I’m no Darren Rovell — much to the delight of anyone who has ever met me — but I know a great sports business story when I see one. Or in this case, two.
The financial woes of Arkansas football coach John L. Smith and free agent quarterback Vince Young came to light this week, and I’m not sure which tale is sadder. Or funnier, if you’re a sadist.
THE JOHN L. FILE
Season Highlights: Named Arkansas interim head coach five months after taking head coaching job at Division I-AA Weber State, his alma mater. Promptly guided Razorbacks from Top 10 to back-to-back losses to Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama. Had press conference imploring reporters in attendance to smile.
Financial Woes: Has $25.7 million in liabilities compared to $1.2 million in assets, which caused him to file for bankruptcy. Apparently those losses came from bad real estate deals while he was head coach at Louisville from 1998-2002.
His assets on hand were $300 in cash and $500 in his checking account. The only property he fully owns is $2,000 worth of land in Iona, Idaho. Two grand worth of property? How much is that? 500 square feet?
Though not listed, we suspect that John L.’s assets also include “the ashtray, the remote control, this magazine, the chair, and this paddle game.” That’s the only thing he’ll need.
THE VINCE YOUNG FILE
Season Highlights: Last year signed to be a backup QB for the Eagles, who he proclaimed to be a “dream team. Ha-ha!” They missed the playoffs. He signed with the Bills in the offseason. They cut him because Tyler Thigpen and Tavaris Jackson were better.
Financial Woes: Young has apparently run out of the $26 million guaranteed to him in his first contract with the Titans in 2006. The question is who is to blame. Young filed a lawsuit claiming his former agent and financial adviser misappropriated $5.5 million by taking out loans and writing checks in his name. Allegedly that carried over into his football career — Young’s lawyer says the Bills cut him because there was a threat that the team would be served legal papers by his creditors. The Bills haven’t commented, but the story makes a lot of sense if you’ve seen Tyler Thigpen and Tavaris Jackson play football.
However, Young cannot be absolved for some of his financial undoing. It’s been reported — though not officially verified — that he spent $5,000 a week at the Cheesecake Factory his rookie year, purchased 120 of the 130 seats on a Southwest Airlines flight, and once spent $6,000 on a meal at TGI Friday’s. But hey, who hasn’t been down that same road at Friday’s?
THE BIGGEST LOSER
John L. Smith. At least VY got a lot of Loaded Potato Skins out of this deal. All John L. got was some lousy houses he couldn’t sell.