Delany: Big Ten faces geographic disadvantage in bowls

May 18, 2009
Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss (94) forces a fumble against Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (10) in the BCS title game at Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss (94) forces a fumble against Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (10) in the BCS title game at Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Big Ten has lost its last six Bowl Championship Series games by an average score of 17.3 points.

The Big Ten is 6-16 in bowl games over the same three-year period. The league won only one bowl last year in Iowa’s 31-10 thrashing of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has not shied from controversy, especially when it relates to his conference’s bowl record. After a 2-5 bowl showing following the 2006 season, Delany took exception to a story that discussed the league’s lack of talent. He even wrote a letter on the league’s Web site that touted the Big Ten’s strengths against the Southeastern Conference.

When discussing the league’s potential for changing its bowl lineup, Delany said the league is almost at a disadvantage when playing bowl games from a geographic perspective.

“I know that from time to time people say you haven’t won enough bowl games,” he said. “Well, not everybody is playing Pac-10 champ in Pasadena. Not everybody is playing the SEC in Orlando and Orlando (Capital One and Champs) and formerly in Nashville (Music City). Not everybody is playing the Southwest Conference (former Big 12 teams) in Texas and Arizona. So it’s been part of our brand to play the best, and just let the chips fall where they may.”

Delany also said competition remains the key factor, not the final result, in picking bowl locations.

“I think opponents are almost one, and location two,” he said. “While these are away competitive locations, they’re not away in terms of where our alums have chosen to retire. They’re not away in terms of where recruiting advantages lie. They’re not away with regard to where our fans like to spend four or five days. But they are away competitively.

“Our teams are built for September and October and December, but they’re also built for late October and November. I think our teams have very good speed, whether or not they have the best speed that you might see in places where the game is always played in good weather.

“I think that if you look at NFL rosters, half of the NFL is played in cold weather, while the bowl games are not. There’s certainly a case to be made by anybody who’s playing for the Cleveland Browns, the Giants, the Patriots, the Packers, etc., on the value of playing in both weather climates.”

Big Ten officials will discuss the league’s bowl lineup this week in their annual meetings. Five of the league’s bowl contracts expire after the season. Those include the Capital One,  Outback, Champs, Alamo and Motor City bowls. The league has four years remaining on contracts with the Rose and Insight bowls.


Big Ten officials to assess bowl lineup

May 17, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz answers questions from the media during a press conference December 29, 2006 in San Antonio. Iowa and Texas played in the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

CHICAGO — The Big Ten’s future bowl lineup could receive a radical — or reserved — makeover this week when league officials, administrators and football coaches conduct their annual meetings.

Five of the league’s seven contracted bowls are up for renewal following the 2009 season. League officials plan to discuss each bowl this week, and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the league will “explore the (bowl) landscape.”

“We keep in touch with our incumbents,” Delany said. “We really can’t engage in negotiations with others normally under most of the agreements until we engage in good faith negotiations with the incumbents. We can look around, chit chat, find out if there are others that might be interested, but we can’t engage in any sort of serious discussion on business issues until we go through the process with our own.”

The Big Ten has agreements with the Rose Bowl and the Insight Bowl (Phoenix area) until 2013. Bowls up for renewal after the 2009 season include the Capital One and Champs Sports (Orlando, Fla.), Outback (Tampa, Fla.), Alamo (San Antonio) and Motor City (Detroit). The Big Ten’s champion automatically qualifies for the Bowl Championship Series, which includes the Rose Bowl. The league’s runner-up — if it does not qualify for a second BCS bowl — is designated for the Capital One Bowl. The Outback Bowl receives the third team, followed by either the Alamo Bowl or Champs Sports Bowl, then the Insight and Motor City bowls. Last year’s bowls totaled nearly $35 million in revenue for league schools.

The Big Ten last renegotiated bowl contracts in 2005 when it added the Champs and Insight bowls and dropped the Music City (Nashville, Tenn.) and Sun (El Paso, Texas) from its bowl lineup. Delany said at the time the league wanted to add destinations that cater to alumni, many of whom live in Arizona and Florida.

“I have to say we love our alignment,” Delany said. “It’s been good to us. We’ve adjusted from time to time, and even when we’ve adjusted in the past it’s always difficult.

“We never really had a bad bowl relationship. It’s just whether or not find better ones, whether you can improve your lot.”

The Big Ten became one of the first leagues to secure a tie-in for a non-champion when it sent its runner-up to the Holiday Bowl in 1986. The league ended that agreement in 1994, the same year it secured Capital One and Outback bowl agreements. The league began its relationship with the Alamo Bowl one year later.

The league’s contract with the Capital One Bowl earns the league nearly $4.25 million, the top payout among non-BCS bowl games. But Orlando’s 73-year-old stadium’s potential $175 million renovation has stalled, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  The paper reports a slowdown in tourism taxes have placed the project on that community’s back shelf for possibly 10 more years. The Champs Bowl also is played at the same stadium.

