The college sports arms race remains one of the few recession-proof industries. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nonresidential public construction decreased 10.3 percent from 2009 to 2011, despite the influx of federal stimulus money. Yet universities keep breaking ground on expensive athletic complexes, like Tennessee's soon-to-open $45 million practice center (complete with a 22,000-square foot weight room and MMA cage) or California's $321 million stadium overhaul. One reason why is the influx of TV money. The Big Ten recently announced that it would distribute a record $284 million to its members, nearly $24 million per team. The league's Big Ten Network has all but printed money for its schools. Indiana's Glass said the Hoosiers' cut of Big Ten television money alone went from about $6 million in 2006 to more than $16 million in 2011, with projections near $18 million this year.
ESPN.com college football writers and bloggers are writing about escalating facilities costs in college football and ranking school facilities. As they note, building, renovating and expanding stadiums can cost tens of millions of dollars. So how does all of that get paid for, given how few athletic departments are financially self-sustaining? The answer is not as exciting as watching De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon score a touchdown. But how costs are covered certainly can be more important to the program in the long run.
The first step toward turning Texas A&M into an SEC program is cultivating an SEC roster. In other words, the Aggies need to get bigger, especially in the trenches. But Sumlin's already shown an awareness of that truth. The new coach has verbal commitments from three 2013 offensive linemen and another four defensive linemen, not to mention a handful of top-rated skill players. "When I got the job, I was taking an SEC job," Sumlin said. "We've been building our team towards that, recruiting toward that and coaching toward that. And our change has really been a complete change with the staff coming in only looking at our situation and our program as an SEC-type place."
Now that Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche has committed to Clemson, prepare to hear recruitniks nationwide debate the following question: Is Nkemdiche, the nation's No. 1 player in the class of 2013, better at the same stage of development than South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the nation's No. 1 player in 2011? I'm not going to say "they are different players and have different body types, so it's hard to say." I also don't want to say the next great player is better than the last great player, just for shock value. People want to know the true and honest answer without sensationalism, politics or hidden agenda. And based on pure film evaluation, Clowney clearly has the edge. But why? And how big of an edge is it?
Yes, there are differences of opinion between the Big Ten/Pac-12 faction and the Big 12/SEC faction. Yes, those issues must get resolved. They will. The commissioners talked money on Wednesday, as in how they'll split the revenue from the new postseason system. They wouldn't even broach the thorny topic of revenue sharing if they didn't believe they could reach a consensus on the other details (where the semifinals will be played, which four teams will make the playoff and how those teams will be selected). "There will be something for everybody," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Wednesday, "but there won't be everything for anybody."