oklahoma (1919, MVC); Oklahoma A&M/Oklahoma State (1925, MVC); Phillips, Enid, Oklahoma (1920, Sooner Athletic Conference); Rice (1996, WAC); SMU (1996, WAC); Southwestern (1916, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference); Texas (1996, Big 12); Texas A&M (1996, Big 12); TCU (1996, WAC); Texas Tech (1996, Big 12).

For a detailed newsletter/history of the SWC or for information about the SWC at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech in Lubbock, please go to http://swco.ttu.edu/exhibits/pdfs/Newsletter_Spring_2004.pdf.

 

Bo Carter is college football historian and a college administrator with over 40 years of experience.

A version of this article was originally published in the July 2012 issue of The College Football Historian, the official newsletter of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.

 

College Football Business

During August-September of 2012, Springer will publish College Sports Inc.: How Commercialism Influences Intercollegiate Athletics. Produced and distributed as a ‘SpringerBrief,’ it contains seven chapters and includes a Foreword and Acknowledgements, and an Appendix, Bibliography, and Index. Besides the Introduction in Chapter 1 and Conclusion in Chapter 7, the other chapters have contents that focus on Intercollegiate Athletics, Sports Finance, Department of Athletics, Student Athletes Environment, and Sports Events and Facilities. In addition, tables with business, economic, and sports-specific data reveal periods and types of athletic programs in schools of higher education.[1]

Regarding football, College Sports Inc. shows how financial support from local, regional, and national businesses and such groups as corporate foundations, cultural and social enterprises, and alumni make a difference in the quality and quantity of schools’ football programs as a member of Division I, II or III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Furthermore, it examines cost and revenue streams of these programs and denotes why trends in commercialization will continue to change and impact the operation, popularity, and future of college/university sports. The following is an overview of topics primarily in football as discussed in Chapters 2–6.

 

Intercollegiate Athletics

Although difficult, expensive, and risky to operate as a sport, football is usually the most lucrative, popular, and publicized athletic program on campuses of U.S. colleges and universities who sponsor a team that participates in a division of the NCAA. Across three NCAA divisions, the number of schools with football teams increased by approximately 31 percent, or from 497 in the 1981–82 college sports season to 650 in 2011–12. Between these periods, the change in numbers of sponsors represents a decline from 4.2 to 3.5 percent as a proportion of total sports teams. This occurred, in part, because of Title IX legislation and thus the growth of women—and perhaps other men—sports.

Although criticized by several well-known professors, prominent university presidents, and some sports reporters, commercialism has become an important trend since the early 1980s among athletic conferences and their schools especially in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS or former Division I-A) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS or former Division I-AA). In response to the proposals of critics, the NCAA wrote, adopted, and implemented various reforms that have marginally improved ethics of athletic directors and operations of their programs but not necessarily the conduct of football coaches and academic performances of student athletes. Based on my research of intercollegiate athletics, school officials need to truly enforce NCAA rules and aggressively penalize anyone who violates them but also accept and control the expansion of commercialism in football.

 

Sports Finance               

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, FBS teams had almost four times the median amount of generated revenue than those in men’s basketball. Meanwhile in net revenue (or profit), football’s median amount exceeded basketball’s by more than 300 percent while amounts of other NCAA team sports were actually a negative net revenue or a net loss. For schools in conferences of the FCS and in Division II, however, their football programs ranked last with the most negative net revenue of all team sports. In other words, a relatively small number of universities with big-time football programs earned enough income from gate receipts and television broadcasts of their games, and in distributions from their conferences, to offset total expenses.

Other interesting aspects of sports finance are schools’ and/or conferences’ media and television rights deals, and their revenue from football’s bowl games. Recent variations in these amounts ranged, respectively, from $74.5 million for Louisiana State to $112.5 million for Nebraska in media rights; from $37 million for Conference USA (multisport) to $4 billion for the Big Ten (basketball/football) in television rights, and in bowl game payouts, from a total of $3.3 million for the FCS Conferences, Notre Dame, Army, and Navy combined to $115.2 million for the Big Six Conferences. These distributions, In part, reflect how games and tournaments in regular seasons and postseasons have contributed to college and university sports programs and groups of them from a financial perspective.

