April 7, 2011

Three and Out: Pressure builds at Purdue

Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.

1. Basketball success means football pressure for Boilers. There was much rejoicing at Purdue after basketball coach Matt Painter flirted with Missouri before signing a new contract with the Boilermakers that will increase his annual salary to $2.3 million per season. In addition to the increase, the school has committed other financial boosts to Painter's program in the form of increased salaries for assistants and improved recruiting resources, among other things. Why does this matter to football? Because the deal for Painter puts pressure on football coach Danny Hope. He spent 2008 as coach-in-waiting under Joe Tiller before taking over in 2009. But the program is 9-15 in two seasons under Hope. Even worse, attendance at Ross-Ade Stadium is going down. Last season, Purdue averaged 48,063 after averaging 50,457 in 2009. Interest in 2011 Boilermakers football can best be described as "tepid." If the football program can't become a strong revenue stream, the entire athletic department will suffer. Hope needs to win games and fill seats - fast

2. It's past time to get this fixed. Is it too early to cry "the sky is falling" about college football? The past nine months have been brutal, with a dubious roll call of shameful events. There's the "agent-gate" scandal that swallowed up North Carolina. There was Ohio State's "Tattoo Five" being allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl. There were the revelations that Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel lied about his knowledge of illegal behavior by his players. There were allegations of recruiting improprieties everywhere, including at title-game participants Auburn and Oregon. Auburn also had four players arrested for armed robbery. There was the Fiesta Bowl financial scandal. The sport appears to be careening out of control, seemingly incapable of policing itself. Can anything be done to restore order and credibility? I think the sport needs some type of "czar" who can mete out punishments that can't be challenged or appealed. His word would be the final word.

3. Money changes everything. Texas unveiled the name of its new TV network this week: Longhorn Network, or LHN. The network will stuff Bevo's already-bulging pockets with $300 million over 20 years in a deal struck with ESPN. Oklahoma also is expected to announce its own network in the near future. But this is terrible news for college football, specially for the Big 12. Big 12 economics already are screwed up, with schools not sharing equally in TV revenue. Texas is one of the schools that receives a larger slice of the TV pie. Now, Texas has a TV network. If you are Texas and Oklahoma, this is a great setup: You get to enjoy the scheduling benefits of being in a league while sharing in its collective TV money while also having your own TV money. There are other schools, among them Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Florida and Georgia, that could be as selfish and self-centered as Texas and Oklahoma and strike TV deals. But those schools respect their conferences and want to see them remain strong. Remember "united we stand, divided we fall"? Too bad Texas and Oklahoma don't feel that way. What a poor example to set: Grab what you can, and don't worry about others.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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