Posted by Adam Jacobi
For all the week-to-week, year-to-year volatility that typifies modern college football, one of the odd bastions of stability that has recently popped up in the sport is scheduling. For example, Miami and Michigan State agreed to a home-and-home series today. Those games won't take place until 2020 and 2021, or 10 and 11 years from now. Odds are that neither team will even have the same coach by then; the Hurricanes are on their third coach in the last 11 years, and the Spartans have seen five different head coaches at the helm of their program in that same timeframe. So these teams probably have no idea what their programs will resemble in 2020, but one thing's for sure: Michigan State and Miami, locking horns.
Meanwhile, Purdue sits on the opposite side of the spectrum today, and not by choice; in an effective reminder that these agreements do have an expensive out clause, Kent State has just bought out their side of a contract to play the Boilermakers in 2011, according to a Purdue news release.
"This is a new one, having someone opt out of a contract just over 10 months before a game," said Purdue AD Morgan Burke. "I am personally surprised because of the positive relationship Purdue and Kent State have had through the years. We will get on the phone immediately to begin the process of finding a new opponent."
Kent State quickly jumped at the chance to play Alabama, in part because Tide head coach Nick Saban is an alumnus of the Kent State football team; Saban was a quarterback-turned-defensive back with the Golden Flashes during the mid-'70s.
But it also seems probable that Alabama will pay Kent State much more than $425,000 for its trouble; that's the guarantee Purdue set for the Golden Flashes, who are paying that amount to Purdue in full. And if the market rate for guaranteed payments per game continues rising at an exorbitant rate, it may become no longer in a program's best financial interests to lock in a game -- and a rate -- 10 years in advance. Of course, it's probably not as if Purdue booked its MACrifice back in 2000 or anything, but the fact remains: make it financially advantageous to break a contract, and someone's going to do it.