Surprise! Hoops trumps football in state of Indiana coach salaries

4 Comments

When it comes to the state of Indiana and sports, the first thing that comes to mind is basketball in general and the movie “Hoosiers” specifically.  Not so unexpectedly, the state’s universities have put their hoops money where their mouths are.

The Indianapolis Star compiled a list of the 20 highest-paid public university coaches in the state of Indiana in 2013 and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, a pair of hoops coaches head that compilation.

According to the Star, Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean is the highest-paid in the state at $2.943 million last year.  Next up?  Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter at $2.079 million.

In fairness, the state’s two public, Power Five FBS coaches are at Nos. 3 and 4:  Purdue’s Darrell Hazell ($1.886 million) (pictured) and Indiana’s Kevin Wilson ($1.276 million).  Also in fairness, Wilson’s salary — along with that of his assistant coaches pool — is double that of his predecessor, Bill Lynch.

Conference-wise, Purdue and Indiana were Nos. 11 and 13, respectively, in football coaching pay in the Big Ten.

Of course, on the football side, there’s been little on-the-field justification for exorbitant salaries.

The Hoosiers have played in just one bowl game (2007 Insight Bowl) the past two decades; haven’t won more than eight games in a season since 1967; and have been above .500 just twice since going 8-4 in 1993.  Unbelievably, IU has never won 10 or more games in a season in the program’s 115-year history.

While not nearly as bad as their in-state brethren, the Boilermakers have seen their share of fair-to-middling finishes and, as last season attests, rock-bottom plummets.

Since playing in just its second-ever Rose Bowl following the 2000 season, Purdue has finished above .500 six times, at or below that mark seven times.  The 1-11 record last season in Hazell’s first season in West Lafayette was the worst ever in the 122 years the Boilermakers have competed in college football.

Are the stumbling and bumbling football efforts of the state’s two flagship public universities the result of its refusal to pay top-dollar for football coaches, or are the on-field results a justification for the reticence to pay top-dollar?  It’s a chicken-and-egg thing for two football programs that have laid more than its fair share of late.

One more little note.  Hazell and Wilson are quality football coaches, coaches who are capable of raising their respective programs above the pabulum of some of their predecessors as long as the financial resources are devoted to the effort.  The Big Ten Network money alone says you can, PU and IU.  Put the money back into winning, because you have quality, albeit underpaid, coaches currently leading your teams.

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow, but Nick Saban has work to do

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Stores may be sold out of special solar eclipse glasses for what some are dubbing the Great American Eclipse on Monday, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be more likely to be found in his office preparing for a mega matchup to open the season next week.

Besides, Saban has seen how an eclipse works already because he is a devoted fan of The Weather Channel.

“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Saban said Saturday, according to AL.com. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So, what’s going to be significant? Watch the Weather Channel and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

That Saban sure is a curmudgeon, isn’t he? But that’s part of the legacy of Saban. Unless the eclipse can help Alabama win a game against Florida State in Atlanta next week, Saban has little time to worry about such nonsense. Otherwise, it is business as usual for Saban and Alabama. However, Saban will allow his players to take advantage of what is, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said.

The eclipse is having a slight impact on some football practices around the country, including in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans, for example, have modified their practice schedule for Monday due to the eclipse and will organize a team party around the event.

“I thought what a cool thing to do, but then I thought I’d like them to finish practice and give them time to put the glasses on and really enjoy the experience,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said (per ESPN.com). “I wanted to be on the field when it happened, as a team, I thought it’d be a neat memory for these guys.”

Clearly, Mularkey is not watching the Weather Channel on a daily basis.

Kansas surprised four walk-ons with scholarships at Royals-Indians game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.

The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.

Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.

Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.

It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.

Shane Buechele is almost Facebook official as starting Texas QB

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The college football season officially gets underway this week, but Tom Herman has another week to make some decisions about the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. If he had to make that call right now, Shane Buechele would be getting the starting nod in Austin.

“I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow Shane Buechele would start,” Herman told reporters on Saturday, seemingly a bit frustrated with the question once again being asked, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll get a depth chart to make it Facebook official, I guess. Is that what we’ve got to do?”

It is expected Herman will make a decision on his starting quarterback within the next week ahead of Texas’ season opener at home against Maryland of the Big Ten. Buechele was the full-time starter for the Longhorns last season, but a new coach taking over at a program tends to wipe the slate clean to start from scratch. Buechele has faced his stiffest competition for the job from freshman Sam Ehlinger, who enrolled in January and was able to work with the team in the spring.

Whatever his decision ends up being, Herman has not been overly optimistic about his offense. Instead, Herman has been praising the defense as the key to the upcoming season. For a team that allowed 448.3 yards per game last season to rank seventh in the Big 12 in total defense, and 31.5 points per game (8th in the Big 12 ahead of only Kansas and Texas Tech), Herman is either suggesting the defense has taken some strides in practices this year or the offense really does have a long way to go.

It should probably not come as a great surprise Texas may be better off on defense, given the brief Charlie Strong tenure. Strong was always known more for his defense so the seeds for a reputable defense may have been planted in Austin prior to Herman’s hiring. Now it is up to Herman to get the offense in gear.

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

Getty Images
1 Comment

The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.