Mark Dantonio Tom Izzo

Sparty, UL-L double up on football-hoops conference titles


A week ago today, our very own Kevin McGuire posed the following question: who can pull off a college football-basketball conference title double-dip?

As it turns out, it was the two teams most likely to pull it off that did just that.

Both Michigan State and Louisiana-Lafayette — via a tiebreaker — claimed their respective conference championships in football this past fall.  Sunday, they both did the same in hoops, with the Spartans easily dropping in-state rival Michigan in the Big Ten tournament championship game and the Ragin’ Cajuns doing the same to Georgia State — in overtime — to claim the Sun Belt crown and the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

Were it not for Ohio State stumbling against the Wolverines Saturday, though, we would’ve seen a rematch of the B1G’s football championship game in hoops.  Speaking of the Buckeyes, it was how OSU was handled by the Spartans that helped the latter’s basketball brethren do the same throughout the conference tourney.

Mark Dantonio has often talked that I kind of showed him the way early how to win championships, and this year he showed me the way,” MSU hoops coach Tom Izzo said Saturday, after his team earned a spot in the title game. “That was the way we started the (basketball) season, learning how to win a championship from our football buddies, and now we have a chance to win our own in the Big Ten. That’s a good year, that’s a good set of events.”

Baylor was the only other team entering the weekend with the opportunity to double down on league titles.  Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be as the seventh-seeded Bears, who claimed their first-ever Big 12 title in football in the fall, fell Saturday to Iowa State in the conference’s tournament championship game.

At the other end of the spectrum, Duke pulled off the ol’ reverse double-dip.  The Blue Devils earned a spot in both the football and basketball championship games in the ACC for the 2013-14 academic year, and lost both of them rather handily.  A 38-point loss to Florida State in Charlotte last December was followed a little over three months later by a nine-point loss to Virginia in Greensboro Sunday.

Below are this year’s champions for both football and basketball in all 10 FBS conferences.  But, before that, allow me to make you aware that you can — and should — go to CollegeBasketballTalk HERE or follow CBT on Twitter HERE for all of the March Madness… ummm… madness.

Football: UCF
Basketball: Louisville

Football: Florida State
Basketball: Virginia

Football: Michigan State
Basketball: Michigan State

BIG 12
Football: Baylor
Basketball: Iowa State

Football: Rice
Basketball: Tulsa

Football: Bowling Green
Basketball: Western Michigan

Football: Fresno State
Basketball: New Mexico

Football: Stanford
Basketball: UCLA

Football: Auburn
Basketball: Florida

Football: Louisiana-Lafayette
Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette

Wisconsin announces 10-year agreement with Under Armour

Joel Stave
Associated Press

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.

Video: There’s nothing wrong with Cardale Jones

Getty Images

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.