Do's, don'ts for division alignments; more mail (cont.)
Have you ever seen so many good football coaches not working? Ethical issues aside, these are some of the best recruiters and Xs and Os men out there: Mike Leach, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, Butch Davis, Rich Rodriguez, the guy who was at Miami (Ohio) and then Pitt for a week [Mike Haywood] ... who am I missing?
-- Ezra Hood, Fort Worth
Phillip Fulmer would probably want you to know you left him out.
In all seriousness, yes, that's a pretty impressive list. Usually each year, when we get to hiring/firing season, there are at least one or two big names "between jobs" that get bandied about for every notable opening. Last year it was Leach, the year before Tommy Tuberville. But this coming year could be especially intense. Tressel and Davis are likely done coaching college football, but Meyer will be in high demand, Rodriguez is still respected enough to land somewhere decent and Leach will be putting his name out there, though he may need to accept a lower-profile gig than he feels he deserves. I also believe that former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti has another job left in him. (He briefly dallied with Colorado last year.) Imagine if all those guys wound up back on the sideline in the same season.
Here's an interesting tidbit for you: Four of the first five coaches to win BCS championships were eventually forced out of their jobs -- Fulmer (who won in '98), Bobby Bowden ('99), Larry Coker ('01) and Tressel ('02). There really is no such thing as lifelong job security.
C'mon ... Someone has to talk about it. How is ESPN NOT an illegal booster for Texas?
-- Rob, Seattle
Of course I laughed when I saw this -- the word "illegal" conjuring images of ESPN execs being led off in handcuffs for starting The Longhorn Network. But in terms of NCAA legalese, he does have a point.
According to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the core of Texas A&M's argument to the NCAA to ban TLN from televising high school games (the Big 12 has banned them for one year, but the NCAA has yet to make any ruling) is that the network is in fact a "representative of athletic interests" -- i.e., a booster. Citing a 1994 interpretation that "institutional publications" -- all those team-specific print magazines from the pre-Rivals.com era -- fall under the booster umbrella, A&M contends that The Longhorn Network is essentially the same thing, just on television. I can't find fault with that. The fact that ESPN runs the network as opposed to the school itself is irrelevant. Notre Dame doesn't publish Blue and Gold Illustrated, either.
To be clear, if the NCAA agrees, this ruling would designate TLN as a booster, not ESPN itself. Because if ESPN is a booster for Texas, then it's also a booster for Alabama, Michigan, USC and every other school that receives revenue from its contracts.
The No. 1 quarterback recruit is going to ... Indiana!!! Was that a real headline or am I dreaming? What will a commitment like this so early in the game mean for the next few years at IU?
-- Nate, Atlanta
It's a Mailbag milestone: We've uncovered an actual Indiana football fan. All it took was Gunner Kiel. Yes, the No. 1 QB in the class of 2012 has committed to the Hoosiers (at least until the recruiting services issue their revised rankings this winter with an SEC commit on top). And while there were unique circumstances at play -- Kiel lives in the state (Columbus) and his brother, Dusty, is the Hoosiers' likely starter this fall. But no way does such a sought-after player choose the Hoosiers if not for Kevin Wilson. There's a reason Indiana got my highest grade for last winter's coaching hires. Wilson, the former Oklahoma and Northwestern offensive coordinator, is a quarterback's dream. He orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in the country and helped produce a Heisman winner with Sam Bradford in 2008. He's long been at the forefront in terms of the no-huddle and spread concepts. He knows the Big Ten and, more importantly, he knows how to win championships. To this point Wilson was largely selling just his own pedigree, but now with Kiel he has a face for his program that should certainly pay dividends both on the field and in recruiting.
I can't take credit for this, because someone I can't remember said it first on Twitter, but Kiel could be to Indiana what Tim Couch was to Kentucky in the late 1990s. Couch was a national high school legend who could have gone anywhere but chose to stay home and wound up becoming a Heisman finalist and No. 1 draft pick playing in the Hal Mumme/Leach offense. Who knows whether Kiel will do any of that, but he and Wilson give people a reason to be interested in IU football for the first time in a long time.
Stewart, with the NFL lockout finally concluded, one of the terms of the agreement included a rookie salary cap, cutting down on the bloated contracts awarded to recent No. 1 draft picks. Now that the deal is in place, how do you see it affecting an underclassman's decision to jump to the NFL early? Surely, a $10 million contract is still a big motivating factor to a poor college student, but it is not nearly the same motivation as a $50 million guaranteed contract (like Sam Bradford got).
-- Aaron B, Tulsa
Poor Cam Newton. Just by virtue of being the No. 1 pick in 2011 instead of 2010 he got less than a third ($22 million) of what Bradford could potentially make ($78 million) in his first contract. It's the first time I've ever felt sorry for someone making $22 million (And please, save the inevitable "less than he made at Auburn" jokes).
To answer the question, I don't think it will have any effect. The guys that make the decision to go pro primarily for the money are going to keep doing so whether the money is $5 million or $50,000. Every year, you see a lot of players make seemingly puzzling decisions to turn pro and wind up going low or undrafted. Those guys are much more likely to have dollar signs in their eyes -- be it to support their family, because they just don't like college or simply hold deluded dreams of grandeur -- than the type of players in line for those $10-$20 million contracts. While there are certainly exceptions, the elite of the elite aren't making the decision based on dollar figures as much as draft position, long-term development or, in the case of a guy like Bradford (who could have turned pro a year earlier), whether they feel they're ready for such a drastic move. I don't think you're going to see too many juniors say, "You know what? The guaranteed contracts aren't what they used to be. I might as well stay another year."
In regards to your epic robot article. I like it, however, even with robots:
Minnesota will still fire its coach for only winning seven games three years in a row
Clemson will still underperform
Idaho's coach-bot will leave after two seasons for a better gig
Most Big Ten robot games will still be sluggish and boring to watch
Everyone will still hate Notre Dame
Paterno-Bot will coach for eternity
-- Adam Darby, Louisville
I don't know about you, but I'm quite OK with all of that.
Auburn officially returns to the college football elite
Breaking down the BCS bowl matchups
Swim Daily, Elsa Benitez in Montauk
Bears and Cowboys fighting to gain ground in their divisions