Iowa State
Getty Images

Iowa State announces one-year, temporary reductions in pay, bonuses for coaches

Leave a comment

Iowa State is the first FBS athletic department to address the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  They certainly, though, won’t be the last.

Because of the crisis, there are growing fears that the 2020 college football season could be canceled.  While all options are being considered, a complete cancellation of the season would have a steep impact on the financial bottom line of most FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Because of previous revenue streams in the tens of millions, a Power Five program would be better equipped to handle such a development.  One Power Five school, though, is getting ahead of the cash-cow spigot that is college football potentially being shut off.  In a letter posted Wednesday night, Iowa State athletic director Scott Pollard unveiled “several initiatives that we are implementing in the athletics department to best prepare for, both the known and the unknown, financial challenges that we will be facing soon.”

For our audience, the most noteworthy initiative involves coaches’ pay.  That one-year reduction will save the athletic department — Pollard made sure to note the department “is funded almost entirely by external sources” — in excess of $3 million.  Additionally, bonuses for coaches have been suspended.  That move will save in the neighborhood of $1 million

From the release:

  1. A one-year, temporary pay reduction for athletics department coaches and certain staff. This comprehensive plan will reduce total payroll by more than $3M.
  2. A one-year, temporary suspension of all bonuses/incentives for all coaches. This decision will save the department $1M.
  3. Delaying (from January 2021 to January 2022) a previously announced increase in Cyclone Club annual giving levels. The delay will save donors approximately $2.5M for required seating donations.
  4. A freeze on season / individual game ticket prices for all sports.
  5. An extension to the deadline for this year’s Cyclone Club donations and football season ticket renewals to May 29, 2020.
  6. Providing multiple payment options for season tickets and donations. Those required payments can be made monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.

In December of last year, and amidst rumors of other job opportunities, Iowa State announced a contract extension for head football coach Matt Campbell.  His $3.6 million in salary was sixth among Big 12 head coaches in 2019.

At this point, it’s unclear how much Campbell’s pay will be reduced.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

college football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 1, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Mark Emmert: We can’t pay football and basketball players because it would kill non-revenue sports
THE SYNOPSIS: Two years later, players are on the verge of being allowed to earn money off of their names, images and likenesses… and saving schools the “pain” of having to pay them.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Alabama fans kick Deshaun Watson out of Tuscaloosa bar
THE SYNOPSIS: This offseason story developed after Watson engineered a last-second Clemson win in the College Football Playoff title game win over Alabama.  Initially, it was reported that former Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson was part of the crowd of Crimson Neanderthals hassling Watson.  Instead, it turned out that Anderson was merely trying to diffuse the situation.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Three Iowa State players rescue woman from drowning on spring break trip
THE SYNOPSIS: Anthony LazardJack SpreenJoe Doran were true heroes on this day three years ago.  They jumped in and saved the life of a 22-year-old woman who drove her car into Laguna Madre Bay as the trio watched and then sprung into action. “That car completely sank in less than a minute and if not for them jumping into the water and pulling the driver out, she would most certainly have drowned,” officer Michael Schiltz said at the time.

THE HEADLINE: Art Briles named in federal sexual assault lawsuit against Baylor
THE SYNOPSIS: Even a half-decade later, the stench surrounding Briles is still strong.  Despite said stench, Briles is still serving as a high school head coach. For a program with its own off-field issues.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Texas AD: ‘I don’t see us focusing on’ renewing A&M rivalry
THE SYNOPSIS: Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2012.  Since then, at various points, each side has claimed to want a renewal of the in-state rivalry.  Of late, though? “[F]rom our standpoint it’s really not a big deal to us, and you know, we’ve kind of moved on,” A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in November of last year.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Female kicker falls short in Hokies tryout
THE SYNOPSIS: Lauren Luttrell was part of a 10-person kicking tryout at Virginia Tech.  She failed, though, to advance to the final three.

2011

THE HEADLINE: That’ll Bruin your day: projected OL starter fractures ankle
THE SYNOPSIS: I just liked the punny UCLA headline.  Your mileage may vary.  A lot.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Kelly on Irish: ‘We stink right now’
THE SYNOPSIS: A little reverse psychology by Brian Kelly? Notre Dame went on to an 8-5 record in Kelly’s first season. Two years later, they won a school-record 12 games en route to a national championship game appearance versus Alabama.

2009

THE HEADLINE: MEYER HAS NO PROBLEM WITH CONTROVERSIAL LINEMAN*
THE SYNOPSIS: Urban Meyer.  A player with an off-field issue.  Lather.  Rinse. Repeat.

(*Yes, back in the day, we used to scream out our headlines at our readers in all-caps. The move to NBC a couple of months later mercifully ended that practice.)

