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Posted on: January 31, 2011 12:18 pm

Big Ten spending shows Wolverines lagging

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

magazine writer Kristi Dosh has continued a series on college football spending that started with the SEC with a closer look at the Big Ten's revenues and profits , and though some of her findings and conclusions aren't surprising -- Ohio State spends more on football than any other member of the league, the average SEC team generates more revenue and spends more money than the average Big Ten team, etc. -- some of them are legitimately eyebrow-raising.

Perhaps the most intriguing number is the difference between the revenue generated by the Michigan  football program and how much the university re-invests in those same Wolverines. These are the figures for how much gross revenue each Big Ten team creates:
Penn State Univ. $70,208,584.00
Ohio State Univ. $63,750,000.00
Univ. of Michigan $63,189,417.00
Univ. of Iowa $45,854,764.00
Michigan State Univ. $44,462,659.00
Univ. of Wisconsin $38,662,971.00
Univ. of Minnesota $32,322,688.00
Univ. of Illinois $25,301,783.00
Northwestern Univ. $22,704,959.00
Indiana Univ. $21,783,185.00
Purdue Univ. $18,118,898.00
And here's how much each team spends:
Ohio State Univ. $31,763,036.00
Univ. of Wisconsin $22,041,491.00
Penn State Univ. $19,780,939.00
Univ. of Iowa $18,468,732.00
Univ. of Michigan $18,328,233.00
Michigan State Univ. $17,468,458.00
Univ. of Minnesota $17,433,699.00
Northwestern Univ. $15,733,548.00
Indiana Univ. $12,822,779.00
Purdue Univ. $11,821,265.00
Univ. of Illinois $11,092,122.00
Note that when it comes to revenue, Michigan is a solid No. 3, only narrowly behind their rivals in Columbus and nearly $18 million ahead of fourth-place Iowa. But when it comes to expenses, Michigan drops back to No. 5, and a distant No. 5 at that; they spend less than 60 percent of what the league-leading Buckeyes do, and despite their massive revenue advantage barely outspend even their in-state enemies at Michigan State.

Contrast the Wolverines' approach with that of Wisconsin. The Badgers come in just sixth in the league in revenue, but (as Dosh points out) reinvest an incredible 57 percent of that money back into the football program, a number that exceeds even the percentages in the SEC and puts the Badgers' raw investment well ahead of not only Michigan but even revenue leaders Penn State. It's hard to argue the Badgers aren't getting a return on that investment, either, when they've posted nine or more wins six of the past seven years and are coming off of a surprise Rose Bowl appearance.

Michigan's troubles go deeper than just spending money, of course, and it has to be pointed out that there are institution-wide advantages to hogging so much of the football team's revenue as (the Big Ten's second-largest pile of) profit; the athletic department sponsors a wide variety of varsity sports programs (no, there's no scholarship field hockey at, say, Tennessee) and does so without financial support from the university.

But if the Wolverines are serious about competing for not only conference championships against the likes of the Buckeyes but Rose Bowl championships against the likes of Oregon or USC, or national titles against the likes of the Big 12 or SEC, they're going to have to start putting more of their football money to use in football (particularly in the area of coaching salaries ). Greg Mattison is a nice start, but he's only a start.

(One other note worth noting: thanks to the Big Ten Network, a revenue stream that according to Dosh's figures falls outside of the football-only numbers, the average Big Ten athletic department remains more profitable overall than the average SEC athletic department by some $2.5 million. The Big Ten has the money to spend. They just spend more of it, it appears, on things that aren't football.)
Posted on: January 24, 2011 4:41 pm

Bill attempts to bring back 'Colonel Reb' by law

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Given how closely the culture of college football is intertwined with the modern Deep South, and how protective of certain (ahem) aspects of that culture certain (ahem) fans can be, it was probably only a matter of time before someone in the Mississippi state legislature came up with this idea :
Just when most talk of black bears and rebels had started to settle, state Rep. Mark Duvall , D-Mantachic, appears to be taking a legislative approach to the Ole Miss mascot debacle.

House Bill 1106, authored by Duvall, would amend the state code, adding a provision that the University of Mississippi "shall bear the nickname 'Ole Miss Rebels' and its mascot shall be 'Colonel Rebel.' "

Additionally, the bill states that the Ole Miss marching band must play "Dixie" and "From Dixie With Love" at home and away games.
Before we all start in on another round of laughter at the expense of Ole Miss and their confused political priorities, we should point out that 1. no one believes this bill has any chance of passing 2. the university has taken great pains in recent years to disassociate itself from its former "Old South" imagery, and no doubt doesn't appreciate the attempt to force it to re-embrace it 3. on that point, it's possible (if not at all likely) that this is in fact a highly elaborate smear job on the part of Duvall, a Mississippi State grad who no doubt appreciates the perpetuation of Ole Miss's reputation for racism at a time when his school could be battling the Rebels for recruits.

