To many it seems inevitable that the big power conferences will soon be getting a chance to operate somewhat independently of the NCAA system. Whether that is ultimately good or bad for college sports remains up for debate, but if nothing else it could allow for a chance to see the schools with the power to operate on a different level find a way to do so without having to be held back by those without as much clout in the game. With university athletics personnel gathering this week for an annual NCAA convention, the topic of a split among division one schools has been a hot topic, and it appears there is support for a split to be made.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reports 58 percent of administrators from all levels of NCAA membership support the power conferences forming their own division. If majority rules, brace yourself. Changes are coming.
“It makes sense for the five big revenue conferences to have their own voice,” NCAA president Mark Emmert told Yahoo Sports Friday. “A year ago that would have been a very difficult conversation. Now [power member schools] are saying, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’ … People have just become more comfortable with the ideas and concepts of it.’ ”
According to Forde, the structure of the NCAA will be evaluated more in the next general meeting to take place in April. At that time it is expected a potential plan will be shared and taken back to the various conferences to review with university presidents during the various conference meetings. After that revisions will be brought to the table and reviewed before any votes can formally take place. Basically, this is not going to be an overnight process, but nobody expected it to be. The good news, for the sake of finding some sort of resolution, the goal is in place to find some peace by the end of the summer.
At the heart of the idea of a division split continues to be the boiling point of compensation for student-athletes beyond the typical scholarship limits currently in place. The big conferences have the funds available to offer more for players that smaller conferences do not. They are already playing on different playing fields in many respects, but the bigger conferences feel they are held back by not being able to do more because of the limitations the smaller conferences face.
There are a number of benefits to allowing the power conferences to run independently in their own division, but there should be concerns what this means for the other conferences that will be left behind. It is ultimately not the responsibility of the SEC or the Big Ten to worry about the stability of conferences like the Sun Belt or MAC, but it will certainly not be a positive result for the MAC or the Sun Belt and so on unless there will be a way to continue to allow for scheduling between the conferences. That would likely remain in play under any new structure that is formed, but we have a long way to go before seeing just what the powers that be cook up.
Nebraska and Arkansas have met just once on the field, in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. But the Huskers and Hogs have now met twice in the only college athletics competition more cutthroat than the actual games — hiring coaches.
Arkansas famously held off Nebraska for Houston Nutt‘s services in 2004 (before you scoff, Nutt led the Hogs to the 2006 SEC West title, and Nebraska wound up hiring Bill Callahan) and now the Cornhuskers have returned the favor.
Nebraska hired Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator this week, nabbing the former Connecticut head coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator after he’d finished an interview with Arkansas. Sean Callahan of Husker Online explains from here:
Head coach Mike Riley said they stopped Diaco’s plane in the air on his way back from Arkansas and got him to fly to Lincoln last Thursday from Chicago. Riley said from there, they weren’t letting Diaco leave Lincoln until he accepted the job.
The money didn’t hurt. Nebraska handed Diaco a 2-year contract worth $1.7 million in total, making him the highest-paid assistant in program history.
Auburn does not have an offensive coordinator yet, which is odd. The Tigers have an explosive offense with a lot of returning parts. They have Jarrett Stidham coming in to play quarterback. They have a boatload of money. And they have a boatload of money.
According to a report from James Crepea of AL.com, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and “people with influence over the program” can’t agree on who should replace Rhett Lashlee.
Malzahn is said to prefer Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and NC State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz. Lindsey and Drinkwitz worked for Malzahn previously, and Malzahn has built a working relationship with the Briles family — Stidham and running back Kam Martin transferred from Waco to Auburn, and Art Briles visited a Tigers practice this season.
But Auburn donors, Crepea writes, have nixed those choices, saying Briles is too inexperienced and Lindsey and Drinkwitz are too close to Malzahn.
Instead, donors preferred Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (who has already been crossed off the list) or Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich (ditto). Mark Helfrich does not seem like a viable option at this time.
With less than two weeks until National Signing Day, the urgency to bring someone to the South Plains only grows stronger.
Undeterred by recent NCAA legislation, Jim Harbaugh is reportedly going international.
As noted by the Detroit Free Press, a post on Rivals affiliate TheWolverine.com reports that Michigan is planning to spend the final week of football spring practice in Rome, Italy. The team would not only practice several times on Italian soil, but would allow the team to visit the sights in the area and even leave players in Europe to study abroad for a semester.
The move would no doubt ruffle even more feathers in the football and NCAA communities after Harbaugh famously took the Wolverines to the IMG Academy down in Florida for spring practice last March. That prompted recent legislation that was passed at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week — a Harbaugh Rule if you will — that prohibited off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season.
While it would seem that would rule out trips away from Ann Arbor for spring football practices, it appears the Michigan athletic department is going to push forward by exploiting a slight loophole in the language of the rule. While vacation periods may be off limits like spring break, it appears the Wolverines would be looking to leave town at the end of April, which would be after the semester ends and does not fall into any scheduled vacation time.
We’ll see if anything becomes of this report and if Michigan indeed announces such an unprecedented trip. While foreign tours are common in sports like basketball at the NCAA levels, it really hasn’t happened in football aside from occasional games overseas so it will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend, or is just another case of Harbaugh being Harbaugh.
Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.
The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.
The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.
Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.