Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers
Fri., Dec. 28 – 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Orlando, Fla. – Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium
So what’s so bad with a trip to sunny Orlando, some visits to the Disney attractions, maybe a chance to lay out by the pool? Absolutely nothing … unless you’re Rutgers. Then this trip, nice as it is, still seems like a letdown.
The Scarlet Knights (9-3) were poised to claim the program’s first BCS bowl bid, but couldn’t finish, first falling at Pittsburgh 27-6, then being overtaken by Louisville 20-17 in a winner-take-all Big East showdown.
Rutgers should be motivated by the possibility of a 10-win season. And certainly its defense and the run-oriented offense of RB Jawan Jamison is enough.
Especially after Virginia Tech (6-6), which is in a strange place indeed after eight consecutive double-digit victory seasons, the only FBS team to do so. The Hokies needed to win their last two games just to qualify for the program’s 20th consecutive bowl game. Overall, the season has been an unqualified mess.
Strange, though. We see QB Logan Thomas rebounding from a disappointing individual season, somehow rallying his troops and pulling the upset. And for Rutgers, that would turn paradise into a perfectly miserable trip.
Opening point spread: Virginia Tech by 1
The pick: Virginia Tech 19, Rutgers 16
Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.
Mike Gundy and Mike Holder better patch up their relationship because both are set to be in Stillwater a lot longer.
Days after the Cowboys head coach and athletic director got into an interesting back-and-forth over the former’s recruiting prowess following the latter’s comments, Holder received a new contract extension that will keep him at the school through 2021.
Gundy himself is signed a year beyond that as part of the new five-year deal he inked after the 2017 season.
The new deal with Holder includes a hefty six-figure raise from the $644,371 he made from the school last year. There was a point early in his tenure where he was one of the Big 12’s lowest paid AD’s but that story has shifted significantly over the years as OSU’s budget has climbed, with the school taking in some $93 million in revenue according to the latest figures.
Given all of the new contracts, hopefully both Holder and Gundy will both have a conversation in the coming months to get back on the same page and patch up their relationship — because both are set to be attached at the hip in Stillwater for several more years.
Louisville hasn’t even started the season and they’re already behind Alabama. Well, at least when it comes to their bank accounts.
The Louisville Courier Journal obtained the contracts for the Tide and Cardinals game in Orlando that will kick off the 2018 season for both in September and found that Alabama’s payout is $4.5 million — nearly double Louisville’s $2.75 million that they are taking home.
The disparity can probably be chalked up to one team being the national champions and a bigger draw for the game itself but it turns out there’s another reason Nick Saban’s side has a few more dollars on their side of the ledger: tickets.
Alabama’s contract obliges the school to buy 18,000 tickets for distribution to its fans, while Louisville agreed to purchase only 10,000. Both schools will be granted two 20-person suites, 25 parking passes and 200 complimentary tickets, as well as 1,000 tickets at $25 each for students.
While selling 8,000 more tickets could add up to that difference (at roughly $218 a piece) in guarantees, it’s nevertheless a little unusual to hear of such a large disparity between teams. As the Courier Journal notes, Alabama received the same amount as their opponent for neutral site games in 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2012.
Louisville’s game against Auburn also had a bigger pay day than what they’re getting from the folks in Orlando but they were on the hook for three times the number of tickets back in 2015. Perhaps the smaller ticket package this year is a bit of a sign that even the school itself knows this is rebuilding season for Bobby Petrino and opening against the defending champs is going to be a steep challenge between the lines.
Being everybody’s favorite punching bag in college athletics at least pays well.
USA Today is reporting that NCAA President Mark Emmert received a nearly half million dollar raise in 2016 and take home pay in line with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
NCAA President Mark Emmert’s total compensation grew by nearly $500,000 during the 2016 calendar year to more than $2.4 million, according to the association’s new federal tax return.
Emmert’s base salary of $2,078,075 represented a 42% increase over his base salary for 2015, or just over $615,000.
Emmert’s contract runs through 2020 and also contains a one-year option. He made around $1.9 million in 2015 with a base salary of just over $1.4 million.
“The Board of Governors’ Executive Committee determines NCAA executive salaries,” association spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in a statement to the paper. “Members of the committee are university and college presidents from all three divisions. To assist its efforts, the Executive Committee uses an independent third party. This third party undertakes market surveys to ensure salaries of NCAA executives are similar to other comparable executive positions.”
Indeed, Emmert’s salary is somewhat in line with what the Power Five commissioners make but trails all the SEC’s Greg Sankey when it comes to the total. We’re guessing a similar story will play out next year around this time given how revenues for the association continue to shoot up.
USA Today also says that the NCAA’s tax return list a whopping nine executives who had total compensation of more than $450,000 in 2016.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach has apparently never heard the old saying that you never argue with somebody who buys ink by the barrel. Of course, going the conventional route has never really been the coach’s M.O. so it probably isn’t too surprising to see him keep up with war of words with USA Today columnist Dan Wolken on Friday either.
First, some background. Leach originally shared a video of a President Obama speech on Sunday that was misleadingly edited under the ruse of creating discussion about the government and proceeded to argue with people about it for several hours on Twitter. While he eventually removed the tweet in question, the fact that a head coach at a public university would share such a doctored video caused many to wonder what he was thinking in the first place. One of those people was Wolken, who penned a column the next day that was critical of Leach and noted that incidents just like this one is a good reason why despite plenty of wins, bigger schools won’t come close to hiring him.
That, apparently, touched a bit of a nerve.
Speaking to the Seattle Times on Friday, Leach didn’t exactly back down or try to calm the waters. Here’s just a taste from a lengthy Q&A he did with Times columnist Matt Calkins:
Yeah, they expect less bias because I think he’s 100 percent biased. Anyway, I think he does a horrible job and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It doesn’t matter what anybody says, he’s just gonna distort the thing. He’ll probably be selling Big Gulps here in a couple years. I don’t know. As I think about it, I ought to let all that take its course.
Calkins: Who did you talk to about Dan (a sixth-year USA Today veteran whose response can be found here)? You said people don’t respect him; is that something someone just told you?
Leach: I just randomly … we’ve already talked about that guy more than he deserves. But I don’t know, maybe you know him, maybe you like him a lot. You might have gone to high school together. Maybe you had slumber parties as children and watched superhero films. I don’t know, but that’s my general impression. And his work certainly measures up to some of those unlofty expectations.
Let’s just say there’s a lot more in that Times piece that you can unpack as well.
While saying Wolken would be working at a 7-11 in the future is a funny line, this entire spat seems to further prove the original column’s point. While Leach’s quirky personality has plenty of endearing qualities, somebody at Washington State should probably tell the coach that this thing has gone on long enough and this is not how the Cougs want to be making headlines in what has otherwise been a quiet offseason.
Still, let’s all hope Wolken makes his way out to Los Angeles next month for Pac-12 Media Days because fireworks might be just one of the few things we can all expect.