Schedules are made to be adjusted
MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while wondering just how excited you folks should get about this football game with Alabama in two years:
That, of course, is an eternity in this era of conference expansion and the resultant havoc it wreaks with scheduling.
Let's face it, weren't you also looking forward to that home-and-home series with Jimbo Fisher and Florida State? Or how about the one with Michigan State?
Those were fun, too, right?
Still, why not pencil it in? Or, with Thursday's official announcement, write it in ink?
Sure, there's no room on the 2014 schedule right now, but a $3 million guarantee - which is the supposed payout from the Chick-fil-A Classic folks for the season-opener at the Georgia Dome - will go a long way toward buying out one of the two non-conference road games already contracted for that year against East Carolina and Maryland. Don't even think about buying out Towson State that season as an option. West Virginia already has only six home games in 2014.
Then again, it might not require a buyout. By 2014 Maryland is likely going to have to adjust its schedule for a nine-game ACC schedule, and WVU already planned to talk to East Carolina about some adjustments in a six-year contract that begins in 2013.
The bottom line is that West Virginia isn't scheduling in a vacuum here. Who knows what the next two years will bring in terms of conference shifting and the need for Maryland and East Carolina and everyone else to tweak schedules?
Keep this in mind, though, because it's the real elephant in the room. For years people complained about West Virginia's ho-hum Big East schedule and all the Towsons and Libertys and even the Bowling Greens and, yes, East Carolinas on the slate. Now try this on for size in 2014: Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU, Baylor and Kansas at home; Alabama, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and either Maryland or ECU away from Morgantown.
The first person who utters even a heavy sigh about Towson should be blindfolded and given a cigarette.
Speaking of a $3 million guarantee, how handy will that come in when applied to West Virginia's bottom line?
USA Today published its annual breakdown of college athletic department finances this week. As a point of clarity, it includes only public universities (private ones aren't required to divulge their records), so scratch most of the Big East's non-FBS football schools. We mention the Big East because the numbers are from 2010-11, when WVU was ingrained in that league.
Anyway, the figures show that West Virginia lost money in 2010-11 for the first time in the six years of the survey, which is not news. Nor is the fact that perhaps the biggest reason was coaching salaries. In 2005-06, WVU paid its coaches just under $11 million. That number rose steadily, but in comparison modestly, to just of $16 million in 2009-10. But then it skyrocketed to more than $25 million in 2010-11. It will go up more this year.
But you already knew that. What is interesting is how that relates to WVU's peers. Only Louisville in the Big East spent more on coaches ($26.7 million), while Connecticut was in the same ballpark ($24.2 million). Cincinnati and South Florida's coaches are paupers at just $14 million, while Rutgers spent $20.1 million. Those are the only public institutions in the Big East (Pitt is only quasi-public).
As for the Big 12, that's a different story.
As far as paying coaches, West Virginia is roughly in the middle of the Big 12, but the numbers are far more varied. Iowa State and Kansas State pay out less than $20 million a year to coaches. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are in the low $20 million range.
But then Kansas pays its coaches $28.6 million and that number has actually decreased each of the last two reporting periods. Oklahoma pays Bob Stoops and company $33.5 million, and Texas pays a whopping $49.9 million, 10 percent of it to Mack Brown alone.
Granted, there are hidden factors in all those numbers. Texas sponsors far more sports than is mainstream, thus there are more coaches to pay. On the other hand, West Virginia is at the bare minimum in sports sponsored, which suggests that its coaches are pretty well compensated on average.
But as the numbers would suggest, where WVU is headed it has to be done.
And finally, somehow I've managed to get on the mailing list of a PR firm that sends me all sorts of gambling odds. According to a book called Bovada, the odds are already out on next year's NCAA basketball championship.
If you're in the adjacent Kentucky-Indiana area you'll like them. Indiana is 7-1 to win, Louisville 8-1 and Kentucky 10-1 to repeat. Those are the top three.
West Virginia is a 50-1 shot.
I bring that up because if you want an early line on WVU's first year in the Big 12, well, Bob Huggins' team is in the top tier. Kansas is 18-1, Baylor 25-1 and Texas 35-1. Kansas State and Oklahoma are listed at 75-1and Iowa State and Oklahoma State at 100-1. That's where the list stops, so apparently Texas Tech and TCU are the bottom feeders.
Just so you know.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.