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Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt in 2009 – Rich Brooks and Kentucky in 2009 – Mike Slive and the SEC’s New TV Deal with ESPN – ESPN’s Conflict of Interest With All These TV Contracts? – BCS Fighting Basic Mathematics and Reality – MWC Expansion = MWC + WAC = Western SuperConference – The Band Alabama and The Million Dollar Band

Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt in 2009


Coaches Hot Seat Analysis

Bobby Johnson did the next to impossible in 2008 by getting Vanderbilt to a 6-6 record and then taking his team to and winning a bowl game over Boston College.  Wins over South Carolina (for the second year in a row), at Ole Miss, Auburn and at Kentucky surprised everyone and Johnson must be given credit for both getting players to Vandy that can play in the SEC, but also getting them coached up to beat these very good conference teams.  Going forward, Bobby Johnson will still face great challenges, but it looks to us that groundwork for making Vanderbilt a perennial .500 or better and bowl team is on place and that is very bad news for other teams in the SEC because that means there is no longer any easy spots on any teams conference schedule.  Vanderbilt has a manageable schedule in 2009, but they have a brutal stretch starting with a trip to Army on October 10, followed by Georgia, at South Carolina, Georgia Tech, at Florida, Kentucky and at Tennessee to finish the year.  Wow!  We have Vandy going 2-5 in that stretch, but if they are able to go .500 in those games they will have a very good chance to get back to a bowl game for the second straight year. 


At 59 years of age, Bobby Johnson may very well have a chance to move to a larger and more traditional BCS school in the next couple of years, because if Johnson can get Vanderbilt into the postseason we can only wonder what he could do at a school where he could recruit the top players in the country.  If that opportunity is given to Johnson it will be very interesting to see what Johnson does, because he is very comfortable at Vandy and he has put a tremendous amount of work into building the Vanderbilt program and it would probably be very hard to leave all that hard work behind.  We shall see….


Coaches Hot Seat Bottom Line

We predict that Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt will have a _______ record in 2009.  Let’s take a look at Vanderbilt’s 2009 games:


Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt in 2009




Rich Brooks and Kentucky in 2009


Coaches Hot Seat Analysis

After three straight winning seasons it can be said that Rich Brooks has Kentucky going in the right direction if not turned around and now it will be up to Brooks and his coaching staff to keep this Wildcat train rolling.  One of the things that really stands out to us when watching Kentucky in recent years is how physical they are on the offensive and defensive lines and how hard it is for most other teams to really get some momentum going against the Wildcat defense.  Kentucky finished 2008 ranked #40 in total defense and #35 in scoring defense (21.46 points per game) and if the Wildcats can get that same kind of play on defense in 2009, the UK offense should be able to put up enough points to win a lot of football games this season.  Kentucky has a very favorable schedule this season, but to really take a step forward they are going to need to get a big win over either Florida or Alabama early in the season to get the ball rolling.  Florida may be a bridge to far with Tim Tebow in the shotgun (or under center this fall some?), but Alabama with a new QB and maybe looking ahead to Ole Miss the week after the Kentucky game, could be the spot for a big win for the Wildcats. 


Can Rich Brooks and Kentucky keep it rolling in 2009?  They can if they keep their intensity up throughout the season and avoid injuries.  Brooks has increased the depth at Kentucky with recruiting in recent years, but the Wildcats cannot afford injuries in many spots before they will have to play some inexperienced people, and that is never very much fun in the SEC.  Let’s take a look at the 2009 season….


Coaches Hot Seat Bottom Line

We predict that Rich Brooks and Kentucky will have an ______ record in 2009.  Let’s take a look at Kentucky’s 2009 games:


Rich Brooks and Kentucky in 2009




SEC Media Days and Commissioner Mike Slive – New SEC/ESPN TV Deal and will ESPN change due to its new clients/customers?


It was very interesting listening to SEC commissioner Mike Slive on Day 1 of SEC Media Days on the new TV deal with ESPN and his comments on recruiting violations in the conference. 


Clearly, the TV deal with ESPN is a big game-changer for the SEC, because the additional $10 million or so that each SEC team will get each year will open up all kinds of opportunities for schools to expand athletic programs and especially facilities by taking that guaranteed revenue flow and leveraging it to sell bonds against that revenue stream.  $10 million dollars of guaranteed additional money is huge for any athletic program and SEC teams will have a huge advantage going forward and that will only separate SEC schools from EVERYONE else in the game. 


As for ESPN, they have some very smart folks running the “Worldwide Leader” and we have no doubt that even with an eye-popping number like $3 billion over 15 years for the right to televise most SEC football games and other conference athletic events, that ESPN will make money on the deal.  ESPN in recent years has transformed itself from a cash cow with inconsistent management to a cash cow that is now focused on delivering a quality product across all of its properties and we here at Coaches Hot Seat are amazed at how consistent ESPN has been in recent years in everything they do.  All of us here at Coaches Hot Seat grew up with ESPN and remember the early days very well from Chris Berman in the end zone when Dwight Clark made that big catch against the hated Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship Game and we must have watched thousands of SportsCenters through college, while in the military, during single and married life and even still into our 40s we all still watch a lot of ESPN programming today. 


The partnership between the SEC and ESPN is a big plus for both entities and both will benefit greatly by the partnership as they both grow with each other’s help into the future.  The only downside we can see from this new TV deal would be if ESPN finds itself in any situations where they might have a conflict of interest in how it covers the SEC, because a negative story might actually affect the conference they are covering and thus ESPN might not cover that story completely.  We have already seen a slight movement in the positions held by the on-air talent at ESPN on a playoff for the college football postseason in recent programming and we are going to be very interested to see if anyone at ESPN has been muzzled in criticizing the BCS, with ESPN now having signed contracts with all the major bowls for when the BCS deals with the Fox network ends.  We picked up on some movement away by on-air talent in criticizing the BCS in the last year as ESPN was bidding for future BCS contracts and since we have noted over the last few years the public positions of ESPN’s on-air talent on the BCS and/or a postseason college football playoff we will be watching for any major changes in their opinions very closely.  If there is a drastic shift in the position of ESPN’s on-air talent relative to their position towards a playoff for the college football postseason, then we will certainly notice it, and since simple mathematics and the current structure of college football (there are now simply just too many top-level teams in BCS and non-BCS conferences each year to leave only 2 teams standing that will be the clear No. 1 and No. 2 teams each season) guarantees that there will never again be a “clean” and/or legitimate BCS title game.  As the controversy grows each season as it becomes clear that there will always 4 up to 16 teams that have a legitimate claim on being the best team each year, if ESPN’s on-air talent that has in the past mocked the BCS are suddenly quiet on the subject of what is clearly the most fraudulent postseason in any sport on the planet, then we will know that ESPN has muzzled its talent.  We really doubt that anyone at ESPN would be stupid enough to muzzle their very strong personalities that they have covering their college football programming, but ESPN has become a very disciplined organization in recent years and when ESPN takes over the BCS it will be very tough to both promote and criticize a postseason system that one is televising, and more importantly selling advertising against, and that conflict may very well lead to a restriction of free speech at the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”


Of course, the BCS Boys may have made a huge mistake by allowing what could very well be a inadvertent “Trojan Horse” under the tent that is the bogus BCS with ESPN and as more pressure builds from college football fans and from other very powerful entities to move to a system that actually represents the principles of the country and a postseason system that is similar to every other sport in collegiate athletics, ESPN will be sitting in the catbird seat and with their ability will be able to very quickly to come up with a plan to implement a college football playoff postseason tournament if tasked to by the U.S. government.  The BCS Boys can wipe their brows and pat each other on the back each time they believe they have gotten by a Congressional hearing or by refusing requests for documents from government entities, but the real danger to the BCS lies ahead and the BCS Boys have not yet really been called on the carpet before the law of the land not only on the antitrust issue, but Civil Rights laws and statutes that deal with all Americans involved with public institutions (which is every college and university, private and public in Division I-A) that receive federal funds from the government to be treated in an equal, fair and most importantly, legal way.


College football fans are not going to tolerate a continuation forever of teams getting jobbed out of an opportunity to play for a National Championship when they have earned that right by their play in the regular season and the BCS Boys are only going to be able to hold the tide back for so long, before a demand is made by the people that are paying the freight for the entire game of college football, the fans, that an equitable system be put into place that will actually crown a legitimate National Champion.  It is beyond absurd that things like Utah going undefeated and being regulated to a meaningless exhibition game that does not give them the chance to play for a title could possibly still be going on in 2009, but when power and money is at stake and the very core of the BCS you have a group of people that don’t care at all about crowning a legitimate National Champion, then you have a recipe for a disgusting system that runs counter to the principles of our country, the opinion of the vast majority of college football fans and worst of all a system that is an embarrassment and black eye upon the game of college football.  Inclusion and participation in the BCS, which is really nothing more than a bogus BCS national title game and 4 meaningless exhibition games is not now nor never will be acceptable to anyone that actually believes that championships should be won on the field of play, because there is not ever a chance in Hell that the college football season will ever again going forward separate out two teams that are clearly the best two teams in the country.  Because there will always be going forward between 4 and up to 16 teams that have a legitimate claim to be the best team in the country at the end of the regular season, it is not only a necessity that a postseason playoff tournament will be implemented in college football, but a certainty.



Mike Slive on SEC coaching breaking recruiting rules – Early Signing Day(s)


Of course, commissioner Slive is right to hold the coaches’ feet to the fire over recruiting violations, even secondary violations, because there is just no excuse for coaches to break rules doing things that they know that are wrong.  Some of these NCAA recruiting rules are beyond stupid, but the coaches know where the line is and with all that is at stake if a coach, booster, or someone else makes a foolish mistake in attempting to recruit a player to a school, there really is just no reason for these coaches or anyone around these college football programs to break the rules. 


Speaking of recruiting, we look at a lot of stories each day here at Coaches Hot Seat and there are literally hundreds of recruits committing to schools each week and we cannot understand why the NCAA does not go ahead and institute at least one and possibly more early signing days so that all of these young men that committing to schools could go ahead and make that commitment binding.  Maybe college coaches would not want to sign a recruit before he has played his senior season of football, but if that is not an issue why not go ahead and let a recruit that is ready to commit to a school sign a letter of intent around the first of August before fall practice begins for the colleges.  There could be another early signing day in early December after the regular season of college football has been completed and then we could still have the Signing Day in early February for anyone that has not signed during the early periods.  It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for players to be committing to schools and not going ahead and allowing them to go ahead and sign letter of intent, conditioned upon them continuing with their academic studies at a level consistent with what they have done in the past.  In fact, an early signing period might even be motivational for players to bear down on their studies, because they would know that they might lose their scholarship offer if they did not make their grades.




Mountain West Conference Expansion


MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said at the MWC Media Days on the subject of expansion:


“Thompson, speaking at the Mountain West media days outside Las Vegas, said expansion is discussed in nearly every meeting of league directors, but they haven’t gotten into specifics.


“We spent a lot of time talking in general about expansion specifically, not about particular institutions,” Thompson said. “I think the conversation typically at a directors level has centered on maybe a 10th will help us. But the real issue is practical scheduling.”


The Mountain West is concerned that a 10th team might force some schools to abandon rivalries with neighboring BCS schools and service academies, assuming the league adopts a nine-game league schedule.


“You really take away any scheduling for BCS purposes, if you will,” Thompson said. “Now, if conversely a team were to come in and really strengthen the BCS cause, that would be reason for focus. It’s something that we’ve looked at.”


Boise State is the only team available that would significantly pad the Mountain West’s BCS resume. The Broncos have gone undefeated in three of the past five regular seasons, and defeated Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.”


As we here at Coaches Hot Seat have said several times over the past couple of years, what really makes sense for the MWC is to get the WAC conference on the phone and to figure out a way to put together those two conferences to create a new western United States super-conference.  We are sure that the MWC would love to add Boise State to their conference to get to 10 teams, but to really get some economies of scale and to become a conference that can compete with the BCS conferences, we would recommend that the MWC and WAC merge, letting La. Tech leave to join a conference closer to their home in the southern U.S. and adding Colorado from the Big 12 to this new conference.  La. Tech has no business playing in the WAC and Colorado would fit a lot better with the new MWC/WAC super-conference than the Big 12, especially if this new super-conference could work something out with the BCS Boys.  Also a new MWC/WAC super-conference would give them a lot more leverage to negotiate TV contracts with cable and TV networks or even to put together a dedicated network just to cover conference athletic events. 


Here is what the new MWC/WAC super-conference would look like (Drop La. Tech so they could join a conference in the southern U.S. and add Colorado)


MWC/WAC Super-Conference

18 Teams/9 Teams each Division




Brigham Young

Boise State


Utah State








Colorado State

Air Force


Fresno State

San Jose State

New Mexico State

New Mexico

San Diego State


Now that would be a great college sports conference and whatever has happened in the past between these 2 conferences, with the challenges that are going to be faced by all athletic departments and conferences in the coming years it only makes sense to get together which would make all the schools and the new super-conference that much stronger financially and on the athletic fields of play.  Do we think that the MWC and WAC will get together to form a new western U.S. super-conference?  Not really, but it would make a lot of sense and if they could work out some kind of co-commissioner arrangement between Thompson and Benson, then they should take a hard look at this idea.



As we enter Day 2 at SEC Media Days, Coaches Hot Seat recognizes the locale of the meeting with some good ole country music that would be very appropriate for the Alabama fans that will be crowding the lobby at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham.  Are Alabama fans crazy?  Yes, but you have to love their passion!


Dixieland Delight, Alabama




The Closer You Get, Alabama




Feels So Right, Alabama




Roll On, Alabama




My Home’s in Alabama, Alabama




And for Alabama Football Fans, The Million Dollar Band



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