National college football columnist. FWAA Super 16 voter. Travel virtuoso.
With each passing month, it looks more and more like Louisville was swindled mightily by bringing back Bobby Petrino as head coach. It’s not just the lack of wins despite having a Heisman Trophy-winner at quarterback or the numerous off the field issues, it is the hurt the Cardinals suffered in the wallet even beyond the coach’s hefty buyout.
Per the Louisville Courier Journal, Petrino was over his budgeted recruiting expenses by nearly $1.1 million all told in his final four seasons and nearly double the amount allotted in his final two years alone. The program spent just over $700,000 in 2017 despite a budget of just $320,000 on recruiting and over half a million trying to bring in players the year prior with an even smaller budget.
“I don’t look at this and say, ‘Geez, they spent all this money in recruiting and we went 2-10,’” AD Vince Tyra told the paper. “You have to believe that there’s good effort there, there’s solid effort. Maybe the frustrating part of that is when you hear your current coach say you’re out of balance by position from those efforts.
“That as much as the dollars is probably problematic, because we need to be in position to win, and maybe we weren’t as close as I thought we were.”
Indeed, worse than going over budget was the mediocre results that Petrino and his staff delivered for that amount. The Cardinals never finished above 30th in the 247Sports’ composite team rankings and the lack of recruiting prowess from the former staff has left new coach Scott Satterfield’s group with a big hole to dig out of in terms of the roster.
The program is certainly doing their best to move forward with a number of wholesale changes from top to bottom but it remains glaringly obvious that the ill-fated return of Petrino delivered one transcendent player to celebrate and not much else to the commonwealth.
Easily the most controversial rule change in college football the past few years has been the implementation of targeting. While its roots in player safety has everybody on the same page, the inconsistent nature of it being implemented on the field (and via replay) has led to a ton of frustration from players, coaches, fans and administrators in just about every other game.
Some want to take things even further though.
Thanks to an upcoming proposal making its way through the byzantine NCAA process, a rule change is on the docket that would see players suspended for a full game if they were to get a second targeting penalty in the same game. While that potential has drawn considerable attention, it appears that it won’t be passing in the next few months — much to the relief of a number of folks around the sport.
“I would say all of [the rules changes] — with the exception of the dismissal — will probably be approved,” West Virginia AD and chair of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee Shane Lyons told CBS Sports. “That one probably needs a bit more discussion.
“You could make a bad call … and the kid is sitting out a whole ‘nother game… We’ve got to discuss that. You send a message and you want to change behavior. It’s changing the behavior, not only because they’re hitting the kid wrong but it’s for that kid’s safety as well.”
Lyons certainly has a very valid point and that’s not even getting to what a growing chorus of coaches want in dividing the targeting penalty into two levels of severity (including the option of not tossing players for some hits currently deemed targeting).
It sounds like there are still changes in store for the upcoming season like eliminating wedges on kickoffs and altering how blindside blocks are called — plus the controversial subject of making overtime a decidedly different affair after the fifth go-around — that will still pass based on those comments. However the one rule everybody wants to scrub throughly might just remain unscathed for yet another year.
After being let go by the Atlanta Falcons this offseason, many expected veteran offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to remain in the NFL after finding a solid amount of success at the next level. There were even a few rumors that he would be linking up with Kliff Kingsbury to serve as OC of the Arizona Cardinals.
Instead he turned a number of those opportunities down to return to Tuscaloosa for a more permanent role as Crimson Tide offensive coordinator, a position he briefly served in the national title game a few years ago following the departure of Lane Kiffin. Now we know one factor in the former Washington and USC head coach’s thinking: a lucrative three-year deal at the school that puts him in rare air among college assistants.
Per USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz:
Sarkisian’s $1.55 million salary for 2019 would have made him the seventh-highest paid assistant in college football last year per the paper’s annual database and the highest paid offensive coordinator in the country. Ponying up such a contract is somewhat common place at SEC programs like Alabama but few other schools also have Nick Saban leading the staff as the highest paid head coach in the sport on a regular basis.
While every houndstooth-clad fan in the world will tell you Saban is worth every penny, there’s at least some apprehension over the figures tossed around for the other given the residual effects from Sark’s one-game stint calling plays in a tough loss on the big stage. New defensive coordinator Pete Golding, meanwhile, will essentially take the salary placeholder that former linebackers coach/co-DC Tosh Lupoi made last season. The latter assistant “left” for a job in the NFL after this year’s national title game loss to Clemson.
The two coordinators were not the only ones to receive either new deals or pay raises from the school either, as Berkowitz notes the most expensive staff in the country is getting even pricer in 2019.
News that USC was involved in yet another improbable athletics scandal was not a surprise to a lot of folks who had been following the Trojans in recent years but it seems that the school’s efforts to clean things up in the athletic department might mean nobody is safe. Even those at the very top of the org chart.
In a rare interview this week since several school officials were indicted several days ago, USC’s interim president Wanda Austin sidestepped questions about athletic director Lynn Swann’s job security in the wake of several calls for his resignation.
“My comments would be that we certainly are doing a complete investigation around athletics because of the admission scandal and concern,” Austin told Annenberg Media. “After we complete that review and find out the facts of who knew what and/or who should have known what. That obviously will be something that will be reviewed with the board.”
That’s… not exactly a vote of confidence in the AD. In fact, it’s a sidestepping of a question that would impress even the most seasoned of politicians.
While it should be noted that the university is expected to name a new, full-time president at some point in the near future that will ultimately have say in personnel matters like this, Austin definitely didn’t douse any hot seat talk surrounding the Hall of Famer turned administrator. Swann said last week that he would like to remain in his position for a total of 10 years but it seems that having three people in one’s department caught up in FBI investigations the past two years might mean nobody is actually safe in Los Angeles after all.
This normally dreary stretch of the offseason in college football was perked up quite a bit on Tuesday when Miami announced that Ohio State transfer Tate Martell’s waiver with the NCAA to play immediately was granted and that he would suit up for the Hurricanes in 2019. While many though this was a great example of free agency coming to the sport, that’s not truly the case given the byzantine process the NCAA typically goes through in cases like this.
However, there were some unique factors that went into the decision according to the Miami Herald and that included some serious weight given to the fact that the Buckeyes were not standing in the way of Martell leaving nor becoming eligible in South Florida right away.
“I think what you had here is a situation where the request was made in a way that Ohio State did not oppose what we put in our request and they were cooperative with Miami,” attorney Travis Leach told the paper. “That ultimately was helpful to us.”
While Miami sources did describe things as a bit of a divorce between signal-caller and OSU after ex-Georgia QB Justin Fields transferred in, it’s interesting that the story noted that the change from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day at head coach didn’t really play a factor. That was something that a lot of folks seemed to hang their hats on in this case but it seems that the NCAA listened closer to the circumstances surrounding Martell leaving Columbus and what the football program was doing in terms of roster management and not who was doing the managing.
Either way, it seems like everybody — sans perhaps some Michigan and Florida State fans — came out a winner from this whole player shuffle. It’s probably a lot more encouraging for the next high-profile quarterback thinking about transferring out for greener pastures too.