Houston failed to get the memo that the government shutdown didn’t apply to the Department of Defense. More specifically, the Army football team.
The Black Knights looked every bit of a top 25 caliber squad on Saturday as they closed out their 2018 season with an 11th win by way of a 70-14 rout of the Cougars in a game that somehow was even more lopsided than the score would have indicated.
Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. was naturally the triggerman making everything happen between the lines and capped off the year with one of his best performances yet. His three passes all wound up as completions (70 yards) and he ran for 170 yards and five touchdowns in the game on just 11 carries. His best run came as he embarrassed a trail of Cougars defenders on a zagging 77-yarder all the way to pay dirt and those final numbers allowed him to become the first player in school history to top the 1,000 yard mark both passing and rushing in a season.
While Hopkins was out of the game by the third quarter, a host of others were able to pick up the slack when he was out of the lineup to keep Army’s offense rolling. A total of eight players had at least one carry and fullback Darnell Woolfolk closed his career in black and gold with 71 yards on the ground. Artice Hobbs and Connor Slomka also found the end zone for the cadets and backup QB Cam Thomas threw a scoring strike and ran for another as the team tied an FBS record for most points in a bowl.
Playing without their starting quarterback and All-American Ed Oliver as well, Houston appeared to give up on the game just as it got going. They allowed quarterback Clayton Tune (230 yards, 1 TD) to take 10 sacks and the Cougars also fumbled twice, one of which was returned the other way for a touchdown. Tailback Patrick Carr ran for 52 yards and Tune added a score off a scramble but the first-team offense mustered just three third down conversions in a fairly lifeless performance that was made worse by their defense giving up a school record 507 yards rushing.
The effort was far from what head coach Major Applewhite likely envisioned and will certainly lead to a ton of questions this offseason over his longterm future with the program given how the team played in 2018.
That won’t be the case for the Black Knights, who secured a school-record for wins in their 11-2 campaign and should likely finish the year ranked for the first time since 1996. Army has put together back-to-back double-digit win seasons but this year’s squad can puff out their chest a bit bigger based on the way they closed things out against the AAC in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The life of a conference commissioner is not an easy one given the amount of criticism from just about every level but at least they are well compensated for their troubles.
Really well in most cases.
Thanks to the latest round of 2017-18 tax returns from the various Power Five conferences and the NCAA being released, we now have a good picture at how everybody stacks up and business booming has resulted in even larger paychecks for most. Here’s the latest figures for the Power Five and NCAA President Mark Emmert:
- The Big Ten’s Jim Delany moved into the top spot as the highest paid commissioner thanks to a reported $5.5 million paycheck, per USA Today.
- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was not far behind his Rose Bowl counterpart with over $5.2 million in compensation, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
- Big 12 head honcho Bob Bowlsby was bumped to a total of $4.1 million.
- ACC commissioner John Swofford took home slightly over $3.5 million.
- SEC leader Greg Sankey was by far the best bargain of the group, with the most recently appointed commissioner making right around $2 million last year.
- Emmert’s salary was the biggest mover of the group of power players as Yahoo! Sports notes his take-home pay jumped 60% by going from $2.4 million the previous year to $3.9 million. All told, the NCAA’s public face has seen his salary jump by some $2 million since 2015 alone.
As you all know, the compensation for the student-athletes officially remained at $0 in pay for the same time period.
It just means more… beer?
It certainly could in the SEC as early as this upcoming season depending on how the league’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla. go next week. As Sports Illustrated reports ahead of everybody’s trip down by the beach, repealing an archaic conference rule banning alcohol sales in the general public sections of stadiums is expected to be the hot button topic that will drive the conversation among school presidents, athletic directors and coaches:
Many of the conference’s high-ranking administrators are optimistic that league presidents will not only seriously discuss the alcohol ban but will overturn an archaic policy that exists in no other major conference. The bylaw will be “front and center” during the four-day event at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort, says one athletic director; another AD says it’s “the main thing.” The administrators spoke to Sports Illustrated on a condition of anonymity.
It probably goes without saying that SEC fans have been clamoring for overturning the rule and expanding sales beyond the club areas where adult beverages are currently allowed to be sold. The conference is one of the few holdouts in this area as college football has swung back from being relatively dry the past decade-plus. Half the Big Ten will permit sales in 2019 and other programs like Oklahoma became the latest big program elsewhere to join the trend earlier this month.
There’s two positives supporters of an SEC repeal will no doubt trot out next week, the first being the increased revenues schools can make by opening up sales and the other being the decrease in binge drinking just prior to kickoff. The latter in particular is not something likely to escape the conference presidents given some of the game day atmospheres in the league.
We’ll see if things ultimately get over the finish line in terms of a repeal after a few years of discussion but it probably speaks to the health of the league that throwing a few drinks back is the topic de jour down in Destin this year.
Kirby Smart is just plain good for business at Georgia as much as the head coach is for the Bulldogs on the field.
Like, really good for business.
The Athens Banner-Herald recapped a number of the financial figures for UGA athletics’ recently approved 2020 budget and while the overall $153.89 million figure was notable and the projected $44.5 million distribution from the SEC Network somewhat striking, it was one nugget buried in the story that was really eye-opening:
‘Fueled by the football team’s success the last couple of seasons under coach Kirby Smart, donors have contributed about $140 million total over the last two years.’
$140 million over two years!
“Sustainability in college athletics is an ongoing challenge and we are fortunate to be one of the few institutions being on solid ground,” AD Greg McGarity told the board.
We’ll say. That $140 million figure over two years is slightly more than what fellow SEC peers Kentucky and South Carolina brought in just last year in terms of total revenue, per USA Today’s finances database, and even if you split it in two is still a figure that greatly exceeds most Group of Five programs entire budget. And keep in mind this is just donations for the Bulldogs, not revenues from media deals, ticket sales and other items.
Given that UGA has made the national title game and the Sugar Bowl the past two seasons, it’s probably not a huge surprise to see a big uptick in donations but that quite the whopper of a figure thanks to the Smart-led resurgence in Athens.
Add Wyoming to the long, long list of FBS schools hoping to complete a facelift for their home stadium over the next few years.
According to the Gillette News Record, the Cowboys are all set to ask the state for nearly $50 million in funds to help with the renovation of War Memorial Stadium and other athletics projects such as a pool.
“On the lower west side, the treads and the risers in the bleacher section and the press box are far below Mountain West Conference standards and we need to find a way to upgrade that,” athletic director Tom Burman told the paper. “We’re going to need, as part of our vision, to make fans feel better, whether it’s back-rests or chair-backs or better concessions. They have an expectation level of what Saturday football’s supposed to be like and it’s very different from what we provide.”
The total cost for the stadium and pool, which are not being separated in the request to the state for funds, is expected to cost $74.2 million. Some $24.6 million is expected to be fundraised by the school with the rest covered by the money provided by the legislature.
War Memorial Stadium seats just over 29,000 people for Cowboys home games but has really only seen minor renovations to upgrade the venue in 2004 and 2010. Given that the venue was built in 1950 and only expanded to near its current capacity in the 1970’s, it’s understandable why the school wants to upgrade the home football experience as a result.
Wyoming opens their 2019 season in Laramie against Missouri on August 31.