 

Department of Athletics

In most American colleges and universities, the Department of Athletics (DOAs) consists of an Athletic Director (AD) who prepares budgets and supervises other administrators, and sports coaches and their staffs. Since the late 1990s, former business executives and managers with financial experience have gradually replaced men and women with college degrees in physical education to become ADs at major schools.

During 2010 to 2011, for example, the three most popular positions in DOAs among men were assistant and associate directors of athletics, and then sports information directors. Among women, the positions were administrative assistants, academic advisors/counselors, and senor women administrators. Of total departmental personnel in schools that period, men ADs were five percent of the group and women one percent. Consequently, men tended to rank higher than did women in the hierarchy of DOAs.  

Other data provided specific financial information about DOAs of schools and/or athletic conferences. For the 2010–11 Academic Year, the University of Texas’ DOA ranked first with totals of $150 million in revenue and $125 in expenses while the University of Alabama and Penn State each earned $31 million in net income. In total compensation the median salaries and benefits of football coaches in the FBS was highest at $3.5 million followed by $1.4 million for coaches of men’s basketball programs. Moreover, from FY 2010 to 2012, the average budgets of DOAs were largest at Big Ten schools and then at those in the Southeastern Conference and Big 12. In short, ADs have become more business oriented as leaders while DOAs are increasingly valuable to colleges and universities based on the growth of their assets, financial investments, and resources.

 

Student Athletes Environment

According to NCAA reports for selected sports seasons, the number of Student Athletes (SAs) playing football on schools’ teams increased by 5,000–7,000 in each division between 1990 and 2010. In fact, there were more football players than the total number of athletes who competed in baseball, basketball, and several minor sports. Because football generates thousands or millions in revenue for schools, the sport has the most SAs in it. Besides that data, the Appendix in College Sports Inc. contains tables that list the number of SAs by race and gender in football and other team sports in NCAA Divisions I, II and III.

In different ways, commercialism influences SAs who participate on football teams of schools particularly those in the FBS and FCS conferences. Indeed, these players receive athletic scholarships, financial aid, and perhaps stipends and other benefits from their schools. As discussed in Chapter 5 of College Sports Inc., some SAs struggle academically and unfortunately never graduate with an undergraduate degree. As a result, a number of college and university officials including faculty, ADs, and coaches suggest methods to compensate football players based on their contribution to the sport. Therefore, the chapter evaluates models that analyze the economic benefits and costs of this issue since pay-for-play involves commercialization of SAs.

 

Sports Events and Facilities

Besides baseball’s College World Series and basketball’s March Madness in postseasons, football’s series of bowl games each December to January are popular events among sports fans but also exist as commercial activities. That is, they determine a national champion and final rankings of teams, and generate revenue for the NCAA and its conferences and their schools, specific television networks, and any companies that market products and/or services during them.

Although 70 or 64 percent of Division I-A football teams played in bowl games to conclude the 2010–11 college football season, the NCAA and groups of conference commissioners and school presidents jointly agreed to establish a four-team playoff following the 2014 college football season. If commercially successful, the playoff will appeal to the media, receive support from sports fans and communities, and generate revenue for schools due to ticket sales and expenditures for merchandise and memorabilia at the games.

The primary facilities in football are private or public stadiums for college/university regular season games. These venues are increasingly costly to build, operate, and renovate. In Chapter 6 of College Sports Inc., there is information about the naming rights of stadiums and amounts of money needed to finance their construction and/or renovation. During future years, schools will further commercialize their facilities and thereby increase the revenue from them because of inflows from advertisements, contracts with vendors, gate receipts at home games, naming rights, and parking fees.

 


1. For the website with ISBN of College Sports Inc., see www.springer.com/economics/labor/book/978-1-4614-4968-3.

 

Frank P. Jozsa Jr. was a professor of economics and business administration at Pfeiffer University from 1991 to 2007. He is the author of ten books on professional team sports.              

 

Hey, Is That The Big 12 I Hear?

