Maryland Terrapins

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 18:  A general view of  Ohio Stadium as more than 99,000 fans packed in to watch the annual Ohio State Spring Game on April 18, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Big Ten spring attendance by the numbers

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The SEC may have led the pack when it comes to spring game attendance, but the Big Ten was once again a strong draw this spring with its usual heavy-hitters continuing to set the pace for the conference. Highlighted by a record-setting turnout for the Ohio State spring game, the Big Ten finished in a firm second place in cumulative spring game attendance with a total of 376,049 fans attending spring games in the Big Ten this year.

Big Ten Spring Attendance By School

Here is how the Big Ten schools compared to each other in the spring game attendance figures.

  1. Ohio State – 100,189
  2. Nebraska – 72,992
  3. Penn State – 65,000
  4. Michigan State – 51,000
  5. Michigan – 35,000
  6. Iowa – 18,460
  7. Rutgers – 14,177
  8. Wisconsin – 9,181
  9. Purdue – 5,050
  10. Illinois – 5,000

Note: No attendance figures were made available for Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern.

What Meyer Wants, Meyer Gets

Ohio State set the national spring game attendance record a year ago coming off a national championship with 99,391 fans. Despite the lack of championship this spring to defend, head coach Urban Meyer raised the bar and claimed he wanted to see 100,000 fans at the spring game in Columbus. He got his wish with a new record crowd of 100,189 fans this spring. What’s next for Meyer? Well, there are still a few seats left to fill. Will Meyer hope to push that number even higher next spring?

Biggest Increase, Biggest Drop

In the spring following an undefeated regular season and appearance in the Big Ten championship game and the Rose Bowl, Iowa boasted the largest increase in spring game attendance this season, both in total fans and percentage. To be fair, Iowa did not have much to compete against with its 2015 spring attendance number. A year ago Iowa recorded an estimated 8,000 fans for the spring game. That was up over 10,000 with a much more official-sounding 18,460 fans this spring.

Most of the other Big Ten spring numbers were within close distance compared to 2015, either increasing or decreasing by no more than a couple thousand fans for the most part. While Iowa had the most noticeable increase in spring attendance, the Michigan Wolverines saw the most significant drop. Last year Michigan broke the typical spring game mold in Ann Arbor by turning in a crowd of 60,000 for the first spring game under Jim Harbaugh. This year that total dropped to 35,000. The biggest reason for that drop can likely be contributed to the schedule. Last year’s spring game was played on a Saturday afternoon. This year’s game was given a Friday night billing, which may have led some Wolverine faithful to pass. Michigan has not typically been a huge spring draw, but it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, are made to the scheduling of next year’s spring game.

The Other Usual Power Players

Ohio State aside, it was yet another solid spring showing from the fans in Lincoln, Nebraska and State College, Pennsylvania. Nebraska and Penn State have always typically been strong spring game draws on a regular basis, and neither disappointed again this season. Nebraska once again eclipsed the 70,000-fan mark with 72,992 showing up. Penn State brought in another 60,000+ crowd with an estimated 65,000.

Michigan State is starting to become one of the stronger spring draws as well. The Spartans set a new school record with 51,000 coming out to East Lansing on Saturday. With that, Michigan State pushed past their rivals from Ann Arbor, which surely will bring a smile to the face of Mark Dantonio.

Quick Hits

  • Illinois got off to a late start with spring practices due to a late coaching change. No formal spring game was open to fans, but 5,000 Illini faithful got a chance to see Lovie Smith in action as the new head coach during an open practice.
  • Like LSU in the SEC, the fact that Wisconsin only brings in just fewer than 10,000 for its spring game amazes me. Wisconsin fans love the Badgers and make for a great crowd, but for whatever reason there is not much emphasis on the spring game.
  • Maryland has not recorded a spring game attendance either of the past two spring games, but Rutgers has once again welcomed about 15,000 fans for its spring game for the second straight spring.

You can view my database of spring game attendance in this Google doc. It is updated periodically as information becomes available or confirmed.

Mo’ money, no problem? Big Ten closing in on media rights bonanza

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For those who lament the amount of money made by universities while the student-athletes that drive the sports, particularly football, receive “nothing,” you can commence your kvetching.  Again.

With its current first-tier media rights deal set to expire next year, the Big Ten, it was reported last month, had begun the process of accepting offers from various networks for the next round.  And, according to the Sports Business Daily, it’s set to toss a sizable amount of money into the conference membership’s coffers.

From the website:

Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.

To put that into perspective, the Big Ten’s current deal with ESPN that expires in the spring of next year was worth $1 billion over the course of 10 years; that $100 million annual average would be blown away by FOX Sports‘ $250 million a year average — and that’s just for half of the deal.

