Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:55 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier this week on the blog, we introduced you to Robert Burton. Burton was a UConn booster who donated quite a large sum of money to the school and was just a tad bit annoyed by the fact he wasn't consulted when it came to finding a replacement for Randy Edsall. So, in return, Burton demanded his money back from the school, and said he wants his name removed from a complex he financed. Burton's taken a bit of heat for this from columnists all over the country writing about how donors and boosters have too much influence in college athletics these days.
Burton does have one very powerful ally, however. T. Boone Pickens, the man behind the curtain at Oklahoma State, can empathize with Burton and feels that UConn should have done a better job of appeasing him.
"You always have time for people who are putting up the money. That just makes all the sense in the world," T. Boone Pickens told USA Today. "You can't ignore those people. I mean, they've paid their money, and they're entitled to be informed.
"Your donors are as important to you as some of your players are. So you don't want to offend anybody.
"You can't spend all day every day talking to somebody about things. But I would just say, from a distance, that somebody should have talked to the guy and he never should have gotten to the spot where now he's damned unhappy and he wants his money back."
Pickens is right, too. While I don't condone Burton's petulant act of demanding all of his money back - I would have just let the school know that my checkbook is closed in the future - I can totally understand why he's angry. If I was capable of donating that much money to a school, I'd like to think my opinion was valued somewhat. I mean, you wouldn't have to agree with every idea I had, but at least listen to some of them.
I just gave you $3 million, the least you can do is act like I exist.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:21 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Hell hath no fury like a booster scorned.
Robert Burton donated $3 million to UConn to fund The Burton Family Football Complex in Storrs. Burton is a printing industry executive who has lived in Greenwich for over 30 years, and has donated over $7 million to the football program in that time. Well, now he wants that $3 million for the football complex back, and he'd like his name taken off of it as well. It seems that Mr. Burton is pretty upset with UConn AD Jeff Hathaway not seeking his input when it came to hiring Paul Pasqualoni to replace Randy Edsall.
"The primary reason (former coach) Randy (Edsall) took another job is because he couldn't work with you," Burton wrote in a six-page letter to Hathaway. "You are not qualified to be a Division I AD and I would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors."
According to the letter, Burton asked Hathaway to keep him "in the loop" on the coaching search, asking him to do this on January 3. Burton says he never heard from Hathaway again until January 19 when Pasqualoni had already been hired. Burton also said in the letter that he wasn't looking for any kind of "veto power" but the fact that Burton wasn't consulted shows him that Hathaway doesn't respect his "point of view or value my opinion."
Which seems like a pretty big mistake on Hathaway's part, because according to the letter, the $3 million refund isn't the only thing Burton is going to do. He also said he won't be paying for his family's $50,000-a-year luxury suite at Rentschler Field. Burton even said "You already have many other empty boxes at Rentschler. My box will just join the list."
Burton didn't stop there, either. He no longer plans on purchasing an $8,000 ad inside the football program, he's moving all the money he donated for football scholarships to the business school, and Burton will stop an annual $20,000 donation for the school's summer coaching clinic. Oh, and speaking of the UConn business school, any time Burton's business needs to train any of its managers, it'll no longer be sending them to UConn's business school. It'll send them to Syracuse instead.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 5:54 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While the Randy Edsall Award* of 2010 hasn't been handed out yet, there isn't much question that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is the runaway favorite to win it this season. Chryst's name has popped up for job openings with Minnesota, Texas, Vanderbilt, Pitt and even the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, none of those jobs actually panned out, but it seems there's another NFL team now interested in Chryst.
The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has told the paper that the San Francisco 49ers have sought permission to talk to Chryst. The 49ers recently hired Jim Harbaugh -- maybe you heard -- as their new head coach, and Harbaugh just hired Geep Chryst to coach tight ends and quarterbacks in San Francisco. Geep is Paul Chryst's brother, and it's also a name I'm not sure how to pronounce.
Anyway, what San Francisco wants from Chryst, I don't know. Greg Roman has already been hired as offensive coordinator, so if Chryst is to be offered a job, it'd likely be as a position coach. There's also talk that a raise is in the works for Chryst at Wisconsin, and that it's just awaiting approval by the school's Board of Regents in February. So whether Chryst has any interest in leaving Madison or not, the fact that others are interested in him has earned him a raise at the very least.
