UNDER THE RADAR: Tax Bill May Hit College Football, Tennessee is an ATM, Playoff Committee Grades &a

Today’s Under the Radar is a day later, allowing the College Football Playoff Debate dust to settle before we take a look back at some observations from the end of the regular season.

1. College Football & The GOP Tax Bill: Amid the still-foggy details of the GOP Tax Bills, there are potential concerns for college athletic departments. Proposals to tax college endowment income may hit some schools. The proposal to tax the tuition waiver for graduate students is another issue as graduate assistant coaches may have to pay tax on their tuition. How will this play out for student-athletes who graduate with a season or two of eligibility left and are taking graduate school classes? Will the tax hit them and if so, will the NCAA allow schools to add money to the cost of attendance allowance to help pay those taxes? There is also some discussion about how changes to deductions might impact donations to athletic departments for big-ticket items like stadium suites or club seats. Stay tuned…..

2. Tennessee Is A Coaching ATM: While this is the time of year when the coaching carousel is spinning wildly it is also coaching ATM season. This year Tennessee has been the crowbar/leverage of choice to crack the vaults of athletic budgets. It seems like an endless parade of head coaches have gotten contract extensions or raises because of the lingering Tennessee vacancy. Head coaches at Purdue, NC State and Washington State have all been rumored to be linked to the Tennessee job and have stayed put—reportedly with contract extensions or adjustments to stay where they are. This is the dance of the coaching carousel as just the presence of job openings makes uneasy Athletic Directors run to their bank accounts and throw money at the guy they’ve got. No one in recent memory has been a bigger ATM for coaches than Tennessee.

3. Michigan Fans Believe in an Officiating Conspiracy: While at the Ohio State-Michigan game I was struck by the constant complaints after the game about the officiating. Many of their fans believe in a Big Ten conspiracy favoring Ohio State over Michigan for the past several years. Penn State fans have seen this movie before when in 2002, 2005 and 2007 big calls that were obviously wrong went against Penn State in games against Michigan. In 2002 an obvious Tony Johnson catch (that would've been good in the NFL) was called incomplete and in 2005 time was put back on the clock for Michigan’s game-winning touchdown drive. And in 2007 Penn State DB Lydell Sargent was called for defensive pass interference (pictured at left) in the end zone which set up a Michigan TD in a 14-9 win. It just goes to prove that when one team seems to have your number the guys in stripes are easy to blame.

4. College Playoff Committee Grades So Far: After the committee made their selections this year, many fans griped about the process. But a quick look back at the College Football Playoff Committee’s three previous years of work and I would grade them as an A-. They get points for getting the Top 2 teams right two out of three years. All three seasons the “first team out” the #5 seed has lost their bowl game to a lower-seeded team proving that they didn’t belong in the playoff. Until this season the most controversial decisions was in 2014 when they put Ohio State in at #4. All Ohio State did was win the National Title. Where has the committee gotten it wrong every year? The #1 seed has never won the title…so look out Clemson.

5. Conference Championship Games: In the Playoff era (began in 2014) the Power-5 Conferences have played 17 Conference Championship Games. For the 16 available Playoff slots 13 of the 17 Championship game winners have made it to the playoffs.

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