So West Virginia University is finally headed to the Big 12….a move sure to cause upheaval in the Big East and in turn in the smaller conferences as well. A move that surely will have WVU fans taking some lumps as the Mountaineers struggle to get acclimated to the much more talented Big 12!

First with the Big East. They will almost certainly have to invite some schools that may have not been on their main list–example Temple. Temple currently plays in the MAC for football and the Atlantic 10 for basketball. The Owls along with Memphis from C-USA , according to Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino, would make a great fit for an all-sports conference membership to replace departing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC. The other schools that will be left in the Big East would have the invites sent to the likes of Boise State, Navy and Air Force for football only membership and Houston, SMU and Central Florida for all sports.

As for the smaller conferences, they would struggle to find replacements for these departures to the Big East and may not have any quality teams left out there to replace them, leaving them with less revenue and trying to survive on.

As for WVU’s entry into the Big 12, they may look forward to some tough goings in the beginning as they must get up to the talent level of the other league teams. Yes, WVU has talent in other sports and they have talent on the football team–for the Big East, but not the type of talent on the football team to hang with Big 12 schools week in and week out. Yes, they can go and win face to face matchups in bowl games and in-season games, but to match that talent every week on the field…they are just not there yet!

Now don’t get me wrong, this will be a good move for them as it will open up some recruiting areas that they are not current players in–like Texas and Oklahoma. However, it will take a few years to get those recruits that do flow through to Morgantown to reach the same talent level as the other Big 12 teams. Until then the WVU faithful, that like that win now feeling that the school has them used to, are going to have to get used to a few more losses here and there. They will have to refrain from calling for coach Dana Holgorsen’s job as he has a big job ahead of him in getting them prepared for Big 12 play.

Look forward to some exciting times in Morgantown and get ready for the fury of the Big 12!

Realignment Solution: The Big 76

OK, I’ve tried to keep this quiet up till now, but can’t hold out any longer.

My source absolutely swears this is true.

You know how last week, University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst said, “Geography no longer matters in college football.”

Then, like, was it yesterday – West Virginia joined, or maybe wanted to join, or thought it joined its natural allies by becoming the Xth member of the Big XII.

Well, here goes. The real plan, the one everyone’s keeping under wraps, is to create the (wait for it)….

SuperDuper MegaMax Conference America/USA/Galaxy/Universe.

The Big 76, for short.

My source can’t be named because he/she/it is not authorized to comment on anything outside of his/her/its department at Target.

But don’t worry, this is really happening.

Seventy-six teams in one conference – horseradish, you say? Wait a minute, my cynical friend, this thing actually makes some sense.

Here’s how it’ll work…

There will be nine divisions of eight teams each. (Well, actually, one division has 12 teams, but you’ll see why).

For an eight-game conference schedule, each school will play one game per season – selected at random by a computer in Opalocka, Florida — against one team from each of the other eight divisions.

No games against your own division’s teams?

Well, no, not every year. But every ninth year, after completing the round-robin against the other divisions, you get to play the other seven teams in your division, plus one at-large opponent who must be at least five states away.

Of course, the greatest news is that this all sets up perfectly for what everyone has always wanted – a true, settle-it-on-the-field college football playoff!

It’s simple.

The top 52 teams automatically make the round of 64; with 24 schools competing for the final 12 spots.

Games continue Saturday after Saturday, as the field is pared to 64, then 32, then 16, 8, 4, and finally – the National Championship Game, approximately March 1.

Don’t you see, it flows seamlessly into March Madness. And the champion (assuming it comes from the top 52 schools) must only win six playoff games to claim the title.

OK, I know you’re all on board with this, and can’t wait to see which division (don’t you dare call them conferences – there’s only the SDMMCA/USA/G/U) your favorite school will end up in.

So here they are….

 

Brainiacs Division

All of these schools rank in the top 25 of U.S. News’ rankings of leading national universities. In fairness, so does Cal and USC, but they were placed elsewhere, as you’ll see….and no doubt agree.

