A JERSEY GUY: In College Football Money Again Talks (Loudly)

Mark Blaudschun

"Follow the money" was the advice that Deep Throat gave Bob Woodward about Watergate 47 years ago.

True then. And true now in the world of college football.

Let us explain.

Some people were stunned when Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio announced his retirement a day before National Letter of Intent Day last week, which came only a few weeks after Dantonio had collected a $4.5 million longevity or loyalty bonus in his contract.

So Michigan State, which has had all sort of issues off the field in the past few years, coupled with an under achieving (in the minds of many) football and basketball programs, had to scramble for a new coach.

The top of the wish list included Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell and Pittsburgh (and former Michigan State defensive coordinator) Pat Narduzzi.

Both coaches listened, both coaches took themselves out of the mix.

Michigan State went to Plan C and focused on Colorado Coach Mel Tucker, whose head coaching resume consisted of one 5-7 season with the Buffaloes.

Tucker's name leaked and he immediately expressed his loyalty to Colorado and its fans, saying he was fully committed.

Well, he was until Michigan State called again and reportedly offered him a better deal than the $2.7 million a year than he was making.

How much better?

Try $5.5 million, which is why Tucker is the new coach at Michigan State.

Which begs a few questions.

Michigan State paid a coach with one year of head coaching experience and a 5-7 record $5.5 million a year, but couldn't get two coaches in Fickell or Narduzzi with far more impressive resumes.

Did they offer either $5.5 million?

And then there is this.

How can Michigan State's budget handle giving Dantonio a $4 million bonus, a new coach $5 million and his assistants another $2 million?

Again, let's look at a money trail.

Here are 5 numbers to ponder.

$54 million

$45.3 million

$38 million

$36 million

$33 million

Those are the estimated average media broadcasting payouts that the 5 Power Conferences--Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12--will pay each of their schools this year.

That's a nice check to receive each season, which also provides funds for opulent practice facilities to be built and also offers a nice cushion for making mistakes in judgement in hiring and firing coaches.

Follow the Money?

Absolutely.

***

I will confess that I have only a marginal interest in the day-to-day business of the XFL, which made its debut last weekend.

I'm a football junkie like millions of other people, but I can easily absorb a three-month "No Football" winter break between the end of college football season, the Super Bowl in February and the NFL draft in April.

Yet, the boys at Fox and ESPN must feed the beast and we had XFL games served to us, with new scoring gimmicks and other tweaks, a scant six days after the Chiefs knocked down the 49ers.

I took a peek at a few games, mainly Dallas and Washington, but then noticed a new bit of information that was part of the visual package giving such basic information as time remaining and score.

They jumped off the screen at me.

Point spread and the Over/Under Line (which is the amount of points the boys in Vegas think will be scored in the game).

Whoa Nelly.

In a world dominated by Fantasy Football, this opened new vistas.

Who cared whether Tampa beat NY or Dallas beat St. Louis?

Who cared about the players?

This was a financial opportunity in a sport that had battled the influence of gambling for decades.

This was a chance to know very little and make a lot of money if you guessed right, particularly with the O/U line.

But it was something else.

Gambling was really out of the closet.

It didn't matter whether Tampa or Dallas won. You simply had to make a decision on whether the defenses prevailed--they did pretty much in the first week--and you could make money by picking the Under.

Or watch it go the other way, as it did in Seattle's game at Washington.

Why?

Not because Washington recorded a 31-19 victory and covered the 7.5 point spread, but because the over/under line was 49 in what turned into a 50 point game.

Now that's drama.

But the real news here is not that point spread and over/under lines are now available, but that they are right in front of us.

How soon will those two items be part of the NFL weekly broadcasts or updated items in the highly popular NFL Red Zone, which caters to the Fan Duel and Draft King segment of the league's fan base?

With more and more states opening legal betting parlors and with an NFL team (Raiders) actually playing in Las Vegas next season, the trending clearly is for more, rather than less, gambling opportunities.

The future of the XFL cannot be determined after one week of play, but what seems much more obvious is that we are now another giant step closer to having more gambling information available on a wide-scale basis.

***

Boston College is taking its time on filing a waiver which would allow Notre Dame transfer QB Phil Jurkovec play next season, without sitting out a season.

There really isn't any hurry. Jurkovec is enrolled at BC, can participate in spring drills.

BC doesn't need him to play until September and it will only get one chance on a waiver appeal with the NCAA, so it is taking its time, putting its case together before officially asking for the waiver.

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Mark Blaudschun

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