National college football columnist. FWAA Super 16 voter. Travel virtuoso.
Thanks to a quirk in tax reporting by athletic departments, we now know that Notre Dame paid their athletic director and head football coach nearly the same amount back in 2017. Before anybody pours one out for Brian Kelly however, just note that he did in fact make more than Jack Swarbrick two years ago — we just don’t know how much.
As noted by ace USA Today reporter Steve Berkowitz this week, the Irish’s 2017 tax returns were released publicly and saw Swarbrick haul in some $1.7 million over that same calendar year. That’s remarkably nearly the exact same amount the school directly paid Kelly.
It should be noted however that even though the football coach and his boss were on equal footing, that doesn’t account for the (likely millions upon millions) that Kelly collected from other sources. Typically for a head coach this includes cash from apparel deal (like ND’s with Under Armour), radio/TV appearances and other obligations with booster organizations. Add all that up and Kelly was likely in line with many of his peers on the national level at $4+ million.
Still, it’s notable for Swarbrick to take home that much and it not surprisingly places him near the top of the mountain in terms of athletic director pay. His job is a bit bigger than some of his peers due to Notre Dame’s football independence and unique position in NCAA and College Football Playoff governance but it is always good to put a number with a name given the lack of general transparency private schools have in these sorts of matters.
It’s starting to make a lot more sense now why Lane Kiffin suspended FAU’s starting quarterback Chris Robison for spring practice.
As reported on by the Palm Beach Post, records obtained by the paper show that Florida Atlantic investigated the signal-caller back in early December after he was accused of sexual battery. No charges were ever filed in the case however and the woman involved in the accusation, also a fellow student, later agreed with Robison that the “the encounter was consensual and that she did not want to press charges.”
“We don’t really discuss details on them, but it is what it is,” Kiffin said in March when describing Robison’s suspension from the team for an internal matter. “We’re always trying to help kids grow and mature and hold kids to a high standard.”
Robinson was named co-CUSA freshman of the year last season after throwing for over 2,500 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Owls as the starter for all but one game. It’s unclear if he has returned to the team since spring practice concluded and the school did not make Kiffin or Robison available to the Post for comment. In the redshirt sophomore’s absence, Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn took most of the reps on offense during FAU’s 15 spring practices.
This isn’t the first time that Robison has been involved in a serious incident at FAU or elsewhere either. He dismissed by Oklahoma after a violation of team rules shortly after being arrested for public intoxication and went through “a day-to-day suspension” last spring after similarly violating team rules with the Owls.
FAU opens their 2019 season at Ohio State on August 31.
UMass has signed up for some more MACtion.
The former member of the Mid-American Conference jointly announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a six-game football series with recent league powerhouse Buffalo.
Things will kick off on Oct. 15, 2022 when the Bulls travel to McGuirk Stadium and will alternate home venues every year from 2024 through 2028. UB Stadium plays host to the series starting on Sept. 14, 2024 and the remaining four contests will all take place in September from there on out.
The two schools played each other four times back when UMass was briefly a part of the MAC, with Buffalo holding a 3-1 edge in those games and a 7-6 mark against the Minutemen overall.
The Bulls are far from the only MAC team on UMass’ schedule either as the team tries to continue to make it as an FBS independent. The program has a home-and-home with Akron on the docket over the next two years and also has games scheduled down the road against Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois.
The War on I-4 is getting a little offseason juice.
At the center of the latest faux controversy drummed up by UCF folks this month is the fact that their conference rival USF had the audacity to schedule a 2-for-1 series with Miami starting in 2025. This replaced a previously set trio of games with Texas for the Bulls and allows a big name from the ACC to visit Tampa and no doubt sell tickets.
While it might seem like a smart move by USF to land an in-state power like the Hurricanes on their home schedule in exchange for two trips to South Beach, the Knights are no fan of teams from the AAC embarking on these kinds of 2-for-1 deals as UCF is trying to hold fast to their own scheduling philosophy of landing home-and-home with major opponents.
“I don’t know what I would do if I was in that (AD) chair,” Knights AD Danny White told an Orlando radio show. “(USF AD) Michael Kelly and I talk about a lot of different things … I’m sure that gate is meaningful for them for that single-game sale for those games. It’s a precedent I don’t like being set in our conference for schools to start doing a lot higher volume of 2-for-1s. We haven’t as a conference been that kind of place. We’ve been successful, historically, of getting home-and-homes with Power 6 opponents, and I’d like to see our conference peers continue to do that as we intend to do.”
Why is White so against 2-for-1’s by his fellow conference opponent? Well, a lot of that has to do with himself getting rebuffed from home-and-homes from Power Five opponents in favor of the three game series. Most notably this has devolved into a war of words between UCF and Florida, which has offered to play the Knights… but only with two of the games in Gainesville.
UCF thinks they’re above such scheduling tactics after “winning” a national championship and earning two Group of Five bids to the New Year’s Six bowls. Their Power Five peers like FSU, Miami and Florida though, still see things a bit differently with the Knights and their AAC brethren.
We’ll see how things play out eventually but something says White, Kelly and the rest of the Florida-based athletic directors will not be sending each other Christmas cards this holiday season after all the banter back-and-forth this spring.
Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman has not been his new permanent gig long but even he knows College Football Playoff expansion is coming at some point in the near future. Even better? He thinks moving to eight teams is a positive too.
“My personal opinion is that expansion is probably inevitable. And I think at some level, that’s a good thing,” Beekman told the Detroit Free Press at the Big Ten athletic directors meetings this week. “I do think there are very real concerns about how long you make the schedule and how many games you play, and there are concerns about spreading that too much over two semesters.
“At the same time, it’s such a small number of teams. And so if you got two teams playing one extra game, it’s not 300 or even 50 or 60 – it’s two teams playing one extra game. I think in the greater scheme of things, I think its probably good for the game and good for the teams involved if you move it from four to eight.”
Beekman was on campus when the Spartans made their lone run to the College Football Playoff back in 2015, which resulted in a humbling loss at the Cotton Bowl semifinal to Alabama. He’s far from the only one to call for the move to eight teams in the postseason event however. Fellow Big Ten AD Barry Alvarez went public with his calls for expansion, among other topics, earlier in the spring and Michigan’s Warde Manuel hinted that he’s come around to changes as well.
The CFP Board of Managers released a statement and held an impromptu press conference in the Bay Area at the site of the national title game saying it’s too early to discuss expansion at this point but it’s pretty clear that others in the sport are starting to ring the bell louder and louder with calls for going to eight teams sooner rather than later. As a result, it’s no wonder that more and more folks are thinking it’s inevitable at some point