David Maraniss, the author of half-a-dozen great books and a Pulitzer Prize winner, has an important essay on football in the upcoming Feb. 11th issue of The New York Review of Books. He reviews several books and movies on the challenges to football -- from concussions to out-of-control spending on college football. There's a nice review of BILLION-DOLLAR BALL. Check it out.



THE NYT columnist Joe Nocera has a new piece about reforming football and basketball, paying players, and how to do all of this without wrecking college sports. Here's what i said online a few minutes ago.

Joe Nocera has an interesting take on setting up a market-based model to pay football and basketball players. He addresses several of the pitfalls but misses the most important issue: taxes. Once you declare football a business then it has to lose its special tax treatment, which it should anyway, in my opinion. That means no more tax deductions for fans paying thousands of dollars a season to secure seats at the Big House. Elite football programs depend on seat donations for one-third of their revenue. So, suddenly, they don't have all of the money Joe envisions, and his model probably doesn't work. Not sure how he missed this.


Proposing a Salary Cap Alongside the Gowns

A salary cap for college football and men’s basketball players would not break the bank or completely abandon free-market principles. Here’s how it might work.




Not a good week to be a college football coach, I guess.

First, The University of Maryland fires Randy Esdall after the team got off to a 2-4 record. What's interesting here is that Maryland had just extended Edsall's contract four months earlier, saying he was the guy to elevate the Terps to football greatness. Oops. Maryland will now pay Edsall about $3 million, while having to come up with even more cash to hire a new, exciting coach. 

It used to be college would at least wait until the end of the season to fire the coach. But no more. As with everything else in our distracted, hyped-up culture, hiring and firing coaches has sped up dramatically. 

More proof, USC fired Steve Sarkesian last night amid curious and vague allegations about "personal problems" the coach was having. Earlier in the season, he had been taken to the woodshed by USC AD Pat Haden for bad-mouthing his competition in a much reported slurry of words at a booster-fueled venue. The rumor is Sark needs assistance. 

What I am wondering is whether USC invokes a morals clause to stiff him, or chooses to buyout the remaining years of his contract? In either case, we're looking at millions in costs to both fire and hire. A new coach will not come cheap at USC. anyone have a check for four or five million ready?

In other news, Steve Spurrier quit South Carolina last night without warning -- or at least a lot of the usual speculation. The team was off to a bad start and Spurrier, normally one of the more humorous coaches around, was increasingly testy. What the hell, he's 70 years old and has done all that he needs to do. He also seems to own most of the real estate in St. Augustine. Retire to the beach house and enjoy the sunsets. 

Spurrier was paid about $4 million, so I guess SC is going to have to fork over more big bucks. After all, it is in the SEC, where the average salary now tops $4 million and Nick Saban is paid $7.1 million. The fans demand a good football team in Columbia, so look for another ridiculous hire and big bucks.

The idea that there is a rational market for football coaches at the highest levels is nuts. This is a model forged of desperation and absurdity, not to mention the feckless college presidents who go along.


I had a long, good conversation with Patrick Hruby of VICE Sports the other week and here is the result.





It was a blast!  Great promotion by Katie Hardesty and the rest of the staff. thank you all so much. A good crowd and good questions. Special thanks to Frank Fitzpatrick for leading the Q and A and to Cathy Gaul for baking those cookies.



Thanks to WLRN in Miami for a great hour-long interview:  Good questions from the hosts and listeners.



If you are Haddonfield, NJ, tonight around 7 PM stop by Inkwood Books to say hello. I will be visiting the new, independent book store to sign a few copies of BILLION-DOLLAR BALL. If not, please support Inkwood anyway. It's a great addition to Haddonfield


It was huge fun talking and signing at Parnassus, the legendary bookstore in Nashville. It just happens to be owned by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett, who wrote Bel Canto, State of Wonder and many other incredible books. Special thanks to Andy Brennan for hosting me.  


I don't know how but somehow we managed to talk for two hours live last night about college football and BILLION-DOLLAR BALL. Thanks to Milt Rosenberg and Rick Telander for a thoughtful and sometimes provocative show.