All that said, we don't remember the state legislature of Illinois stepping in to try and save Chief Illiniwek, either. This is all the more reason Ole Miss should have gone with Admiral Ackbar; no one's going to argue you're stuck in the past when your mascot is a catfish from the future, are they?

HT: Red Cup Rebellion via GTP .

Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 3:20 pm

5 Up: Potential 2011 sleeper teams

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason Top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So earlier today we named five that are in his Top 25 that might slip out or could otherwise disappoint, and right now we'll name five more teams we think can crack that Top 25 next season. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Baylor - The good news for Baylor: dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III is back along with most of the offense, and while he loses starting tailback Jay Finley to graduation, Finley's backups Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi provide an intriguing balance of power and speed -- they both return. In addition, RG3 gets his top five receivers back (all of whom caught at least 40 passes this year), and three-year starting lineman Philip Baker will be the anchor at center for a mostly intact offensive line. Yes, Baylor still looks wretched at times on defense (53 points to Oklahoma and 55 to Oklahoma State aren't exactly solid efforts), so there's no telling whether the Bears' losses on that side of the ball are addition by subtraction or not, but one thing's for sure: there'll be points put up in Waco in 2011.

2. Illinois - This spot would likely go to fellow "Leader" Penn State if it weren't for the fact that PSU's replacing Evan Royster, two leading receivers, its two best offensive linemen, and there's really no telling who's starting at QB in 2011. Oh, and most of the Penn State defense -- including two of three starting LBs -- is graduating too. Contrast that with Illinois , who found a star quarterback in freshman Nathan Scheelhaase this year and returns four of five starting offensive linemen. The Illini won't miss early declarant Mikel LeShoure much with Jason Ford (who's basically a human truck) waiting to take over at tailback. The defense will definitely miss Martez Wilson and Corey Liuget on the interior, on the other hand; those guys were anchors of a stout rushing defense and their backups are unremarkable. Still, Illinois' 2011 schedule looks primed for some upsets, and nine wins is hardly out of the question. If Wilson and Liuget were returning, Illinois would probably be in Dodd's Top 25, but it's not as if no borderline-Top 25 team has ever exceeded expectations after losing two juniors to the NFL.

3. Utah - Everything's going to come crashing down once Utah joins a "real" conference, right? Maybe not. If QB Jordan Wynn recovers from December shoulder surgery in time for the season (which he should, but six months of rehab can turn into nine without the patient doing anything wrong), he'll be a third-year starter with a reasonable set of returning players. Senior wideout/returner Shaky Smithson is sure to be missed, but this is college football; so it goes. And while Utah's schedule looks daunting, it really could be worse; the Utes miss both Oregon and Stanford in inter-divisional play, and neither BYU nor Pitt should be as tough of matchups as they'd have been over the past couple years. In addition, the schedule's pretty top-heavy, and it's easily possible that Utah wins at least five of six down the stretch. Head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps proving predictions wrong by not bolting for a paycheck elsewhere, and now he's got a chance to lead his Utes into battle in a real conference and destroy the "mid-major" label that's been dogging the program -- even through multiple BCS bowl wins! -- once and for all.

4. Oregon State - Meanwhile, in the Pac-12 North, the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to make noise. Yes, Oregon and Stanford are the class of the division and should remain so for the near future, but don't sleep on the passing skills of QB Ryan Katz , especially now that he'll have his first full season as a starter under his belt. With the game slowing down for him and with Markus Wheaton and James Rodgers both returning at WR (to say nothing of Joe Halahuni coming back at TE), Katz should be able to more effectively use his NFL-caliber arm to put some points up in Corvallis. The offense will miss Jacquizz Rodgers desperately, and while deserved, his jump to the NFL will likely cost the Beavers a win or two. So while the defense struggled in 2010 and stands to lose several seniors, it may not matter in a Pac-12 with several struggling offenses and an OSU attack that should set 30+ points per game as a goal. Scheduling a road date at Wisconsin might not have been the wisest idea, though. Still, look for a push from Oregon State to hit that eight-win mark, which against a schedule like this could mean a spot in the Top 25 when it's all said and done.

