ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rutgers to the Big 10

This past week the media has been reporting on conflicting stories regarding Rutgers being invited to join the Big 10 conference. Whether or not they have actually been invited formally or not isn't that interesting. What is interesting is the prospect of Rutgers joining the Big 10 and playing against the likes of Michigan, Penn St., and Ohio State on a regular basis. Can you imagine Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions coming into New Brunswick to battle the up and coming Scarlet Knights in front of the largest TV market in America?

Why does the Big 10 want to expand? Money.
Last year the Big 10 was the highest grossing NCAA conference with total revenues around $300,000,000 and when divided between the 11 schools after other NCAA shares were extracted the net income per school was around $22million.

The Big 10 conference launched a television network in the Fall of 2007 hoping to capitalize on the success of the NFL Network and the college football fan's fervor for more coverage. The Big 10 Network has substantially more material to cover than the NFL Network but they have been looking to increase viewership in an effort to demand higher fees from the cable networks carrying the channel. In order to drive up that viewership it would make a whole lot of sense to tap into the 18 million viewer NYC market that Rutgers sits directly in the middle of.

Why would Rutgers want to join the Big 10? #1 Money, #2 Money, #3 Recognition
In terms of simple economics this would be a great deal for Rutgers. Last year their athletic dept made a net profit of $159,641 on a $58,000,000 budget. Plus they earned about $6,000,000 for their share of the Big East revenues. Now I'm not a doctor but $22+ Million seems like a lot more than $6.1 Million. What can that money do? It can pay for even better facilities, school buildings, teachers, programs, or basically anything. The fact that teachers would even think of calling this a departure from the school's mission to educate students is baffling. It seems that these teachers need to walk over to the math and economics departments to get straightened out. When state funding for nearly anything is drying up across the country and very much so in NJ, Rutgers would be foolish to pass up the opportunity get in on that.

The move would also allow the Football team to capitalize on their up and coming status in the middle of a big recruiting hotbed that it's been missing out on. In last year's NFL draft there were 7 kids taken in the first round with NJ roots. That is more than any other state! Actually from the first round alone in last 3 drafts there has a ton of talent from the NJ, NY, PA, and DE area. How would this lineup have looked wearing Scarlet Red on Saturdays?

QBs: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco
RBs: Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown
WR: Kenny Britt
OL: Eugene Monroe, Jeff Otah, Anthony Davis
DL: BJ Raji, Aaron Maybin, Derrick Morgan
LB: Brian Cushing
DB: Mike Jenkins, Devin McCourty

Out of those players only 3 actually went to Rutgers or 21.4%. With the increased exposure Rutgers would get from playing in the limelight of a top tier conference Coach Schiano would have a much easier time landing those top flight recruits year in and year out. Then once he really gets that rolling we all know that nothing breeds success like success. This is how National Championships are won.

According to the NCAAs latest financial report only 25 of the 119 D-1 FBS schools earned money last year. Rutgers' football program is already in the black so they are in a good situation to start with. When you consider that plus the added Big 10 funds and expanded national airtime, the school would be primed to take off both on and off the field.

There is a great article on written by Tom Luicci about this situation which I used for some of the financial stats in this post.

That's just true.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


JaMarcus Russell is currently a lock for the biggest bust of all time and we should know that conclusively in the next few years after the rookie salary cap happens with the new CBA and the last uncapped rookie #1s make it or break it in the NFL. Maybe he wasn't the worst football player in the NFL but due to the money he was paid and his serious lack of production, he wins the biggest bust moniker.

JaMarcus might not have been a consensus number 1 pick but he was certainly a lock for the top ten. He had all the pieces in place; led LSU to a Sugar Bowl win, had a canon arm, and from all accounts was a relatively good teammate by LSU standards. There were no glaring concerns about work ethic until right before the draft when he wouldn't throw at the Combine and weighed in a little heavy at his pro day. But now we see most QBs with a chance to go #1 don't risk a mediocre day throwing at the Combine and opt to throw in a more controlled environment at their pro day. Even the weight thing wasn't a shock because a lot of guys gain some LBs when they are flying all over the country to meet with teams and getting giant steak dinners every night.

It's tough to say that he was a bad pick. What you can say is that he has been terrible as a pro so far. Whether it was his prima donna attitude, absolute zero work ethic, Lane Kiffin's first Head Coaching job, Kiffin's firing 4 games into season 2, Tom Cable's regime, lack of veteran leadership to get him in line, blocking... etc. There were plenty of factors that could have been responsible for his three seasons of awfulness. However, maybe he will find some inspiration in the fact that every male over the age of 12 knows that he was the single biggest draft bust of all time. In my opinion that could be pretty motivating. That is really going to be the deciding factor in whether or not he will turn his career around. Does he want to?

If I were a team that had a good QB around 30 or so with 2 years left on his contract I'd take a shot at coaching up Russell. Why not? If he doesn't work hard and show improvement over this summer just cut him.

The teams that I think could possibly take a shot at him are the Texans, Jaguars, Redskins, and Seahawks. They all have solid QBs in place for at least the next year which would ensure that Russell is only perceived by the fans and media as a developmental prospect not a challenger to start.

How much sense would it make for the Redskins would pick him up by the way? Snyder would love the publicity and it half way makes sense for him to learn from Donovan who I think would be a tremendous mentor to him. But that might not jive with Shannahan. Who I'm sure would hate the move but be forced to accept it from Snyder if it were something that Snyder felt he had to do. Although if he could get his head on straight, I seem to remember Shanahan doing very well with another athlete that had a big arm. Nothing helps that one cut running game more than a wide open secondary with their backs turned chasing receivers down the field.

By the way can we all agree that the first round of the 2007 draft was one of the worst ever? I mean look at all those busts.

1. JaMarcus Russell - Oakland Raiders QB - LSU
5. Levi Brown - Arizona Cardinals OT - Penn State
6. LaRon Landry - Washington Redskins S - LSU
8. Jamal Anderson - Atlanta Falcons DE - Arkansas
9. Ted Ginn Jr. - Miami Dolphins WR - Ohio St
10. Amobi Okoye - Houston Texans DT - Louisville
17. Jarvis Moss - Denver Broncos DE - Florida
20. Aaron Ross - New York Giants S - Texas
21. Reggie Nelson - Jacksonville Jaguars S - Florida
22. Brady Quinn - Cleveland Browns QB - Notre Dame
30. Craig Davis - San Diego Chargers WR - LSU

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