Thursday, November 20, 1997

It's $3.5 Million, Not $8 Million!

I'm getting a little exasperated with the sports columnists and the TV talking heads who continually tell us that the difference between an Alliance Bowl and the CarQuest Bowl is $8 million. No, it isn't. It is, but it isn't.

During the Virginia Tech/Miami broadcast, ESPN's Charlie Steiner (I couldn't care less if I spelled his name wrong, because he called us "Virginia" several times during the broadcast) talked several times about how the VT/Miami game was an "$8 million game" for the Hokies. No, Charlie, it wasn't. He was trying to tell us that if we lost, we wouldn't go to the Alliance, and it would cost us $8 million. No it wouldn't, Charlie.

If Charlie Steiner gets it wrong, that's fine, because he's more of a boxing guy, anyway. But the problem is, he's not alone. When sports pundits start heaping on the hype, they like to conveniently forget about a little thing called revenue sharing that prevents teams in conferences from keeping the whole $8 million that the Alliance Bowls pay out.

The fact is, no team that goes to an Alliance Bowl takes home $8 million, due to the conference revenue sharing agreements. The only team who could take home $8 million is Notre Dame, because they're an independent ... and we all know how many Alliance Bowls they've been going to lately. Make a circle with your hand and peer through it. What number does that look like?

The latest talking head (or in this case, writing head) to ignore the revenue sharing is John Markon of The Richmond Times-Dispatch. In a column he wrote yesterday called Beating Pitt would sweeten the pot, Markon talks about the monetary difference between Tech going to an Alliance Bowl and one of the Big East's other bowls.

He repeatedly throws around $8 million and $7 million dollar figures, pausing only once to mention that the pie is actually split amongst all the Big East teams and that Tech doesn't get the whole $8 mil. Even then he gets it wrong, saying, "Even after Big East Conference revenue sharing, there's at least a $5 million difference for Tech between a trip to one of the Big Three bowls and an appearance in the Gator, CarQuest and Liberty Bowls."

Wrong. The difference between the Alliance Bowl and the second-tier Gator Bowl is $2 million, not $5 million, and certainly not $7 or $8 million. Since the question about revenue-sharing is the second-most often asked question (the most popular question concerns what the Big East tiebreaking procedure is), I'll answer it here.

I don't know for sure how much each bowl actually pays the conference, but I know how much the participants get. Here is the breakdown, give or take a few hundred thousand here or there.

Alliance Bowl participant: $3.5 million
Gator Bowl participant: $1.5 million
CarQuest Bowl participant: $1.3 million
Liberty Bowl participant: $1.2 million

There is another $4 million or so of bowl money, most or all of which comes from the Alliance Bowl, that gets split evenly amongst the 8 Big East teams, for an additional $500,000 per team. But I'll ignore that, because a team gets that money regardless of what bowl they do or don't attend. Just ask Temple, who rakes in $500,000 in bowl money each year for sitting home and watching them all on TV.

So the Alliance Bowl team gets $3.5 million. And that's a far cry from the $8 million figure that gets thrown around so much by people who ought to know better.

So when John Markon talks at the end of his article about the Pitt game possibly being for an Alliance Bowl, and he says, "Beamer says he expects the Pitt game to be close and admits his young kicker, Shayne Graham, may wind up looking at a $7 million field goal. Which means that Beamer's son, Shane, may have to make a $7 million long snap," we have a word for that.

The word is wrong.

It's a $2 million kick and a $2 million snap, not $7 million.

I know that when sportswriters and talking heads throw those big numbers around, they're just trying to generate hype, and they really do know the facts (maybe), but that doesn't stop it from being a pet peeve of mine.

I'm done now. Hopefully, the Pittsburgh Panthers, a very fine football team, won't render this whole discussion meaningless this weekend.

Future Schedules

Straight from the Virginia Tech Sports Information Department comes the following future football schedules (the third most-often asked question). Dates and times are not set yet, and of course, this is all (we desperately hope) subject to change. Each cell in the table lists conference games on the first line, non-conference games on the second line.

