McNabb, McPherson to have Syracuse numbers retired

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A pair of standout Syracuse signal callers will not so unexpectedly be honored by their alma mater, the school announced Sunday.

In a press release, Syracuse confirmed that former quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson will have their respective jerseys raised to the Carrier Dome roof during retirement ceremonies this coming season.  The latter will be honored during the Oct. 5 game against Clemson, the former during a Nov. 2 game against Wake Forest.

McNabb and McPherson will become the sixth and seventh players honored in this manner by the Orange, joining the likes of Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little and John Mackey.

“It is our pleasure to honor Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson and recognize their importance to the history of Syracuse football. Both of these men were catalysts for some of the greatest success in college football during their respectful tenures at Syracuse. We want to recognize these extraordinary men during our inaugural season in the ACC as we look to establish new success,” said Syracuse athletic director Dr. Daryl Gross in a statement. “We celebrate two individuals who were significant in branding Syracuse football as a national power. The nation’s eyes were fixated on these two amazing student-athletes as they helped elevate and maintain SU football’s prominence.

“We truly hope all SU fans will join us during the season to salute the jersey retirement of these two tremendous individuals and their families  as we look to compete at the highest level in the ACC as New York’s College Team.”

McNabb led the Orange to three Big East titles and two BCS bowl berths during his time with the Orange.  He was also the first player in conference history to be named first-team All-Big East four times.

15 years after last playing for the Orange, McNabb still holds Syracuse career records for most touchdown passes thrown, total offense, touchdown responsibility, and highest passing efficiency.

“It is an honor,” McNabb said. “Obviously the number 44 had its impact on the program and now #5 will be honored, too. Hopefully we will have more in the future. When you play high school football your goal is to earn a scholarship and a starting position and win the national championship. You do not think about individual honors such as this. It is really unbelievable. Syracuse prepared me for life away from the game. I came in with a mindset that after football I wanted to be in broadcasting. Syracuse taught me responsibility, maturity and played such a big role in developing me into the man I want to be, to be looked at not only as a great athlete, but a great person.”

McPherson was a 1987 All-American who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting; won the Maxwell Award, which honors the college football player of the year; the Davey O’Brien Award, which recognizes the best collegiate quarterback; and was the first recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He led the Orange that year to an undefeated regular season and a Sugar Bowl berth.

He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

“There are so many people who are responsible for this honor who should be standing next to me when this happens,” McPherson said. “In sports we wear jerseys because we are part of a team. The number on the jersey is meant to identify the player wearing it. To have my jersey singled out is more a moment of reflection than accomplishment. It makes me think about what I did to deserve this and that makes me think about all of the people who came before me, were at Syracuse with me and who have been there since I graduated. A significant part of my journey has been having somebody like Coach Mac in my life. When Daryl Gross called to tell me about this event, I started to write down the names of those who have impacted who I am and it quickly became too long to list everyone. I am blessed.

Mike Gundy and AD Mike Holder will be together at Oklahoma State at least through 2021

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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.

Alabama’s check for season-opening game significantly bigger than Louisville’s

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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.

NCAA President Mark Emmert received nearly $500,000 raise in 2016

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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 coach Mike Leach not going quietly after Twitter spat, continues to blast reporter

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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.