“The first thing the commissioners told me was ‘I thought you guys had approved renovation of the stadium. I don’t think you guys realize how important this is for us,'” Florida Citrus Sports chief executive officer Steve Hogan told the paper. ” … I didn’t expect to be shocked as I was about how pointed and concerned our existing sponsors are right now.”

 “We’ve been watching it for a long time,” Delany said. “We’ve been encouraging the city, the bowl, the Florida Citrus Association just to make progress, to move forward, because anybody that follows the college game, whether it’s in urban areas or on campus, facilities have been improving over the last 10, 15, 20 years. We’ve been encouraging that. That will be a factor. How big a factor? It’s to be determined.”

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Delany: Schools with Big Ten interest ‘didn’t inquire to make an announcement’

May 15, 2009
Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said he’s had schools inquire about possibly joining the Big Ten Conference, only he won’t say which ones.

“I wouldn’t comment on that,” Delany said about which schools might have approached him interested in expansion. “If they do, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. But certainly they didn’t inquire to make an announcement.”

The Big Ten expanded to 11 schools in 1990 when Penn State joined the league. Notre Dame rejected an offer to join the Big Ten in 1999.

Speculation has swirled for years concerning the Big Ten and potential expansion. The schools mentioned the most often as possible candidates include Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers and Missouri. Expansion would allow the league to become eligible for an annual football championship game, which often nets millions of dollars for conferences and their schools.

Recently, two Big Ten football coaches have spoken favorably about league expansion. Penn State Coach Joe Paterno wants the league to expand because “we go into hiding for six weeks.”

“Everybody else is playing playoffs on television,” Paterno told ESPN.com. “You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that’s a handicap.

“I’ve tried to talk to the Big Ten people about, ‘Let’s get a 12th team — Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt — we could have a little bit of a playoff.'”

Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema, a former Iowa captain, also welcomed the idea of league expansion.

“It’d be great,” Bielema told ESPN.com. “Everybody would welcome a 12th team in the league and maybe having a championship game.”

As for Delany, he said the league does discuss expansion and it’s a likely topic next week during the league’s football coaches and athletics directors meetings. But it’s unlikely the league will expand anytime soon.

“It’s a back-burner issue for a long time, but it’s not to say that it doesn’t get discussed,” Delany said. “It’s just a back-burner discussion, because I don’t know how else to say it other than periodically.

“We’ve  spoken with two institutions, in one case Penn State, and it resulted in an expansion; another with Notre Dame and it did not result in an expansion. We haven’t felt the need to move it off the back-burner since that time (1999), although it gets discussed — the pros and cons internally — from time to time.”


The best pitcher in Iowa history?

May 14, 2009
The Iowa women's softball team leaves for Atlanta and the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Eastern Iowa Airport via Twitter)

The Iowa women's softball team leaves for Atlanta and the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Eastern Iowa Airport via Twitter)

Iowa pitcher Brittany Weil has put together perhaps the greatest pitching career in Iowa softball history.

She’s tied all-time in wins (99), complete games (109) and games pitched (181). She is the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts (1,032), no-hitters (five) and innings pitched (996). She holds the school record for strikeouts in a season (328) and has earned at least a share of team MVP honors four consecutive seasons.

This year, she was a first-team all-Big Ten player, leading the Big Ten in opposing batting average (.146) and ranked second in both ERA (1.29) and strikeouts (136) in conference games only.

As for her pitching philosophy, Weil said, “I think about placement before each game and where I need to beat teams. So once I’m throwing, I’m just focused on hitting my spots. For the most part, even if my ball’s not moving that day, my dropball’s not really dropping, I can hit my spot.”

Weil and her Iowa teammates (42-14) play Auburn (29-27) at 4 p.m. Friday at Atlanta. Other teams at the regional include host school Georgia Tech (42-13) and Boston University (41-16).


Ferentz contract not finalized, ‘no decision’ on son’s status

May 13, 2009
University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference Tuesday, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City. Ferentz said expected Tate to start Saturday's game unless something unexpected developed in practice this week.

University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City.

Iowa and football coach Kirk Ferentz have yet to finalize the seven-year contract extension that was announced three months ago.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he and Ferentz have spoken about the contract recently, and there’s no concern that the deal might fall through.

“The honest answer is when he was going through recruiting, we really just set it aside,” Barta said. “We talked about it a couple of times over the last several weeks. It’s one of those things, we already know we’re going to do it, we’ve already agreed in principle on what we’re going to do, we just haven’t committed it to a contract.

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Iowa men’s schedule nears release, ticket prices likely to go down

May 13, 2009

Iowa men’s basketball is likely to give their athletics department a financial reprieve this fall on travel.