5. Tennessee - Dodd ranks eight SEC teams in his Top 25 (26, really, but whatever). We're not sure all will end up ranked at the end of the 2011 season, but one thing seems clear: of the four teams he left out -- Kentucky , Ole Miss , Tennessee , and Vanderbilt -- Tennessee's the closest thing to a contender of the four. No, the SEC East shouldn't spend its entire season on fire like last year, where South Carolina took the division trophy in a five-loss season, but Florida 's going to be experiencing major upheaval and Georgia will be missing A.J. Green (again). With Tyler Bray coming off a successful freshman campaign and returning starting RB Tauren Poole and deep threat wideout Justin Hunter , we could see the Vols make some noise. On defense, the only major loss is leading tackler Nick Reveiz ; Herman Lathers made strides along with the rest of the defense down the stretch, and the secondary returns intact. If there's ever a time to make a run in the East, it's -- well, okay, it was 2010. 2011's not a bad opportunity for the Vols either, though.

Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm

5 Down: Potential 2011 disappointments

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier today, our own Dennis Dodd posted his pre-preseason top 25 for the 2011 college football season. We here at the College Football Blog wouldn't dare disagree with our esteemed colleague's opinions ... but every year there's teams that vastly exceed the expectations of even the wisest prognosticators (like, say, Auburn in 2010) and some that disappoint despite some seemingly major advantages (like, say, Iowa in 2010).

So later today we'll name five more teams we think can crack Dodd's top 25 next season, and right now we'll name five that are in his top 25 that might slip out ... or, at least, fail to live up to where they're currently placed. Without further ado (and in no particular order):

1. Auburn (15). Slipping from first to 15th already seems like quite a slide, but the Tigers' losses are so major they could easily fall even further. The offensive line loses four starters representing approximately 200 collective career starts; Nick Fairley's departure is only the capper for an entire defensive tackle rotation that must be replaced; Auburn's two best linebackers are graduated, along with the best corner and best safety; and, oh yeah, that Cam Newton guy will be replaced by either a redshirt junior who's never started a game (Barrett Trotter) or a true freshman (Kiehl Frazier). The schedule also turns nasty, with this year's home dates against South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia all on the road. Gus Malzahn's continued presence means Auburn will have a fighting chance of getting back to eight or nine wins, but a bad break here or there could leave Gene Chizik's bunch outside the top 25 entirely.

2. Michigan State (9). The Spartans lived on the margins somewhat in 2010, needing big late comebacks to beat teams like Northwestern and Purdue while stumbling badly against more talented teams like Iowa and Alabama. And now Mark Dantonio loses three senior offensive linemen, soul-of-the-defense All-American linebacker Greg Jones, and offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who took the vacant Miami (Ohio) head coaching position. For a team that may have already been not-quite-as-good as their record, those are big blows.

3. South Carolina (17). Their appearance on this list isn't necessarily about the Gamecocks themselves, though the losses of end Cliff Matthews on defense and guard Garrett Chisolm on offense will be larger than people think. It's about their SEC divisional rivals at Florida and Georgia bouncing back from subpar seasons, and a schedule that hands them tough road trips to Athens, Knoxville, Starkville, and Fayetteville. It's the sort of slate that likely has four losses on it lurking somewhere.

4. Northwestern (24). We love the plucky Wildcats as much as anyone, but the way the 'Cats were memorably run over at Wrigley by Illinois, it's hard to see them being physical enough to make that much headway in the new-and-improved Big Ten. Five of their seven 2010 wins came by a total of just 15 points, and for a quarterback whose underrated running skills are as much a part of his success as his throwing accuracy, Dan Persa's Achilles injury is a killer.

5. Oklahoma State (7). OK, so with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back and the Big 12 South not yet back to its 2008 glory days, it's not likely for the Cowboys to slip all the way out of the top 25. But the Cowboys haven't always done well with the kind of expectations they'll be dealing with in 2011, the defense still needs major work, and without Kendall Hunter the Pokes will have to work to ensure the running game can keep opponents from simply blanketing the Weeden-to-Blackmon connection. But the biggest loss by far is Dana Holgorsen, without whom the 2009 Cowboy offense was shut out by Oklahoma even with weapons like Hunter and Zac Robinson around. If Mike Gundy doesn't find a quailty replacement, the Cowboys may wind up as 2011's most overrated team.

Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:28 pm

Illinois losing LeShoure to NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Monday Illinois lost one of its best players on defense to the NFL draft in Martez Wilson, and on Tuesday the Illini lost their biggest weapon on offense as well.  Though it didn't come as much of a shock, Illinois can't be all that excited to hear that running back Mikel LeShoure will forego his senior season in Champaign and enter the NFL draft.

"I know it wasn't an easy choice," LeShoure's mother, Jazz Jones told the Champaign News-Gazette. "He did his homework as far as weighing his options. He looked at the pros and cons of leaving and the pros and cons of staying."

