The Charlotte 49ers, that is.
With the 49ers set to launch a football program that will ultimately land at the FBS level, the university announced Tuesday that the team will play its home games at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Jerry Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, donated $10 million to the university in exchange for what the school described as naming rights in perpetuity.
The 15,300-seat stadium bearing Richardson’s name was completed in October of 2012.
“Today, we take another huge step,” Charlotte chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois said. “Jerry knows that football can bring the students and the city of Charlotte together and he wanted to be among the first to stand up and state, ‘this program is important to me’.”
The 49ers will debut its newly-minted football program at the FCS level in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the 49ers will move to the FBS level as a member of Conference USA.
“The role UNC Charlotte plays in our community cannot be underestimated and its profile will only continue to grow,” Richardson said. “The addition of football is another step in that growth and it is important that our community supports the school and its programs. The potential of both the university and its athletic department is unlimited and I am pleased to be able to participate in their development. My personal experiences from football have been very beneficial and this is a way to support both the future of the game and the university.”
In addition to the eight-figure donation that netted his name on the stadium, Richardson also announced that he has endowed a football-only scholarship in honor of his son, Jon Richardson.
(Photo credit: Charlotte athletics)
What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.
“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”
The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.
Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:
Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.
“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.
Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.
In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.
Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst. Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.
Is that perception valid? Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.
He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season. When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.
He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts. Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well. During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.
So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right? Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.