Iowa makes three trips in non-conference play: Iowa State, Northern Iowa and the CBE Classic (against two of Texas, Pittsburgh or Wichita State) in Kansas City. All three are bus trips rather than flights for the Hawkeyes. Last year, Iowa traveled to Charleston, S.C., Las Vegas and Boston for non-conference games.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule, which also includes home games against Drake and Virginia Tech. One contract is out right now, which is why the school hasn’t released the schedule yet.

It also appears Iowa will miss out on the flight to Penn State this year. The Big Ten schedule is not finalized, but that trip wasn’t included on the league’s rough draft schedule. That will be released later this summer or early fall.

It also appears Iowa will lower overall men’s basketball ticket prices this year. Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Tuesday that no decision has been made.

“Taking into account the economy, taking into account we’re rebuilding our program and getting back to where we want to be, we’re taking a look at lowering some of the ticket prices,” he said.

Iowa averaged 100 more fans this year (10,861) than last year, but it’s way off from the early part of the decade when Iowa averaged a sell-out. After a an all-time worst start, Iowa dropped ticket prices for its final five home games to $10 each. That gave the department a major lift in bodies, although not necessarily the bottom line.

“This past year, it (attendance) actually took a small dip up,” Barta said. “So that’s a good sign.”


Iowa under budget at Outback Bowl, loses money on tickets

May 12, 2009
Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa battered South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and won the budget battle, too.

Iowa spent about $1.52 million during its week-long trip to the Tampa, Fla., Outback Bowl in late December and early January. That was about $130,000 under the $1.65 million budget provided by the Big Ten Conference.

“At the end of the day our fans showed up, we won the game, and we came in under budget,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “It was a success all the way around.”

Both Iowa and South Carolina were guaranteed at least 11,000 tickets for the Outback Bowl. Iowa’s athletics department sold more than 20,000 tickets in the Hawkeyes’ last Outback Bowl berth on Jan. 2, 2006 and asked for 15,000 tickets to sell to local fans. But Iowa failed to sell nearly 2,300 tickets, costing the department almost $150,000.

“The last time we went down there, we sold over 20,000, so we scaled back to 15,000,” Barta said. “I think what happened, anecdotally, we heard, that a lot of fans were just going to the bowl site and buying their tickets from there just to make sure they got some. At the end of day, I was focused on the bottom line. And the bottom line was we still came in under budget and that was where we wanted to be.”

Barta and department officials estimate 20,000 Iowa fans attended the game, or nearly 37 percent of the 55,117 in official attendance. Barta had expected fewer fans to attend in part because of the economic slowdown, which is why Iowa chose to sell 5,000 fewer than three years ago.

“You want to take care of your fans so you have to make a decision quickly, how many you’re going to purchase versus how many your fans are going to have to purchase from the bowl,” he said. “We’d prefer to have them all come from here, but we scaled back because we knew the economy would have some effect.”

Iowa earned a $3.3 million payout for participating in the Outback Bowl. That money then was given to the Big Ten, which gives each school participating in a bowl a stipend. The extra bowl revenue then is divided among the 11 Big Ten schools and the league office.

Barta said the school donated extra tickets to local charities in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

“We’ve done everything from contact some kids’ groups, some local groups, some charity groups and tried to move them out that way,” he said.

Iowa spent more than $1.1 million on team and staff travel, including transportation, meals, lodging and tickets. Marching band expenses totaled $328,340 while expenses for university leaders cost more than $50,000.

Here’s a look at the school’s financial summary:

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
 

 

DEPARTMENT OF ATHLETICS  

OUTBACK BOWL  

1/1/2009  

INCOME  

Participant’s Share (per Big Ten Conference policy)  

$1,650,000  

EXPENSES  

Athletics Department (Team and Staff)  

Transportation  

$290,842  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$425,625  

Awards (117 players @ $350)  

$40,950  

Equipment & Supplies  

$20,130  

Tickets (application costs)  

$17,365  

Tickets-Unsold (6 @ $140 + 2,291 @ $65)  

$149,755  

Tickets-Comp (1,277 @ $65)  

$83,005  

Tickets-Comp (69 @ $140)  

$9,660  

Advance Planning Party  

$4,203  

Administrative/Other  

$99,167  

Total Athletics Department Expenses  

$1,140,702  

Marching Band  

Transportation  

$235,310  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$66,725  

Tickets-Comp (346 @ $65)  

$22,490  

Administrative/Other  

$3,815  

Total Marching Band Expenses  

$328,340  

Institution (UI Leadership, PCA,Other)  

Transportation  

$16,375  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$30,323  

Tickets-Comp (29 @ $140)  

$4,060  

Administrative/Other  

$0  

Total Institution Leadership  

$50,758  

Total Expenses  

$1,519,800  

Balance  

$130,200  


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