The ever-benevolent NCAA continues to give, with UCF and one of its players the latest beneficiaries of The Association’s “never-ending” graciousness.
On his personal Twitter account late last week, Michael Colubiale announced that he has been informed by the NCAA that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility. That ruling will allow the tight end to play the 2018 season for the Knights.
This upcoming season will serve as Colubiale’s final year of eligibility.
After missing the entire 2015 season due to injury, Colubiale played in all 25 games the last two years. He caught 10 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown in 2017, one season after he totaled two catches for 17 yards.
The ruling is a significant one for the Knights as they lost a combined 42 receptions for 479 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 at the tight end position due to the expired eligibility of Jordan Akins (30-459-4) and Jordan Franks (12-120). In fact, and aside from Colubiale, not a single tight end on UCF’s current roster has caught a pass at the FBS level.
The offseason of UCF athletic director Danny White continues.
No, this isn’t another article about the Knights’ being national champions or releasing marketing studies or anything, even, to do with the upcoming season. No, this has to do with his conference’s upcoming television deal. The AAC’s rights expire after the 2019-20 season as is typically the case with such deals, negotiations for what happens starting in 2020 are going to commence in the coming months.
Per The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, those current deals with ESPN and CBS pay the league around $21 million a year and many around conference are expecting a big jump soon in the payouts.
“I don’t know how the first five years of our conference could have gone any better, with across-the-board success, particularly in football,” White said. “Whether you look at television ratings, competitive success, New Year’s Day bowl wins, we’ve way outperformed.
“I think our current deal is way undervalued, and everybody understands that. We’re all really confident we’ll get a much more significant television deal that puts us on par with where we should be, with the Power 6 conferences.”
While the AAC and those in the league continue to push that they are on par with the other Power Five conferences, that simply isn’t the case when you look at everything from actual NCAA governance to the cold hard cash each league receives. Even the much discussed Pac-12 Networks is contributing more to the conference’s schools than the $21 million the AAC receives and the league itself falls far short of its peers when it comes to total revenue. In 2016-17 alone, AAC revenue dropped below $75 million compared to over $500 million for the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten each. Even in the Big 12, Texas alone takes in nearly as much TV revenue from the Longhorn Network (roughly $15 million a year) as the entire AAC does.
Given that the original deals were signed in 2013 with ESPN and CBS back when realignment was going crazy, White is absolutely correct in his assessment that the current deal is a little undervalued and a solid increase is in the cards for the league in the not-to-distant future. But as far as that winding up coming close to what the Power Five are bringing in? It seems like a stretch to say the least.
Believe it or not, there’s more transfer news on which to report.
On his social media accounts over the weekend, Brinkley Jolly announced that, after leaving Wyoming earlier this offseason, he has decided to transfer to SMU and continue his collegiate playing career with the Mustangs.
The offensive lineman heads to the AAC school as a graduate transfer who can use his final season of eligibility in 2018.
Jolly played in nine games the last three seasons for the Cowboys, starting eight of those contests. Seven of the starts came at offensive tackle during the latter half of the 2016 season, while the other came last year.
The American Athletic Conference may view itself as a power conference program, but the revenue situation for the conference continues to paint a much different picture. Documents for the past fiscal year obtained by The Orlando Sentinel show the AAC recorded a revenue of $74.47 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, a drop of six percent from the previous year.
In the previous year, the AAC reported a revenue of $79.297 million. It’s important to make note that this fiscal year figure does not include any revenue obtained by placing UCF in a New Years Six bowl game this past football season. That will be reflected in the 2017-2018 fiscal year figures. The AAC did not have a team in the New Years Six lineup during the 2016-2017 fiscal year (Western Michigan of the MAC crashed the NY6 party). UCF played in the Peach Bowl this past season, which should boost the figures for the next fiscal year revenue figures.
Of course, the revenue the AAC recorded for the past fiscal year continues to be overpowered by the massive revenues being recorded by the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and the SEC. However, the AAC’s revenue still carries the torch for the non-power conferences. This downward trend does stress more on the importance of the conference being proactive in securing a forward-thinking media rights deal for when the current TV deal expires in 2020. This is where AAC commissioner Mike Aresco will fight hard to make sure his conference has a deal he deems fair to the entire conference, which he does not feel is the case right now.
Via The Orlando Sentinel;
“The real game-changer for us would be TV because we’re just not getting anywhere near what we deserve in TV,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said. “It’s a throwback to that five-year ago period when we were very unstable and the whole situation was unstable and that’s just not remotely true now.
“I think at the time, I don’t think anyone realized how powerful our schools could become. We’ve established ourselves as a nationally relevant and respected conference and now it’s a question of let’s make sure that results in a TV deal that we need to keep this going. It’s a mixture of exposure and revenue.”
The AAC did have a rough start in terms of conference stability was concerned, but the conference has come together to form a formidable conference as programs like Houston, Memphis, UCF, USF, and Navy have played well. The conference will also be boosted with the addition of Wichita State in basketball.
Six weeks after leaving Notre Dame, Nick Watkins has a new home. Reportedly.
First reported by 247Sports.com and subsequently confirmed by the Houston Chronicle, Watkins has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Houston. As a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, the defensive back will be eligible immediately to play for the Cougars in what will be his final season.
In addition to UH, TCU, West Virginia and SMU had been in play for Watkins.
Watkins played in 35 games the past four years for the Fighting Irish, including a dozen this past season. In 2017, Watkins set career-highs with 29 tackles and eight passes defensed.
Watkins’ entire 2016 season was wiped out by a broken arm sustained in spring practice, leading to a medical hardship waiver that gave him another year of eligibility.
With this move, Watkins becomes the sixth transfer from a Power Five program to join Houston this offseason, the others being Ole Miss safety Deontay Anderson (HERE), Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady (HERE), Miami linebacker Darrion Owens (HERE), Utah wide receiver Raelon Singleton (HERE) and Baylor running back Terence Williams (HERE). Additionally, defensive end Isaiah Chambers transferred in from TCU last August and, after sitting out the 2017 season, will be eligible to play this season as well.
Like Watkins, Dormady, Owens, Singleton and Williams are all graduate transfer and eligible to play in 2018. Anderson is also immediately eligible because of the waiver granted to him by the NCAA as a result of Ole Miss’ issues.