For further perspective…

Again, this deal would be for half of the conference’s football inventory over the next six years, with SBD reporting that “ESPN will be one of several TV networks engaged for the second half of the Big Ten’s package, along with the usual suspects of CBS, NBC and Turner.”

Report: Maryland spent $50,000 on coaching search consultant

D.J. Durkin speaks at a news conference after being introduced as the new head football coach at the University of Maryland, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in College Park, Md. Durkin comes from the University of Michigan, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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Hiring an outside party to assist in the search for a new football coach has become the norm in Division One sports, so news that Maryland shelled out some money to find the new head coach for the Terrapins football program is hardly shocking. In fact, the school may have gotten a decent bargain on the extra help compared to the amounts other schools have paid in the past to do the school’s work for them.

The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland paid $50,000 to Chuck Neinas and his Neinas Sports Services. That is less than a fifth of what Texas paid for assistance in the hiring of Charlie Strong and less than a sixth of what Colorado State paid to make the hiring of Jim McElwain (now the head coach at Florida). The former Big 12 commissioner has long held a role in the game and has lent a helping (hired) hand in coaching searches at a number of programs over the years, including Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and more. He was busy last year in helping Maryland eventually land Michigan assistant DJ Durkin and Virginia in hiring Bronco Mendenhall away from BYU.

“Most athletic directors have a short list of individuals that they’re interested in and then it frequently gets augmented from various sources,” Neinas said Wednesday. “My assignment is to confidentially contact people to find out if they have any interest at all. If there is interest I can serve as a conduit between the director and prospective candidate to provide information both ways.”

So did Maryland get a steal? We will see. Durkin is a first-time head coach and there is much work to be done in a competitive division. For a first-year head coach, Maryland may have gotten a good deal on the consulting fee, but there is so much unknown with the final result that can only be answered in time.

Maryland confirms hiring of Andy Buh as DC

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 03:  The Maryland Terrapins take the field before the start of their game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Byrd Stadium on November 3, 2012 in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland has officially filled the lone hole on its coaching staff, while at the same time confirming Kentucky has one to fill on its.

Following up on the reports that first surfaced Monday, Maryland confirmed Tuesday that DJ Durkin has hired Andy Buh as his new defensive coordinator.  Buh just completed his first season with Kentucky as outside linebackers coach.  Early last month, Buh added the title of special teams coordinator and was given a raise for good measure.

Prior to what turned out to be his brief stay in Lexington, he was the coordinator at Cal for one season (2013).  He’s also served as the coordinator at Nevada (2010-11) and the co-coordinator at Stanford (2008-09).

“I’m excited that we were able to get a quality coach like Andy to join our staff,” said Durkin in a statement. “I’ve known Andy since our time at Stanford and I think he’s an excellent fit for our program. He brings with him a wealth of experience and I’m thrilled to have him on board.”

“First I’d like to thank Mark Stoops, Mitch Barnhart and the entire Kentucky athletics department for the incredible opportunity they gave my family and I,” said Buh. “We’re extremely grateful to have been a part of a great community, university and football family at Kentucky and wish them the best.”

Buh replaces Scott Shafer, who was hired by Durkin Dec. 9 as part of his first Terrapins coaching staff but left the program April 1 for what were described as personal reasons.

“I’ve known Scott (Shafer) for many years. He’s one of the best defensive minds in our game and I wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Buh added. “At the same time, I’m excited by this opportunity and to be reunited with a great friend and football coach in DJ Durkin. I can’t wait to meet the rest of the staff, players and people that make the University of Maryland great.”

Maryland to hire Kentucky assistant Andy Buh as DC

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A couple of days after his defensive coordinator abruptly stepped down, D.J. Durkin has apparently landed a replacement.

Citing an unnamed source, Patrick Loney of Scout.com is reporting that Andy Buh is leaving Kentucky to take the coordinator job at Maryland.  FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Monday evening, UK confirmed in a press release that Buh was leaving the program to take another coaching position.

“I want to thank Coach Buh for his work and his commitment to our program during his time here,” head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for Andy as he is extremely passionate and very detailed. He has good balance between being disciplined and having energy and our players loved playing for him. There is no doubt he will have success as a defensive coordinator and I wish Andy and his family the best.”

Buh would replace Scott Shafer, who was hired by Durkin Dec. 9 as part of his first Terrapins coaching staff but left the program April 1 for what were described as personal reasons.

Buh just completed his first season with the Wildcats as outside linebackers coach.  Earlier this month, Buh added the title of special teams coordinator and was given a raise.

Prior to what turned out to be his brief stay in Lexington, he was the coordinator at Cal for one season (2013).  He’s also served as the coordinator at Nevada (2010-11) and the co-coordinator at Stanford (2008-09).