"[Ron Zook] said Mikel has proven to him that he is capable of anything.  He wished Mikel well. He spoke very highly of the maturity Mikel has shown. He said he's going to do whatever he can to help my son. I appreciate what he has done for my son."

Unfortunately for Ron Zook, he'll not only have to replace LeShoure's production next season, but he can't even attend the press conference LeShoure will be announcing his decision at.  It's being held in his former high school, and since it's the recruiting dead period, no coaches are allowed in any high schools right now.  Not even for a press conference.

LeShoure is coming off the most prolific season in Illinois history as a running back, rushing for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns, including a 330 yard performance against Northwestern at Wrigley Field.  He was also on the end of three receiving touchdowns.  
Posted on: January 10, 2011 12:09 pm

Illinois' Martez Wilson entering NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's one that may be considered a bit of a head-scratcher.  it seems that Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson will be leaving school early to take a shot at the pros, as he's filed his papers to enter the NFL Draft.  The reason I say it's a bit surprising is that Wilson, who was a highly-related recruit when Ron Zook landed him in Champaign, has had a bit of a rough road since his college career started.  Still, that doesn't seem to have any affect on his decision.

"I know I can get better but I'm ready to make this move," Wilson said. "I can play inside or outside. I will be a versatile NFL player.

"College has been a great experience and I've matured greatly. I appreciate what I have now and I've been making good decisions."

Wilson's career in Champaign was a bit of a roller coaster.  In his three years at the school he's had to deal with being stabbed in a bar fight, and a broken vertabrae in his neck.  He's also battled through a bunch of smaller injuries -- other injuries would have to be smaller than those -- but did finally have a solid season in 2010.  Still, though he'll be getting his degree this May, in my opinion Wilson would have been better off returning to school for another season.

Another season like the one he had in 2010 would have improved his stock quite a bit.  Of course, given the things that have happened to him while he was in college, I guess it's hard to blame him for wanting to get out as quickly as possible.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 11:36 pm

CBS Bowl Bonanza: TicketCity Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Why to watch: Why, Northwestern is playing in the Cotton Bowl for the first time in the program's history! Sure, by that we're referring to the venue and not the bowl game itself (that's in Cowboys Stadium) but this is Northwestern's first game in Dallas, period. Isn't that enough? Doesn't history mean anything to you? Of course, it would be nice if Dan Persa -- the man who almost single-handedly put Northwestern in the postseason to begin with -- were healthy and able to play, but a fully Persa'd Northwestern team wouldn't have slid all the way to the TicketCity Bowl. As for Texas Tech , the nation can witness Tommy Tuberville and his neutered, lobotomized version of Mike Leach 's Air Raid offense. That won't be fun, per se, but not every play's a comedy.

Keys to victory for Northwestern: The Wildcats lost a lot when Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles' tendon, but heart appears to be the chief missing ingredient. Even though Persa never played a snap of defense (to the best of our knowledge anyway but you really can't rule this out), when he was out, Northwestern began giving up points in bunches. Illinois roughed the Cats up to the tune of 48 points at Wrigley Field, then Wisconsin rolled up 70 points in three quarters -- the fourth was nothing but random Wisconsin students from the crowd taking snaps on first down, then the Badgers punting on second down out of pity. If Northwestern wants even a fighting chance, it'll need to get its mojo back first. That means Evan Watkins will need to put together a good game under center, and tailback Mike Trumpy will probably have to get 100 yards or close to it just to keep the Northwestern defense off the field. Also, not giving up like 50 points would be ideal.

Keys to victory for Texas Tech: Obviously, step one is getting Taylor Potts off and running (or throwing, anyway); Potts is something of a relic of a bygone era considering his upbringing in the Leach offense, but he still threw nearly 500 times for 31 scores this year. Most of those scores went to Lyle Leong , who is downright lethal in the red zone: 13 of his 17 touchdown catches came in the red zone, with three more coming within 26 yards. MORE OF THAT PLEASE, obviously, but if Northwestern sells out to limit Leong's availability like Oklahoma , Oklahoma State , and Texas all did (all Tech losses), Potts is going to have to figure out how to spread the wealth successfully between the 20s and in the red zone. He did that against Baylor, so it's not as if this is an impossible task.

The TicketCity Bowl is like: Church. You may not enjoy it, but that's not the point and it never was to begin with. This is the first game of the New Year, kicking off at noon on the East Coast and in the morning everywhere else in the States, so odds are that most people watching the game are going to be wishing they were still in bed. Ah, but this is the institution you worship, this combat on this sacred acre of grass, and if anything's going to drag you out of bed with a brain still spitting up champagne and gasping for air, this is it. Get up, get in your seat, and get back to the real world as you watch the first snap of 2011.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com