The "Confidence Factor"

Earlier today I saw a note about this historical fundraising results at the University of Mississippi and something about the numbers caught my eye.

First, have a look at the raw numbers. Note, these are overall fundraising number for the entire university. Athletics would be just a subset of these numbers.

2004  $59 million 
2005  $61 million 
2006  $68 million 
2007  $65 million 
2008 $80 million
2009 $78 million
2010 $69 million
2011 $68 million
2012 $123 million
2013 $115 million
2014 $118 million

The two things that caught my eye were the step ups in 2008 and then again in 2012. Well, hmmm, what could have led to those increases? 

Now look at the same numbers with the annual results and notes from football added.

2004  $59 million  4-7
2005  $61 million  3-8
2006  $68 million  4-8
2007  $65 million  3-9 (Ed Oregron's final season as HC)
2008 $80 million 9-4 (Houston Nutt's first season as HC)
2009 $78 million 9-4
2010 $69 million 4-8
2011 $68 million 2-10 (Houston Nutt's final season as HC)
2012 $123 million 7-6 (Hugh Freeze's first season as HC)
2013 $115 million 8-5
2014 $118 million  

It is clear to me that making a change in football (typically a university's most visible team), and seeing a positive change, rejuvenates the base and provides excellent momentum upon which smart schools capitalize. Clearly, Ole Miss has done an excellent job capitalizing on their recent momentum in athletics.

This afternoon I called Ole Miss director of athletics Ross Bjork to get his take on the numbers and he had a great take on this. Listen to Ross describe the "Confidence Factor":

Watch the BYU coaching staff take on the JUGS machine

As part of their week 1 recap of fall camp, BYU released this video highlighting their first week of practice, with the best portion of the video featuring eight members of the coaching staff trying to catch a simulated punt from the JUGS machine.

The ball was launched about 100 feet in the air and the coaches had to perform with the entire team watching. Of course, that prompted some trash talk, and some of the coaches even felt it was necessary to gear up with some gloves. Spoiler alert: None of that helped the majority of them.

When it's all said and done, of the eight coaches that attempted, only one (defensive coordinator Nick Howell) successfully catches the ball...and then the team goes nuts.

No word yet if Howell is officially adding the title of "return specialist coach", but you can bet that it's on Bronco Mendenhall's mind after seeing the rest of his staff give it a try.

Arkansas will have a club (with live DJ) during games this season

Just about every school in college football is doing more these days to reach college students, and it appears Arkansas will go farther than anyone else to reach its student body.

Beginning this season, the Razorbacks will install Razorback Rooftop, on top of the south end zone of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, in the same place student seating previously existed.

According to the release, the Razorback Rooftop will include "two 20-foot by 80-foot tents that will house live DJs, couches, TVs, high-top tables, with grab-and-go concession items available for purchase." To gain entry to the club, Arkansas will provide 2,000 wristbands available to Access Pass holders. 

This is smart marketing here by Arkansas. The Razorback Rooftop has absolutely nothing to do with football, but this is what students say they want out of their football experience in 2014. 

The Razorbacks open their home schedule with Nicholls State on Sept. 6, and also host Northern Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, UAB, LSU and Ole Miss this fall. 

Read more here.

Video: UAB has new uniforms, complete with dragon scales

UAB has new uniforms, and they have dragon scales on them. When your nickname is the Blazers and your mascot is a dragon, you probably should have dragon scales on your uniforms.

By the way, these are a massive upgrade from the general nothingness the Blazers wore previously.

UAB uniforms

Rich Rodriguez has a new beef with the NCAA. Is he right?

A year ago, Jake Matthews walked on to the Arizona football team. He played in eight games as a special teams player and a reserve linebacker. Not All Pac-12 material, but he still provided a much greater contribution than your typical walk-on freshman. Heading into his sophomore season, head coach Rich Rodriguez would like to reward Matthews with a scholarship. Only, doing so would actually count as using two scholarships for his 2015 class. 

“It’s a joke,” Rodriguez told the Arizona Daily Star. “Jake Matthews is earning a scholarship right now. But because of the silly rules by the NCAA, we have to get a waiver for it or something. I’m talking as a former walk-on who was able to get (a scholarship) my second year. I don’t know who is making that decision.”

According to NCAA rules, a walk-on that earns a scholarship counts only against the 85-man total... as long as he is an upperclassman. Any walk-on freshmen or sophomores that receive scholarships count against the incoming signing class limit of 25. In this case, since Arizona signed a full class of 2015 in February, Matthews would count twice toward the 25-man limit for 2015.

“If a guy walked on for a year, you should be able to give him a scholarship and it not count against the initial number,” said Rodriguez. “It’s ridiculous — the NCAA and all its infinite wisdom of being out for the welfare for the student-athlete. If a guy pays his own way for a year, and he’s a walk-on, you should be able to give him a scholarship in his second year.”

No decision has been announced, but it's a safe bet that Matthews will pay his own way again in 2014.

I'll admit I did not know this rule existed until now. I would like to believe the NCAA has a legitimate reason for this rule, but this is the NCAA we're talking about here. Coaches, what's your take on this issue? Is Rich Rod on to something, or is the NCAA smartly preventing coaches from exploiting a loophole?  

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