Mike Riley made the mid-season cut for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award on Wednesday. Riley joined 22 other coaches on the watch list including Paul Chryst, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer from the Big Ten.
Not a huge surprise to see Riley here with Nebraska at 6-0, particularly when you contrast that with the 2-4 record the Huskers had at this point in the season last year. What a difference a year makes, right? Coach-of-the-year awards are built on what a difference a year makes.
So does Riley have a legitimate candidacy? Well, they don’t give these awards out for 6-0 starts and, as everyone knows, Nebraska still has plenty to prove. But lists like this are more about who can’t be eliminated at this point, and in that regard Riley fits right in.
The best candidates at this point, in my humble opinion, are probably P.J. Fleck, Mike MacIntyre, Dana Holgorsen and Kevin Sumlin. Fleck has Western Michigan ranked for the first time in school history. Holgorsen’s West Virginia was trending about sixth in the Big 12 in the preseason and he was thought to be on the hot seat. Sumlin might have been too with his Aggies expected to finish sixth in the SEC West. Instead Texas A&M is undefeated, but still a three-score underdog, headed to Alabama this weekend.
But my mythical vote at this point goes to MacIntyre. Colorado was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South by most outlets and when you stack how far the Buffs had fallen to get to that point, MacIntyre seems to be proving just how good of a coach he is. What’s happening in Boulder isn’t about recruiting or upgrades or anything other than coaching.
On the other side of the spectrum, if anyone can explain why Butch Jones is on this list for having Tennensee maybe just as good as everyone expected, I’m all ears. Same goes for Jim McElwain and Larry Fedora.
Riley falls somewhere between those two groups, which is sort of where Nebraska stands in the rankings — good job so far, lot of hurdles still to clear.
Business Insider published a story and chart yesterday attempting to illustrate the “fair market value” of FBS football players. It’s an interesting chart that you’re probably going to see and hear referenced frequently, but it’s worth thinking about how this was calculated.
The methodology here was to take reported revenue figures for college football programs, take 47 percent of that revenue and divide it out over 85 scholarships. Why 47 percent? Because that’s what NFL players currently get under their collective bargaining agreement — 47 percent of all revenue generated.
If you do that for the college game, Texas blows everyone else out of the water with the average football player there worth $671,000 per year. Nebraska’s “fair market value” was almost exactly half that, $335,000. The average market value for all FBS football players was nearly $164,000.
How realistic is this? It’s hard to say because the NFL model isn’t the college model. If we flipped the switch today and said college football players are going to get paid fair market value, would those players be able to negotiate something close to 47 percent?
I suspect not. While spending in college football is getting ridiculous with the influx of TV money, even if you cut out all the frivolous stuff like locker room waterfalls, training center lazy rivers, football office barber shops and whatever else, I’m guessing even the most financially healthy departments would struggle to hit a payroll that equaled 47 percent of revenue.
And that’s just one issue here. The biggest one would probably be how college football would deal with the revenue disparity. Clearly a model has some problems when Texas is potentially offering $670,000 a year to its recruits and Texas A&M can only offer the same kids $344,000 .
Maybe the best way to look at these numbers is like this: If college football operated like the NFL, here’s what the fair market value will be.
But once you do that, it becomes clear that if college football operated like the NFL it would be a much different game.
THE GRAB BAG
- Need some Husker-themed jack-o-lattern patterns? We’ve got you covered.
- Reggie Davis on Terrell Newby: “I think he gets better; kind of like wine, he gets better with time.”
- Speaking of revenue and how to spend it, Iowa’s $90 million stadium upgrade looks like it will be approved.
- If the Big 12 were to come apart at the seams Stewart Mandel writes that he thinks just four current members would be locks to be picked up by a current Power 5 conference.
- ESPN puts together its list of mid-season All-Americans.
TODAY’S SONG OF TODAY
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.