1998 Pitt, Temple, WVU, Rutgers,
BC, Miami, Syracuse,
Cincinnati, UAB
1999 BC, Miami, Syracuse,
UAB, Cincinnati, Arkansas State
Pitt, Temple, WVU, Rutgers
2000 Pitt, Temple, WVU, Rutgers,
UVa, Akron
BC, Miami, Syracuse,
ECU, Central Florida

N.C. State probably re-enters the schedule on the year 2001, but the SID office wasn't sure.

I have no comment on this schedule. Wait, let me rephrase that. I'm not going to comment on this schedule.

Except one: paybacks are hell, Cincinnati. We can't wait to see you next year.

Lastly, we have GalaxHokie's Hokie Hotline notes from this past Monday...

Hokie Hotline Notes - Monday, November 17, 1997
(by GalaxHokie)

INJURY REPORT: Bustle and Beamer said Steuwe is about 95 percent -- he moved well today. Harrison is about 90 percent, still had some problems making cuts today in practice. OL Brad Baylor had shoulder pop out in practice last week and didn't practice today, but should be ready. OL Vick and Smith were banged up in Miami game, so week off was good for them.

It was disclosed that Lamont Pegues had a serious finger injury the week before the Miami game, which limited how much they were able to play him. Pegues dislocated a finger, leaving it standing straight out, and swollen.

(Roth said last week that Pegues' lack of playing time vs. Miami was the leading topic of the post-game show. I think this is the first public confirmation of why his playing time was limited. I believe Roth was hinting at this last Monday night when, as I recall, he was saying VT was in a situation where you didn't want somebody in there with the possibility of fumbling when the game was on the line.)

Team practiced inside Monday. (Pitt game is on turf, as is the field house surface. Bill Roth reminded that Ox plays well on turf). Last week the team practiced Tues and Weds, then did running/conditioning on Thurs and Fri.

Tech used the off week for recruiting. Seven coaches, the maximum allowed, hit the road for 3-4 days. This still is an evaluation period where they can't talk with players, but Bustle said they watched a lot of players, "saw players," watched playoff games, got a firsthand feel from coaches about where things stand on the recruiting front.

Roth asked Bustle how well he is received now as a recruiter vs. the early 90s. "No question" VT is received better. He mentioned that in connection with the state of Virginia, and said it's especially true in Florida as well. Bustle works western Florida: Naples-St. Pete-Tampa. VT has four coaches assigned to recruit different regions in Florida.

His approach in Florida is to find a dozen players you have a chance with and work it so that you wind up with one. Then if all four coaches do that, you get around four out of the state.
Pitt Coach Walt Harris told Big East media Monday that his team is emotionally drained after tough losses to Syracuse and BC, Roth said.

To which Bustle responded something like: "You and I both know the kids get over it faster than the rest of us."

Harris has brought new enthusiasm, new belief, leading Pitt to defeat Miami earlier this season, Bustle noted.

Pitt lead VT in the second half in 1995 and 1996 games. Oxendine had 111 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. Pitt last year.

Laguna Beach (Calif.) Hokie was the first caller again. He asked about appearances of the offense being "tight-laced" this year as a result of receivers' injuries, OL sacks problem, etc. He asked about the run tendency being able to set up effective play-action passes. Bustle said they've been working on play-action. He said he had a plan for bringing Al Clark along with the offense this year, then the aforementioned challenges had to be overcome.

In order for VT to be effective, they have to approach things offensively as they did in the Miami game, although maybe throwing a little more, Bustle said.

VT's rushing average is 4.5 yards per carry, and total rushing yards leads the conference, Roth said.

Caller asked Roth about the ongoing rumors of Big 10 interest in Syracuse. Roth said the SU chancellor has said he has not been contacted and there has been no discussion. Roth, a Syracuse alumnus, said "I don't think you'll see that." He said SU is not a typical Big 10 school, that it's a northeastern school.

Pitt's Gonzalez is the leading passer in the Big East: 21 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 245 yards passing per game. Al Clark compares at 8 TDs, 2 interceptions.

Callers asked about Ike Charlton's presence on offense and defense. Bustle said Ike has crammed a lot to learn some things at WR and that they "hope to see more this year and next spring." Alas, he did not elaborate.

Beamer on Charlton: Coaches will discuss with Ike what's best for him. He was "fast becoming a very good corner," Beamer said, and they will have to consider the implications of that on how they use him.