Duke

Northwestern

Notre Dame

Rice

Stanford

UCLA

Vanderbilt

Virginia

 

That-Smell-is-Manure Division

All of these rank in the top 15 of leading Biological / Agricultural Undergraduate Colleges and Universities in 2010, from uscollegeranking.org. Here, Bessie…

Illinois

Iowa State

Michigan State

Nebraska

North Carolina State

Purdue

Texas A&M

Virginia Tech

 

Cool Schools Division

Admit it, knowing what you know now, don’t you wish you had gone to school in Madison, Boulder, Berkeley, Austin or one of these other cool locations? Awesome, dude.

Arizona State

California

Colorado

Florida

Michigan

Oregon

Texas

Wisconsin

 

God and Country Division

You got your Baptists and Catholics, your Methodists and Mormons, and some fightin’ men and women. Now let’s play some gol-dang football.

Air Force

Army

Baylor

Boston College

Brigham Young

Navy

Southern Methodist

Texas Christian

 

Miscreant Division

Each of these schools is currently, has been or should be under investigation by the NCAA for various misdeeds. 12 teams are in this division, the powers-that-be hoping that in any given year, 8 might be eligible for the playoffs. A six-team limit of former SEC schools was placed on this grouping.

Alabama

Auburn

Boise State

Florida State

LSU

North Carolina

Ohio State

Oklahoma

Ole Miss

South Carolina

Tennessee

USC

 

Roundball Division

These schools are much more likely to show up in the Elite Eight of hoops than the fantastic new ExtraSuperCool Eight of the college football playoff tourney.

Arizona

Connecticut

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisville

Syracuse

Wake Forest

 

Cant-Get-There-From-Here Division

This is where it really gets fun, as grade-school students from all across the country follow along in a special online Geography unit, seeing how teams travel cross-country for days to arrive at destinations such as Lubbock, TX, State College, PA or Pullman, WA.

Iowa

Kansas State

Mississippi State

Oklahoma State

Penn State

Texas Tech

Washington State

West Virginia

 

NFL Doubleheader Division

Going to see the Dolphins, Vikings, Seahawks or five other NFL teams? See if you can check out the local college eleven as part of your weekend. Tickets are usually not a problem.

Cincinnati

Georgia Tech

Houston

Miami

Minnesota

Pittsburgh

South Florida

Washington

 

Nothing-in-Common Division

It was a very long day when the highly-secret Gang of Several put together and named these divisions (Nobody from the B10G or whatever it’s called was allowed in the room).  They could find nothing similar, or remotely clever, about these eight leftov—er rather, remaining, teams.

Arkansas

Clemson

Georgia

Maryland

Missouri

Oregon State

Rutgers

Utah

 

So there you have it…. Remember, you read it here first.

Sorry, gotta go. My source is headed to the Witness Protection Program and needs a lift.

Something about not having his/her/its license yet.

 

Jim Lefebvre is a college football author and historian.  His book is the award-winning Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions. Jim writes mainly at www.NDFootballHistory.com.

 

Missou’s Declaration Perpetuates Realignment Unrest

Just when the mad flurry of rumors and speculation regarding conference realignment seemed to quiet and settle into a temporary sanity, the University of Missouri stoked the fire. After meeting earlier this week, the University’s curators emerged with the now famous rhetoric: We’re exploring all options in the best interests of the University.

Translation: Missouri is not committed to the Big 12. We’ve always wanted to go to the Big 10, but we may go to the SEC also. In the meantime, we’ll smile and wave … and basically keep NCAA Division I football in a state of unrest.

Though the remaining Big 12 teams seemed to have ironed out differences and TV revenue sharing, Missouri’s posturing keeps the conference on edge and causes more frustration for the Big East.

The SEC has declared itself content at 13 teams with the addition next season of Texas A&M. Logic dictates that the conference will even its number of member programs, but the SEC acts at its own pace and discretion, insulated at the top of the college football world.

The Pac-12 has declared itself not interested in short-term expansion, and its long-time Rose Bowl dance partner, the Big 10, has closed doors too.

So the effect of Missouri’s announcement is that the Big 12 cannot presume on the school’s continued membership. At nine schools plus Missouri – for now, it wants to add programs and stabilize. Candidates recently rumored to be brought aboard include Texas Christian University and the University of Louisville. TCU is scheduled to join Louisville in the Big East next season, but the destination is no longer as appealing with the defections of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC – and Connecticut a very public ACC wannabe.