*The Randy Edsall Award is an award I just made up. It goes to the college football coach who's name pops up in the most coaching rumors during an offseason. For the past few years Edsall's name came up in seemingly every opening, but he never left UConn until this season when he took a job at Maryland after his name was never even mentioned as a candidate.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in the Big East and Mountain West
TODD GRAHAM, Pitt
Why him? Because Mike Haywood got arrested two weeks after he was hired. Also because Graham put together some successful offenses at Tulsa. For 2011, Graham needs to: build a strong offense without the services of Pitt's two best offensive players Jonathan Baldwin and Dion Lewis. Luckily for Graham, Dave Wannstedt recruited good players to Pitt, but Graham will have to mold them to his offense. By 2014, Graham will need to have: won a Big East title and taken the Panthers to a BCS bowl. Dave Wannstedt won more games than he lost at Pitt, but it was the lack of a conference championship in a weak conference that ultimately led to his dismissal. Chances Graham gets what he needs? I'd say they're pretty good. Weak conference or not, Pitt is still in a BCS conference and has the resources to win in college football. Of course, by the time Graham has his stamp on the program, TCU will be a Big East member, so it won't be easy.
DANA HOLGORSEN, West Virginia
Why him? Have you seen West Virginia's offenses under Bill Stewart the last few seasons? Nothing like a Mike Leach disciple who helped put together one of the best offenses in the country at Oklahoma State to infuse life into a dormant scoreboard. For 2011, Holgorsen needs to: bid his time, let Stewart finish his final season, and start getting his offense ready for his ascension in 2012. By 2014, Holgorsen will need to have: won a Big East title and improve the Mountaineers offense enough so that it once again resembles the teams Rich Rodriguez put together. He'll also need to find a quarterback better suited for his system than Geno Smith. Chances Holgorsen gets what he needs? They're very good. Even with the program's struggles under Stewart, they still competed for the Big East title.
PAUL PASQUALONI, UConn
Why him? Well, it came as a bit of a surprise. Pasqualoni hasn't been a head coach or coached on the college level since 2004, spending the time in between in the NFL. Still, the last time he was a head coach he was a rather successful one at Syracuse in the Big East. So he knows what it takes to win in this conference. For 2011, Pasqualoni needs to: silence the doubters. We know that Pasqualoni can coach, but will the lay off and his age (he'll be 62 when UConn kicks off its season) prove to be too much for him? By 2014, Pasqualoni will need to have: maintained what Randy Edsall started at UConn. I'm not sure he'll have to win a Big East title to keep his job, but at the least he'll have to continue to build the program for his eventual successor. Chances Pasqualoni gets what he needs? Not great, but not terrible. UConn has always been a basketball school first and foremost, but who knows how a trip to the Fiesta Bowl will affect the schools interest in building a winning football team?
ROCKY LONG, San Diego State
Why him? Because Brady Hoke left, and had built something at SDSU that Long was a part of. The school didn't want to risk losing any momentum by starting a coaching search. Plus, Long has head coaching experience from his time at New Mexico. For 2011, Long needs to: continue the rise that Hoke started. Since Marshall Faulk left for the NFL, the Aztecs weren't exactly a football powerhouse before Hoke came along. The good news is that Long inherits some talent in Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. By 2014, Long will need to have: kept San Diego State competing in the Mountain West. With Utah, BYU and TCU leaving, the conference becomes a lot easier to win. Chances Long gets what he needs? Not great. San Diego State just doesn't have the established history to make me think they'll do whatever it takes to help Long build this team into a powerhouse. What Long will have working for him, however, is the fertile recruiting base of southern California.
Tags: Big East, Bill Stewart, Brady Hoke, BYU, Dana Holgorsen, Dave Wannstedt, Dion Lewis, Geno Smith, Headset Reset, Jonathan Baldwin, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haywood, Mike Leach, Mountain West, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Paul Pasqualoni, Pitt, Randy Edsall, Rich Rodriguez, Rocky Long, Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Syracuse, TCU, Todd Graham, Tulsa, UConn, Utah, West Virginia
Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:11 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Oklahoma can crush Cinderella in a BCS bowl. Just as long as Cinderella makes her way to the ball through a BCS conference. After years of being woken up in the middle of the night due to nightmares about the Statue of Liberty, Ian Johnson and blue grass, Bob Stoops can finally get a good night's sleep. Sure, beating UConn isn't exactly going to make the country stand up and notice Oklahoma, but at least the Sooners finally get to head into an offseason with some positive momentum behind them. With Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles both coming back next season, the Sooners are the easy pick to be favored in the Slightly Smaller 12 and should contend for another national championship.
2. Though Oklahoma State may have a different opinion about that. The Cowboys put the finishing touches on a season that saw the team fall six points shy of toppling their in-state rivals and playing for their own conference championship. It seems like every season we say that "this could be the year" for Oklahoma State, and the Cowboys inevitably fall short of expectations. This year, they surpassed them. With an easy win over Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, and the prospect of having Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back next year, the Cowboys should make some more noise in 2011.