Beamer went on say that we'll likely see more of this two-way play in college football as a result of scholarship limits -- more interchangeable use of receivers and cornerbacks.

Caller asked about status of OL Wheatley (academics) and Flowers (chronic knee problems) returning to the team next year. "I don't know if that will happen," Bustle said. Sounded kind of like he wasn't crazy about getting the question.

Bill Roth reminded everybody to SEND IN YOUR BOWL TICKET ORDER FORM! They must be postmarked no later than this Thursday (or delivered in person to the Cassell on Friday).

Beamer said he spent the weekend watching college football and observing his wife's birthday, which actually was today.

The team needs to come back now with "one great focused week," he said, for the Big East championship game.

Beamer was complimentary of Pitt running back Schulters. Coach Bud Foster told Beamer Monday that it looked on film like the first guy on defense doesn't make many tackles of Schulters. He makes Gonzalez effective, coach said. He described Gonzalez as athletic and accurate. (Big East stats going into last weekend's game showed 3 Pitt receivers, including Schulters, among the top 10 receivers in the conference).

Caller questioned play of VT's corners and their technique in certain situations. Beamer said technique varies as to whether it's man or zone coverage.

Pitt leads Big East in passing, but VT leads in pass defense. In fact, VT is "light years ahead" of the rest of the conference on pass defense, Roth said. VT has allowed only 3 passing touchdowns, and is the only BE team that has allowed less than 50 percent completions.

Beamer acknowledged that VT overall is perhaps not as talented as the past two years, but said "I like this defense."

Beamer talked about "playing your percentages" with the running game this year. This was after Roth noted that VT has run on first down 221 out of 274 times, and averages 5 yards per carry on first down.

Caller said he wished VT would try more things, like a shuffle pass here, or a pass to Parker there, etc. Beamer said it doesn't make sense to run a play just to run it. "Tell me the personnel," the defensive alignment, where the corners and linebackers are playing, and then VT will play the percentages based on its study of the film, he said.

Beamer said he was sorry to learn of Ron Dickerson's resignation Monday as Temple coach. He said Dickerson was a class guy who improved the program overall and the quality of players -- a good coach who'll "land on his feet."

Next week's Hokie Hotline will originate from Homer's in Richmond.

This Friday is the official basketball opener at Blacksburg, with a doubleheader: women at 6 vs. East Carolina, men afterward vs. Tennessee-Martin.

They talked on the broadcast about the importance of buying bowl tickets through VT ticket office so that Hokies get credit for the sales. Fiesta Bowl is already sold out, Roth said, except for the allotments to each team's following.

Bill Roth told Beamer that he knew the coach didn't like him talking about bowls, but that's what folks want to hear. So, coach, how would you feel about playing Arizona State on its home field, Roth said.

Beamer: "I'd feel good about playing anyone, anywhere, as long as it's the Alliance." And he quickly added there are other good bowl scenarios for VT if the Alliance doesn't happen. He also noted that teams several times had to play Miami in the Orange Bowl, AT the Orange Bowl.

Roth noted the appearance of a decided advantage in the kicking game against Pittsburgh. VT is first in BE punting, Pitt is last. Also a clear edge in field goal phase.

The Pitt defense came into question when Bill Roth said it averages 426 yards and 28 points per game. Beamer said Pitt gives up a lot of points, true, but not a lot of long plays.

A kid asked Beamer which players have surprised him the most this year. Coach said Al Clark has played better than he even thought he might. He also singled out Marcus Gildersleeve as improving and having ability. In fact, he used the word "ability" at two different points in the broadcast while talking about The Sleeve. Beamer also mentioned Kerwin Hairston's good and steady play, and some big plays by Prioleau.

Beamer didn't elaborate much on a question about status of this year's redshirt class, other than to call it a good group. He got into talking about WRs Ricky Hall and Andre Davis as having good size, good speed and good frames for development in the spring and weight program.

Caller asked if Roth, who grew up in Pittsburgh, planned to take Mike Burnop home for a buffet meal with his parents. "I don't think I'd put my Mom through that," Roth said. (His parents have moved to Florida anyway).



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