The Big East, like the Big 12, wants to shore up its ranks. Its location, history and football reputation however make it the least likely destination for football programs of stature, and a wait-and-see destination for any program really. It may be imprudent for any school to enter the Big East in its tenuous status of present.

So, Missouri’s opportunity seeking keeps college football on the alert in a conference alignment situation seemingly unable to find contentment.

Richard Topp: He knows the score…and more!

Richard Topp is a score researcher whose project is to research and compile correct and accurate information on every college football game that has been played since 1882. This was the origin of when touchdowns, goals from the field and goals after touchdown were beginning to be used when computing scores; replacing goals and earlier scoring methods.

Recently, Tex Noel did a question and answer session with Topp.

 

TEX NOEL: What exactly do you want to accomplish with your project?

RICHARD TOPP: So there would be a definitive source on the (score) history of American College Football. There are so many typos and misidentification of opponents.

TN: Wouldn’t it be easier to contact a school or a governing body (the NCAA or NAIA) to find out what the score was?

RT: It would be easier…but they lack correct information to present correct and accurate findings of scores.

TN: What sources have you utilized in the development of your Scorebase?

RT: The most reliable source would be a newspaper from either the town or one nearby where the college is located. I have found out that when in doubt, a newspaper in the same state would be more reliable than one across the country. Finding dependable and accurate researchers who would be willing to assist with this project has been key. After newspaper accounts, I turn to the school’s annual yearbook. A media guide from the team would be my last choice but it has helped at times. Worth noting, an interesting story while researching scores for the now defunct school, Daniel Baker College (it was located in Brownwood, Texas)…its 1920 team was so bad that its yearbook staff deliberately left the scores out when assembling the publication.

TN: Would a school football media guide or history aid in your efforts…are they accurate with their listing of scores?

RT: In my opinion, often times a college football media guide has been slapped together and its scores have been transcribed off a written page—and not well researched. Sometimes the school would take a calendar and just list the Saturdays in October and November as the game dates.

TN: What has been the highlight or most rewarding experience in searching for scores?

RT: Finding scores where the college was unaware or that it never realized the game actually existed.

TN: How much time can you say that you spend searching for the scores?

RT: It varies. Researching a single school’s entire history has often taken up to a week. But once I have entered the scores into the database, I can find a school’s records within a couple of minutes.

TN: Are you content with just the final score or what else are you looking for?

RT: Yes, the final scores are important; but the more information that I can find—such as the date and the location where the game was played—are just as vital to this project. One other thing would be the proper name of the opponent that was played. Down through the years, schools have changed names for one reason or another. In the database, I list the name of the two teams by what they were known by at the time the game was played.

TN: What about other sources or ‘scorekeepers’ before you—weren’t they accurate in their findings?

RT: No, not really. They would type scores that they had previously handwritten on a sheet of paper and would often transpose the numbers, or mistaken a hand-written number as another number. So a 0-0 score could wind-up as 6-6 or 6-0 or 0-6.

TN: In today’s world, the Internet has so much to offer—has this aided your efforts and if so how?

RT: Digital newspapers! No longer do I have to wait for microfilm obtained through interlibrary loan—which would take weeks to receive and would often have a limit to the number you could receive at one time. While some libraries would make the reels available at no charge; others would charge up to $7 for a single reel.

TN: What methods did you use before the creation of online newspaper sites?

RT: Actual old newspapers; or others would send what they were able to find out of their local papers.

TN: Have you ever found a score that a school didn’t have listed with its all-time scores?

RT: Yes, many times. But, now that the NCAA has told schools to ignore games that were played against athletic clubs, junior varsity teams and military teams…in other words, unless the school was a four-year college, it doesn’t count (in a school’s all-time record). That’s poor record keeping.

TN: Are you attempting this project on your own, or do you have others who assist you?

RT: Back in 1993, the late Don Newton, of Cupertino, California, and I began this project. Don died in 2004 unexpectedly. Now I am aided by Don Vollmer (out of Chicago Heights, Illinois). Don has been a tremendous asset to me as he has been doing score research since 1938. All of his efforts are in 24 notebooks, and handwritten!

