NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – The Southeastern Conference is in position to win a seventh straight BCS national title. Alabama is favored to beat Notre Dame in the national title game.
It’s been quite a golden era for Mike Slive’s gang.
But I wonder if two changes in regard to player acquisition are going to bring the SEC back to the field a bit, along with some natural regression.
The No. 1 thing to me is the signing limits SEC presidents agreed to last year.
The practice of over-signing never got enough attention as it created de facto training camps at SEC schools. Nick Saban was a master of the signing-class math where 32 signees +27 signees +32 signess +29 signees over a four-year period = 85 scholarship players
Oversigning helped SEC coaches overcome faulty evaluations (which happens to every staff), raised the level of competition in spring and fall camps, thereby creating better depth.
By trimming back this practice – though it can exist to some degree with a 25-cap limit – there will be more players available to other conferences, notably its regional neighbor, the ACC.
The second thing that might level the playing field is the new NCAA minimum academic standards that will be put in place in 2016, which includes raising the minimum qualifying GPA from 2.0 to 2.3
The NCAA estimates 35.2 percent of football players who enrolled in 2009-10 would not meet the 2016 academic standards.
That’s an amazing number and less of a problem for the ACC, which has higher academic standards and more of an issue for some in the SEC.
Junior College players will require a 2.5 GPA to transfer in. This is especially problematic at places like Tennessee and Auburn which have required JUCO players to fortify their rosters in recent seasons.
Now the SEC’s brand, its fan support, its recruiting footprint will continue to make it the premier football conference.
But these factors will level the playing field to a degree, I think, which is much-needed for those in the league offices in Greensboro and Chicago.
IS DABO THE BEST VALUE IN COACHING?
Dabo Swinney was the sixth-best head coaching value in BCS conference this season, according to a USA Today study.
Swinney cost Clemson $204,000 per win which was a better dollar-per-win value than 90 percent of coaches in the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12.
For reference Steve Spurrier won 10 games and cost USC $335,000 per win, which was also good value.
Gene Chizik cost Auburn $1.3 million per win this season.
Of course this is somewhat misleading since Clemson is paying its assistant staff $4.2 million this year. In total, Clemson paid $610,000 in football staff compensation per win this year.
Still, it’s a relatively good value. And speaks to the generally sound financial leadership of the Terry Don Phillips Era (outside of the Bowden contract extension).
DEBT SPENDING, GOOD SPENDING?
We reported earlier this year that Clemson president Jame Barker thought it might be a good time for Clemson to take on some debt in regard to building facilities.
The Terry Don Phillips Era saw plenty of building on campus, but it was also largely financed one step at a time through fundraising and Phillips and CFO Katie Hill were conservative by nature when it came to spending.
New AD Dan Radakovich is considering borrowing to build the new basketball practice facility/coaching offices, according to Larry Williams. This is something coach Brad Brownell said his program needs to compete at a high level.
I’m not a financial expert but it seems like a good time to build with low interest rates, etc.
Still, I think there needs to be caution whenever taking on debt in athletics, especially when investing in the No. 2 sport in a school. Maryland got itself in financial peril, and a program is only a buyout or two coupled with a decline in ticket sales away, from falling into its reserve funds. Coaches and travel expenses are not going to get cheaper.