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Urban Meyer

Ohio State draftees to sign contracts worth in excess of $110 million

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Forget about going shirtless at a satellite camp or a sleepover or climbing up a tree or any of the like; this is what you call a recruiting pitch.

During the course of the three-day NFL draft, a dozen former Ohio State Buckeyes were drafted.  While OSU failed to break its own record for most picks in a single draft, the 12 selections in the first four rounds were the most ever.

And, not surprisingly, those players are going to get paid.

According to PennLive.com‘s David Jones, those players will sign contracts that could be worth a total of $120 million.  Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch has the number pegged slightly lower at $111,462,707.  Either way, that’s a lot of cash — and a lot dollar signs for Urban Meyer to flout in front of potential recruits.

Of course, not all of that money is guaranteed, although the guaranteed dollars involved aren’t too shabby either.  From the Dispatch:

Just the signing bonuses alone, which range from Bosa’s projected $17,017,226 to Jones’ $383,393, have an expected total of $60,526,660. Unless a player does something to cause his contract to be voided, signing bonuses are theirs to keep.

Regardless of how you spin it, former Buckeyes did quite well financially the last couple of days.  And, as Jones alludes to when it comes to James Franklin and Penn State specifically and the Big Ten in general, Meyer and the Buckeyes are in an entirely different zip code than the rest of the conference — a fact that will no doubt come up on the vast expanses of the recruiting trail.

The good news for Franklin and Penn State: They had three of those 11. The bad news for them and everyone else in the league: Urban Meyer is probably preparing a recruiting flyer right now with a 9-figure dollar amount printed in big bold numbers.

Big Ten spring attendance by the numbers

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)
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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.

Cal LB Hardy Nickerson to join his father at Illinois

EUGENE, OR. - SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks breaks the tackle of linebacker Hardy Nickerson #47 of the California Golden Bears as he runs for a touchdown during the second quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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It’s a situation Abbott and Costello could appreciate. “Hey, did you hear Hardy Nickerson is headed to Illinois?”

“Yeah, I knew that a long time ago.”

“That’s impossible, he just announced it.”

“No, it was announced back on March 14. The 49ers’ linebackers coach, right?”

“No, the California linebacker.”

Nickerson the younger announced on his Twitter account Thursday he will join his father at Illinois, where he was hired last month as defensive coordinator. The pair was previously in close proximity; the son in Berkeley as a Golden Bears linebacker and the father in Santa Clara as the Niners’ linebackers coach.

Nickerson will graduate from California and receive immediate eligibility at Illinois.

A native of Oakland, Calif., Nickerson played for his father previously at Bishop O’Dowd High School.

He recorded 112 tackles and four sacks for California in 2015.

Illini RB Dre Brown suffers second torn ACL, will miss 2016

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Football can be a cruel, unyielding sport, and Dre Brown merely serves as the latest example.

Last offseason, Brown sustained a torn ACL in his right knee that sidelined him for the entire 2015 season.  Nearly a year to the day later, the Illinois running back suffered a torn ACL in his other knee.  This injury will not only force Brown to miss the upcoming season, but it could end his career as well.

Brown made the announcement on his personal Twitter page Tuesday night, one day after incurring the injury during a Monday practice.

Brown was a three-star member of the Illini’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 48 back in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Illinois.  An early enrollee, Brown was honored with the Newcomer Award for the offense last spring.

Coming off the first ACL tear, Brown was slated for a backup role to leading rusher Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

This is the second major injury for an Illini player on the offensive side of the ball this month. Exactly two weeks ago, star wide receiver sustained Mike Dudek suffered a knee injury that was ultimately diagnosed as a torn ACL. Ironically, this is the second straight year Dudek has incurred the same injury.

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.”