TN: Do you cross-check scores…by this I mean, if you find a score that “Team A” won 53-23 over “Team B”, do you then check with “Team B’s” to be sure it has the same score?

RT: Yes. Each game should have two entries as both the dates and the site of the game should match-up. In addition, the game’s decision (W-L-T) and score will be reversed. Only “one-sided” games will have one-entry. These are games against a high school for example.

TN: What type of database are you using to register your findings?

RT: I am using Microsoft Access; with the current database having over 545,000 entries.

TN: Can you point out a particular school or schools that have been the most difficult to locate historical scores for?

RT: Yes I can. One school that quickly comes to mind was in Owatonna, Minnesota; it was Pillsbury College. It started out as a military academy and closed down in 1957. It reopened in 1958 as a college funded by the flour family of Minneapolis. The editor of the town newspaper, the Owatonna People’s Press, had a conflict with the school and from 1958 to 1982 never acknowledged the school in the newspaper. I found only a paragraph about the girls volleyball team winning the state championship in the late 1970s. When the editor died, the coverage resumed.

TN: Have college football fans, colleges or the media been receptive to your findings?

RT: Yes, overall they have. Just two schools have been unreceptive. I won’t say who they are, but one uses a “gorilla” as a mascot and the other is where the Packers have their training camp.

TN: Say someone is looking for the all-time scores of their alma mater, would you have it? What if they went to a school that no longer plays college football?

RT: Yes I would. Many times I have located schools and scores that people have never heard of.

TN: Are you researching scores just for the major colleges or are you willing to seek scores for other schools?

RT: This research includes schools from every level; even the difficult HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) schools—especially one that has since dropped the sport. When this project began, we had 980 colleges; by mid-July the current tally reads 1097 schools included.

TN: Would you mind sharing a few of your most unusual findings, when researching scores?

RT: One of my most memorable events I uncovered when looking for scores could have been straight out of a John Wayne movie. The newspaper in St. Mary’s Kansas, (near Fort Riley) dated December 1, 1899, wrote: “The soldiers rode into town—about 100 strong—on horseback, to watch the college football game.”

During the 1896 season, Purdue University played and defeated Greer College located in Hoopston, Illinois—located due west of the Purdue campus on the state line. The Boilermakers were victorious 36-0. Once I was on the phone with the librarian in Hoopston seeking additional information of the school that closed in 1919. I was told that the last living alumnus of Greer College (she was 93 or 94 at the time) was in the library that day reading stories to children. I asked the librarian to ask the lady what were the school colors. The reply was…”Crimson & Cream.”

All-in-all I’ve visited about 300 colleges. I stood at the place where William & Vashti once stood at the edge of a cornfield. I saw the only building remaining of Mount Morris College while eating at “Ed’s Pretty Good Hotdogs” across the street.

I have a T-Shirt from Austin Peay, a shirt with the famous cheer…”Let’s Go Peay!”

At William Jewell, they are proud to have had the first actual daytime bank robbery in downtown Liberty; that was the first one Jesse James robbed. (During the robbery, a student from the college was killed!)

And in the words of St. Olaf…”Um Ya Ya!”

 

For anyone looking for scores, contact Richard Topp at richtopp@gmail.com and mention Leatherheads of the Gridiron in your email.

 

Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.

Fielding “Hurry-Up” Yost and Tom Osborne: The Only Two

Throughout the history of college football, many coaches have left their mark on the game. Of all that have patrolled a sideline, only two major college coaches were on the job for at least 25 seasons and also compiled a winning percentage of eighty percent or greater.

Fielding “Hurry-Up” Yost and Tom Osborne are the field generals who accomplished this feat. They were leaders of schools that make up college football lore. And in fact, both coached at the same school—75 years apart.

Fielding Harris Yost’s coaching rein lasted from 1897 through the 1926 season. According to football legend, he was nicknamed “Hurry-Up” for trying to motivate his players by yelling “hurry up” at them. By looking at his record, I suppose it worked.

His time as a head coach would take a round-a-bout way to stardom. His legendary coaching career of 29 years began at Ohio Wesleyan in 1897. This would be Yost’s first stop of five different schools in five seasons.

