Former Arizona, Hawaii, San Jose State head coach Dick Tomey dies at 80

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The Arizona and Hawaii football families are honoring the life of former head coach Dick Tomey today. Tomey, 80, died after a battle with lung cancer on Friday.

“Our entire program is saddened by this loss, but we are also grateful to have been impacted by Coach Tomey,” Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin said in a released statement. “We will continue to do our part to represent his legacy well. Nanci and the entire Tomey family continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.”

Tomey started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Miami Ohio under the legendary Bo Schembechler in 1962. His coaching journey made stops at Northern Illinois, Davidson, and Kansas before landing at UCLA in 1971 as linebackers and defensive backs coach for the Bruins. It was at UCLA that Tomey would eventually be named defensive coordinator in 1976, and one season later he was named the head coach at Hawaii. Tomey coached at Hawaii for 10 years, accumulating a record of 63-46-3 and cracking the AP Top 25 in 1981 with a record of 9-2. Tomey was named the WAC coach of the year for the 1981 season. Tomey is credited with making a strong effort to have Hawaii sign big-name opponents

Tomey was hired by Arizona after the 1986 season. Tomey led the Wildcats to a record of 95-64-4 over the span of 14 years, which included a 4-3 bowl record highlighted by a Fiesta Bowl victory and a top 10 finish in the 1994 season and a memorable 12-1 campaign that ended with a Pac-10 championship and a victory in the Holiday Bowl and a No. 4 finish in the AP Top 25 in the 1998 season. Tomey was named the Pac-10 coach of the year for the 1992 season after a 6-5-1 season filled with tight and close losses to bring down the record. Arizona lost at No. 1 Miami 8-7 at the end of September and was upset by No. 18 USC 14-7 in mid-November to drop the Wildcats from a No. 9 AP ranking. Arizona ended the regular season with a 7-6 loss to rival Arizona State and ended the season with a 20-15 loss to Baylor in the Sun Bowl. Arizona lost four games by a combined total of 12 points in the regular season. Tomey remains the winningest coach in Arizona program history.

Tomey resigned from his position at Arizona after a disappointing 1999 season and returned to coaching a few seasons later with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. After one season as an assistant with the 49ers in 2003, Tomey joined the Texas coaching staff as an assistant head coach and defensive ends coach. The Longhorns went 11-1 and won its first Rose Bowl in school history, and Tomey returned to the position of head coach with San Jose State the following season. In five seasons at San Jose State, Tomey coached the Spartans to a 25-35 record, including a 9-4 run in 2006 that ended with a rare bowl victory for the program.

A statement from the Tomey family says a celebration of life ceremony will be announced at a later date.

Jim Delany was highest paid conference commissioner in 2017-18; NCAA president Mark Emmert’s salary climbs to nearly $4 million

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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.

Alcohol sales expected to be hot topic at SEC spring meetings

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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.

Thanks to resurgence under Kirby Smart, Georgia donors have contributed $140 million the past two years

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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.

Wyoming set to ask the state for funds to help with War Memorial Stadium renovation

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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.