Mizzou's Pinkel talks expansion, chastises Big 12 economics

Leave a comment

Whenever the conversation turns to Big Ten expansion, it’s inevitable that a majority of the words on the subject will revolve around the Big East generally and Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse specifically.

Then there’s the green elephant in the room — Notre Dame — whose lips say “no, we’re not shedding our football independence” but whose thighs seem to be opening ever so slightly as the inevitability of super-conferences and the reality of Big Ten money continues to dance around their heads.

Those are seemingly the four schools everyone focuses on when it comes to an expanded Big Ten.  And, to lend a level of credence to the talk, they were also four of the five schools utilized in an expansion feasibility study commissioned by the Big Ten that ultimately resulted in a recommendation to expand.

Of course, if the conference moves to 16 teams — and there’s a growing sentiment that that’s exactly where this is headed — there’d be a need for another school, assuming for this particular post the Big Ten wants and could convince the four already mentioned to jump ship.  That need brings us back to the expansion study and the fifth of the five schools utilized by the study.

Ever since the Big Ten announced way back in December it’s intentions to explore the expansion issue, Missouri — along with Nebraska and their “don’t forget about us” mantra — has been a school mentioned more times than any university other than the current “Big Four” expansion candidates.  To add further fuel to the speculative fire, neither school officials nor state government types have been the least bit shy about publicly stating they would have an interest if the league came a callin’.

Of course, the member of the football program who would be most affected by the Tigers jumping conferences would be head coach Gary Pinkel.  While lamenting what such a move would do to his ability to recruit in the state of Texas — ” You’d make it work, but it would be difficult.” — Pinkel also had pointed words for how the Big 12 doles out revenues to member schools, and hints that a move to the Big Ten might just be in the best interests of the program.

“I love the Big 12,” Pinkel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But there are issues, no question. The TV package (without revenue sharing), that is staggering. … It’s the right thing to do; it makes your league stronger.

“And for some reason, there are people in our league who can’t figure that out. And so that’s a problem.”

To further drive home the point, Pinkel points to Illinois, a Big Ten member and season-opening opponent for the Tigers.

“With their TV package, they’ll get $11 million more dollars this year than Missouri does in the Big 12, so the value is what it is,” Pinkel said of the Illini, emphasizing that the money is vital not merely to football but the entire athletic department. “We’ve got four more years of this contract, so Illinois, as they’re building their athletic department, that’s $44 million more. So that’s not very good for our league. For the life of me, it’s hard to understand [why the Big 12 does it this way].”

As the BcS commissioners meetings commence today, both the Big 12 and the Big East are on the verge of understanding what an economic behemoth such as the Big Ten and its TV network is all about.  And how it will very likely change the landscape of college football in very short order.

Iowa linebacker announces transfer

Photo by Danny Moloshok /Getty Images
Leave a comment

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been known to have a program that could play some solid defense more often than not, but the depth at linebacker just got a bit more shallow this Memorial Day weekend. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Garbutt has announced he is leaving the program.

“After prayer, consulting with my family and Coach Ferentz, I have made the decision to leave the University of Iowa,” Garbutt announced in a statement on Twitter. “I am thankful for my years as a Hawkeye and will continue to support the franchise.”

Garbutt went on to announce he will make a decision after going through a recruiting process. No timeline for his decision was announced.

Garbutt still has three more years of eligibility remaining, although he has already burned one redshirt year after joining the Class of 2015 at Iowa. If he transfers to another FBS program, he will have to sit out the upcoming 2017 season and lose a year of eligibility in the process. He would be available to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a lower division football program.

Report: Navy’s football stadium will host NHL outdoor game between Caps and Leafs

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NHL has enjoyed the success of their growing number of outdoor games. What started out as an attempt to steal the New Years Day spotlight from the college football bowl season has grown to include additional outdoor games around the country in February and March as part of the league’s Stadium Series. With an abundance of outdoor games, finding new venues to host the outdoor games offers new opportunities to showcase a wide range of stadiums. Navy is now set to get in on the NHL outdoor fun.

The Associated Press reports Navy’s Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium will be used for one game in the NHL’s Stadium Series on March 3, 2018. The Washington Capitals will “host” the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 34,000-seat venue in Annapolis, Maryland. A formal announcement is expected to be made on Monday, Memorial Day. It’s also the same day the NHL kicks off the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators and commissioner Gary Bettman gives his annual state of the league address.

The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres were previously slated to play in the NHL Winter Classic in Citi Field, home of baseball’s New York Mets.

Heinz Field, the home of the Pitt Panthers, was used to host the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, becoming the first college football stadium to host an outdoor NHL game. Of course, Heinz Field is also home to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, so this college stadium host came with an asterisk. Heinz Field hosted a Stadium Series game this past February between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Michigan’s Michigan Stadium hosted the Winter Classic in 2014 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, hosted a game in the NHL’s Stadium Series in 2016 between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks.

There are still a good handful of stadiums worth considering for future NHL outdoor games, especially in the Big Ten. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has long been suspected of being a potential target for an outdoor game, but any plans involving Beaver Stadium may have to wait until after the stadium’s facilities are upgraded as part of the school’s upcoming athletics department renovation. Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium could also be an attractive candidate for an outdoor game in the future as well.

A couple other venues for possible Stadium Series game sin the future should include the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. The NHL has already played an outdoor game in Dodger Stadium, back in 2014, so the league is not afraid to play outside in LA (and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara hosted a game in 2015). If they return, playing in either historic stadium would seem to make sense, although it is possible the NHL would prefer to wait until the new home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers is completed before making a trip to LA again.

Alabama DB Tony Brown has chance to prove he’s fastest NCAA athlete in nation

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forget the 40-yard dash. Alabama defensive back Tony Brown is setting his focus on the 100-meter dash.

Brown, a track star in addition to being a fixture on the Alabama defense, qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 100-meter dash after finishing in the top 10 at the NCAA East Regional at Kentucky. Brown is a two-time All-American on the track.

Let this serve as another example of the caliber of athletes Nick Saban is bringing in to his program. Recruiting analysts have been noting for years the importance of recruiting athletes with skills in more than one sport, and Alabama has that with Brown. Brown was one of the nation’s top hurdlers in high school, and that success on the track has continued in Tuscaloosa.

Brown brings the pain on the football field too, of course. Just ask former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams what kind of damage Brown can bring.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey still not a fan of early signing period

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
2 Comments

The SEC will gather in Destin, Florida this week for the annual spring meetings. This will be the first time the conference has come together since the adoption of an early signing period in college football, which is something that has not been well-received by some in the SEC. Among the dissenters in the early signing period conversation has been SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who says he is still no fan of the new recruiting calendar.

I still don’t think that’s best,” Sankey said in an interview with the Associated Press last week.

“I think the early signing date has an impact on high school football,” Sankey said. “I think moving the recruiting calendar has an impact on high school football. I think we all have to be concerned about football and its strength and health at every level. Whether it’s a minority voice or a singular voice, I think those are important issues to consider.”

The stance by some around the SEC against the idea of the early signing period is notably different compared to just a few years ago. At the spring meetings in 2014, the SEC football coaches voted unanimously in favor of an early signing period starting on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, however, expressed his preference to keep the only signing day in February.

As far as the voice coming from the commissioner’s office in the SEC is concerned, the narrative has not changed following the changing of the guard.