3. Kansas State may not celebrate anything ever again. It wasn't the most important bowl game of the season by any means, but the end of the Pinstripe Bowl is a memory that is likely to stick with me for a while. I know the Wildcats will remember it. What was a great game was marred by a bad call at the end when Adrian Hilburn was called for unsportsmanlike conduct following a touchdown when saluting the crowd. This decision cost Kansas State a chance to win the game as the Wildcats were forced to attempt a game-tying two-point conversion from the 18-yard line.
4. While we're on the subject of the Big Ten taking things from the Big 12. Farewell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who now move on to the Big Ten for the 2011 season. Judging by Nebraska's performance against Washington in the Holiday Bowl, it's a move that couldn't have come quick enough for the Huskers. After losing to Oklahoma in the final Big 12 Championship, Nebraska didn't look like a team with anything much to play for against Washington. As odd as it will feel to see Nebraska playing in the Big Ten next season, it'll be stranger still to not see them playing in the Big 12.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 10:51 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Earlier, we reported that there were strong indications that Connecticut was looking to hire ex-Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple as its new head coach. And while Whipple did end up being one of the finalists for the job vacated by Randy Edsall two weeks ago, the Boston Globe reported today that UConn has hired former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni instead.
Pasqualoni, 61, compiled a 107-59-1 record at Syracuse from 1991 to his firing in 2004, and while those numbers are fine -- winning 100 games at the I-A level is no trivial feat -- TNIAAM rightly notes that the program diminished in quality under him; two of Pasqualoni's 10-win seasons came in his first two seasons with the team, and his only three non-winning seasons were his last three. Since his firing, Pasqualoni has been an assistant in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys , then the Miami Dolphins , then the Cowboys again (briefly) this season.
What this means for Whipple is unclear, other than that he won't be on the sidelines at Connecticut this season; he was not retained by new Miami coach Al Golden after Randy Shannon was fired, so it's not as if Whipple's still got a job to come home to. Whipple was a successful head coach at Massachusetts and other smaller programs, and he has assistant experience both at Miami and in the NFL. His skill set is still impressive, and at 53, he's got plenty of miles left on him. It's just up to him to convince a new team that his Hurricanes' offensive struggles were aberrations and not indications of larger strategic shortcomings in Whipple's game-planning.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 2:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
One the one hand, it makes sense that the salaries of top-ranking officials at multi-million dollar enterprises like modern bowl games would be rising into the stratosphere. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported yesterday :
From 2001-05, compensation packages for bowl game executives have increased about 70 percent, with many of them more than doubling, according to an examination of the bowls' Internal Revenue Service records by The San Diego Union-Tribune. The highest-paid bowl executive in the study is the Outback Bowl 's Jim McVay , who earns about $490,000, more than double the salary for the CEO of the oldest bowl, the Rose Bowl ($239,807).
For all of that, it's worth remembering that thanks to onerous ticket guarantees mandated by the bowls , the payouts to the teams playing in them haven't nearly kept pace with the cost of playing in them for many smaller schools. When UConn makes the biggest bowl, with the greatest payout, in their brief Division I history and still has to deal with massive financial losses as a result of their accomplishment, something is wrong.
And that goes double when the Fiesta Bowl suits who offered UConn the invitation are getting these kinds of raises. In a vacuum, the raises are a-OK. But in this economy, when the very bowls they're overseeing are so often taking such huge chunks out of the budgets of the schools they're claiming to help (not to mention that some 23 are run as nonprofit organizations), they're simply not.
HT: The Wiz . More information available there.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 3:08 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Hey, did you know that there are other coaching searches going on right now besides the one at Michigan? I'm serious, there are! UConn still needs to find a head coach since Randy Edsall decided to leave following the Fiesta Bowl and take over for Ralph Friedgen at Maryland. Though it's starting to look as though the job vacancy in Storrs has been filled.
Reports out of Florida say that former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, now out of a job following the firing of Randy Shannon and hiring of Al Golden, will be named the new head coach at UConn.
If the reports turn out to be correct, and the 53-year old Whipple lands the UConn gig, it will be his first head coaching job on the FBS level, and his first head coaching job anywhere since he left UMass in 2004. While at UMass he won a Division-IAA national championship in 1998. Whipple has spent the last two seasons as Miami's offensive coordinator, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. After a nice 2009 season that saw the Hurricanes score the most points they had in a season since 2002, things took a big step backwards in 2010. Of course, that could be the fault of Jacory Harris throwing interceptions like they were going out of style more than it was Whipple's offensive system.
Either way, to lose a job as an offensive coordinator only to find yourself getting a job as head coach at another BCS program is a pretty nice turn of events for anybody.