Anonymous FBS athletic director: ‘If there’s no season, we will be f*****’

college football
Getty Images
7 Comments

If you didn’t realize how important college football is to an athletic department’s bottom line, this should highlight it.

In the midst of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, some connected to the game of college football are decidedly pessimistic that the upcoming season will be played. Others are expressing cautious optimism. For now, at least.

Brett McMurphy of The Stadium conducted a survey of 130 athletic directors with FBS programs, with 112 of them participating. According to McMurphy, the ADs “were asked to rank their optimism on the upcoming season being played from ‘1’ (will not be played) to ’10’ (definitely will be played).”

Not a single AD gave less than a “5” in response, meaning everyone who responded, at least at this time, feels there’s at least a 50-50 chance the season will go off as planned. A slight majority of respondents (51%) assigned either the numbers seven or eight in McMurphy’s survey. One-quarter of them were decidedly optimistic with either a nine or 10 as a response. Most of that optimism was on the part of Group of Five programs that, already financially reeling from the distilled NCAA’s revenue distribution last month, desperately need a college football season to be played.

If the college football season is to start on time — the first games are scheduled for Aug. 29 — what would be the absolute latest teams could start reconvening and prepping for the 2020 campaign? The answer you get depends on the individual you ask. Some would say early June at the absolute latest. Others have said the middle of July.

So, what if the season is canceled? Completely?

“If there’s no season, we will be f*****,” an anonymous AD told McMurphy.

A tweet from Ross Dellenger of SI.com very plainly illustrates how reliant athletic departments are on revenue from college football.

Suffice to say, if the 2020 college football season is completely wiped out, non-revenue sports will be cut. Lots of them will be shuttered, more than likely.

The good news, such as it is, is that the powers-that-be in the sport will go to great lengths to save the 2020 college football season. In fact, one report earlier today suggested that the season could start as late as January of next year. How that would work with players who are eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft would have to be worked out, as would myriad other issues.

While it’s way too early to form a concrete opinion, there’s little doubt that all connected to the sport will exhaust every option to save the 2020 college football season. And, if the season is canceled? It’ll mean we all have a helluva lot more to worry about than sports.

Kirk Herbstreit would be ‘shocked’ if college football is played this fall

college football
Getty Images
26 Comments

No college football this fall?  The drumbeat for such a possibility grows louder by the day.

In the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Mack Brown earlier this week expressed concern about whether or not the college football season would be played as scheduled.  Whether it would be a partial season.  Or no season at all.

“There is a fear of ‘would we have a season?’ ‘Would we have a partial season?’ ‘What does a partial season mean,’” North Carolina head coach said. “There is a great concern because of the remedy that comes in with football.

“The biggest problem is you’re not sure when it ends, and we can’t get those answers at this point.”

Compared to one prominent college football personality, Brown is downright optimistic.

During a radio interview Thursday night, Kirk Herbstreit was asked about the prospects of teams taking the fall this season.  According to the ESPN television personality, he would be “shocked” if it happened.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit stated, by way of TMZ.com.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

Because of the cancellation of March Madness, schools saw their revenue distribution from the NCAA drastically diminished.  That is expected to take a heavy toll on non-FBS schools.  If the college football season were to be canceled?  That would severely impact FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

Texas AD says any Big 12 spring football will start at the same time

Big 12 - Texas AD Del Conte
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed spring football off the calendar across the country but if it does return, the Big 12 will be united in getting some snaps in.

Speaking to 247Sports last week, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte remarked that any potential return to the gridiron will happen in the same window across the league.

“We’ll start to address what happens with spring ball, but there’s been nothing yet,” Del Conte said. “The key is to have a united time as to when it would resume. Some schools have already had some spring practices. Others have not. We don’t want to have teams starting at a certain time, earlier than another and gaining a competitive advantage.”

The Longhorns know better than most what they’re dealing with when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak. School president Gregory Fenves tested positive for coronavirus and Austin itself has been under tight lockdown for several days. The university is moving all classes online and clearing out dorm rooms by the end of the month as well.

Tom Herman and company were scheduled to start spring ball on March 24. That, obviously, will not happen. The Big 12 has suspended any athletic activities until at least March 29.

The issue of starting and ending at the same time is an interesting one. Some schools already got a few practices in while others were weeks away from starting. It does suggest though that the thinking in the Big 12 seems to mirror the SEC’s on the subject. Commissioner Greg Sankey said there’s a narrow window for spring football to happen just last week.

First and foremost, getting containment on the coronavirus remains paramount. Only once that happens to a level that satisfies authorities can athletics look ahead at hosting events again. Hopefully things happen sooner rather than later but it seems increasingly likely things could push deep into summer or, even, the fall.