Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Brand-Name Coaches Good for C-USA

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Brand-Name Coaches Good for C-USA

Article excerpt

INSIDE: Kiffin, Davis add spark to C-USA 4B

Ye olde notebook:

There ya go, Conference USA. I hear ya.

Just as our Dr. Smock called for in Monday's Gazette-Mail sports pages, Florida Atlantic went out and hired Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Good for the school. But, moreso, good for the league, which includes the Mountain State's Marshall University.

In case you haven't noticed, Kiffin is the second marquee coaching name of late to be hired. Florida International inked ex- University of Miami, Cleveland Browns and North Carolina coach Butch Davis.

The hires are significant in many ways. Yet the one that jumps out at me has to do with eyeballs on television screens.

In case you've forgotten, C-USA was cut at the knees in its most recent television deal. The former $15.4 million package was sliced to $2.8 million via four TV partners. Each league school's income dropped from $1.1 annually to around $200,000 for 2016-17.

Now, though, the league can point to Kiffin. It can point to Davis. It can point to real TV draws, which translate into leverage.

Which should be C-USA's game plan going forward. It gambled on bringing in smaller programs with potential. But that hasn't translated into conference strength or a good TV deal in troubled network times.

Too, though, it gambled on shorter TV deals. That may pay off if the league can hire and maintain brand names like Kiffin, Davis, Louisiana Tech's Skip Holtz and even Marshall's Doc Holliday. (Yes, Holliday's team had a down year, yet his name resonates nationally.)

Keep seeking - and paying - those brand coaching names. The league and schools could recoup the financial outlay down the road.

***

It will be interesting to see how Holliday, known for his recruiting in Florida, as well as West Virginia University's coaches now fare in the Sunshine State after the recent round of coaching hires.

Consider for a moment the head coaches in Florida now: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Miami's Mark Richt, FAU's Kiffin, FIU's Davis, UCF's Scott Frost and South Florida's Charlie Strong, in addition to Florida's Jim McElwain, whose team is No. …

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