Great piece of reporting by theWashington Post on the state of the University of Maryland’s athletic department and its financial woes. Liz Clarke does a great job illustrating the damage universities can do to themselves when they spend too much and rely too much on ticket revenue to make up the difference.
Within the very detailed article is this little tidbit: “So, too, is the $500,000 in guaranteed annual compensation that Maryland is paying its new offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley, hired in January to help turn around a football team that finished 2-10 last season.”
College football really is like so many other professions. It’s totally possible to fail your way into several lucrative jobs and end up
running the Department of the Treasury the OC at Maryland after failing badly at New Mexico. Locksley managed to do a pretty good job at Illinois, but it’s not like he was lighting the world on fire there either. The players he recruited were very mediocre over the course of their careers, but it was that one Rose Bowl season that got Locksley the New Mexico gig and allowed him to assault an assistant coach and sexually harass a university employee.
Plus, Locksley’s New Mexico teams went 2-26 in the two and a half years he was head coach, equaling the number of wins Maryland is trying to recover from just in 2011. I guess Randy Edsall is just hoping he’s got the great recruiter of the D.C. area that Ron Zook had and not so much the head coaching disaster from Albuquerque.
It’s hard to imagine that this was part of the university’s plan for increasing football ticket revenue in order to pay for all their renovations. Randy Edsall’s first year was an unmitigated disaster too, though not on the Locksley level. And this was after the athletic department ran off the beloved Ralph Friedgen, balked at hiring Mike Leach (who definitely would have sold tickets at the very least), and went with UConn’s Randy Edsall. The vanilla-est coach they could get their hands on.
Couple that with the dropoff experienced by the basketball program in the last decade, and it’s virtually impossible to see how the athletic department or the university thought they would be able to pay for anything through ticket revenue.
This was always going to be the by-product of money dominated college football and basketball. The pressure on the football and basketball programs to win all the time and sell out every game is enormous even at historically mediocre schools. And it’s taking more and more money to compete with the super-successful in both sports, so the little guys have to keep spending to keep up. Which is how you have this current mess at Maryland and why all SEC schools have a built-in advantage because they’ll sell their football stadia out no matter what. Except for maybe Ole Miss because holy hell they’re bad.