The world of sport is presently in limbo, held hostage by a virus. It is hard to imagine the total financial impact this is having on our great nation. I often use phrases frequently spoken by coaches. You can listen to a bunch of people debate, criticize, or whatever, but what we as Americans have to do is be disciplined. It’s that simple. Just like a good defensive coach would tell a linebacker. Be where you’re supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to do, and make the tackle. That’s easily said, and difficult to do because many of us are not all that disciplined. But to tackle this virus, we must be disciplined.
But we fear what’s ahead. Some think it’s an exaggeration. I truly hope that’s the case. If that is the error our government is making, I’ll take that mistake with a big smile. But the time for second guessing is over. It’s time to be disciplined. We must do what we are supposed to do. Do not be where you are not supposed to be.
The fear of the future will stay as long as this virus is the threat it is today. I’ve been asked numerous times what happens if there is no football season? In many ways, it would virtually collapse sport at every level. In short, everybody runs out of money. Great university athletic programs would likely bankrupt or face shocking cuts if just one year of football is taken away. The magnitude is hard to imagine, and with the loss of football revenue, many programs would have no revenue at all.
Did a little poking around. What is college football worth? What would be lost? We have talked about recruiting. The “blue blood” programs are that because they have the most talent. That too is very simple. What else do you need besides the best talent? Money! The numbers I’m sure will surprise some of you, however, realize that in college, most all, if not all of that money is spent, reinvested, and or used to fund many other programs schools must provide.
I researched the numbers for the 65 teams that make up the Power Five Conferences. With four or five exceptions, those are the teams that dominate major college football and should. But the numbers in some cases are stunning. I would ask any fan of West Virginia if they think it’s reasonable to expect the Mountaineers to compete year in, year out with Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama. No, it’s not, it’s not a realizable expectation at all. It might even be a ridiculous expectation.
You can show up on Saturday and cheer like crazy for the Blue and Gold, but the opportunity to win is slim because those other guys have better talent. You are likely putting players on the field they didn’t even bother to recruit. That’s just one of the many reasons why I feel college fans, and that includes Virginia Tech, should be more reasonable as far as their expectations are concerned.
But after the talent comes the money. Buckets of it. WVU has actually done well vs. Texas in recent seasons, but it shouldn’t really be that way. The school that makes the most money in college football is Texas, a shocking $156.1 million. The 65th Power Five Conference team, and the one that makes the least money on football is West Virginia, $24.7 million. The Mountaineers make a stunning $131.4 million a year less on the average that Texas. So, is it reasonable to expect WVU to be competitive? It’s really not. Any win over Texas in any season by WVU should be considered an upset, and any coach who is not successful at Texas should be fired. The final numbers from 2018 were used and it’s very likely little if anything has changed.
But how many millions of dollars will be lost if there is no college football, and keep in mind, this is just one level of football. No football at Pulaski County High School and the loss of just one season would put the athletic budget in total limbo. But just digest these numbers from college football alone and realize how much would be lost with the loss of just one season.
Texas leads the nation as mentioned above in gross football revenue. Georgia is 2nd, $123.1 million, Michigan 3rd, $122.3, 4th Notre Dame, $115.5, 5th is Ohio State, $115.1, Penn State is 6th at $100.1, then comes Auburn at 7 with $95.2, Oklahoma is 8th at $94.8, Alabama 9th at $94.6, and Nebraska 10th at $94.3.
Other interesting aspects are Clemson at just 27th with $61.4 million, but that’s after paying for the most expensive football facilities complex in the country. That number is a bit deceiving. Virginia Tech is 30th, and makes $56.2 million a year on football, Duke is 51, Carolina 52, Virginia is 59th at $33.7 million a year. So yes, financially speaking Hokie fans should expect to beat UVa. And WVU somehow remains competitive, but takes in less money that all other Power Five Conference teams. From a conference standpoint the Big 10 makes the most money, the SEC is a strong second, and both far out-distance the other three.
How About Ol’ Bronco:
What does Bronco Mendenhall, the head football coach at Virginia, do on a day when the virus has wiped out spring football practice across the country? He has simplified his day as all of us should and repeats it day after day. As mentioned above, Bronco is disciplined.
As far as spring practice is concerned Mendenhall doesn’t think that’s all that terrible, but the one issue that concerns him is Bryce Perkins is gone, and the upcoming spring was very important to the new quarterback Brennan Armstrong. You’ll know the effects of that when the season starts.
But that’s back to if there will be a season. Mendenhall certainly hopes there is, but says if cutbacks have to be made, he would prefer that all ACC games be played, and all out-of-conference games be cancelled if cutbacks are necessary. That makes sense to me but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Mendenhall is very regimented. Coaches tend to be that way. He reports to work in his office at home at 8 am, and he’s there until noon. He has all the technical equipment at home just like he does in his UVa office. Then from noon to 2pm, he eats lunch and works out. From 2 to 3 pm he meets with his coaching staff, and from 3 to 5 pm he works on recruiting. No doubt, that means a lot of telephone calls and research. At 5 he heads home to Ivy where he has 30 acres of land, and plenty of room to house his horses. He has three sons and all love rodeo. As soon as Mendenhall gets home, he changes into his cowboy clothes and they all go horseback riding. He likes for his evenings to be quiet and relaxed with his family, and says the next day, he repeats it all over again. Sounds like a full day to me. I rode a horse once on my grandfather’s farm as a kid. Fell off and have never gotten back on.
Couple of Interesting Items:
ESPN has not been a money maker for some time, and parent company Disney is not happy about that. Disney movies have made up the gap, but with no live sports programming how devastating has this been to ESPN? As of today, the network had already lost $481 million in just basketball marketing. With no spring sports, no racing, and then if there is no football, it’s mindboggling to think of the impact on ESPN and what would be the total damage pertaining to its future.
And one other item. Most are continuing on and making decisions just like everything is going to be on schedule and I hope they are right. For instance, never wanting to miss making some extra money, the day after Tampa Bay signed a contract with Tom Brady, all unsold season tickets to Buccaneers games went up 15%. Anybody surprised? Take care. Be safe.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot