Moag & Company Sports Notes (14 Oct 2022)

Date: Oct 2022

Trivia

In 1982, how many games made up the NFL regular-season schedule?  

Last Week’s Answer: The Chicago Bulls won six championships with Michael Jordan on their team.

Football:

This year’s annual USA Today Sports examination of FBS coaches’ pay reveals a 15.3% "rise in average total compensation compared to last season’s," the “greatest one-year spike since the current basic methodology was put in place for the 2009 survey,” according to USA TODAY. While that increase is measured against 2021 figures that “still were being affected by pandemic-related pay reductions” that began in 2020, if the reductions for the 2021 season are disregarded, the increase is 12.8%. Alabama coach Nick Saban has the “most lucrative average annual package of all" at $11.7M, with potential earnings of $93.6M through February 2030, excluding bonuses. Georgia coach Kirby Smart after winning last year's national championship was given a "then-record" $11.25M average annual salary in July. Eighteen Power Five public schools “awarded their existing coaches raises of at least" $1M. Adding in the “expected -- but undisclosed” -- increases that USC and Miami gave Lincoln Riley and Mario Cristobal, respectively, at least 21 of the 65 Power Five schools are paying at least $1M "more than they were scheduled to pay last season.” The average pay for the 52 Power Five public school coaches is “just over" $5.45M this season, up from $4.66M last season. A lot of those raises also can be "explained by the game being awash in looming television cash.” The Big Ten next season starts a seven-year, $7B deal with Fox, CBS and NBC, while the SEC in 2024 begins a 10-year contract with ESPN that will pay $300M annually.

The NFL has scheduled an owners vote next week that would finally settle the question of who ultimately pays the $790M settlement won by St. Louis in its lawsuit over the Rams’ controversial 2016 relocation to L.A. Details of the proposed cost-sharing plan are unknown, but the resolution of the dispute would put an end to one of the most fractious issues inside the NFL ownership fraternity in years. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to unilaterally decide the issue if owners remain at an impasse, but a negotiated consensus is always preferred. At the October league meeting one year ago, Rams owner Stan Kroenke first informed his colleagues that he expected help in covering a possible settlement -- a surprise to many of them, who were under the impression Kroenke had agreed to indemnify them during his campaign for approval to move the Rams to L.A. But with numerous pretrial motions going against the NFL in a St. Louis court and a difficult jury trial looming, Kroenke said he would only agree to cover “costs,” which did not include a settlement. One month later, the league settled with the St. Louis plaintiffs for $790M, and paid the fee soon after with the understanding that it would be recouped from Kroenke (and possibly others, depending on the outcome of the internecine negotiations). One side said Kroenke’s indemnification was absolute, and the others should pay zero. Kroenke supporters said the entire league has benefited from the Rams’ move to L.A. and Kroenke’s financing of SoFi Stadium, and that some consideration was appropriate. This spring, Goodell appointed a five-person committee of owners to study the issue, but their work languished and it is not clear whether they ever issued any formal recommendations. Last month, ProFootballTalk reported that Goodell was going to conduct a hearing.

Baseball:

Oakland A's EVP/Baseball Operations Billy Beane is “thinking enthusiastically ... that one day shovels will be used to break ground for an A’s ballpark,” amid “plenty of pessimism and distrust," according to the S.F. Chronicle. Beane said, “At some point we will have a new stadium. That’s what makes me feel good. I hope it’s within my tenure. But we will. I think the organization, the city deserve it, and it’ll happen.” Those are “words of optimism we haven’t heard" from A’s President Dave Kaval and "certainly not owner John Fisher, whose parallel-paths expedition, featuring lots of cuddling with Las Vegas officials, has turned off much of the A’s fan base and sunk interest levels to lows not seen since the late 1970s and their last 100-loss season.” At this point, Beane is "deferring to Fisher and Kaval," as he “isn’t personally involved" in the ballpark decision. But the "more creative resources the better -- especially with time supposedly running out.” The goal was for Fisher and the city of Oakland to secure a deal on the $12B Howard Terminal project “before Mayor Libby Schaaf and key council members termed out.” Now it “seems more likely that any ballpark deal will be for the new council to deal with.” Beane said, “The frustration from a team standpoint is, yeah, it would be nice to be at that point where we could have some continuity. We don’t. And until we have a new venue, we’re not going to”.

Hockey:

Nine NHL teams enter the regular season carrying only "20 or 21 skaters" because of the league’s $82.5M salary cap, which is up only $1M after three years static at $81.5M, according to Sportsnet. Additionally, there are 13 teams already in long-term injured reserve “before they’ve basically even played a game.” The Maple Leafs, who are just $4 under the cap, “could barely fit a coffee run based on the room they had left,” while the Canucks “came over the top and became the first team ever to hit the number on the head.” Johnston: “Needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on managers managing the cap in a season with so little flexibility”. The Florida Panthers set their initial roster for the 2022-23 NHL season and "will start with 20 players," meaning "everyone on the roster will dress each night." The Panthers will come in "just under the NHL salary cap limit" and will "have to get creative if any player gets hurt." Normal bumps and bruises usually mean a "night off for the player and a chance for someone else to step in and get a chance," but the Panthers do "not have such luxuries".

Soccer:

The Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire and New England Revolution all posted attendance gains of more than 25% compared to the last non-Covid season, as MLS overall averaged 21,033 fans per game. That total number is down roughly 300 fans per game from 2019, for a drop of less than 1%. Expansion franchise Charlotte FC finished second in the league with more than 35,000 fans per game and is one of four teams in the league that expanded capacity for select games; Charlotte drew an MLS-record 74,479 at Bank of America Stadium in its first game. Along with new venues in Columbus, Austin and Miami, Nashville opened a new facility this season and finished fourth with more than 27,500 fans per game. Atlanta United led the league in attendance for the sixth straight season, although their per-game averaged dipped 10.3% from last year. The Earthquakes, NYCFC, FC Cincinnati, Sounders, Orlando City and Whitecaps all had drops of more than 15%, as 15 of the league’s 28 clubs had smaller attendance year-over-year.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; ESPN.com; S.F. Chronicle; USA Today; ProFootballTalk; Sportsnet

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