10 ways CFB can spend smartly

Bianchi: Pres­i­dents and ADs should look at pan­demic as op­por­tu­nity.

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We all know the dire eco­nomic reper­cus­sions for col­lege athletics if there is no foot­ball sea­son this fall — or even if there is a foot­ball sea­son with­out any fans or a lim­ited num­ber of fans.

As FSU athletics di­rec­tor David Coburn said last week when talk­ing with school lead­ers about the fi­nan­cial ram­i­fi­ca­tions of hav­ing no foot­ball sea­son:

“God help us.”

With all due re­spect, I be­lieve God has bet­ter things to do than to help col­lege ath­letic pro­grams man­age their bloated bud­gets, and that’s why I’m here to help.

I be­lieve col­lege pres­i­dents and ADs should look at the next sev­eral months as an op­por­tu­nity in­stead of an ob­sta­cle. They should use these try­ing times as a way to do what should have been done long ago. From this point for­ward, they should quit spend­ing money like drunken Democrats, er, sailors.

Here is my top 10 list of changes col­lege athletics can make to fi­nally start be­com­ing fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble:

1. Put a salary cap on coaches, start­ing with this stip­u­la­tion: Col­lege head coaches must make at least $1 less than the school pres­i­dent. Why? Be­cause the pres­i­dent is the leader of the school and be­cause aca­demics who hire school pres­i­dents are gen­er­ally much more re­spon­si­ble with their money than wildeyed, free-spend­ing ADs in search of the next Nick Sa­ban. This move alone would cut the salaries of top col­lege head coaches from $5-10 mil­lion a year to about $1 mil­lion a year. If Sa­ban wants to make more than $1 mil­lion a year, then let him go fail again in the NFL.

2. Head coaches can only be signed to two-year con­tracts. This would solve the ob­scene amount of money our in­sti­tu­tions of higher earn­ing spend on buy­ing out the long-term con­tracts of their failed coaches. FSU hav­ing to pay Wil­lie Taggart $20 mil­lion not to coach for the next four sea­sons is the worst waste of pub­lic money in this state since the Cross Florida Barge Canal.

3. Cut the over-in­flated foot­ball sup­port staffs. The Ga­tors, for in­stance have 10 as­sis­tant player per­son­nel di­rec­tors on the pay­roll, which means Alabama prob­a­bly has 20. Fel­las, is there re­ally that much tape to break down?

4. Dis­arm the arms race. Schools need to quit go­ing into debt to build ridicu­lously pala­tial fa­cil­i­ties.

Does Alabama re­ally need in­door water­falls in its foot­ball com­plex? Does Ore­gon need a bar­ber shop? Does Clem­son need a bowl­ing al­ley, laser tag and a mini-golf course? It would be cheaper just to give ev­ery re­cruit a brand­new car like they used to do back in the good ol’ days.

5. Re­gion­al­ize the non­rev­enue sports. My good friend and ra­dio part­ner Marc Daniels has been preach­ing this for years.

Here’s how it would work: The ex­ist­ing con­fer­ences stay in­tact for foot­ball and men’s bas­ket­ball, but for sports such as base­ball, soft­ball, golf, ten­nis, etc., you sim­ply play teams within your own re­gion. If you ask me, it makes no fi­nan­cial sense for UCF’s soft­ball team to fly to Hous­ton, Wi­chita State and Con­necti­cut for Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence games when they could eas­ily bus to Florida, Florida State and FAU.

And did the FSU ten­nis team re­ally need to travel to Hawaii last sea­son? Come on now!

6. Com­bine cer­tain men’s and women’s in­di­vid­ual sports. In­stead of hav­ing men’s and women’s golf and ten­nis teams with two sep­a­rate coach­ing staffs and two sep­a­rate sched­ules, why not just have one coed ten­nis and golf team?

7. Shorten the sea­son for non-rev­enue sports. Would it re­ally mat­ter if col­lege base­ball and soft­ball teams played 45 games in­stead of nearly 60?

8. Ad­just sched­ules for non-rev­enue sports so teams only play on week­ends. Be cre­ative and have week­end Olympic-type sports fes­ti­vals in cities like, say, Or­lando, where you could bring in col­le­giate teams in base­ball, soft­ball, track, golf, etc. It would be like an AAU bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment for all sports.

The teams would have a chance to play sev­eral games over the course of the week­end. Are Tues­day night road base­ball games re­ally nec­es­sary?

9. Re­duce ath­letic schol­ar­ships across the board, start­ing with foot­ball. We don’t want to elim­i­nate op­por­tu­ni­ties for ath­letes, but tough times call for tough mea­sures. The big­gest ex­pense for nearly ev­ery ath­letic depart­ment is re­im­burs­ing the univer­sity for ev­ery ath­letic schol­ar­ship. You don’t have to be a math­e­mat­i­cal ge­nius to re­al­ize foot­ball teams don’t re­ally re­quire 85 schol­ar­ships when there are only 22 start­ing po­si­tions. Why not 65 schol­ar­ships and 20 walk-ons?

10. Please stop hav­ing foot­ball teams stay in ho­tels the night be­fore home games.

Texas A&M, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Gate­House Me­dia, spent $346 a night at a lo­cal ho­tel for its more than five dozen rooms for ev­ery home game dur­ing the 2018 foot­ball sea­son. Not only that, but the Ag­gies dou­bled their cost by book­ing two nights for each home game. It’s as­tound­ing why col­lege foot­ball teams find it nec­es­sary to pay for ho­tel rooms, catered food, con­fer­ence space, buses and po­lice es­corts for home games. Why not just have the play­ers sleep in their own dorm rooms and walk to the sta­dium on Satur­days — just like they do ev­ery other day of the week?

MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY

If we want to see the Florida Ga­tors line up against the Florida State Semi­noles for years to come, col­lege athletics pro­grams must fi­nally make smart fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions and cut bloated bud­gets amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Mike Bianchi Sentinel Columnist

SAFID DEEN/OR­LANDO SENTINEL FILE

Florida State AD David Coburn on the eco­nom­ics of hav­ing no foot­ball sea­son: “God help us.”

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