This ought to be fun.
During the run-up to Mack Brown stepping down as the head coach at Texas, there were rumors and speculation cropping up on a seemingly daily basis that Texas was prepared — or already had — made a significant run at Nick Saban. The Alabama head coach brushed off the talk at every turn, and ultimately agreed to a contract extension with UA that, along with Charlie Strong‘s hiring, ended the rumblings once and for all.
It didn’t, though, end all of the Saban-to-UT talk completely.
Controversial radio and television personality Paul Finebaum has co-written a new book — “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football” along with ESPN‘s Gene Wojchiechowski — that is set for release in the coming weeks. Al.com, however, has obtained an advance copy of the book.
According to that advance copy, Texas and its boosters were hellbent on bringing the best coach in college football to Austin. So much so, in fact, that they had put together a financial package worth in excess of nine figures in an attempt to lure Saban to the Longhorns. From the website:
“Texas was dead serious about trying to money-whip Saban,” Finebaum and Wojchiechowski write. “Depending on whom you talk to — Bama big hitters or Texas big hitters — the Longhorns were prepared to give Saban somewhere between a $12 and $15 million signing bonus and a salary package worth $100 million (plus performances).”
That’s, uh, a lot of money Saban (reportedly) spurned. Even on a 10-year deal, that’s $10 million annually; Saban’s new deal pays him “just” $6.9 million a year on average.
Whether that portion of Finebaum’s book is 100-percent accurate could very well be up for debate. What there should be no doubt about is that UT was serious about its pursuit, and its boosters had put their considerable money where their collective mouths were before being rebuffed.
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.