From the Buckeye State, he would, like many of America’s early pioneers, “Go West, young man!” He followed this motto, popularized by nineteenth century newspaper editor Horace Greeley, and headed to Lincoln, Nebraska for the 1898 season; as it was 75 years before Tom Osborne would take over the reins of the Cornhuskers. After the 1898 season, he hit the trail again; ending up in Kansas as the 1800’s would come to an end.

He had hoped for a new start with the beginning of a new century. He began the 1900’s as the coach of Stanford; but it would be like the previous stops — one season and gone!

While at Stanford, he was the fifth of seven coaches that served just a single-season on “The Farm.” Stanford implemented a rule that all coaches had to be an alumnus. Yost had graduated from West Virginia in 1896.

It was reported that this new guideline didn’t sit too well with him! One could only think that this was in the back of his mind when he would lead Michigan westward to play in the very first Rose Bowl; as Michigan shellacked Stanford 49-0 following the 1901 season. But before his career in Ann Arbor would start, he had some unfinished business in California.

Further research has uncovered two additional wins not noted with his NCAA-official record. A researcher, combing through the Cornhuskers’ scores, discovered that a game was initially listed as a loss; when in reality it should have been recorded as victory.

Playing in Kansas City, Missouri, the Bugeaters’ (an early name that Nebraska was known by from 1890-1900) game was originally recorded as a 24-0 loss to William Jewell; while the research revealed the score against the Cardinals as a 38-0 triumph!

Even though it was two seasons later—in terms of when the games were played—his next additional victory has never been credited to his career record.

During the 1900 season, in addition to coaching at Stanford, he also served as interim head coach at San Jose State Normal School. Checking the 2009 San Jose State Media Guide, three coaches are listed for the 1900 season with two credited with records for the seven games that the school played:

• 1900 James E. Addicott 2 3 1  .417
• 1900 Fielding Yost     1 0 0 1.000

No reason was given why Addicott left after the sixth game. Yost is listed as the coach in the finale, played on December 8th. San Jose State Normal School was victorious over Chico State Normal School (Chico State’s name from 1897-1921) 12-0.

After the 1900 season, he headed to Michigan.  In his first five seasons with the Wolverines, his record was 55-1-1. Yost won his 100th career game on November 7, 1908 against Kentucky, as the Wolverines were victorious 62-0. This was the only shutout win by Michigan in 1908 (5-2-1) who also played Michigan Agriculture to a scoreless tie and would lose to an 11-1-0 Pennsylvania, 62-0.

U of M would also drop its season finale 28-4 to Syracuse—as this would be the first time a Yost-coached Wolverine eleven ended the season with back-to-back setbacks. Despite these late season losses, Yost had finally found a home…as he stayed in Ann Arbor for the remainder of his career, compiling a 165-29-10 record. His career record, counting the two previous victories discussed above, was 198-35-12 for a .833 winning percentage.

Tom Osborne took over the Cornhuskers from the retiring Bob Devaney (in a 16-year career from 1957 through 1972, Devaney compiled a 136-30-7 record and .806 winning percentage) after the 1972 season, continuing the winning tradition at the University of Nebraska. Osborne’s career mark would ultimately end up as 250-49-3 with a .836 winning percentage!

Osborne in his 25 years on the Cornhuskers’ sideline turned in some impressive statistics: 25 winning seasons, an equal number of bowl appearances (12-13-0) and his teams were ranked in the final polls every season.

He won his 100th career game in 1983, a 41-10 win over visiting UCLA (7-3-1).

In 1983, the Cornhuskers were 12-1-0; scoring 654 points; while the famed “Black-Shirt Defense” would hold the opposition to just 217 points. A heart-breaking 31-30 loss in the Orange Bowl, when a two-point conversion pass was tipped away, prevented Dr. Tom from winning his first National Championship. However, in his final four seasons as Nebraska’s coach, Osborne compiled a 49-2-0 mark and was No. 1 in three of those seasons: 1994, 1995 and 1997.

Both Yost and Osborne were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and 1999, respectively.

 

Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.