Michigan Wolverines

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 15:  (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to black and white and uses filters) A view of a cat and a dog cuddling during the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2013 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Getty Images

For Atlanta satellite camp, Georgia to partner with… Michigan?

3 Comments

For those who think the Trump and Clinton supporters can’t find some common ground (they can’t), take note.

In “The Great Satellite Camp Debate of 2016,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh took exception to some of the comments made by his counterpart at Georgia, Kirby Smart, saying “he is barking up the wrong tree” with the implication there is “any intent on our part to break rules.”  Thursday, the NCAA put that issue to rest (for now) by rescinding a ban on satellite camps that had caused the Smart/Harbaugh sniping in the first place.

Just a few hours after the ban was lifted, it was announced that Smart’s coaching staff would be one of two featured at an Atlanta-area camp.  The other?  Lucifer, grab your skates.

While many will be stunned at this “dog dates cat” development, it’s not that shocking.

“That whole thing got so overblown,” Smart, per DawgNation.com, said at an event in Dallas a week ago. “Because he and I, he and staff members from his staff had communicated. That’s a big deal to the media, big deal to you guys. But in the coaching profession we’re a bit more light-hearted about it.”

Jim Harbaugh part of the field for Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tourney

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly (L) chats with San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on the second hole during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 10, 2013 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Getty Images
4 Comments

Jim Harbaugh‘s days between the end of spring practice and the start of summer camps will continue to be exponentially more interesting than mine, yours and pretty much anybody else’s.

Back in February, the Michigan head coach was one of the celebrities littering the field of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament.  Fast-forward a few months, mlive.com is reporting, and Harbaugh will be a part of the field for the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this July.  The official field has yet to be announced.

Harbaugh, who played in the event as an NFL quarterback in the late nineties, won’t be the only college connection in the field as Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is also slated to be a participant.

The field of which Harbaugh and Kelly will be a part is a diverse one, ranging from Larry the Cable Guy to Jim McMahon to Abby Wambach to Marshall Faulk to former vice president Dan Quayle to Roger Clemens to Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” to Steve Kerr to Jerry Rice to Charles Barkley to myriad others.

And, as noted by mlive.com, the tournament will air live on July 22 on the NBC Sports Network from 6-8 p.m. ET, and on July 23 and 24 on NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET.

Michigan, Nike put finishing touches on $173.8 million deal

Nike Michigan
Nike
4 Comments

It’s no longer the biggest apparel deal in collegiate athletics, but now it’s officially official.

Tuesday morning, Michigan announced that it has finalized and updated its agreement with Nike to become the university’s the official athletic footwear, apparel and equipment provider, with the new deal taking effect Aug. 1 of this year.  The development comes nine months after the then-record deal was announced.

The agreement is valued at $173.8 million if it runs the entire 15 years, and includes a $12 million initial payment to the university, $76.8 million in total annual payments and $85 million in apparel. The new deal runs through 2027, with a university option to extend the agreement to 2031.

Four months after UM’s new deal was reported, news surfaced that Texas’ new contract with Nike would be worth $250 million over 15 years.  In January of this year, Ohio State announced its new deal with Nike, an agreement that will pay that school upwards of $252 million over 15 years.

The university also obtained oversight in the manufacturing of products in this new agreement.  From the release:

Throughout the partnership, Nike will abide by the Nike Code of Conduct, which meets, exceeds or has equivalent treatment of all requirements in the U-M Code of Conduct for Licensees in addressing labor standards.

The agreement provides that Nike makes available the list of factories where collegiate product is made and provides for independent, external monitoring and investigation of those factories by third parties mutually agreed upon by U-M and Nike.

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)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
4 Comments

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

Money
Associated Press
4 Comments

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.”