West Virginia's guarantee games and how they compare to the Big 12

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Milan Puskar


Most anyone who follows college football reasonably closely understands the concept of a guarantee game. In these matchups, a large school in need of a non-conference opponent to round out its schedule pays a smaller college large sums of money to come up there for a stand-alone, non-home-and-home game.

With few exceptions, the large school rolls to an easy win and the small college gets hundreds of thousands of dollars for their efforts. Though only one team technically wins, they both get something out of it.

This season, West Virginia has two such games, the first of which comes Saturday night against Georgia Southern. As it has been detailed ad nauseam the past two weeks, the Eagles aren't a typical guarantee game opponent. They come from a smaller conference and represent a school few outside of the southeast have heard of, but they're a program that defeated Florida two years ago on the road and went 9-3 in its first season as an FBS member, losing at North Carolina State by one and at eventual Orange Bowl champion Georgia Tech by four. This is far from the traditional sacrificial lamb.

What's noteworthy about this game, though, is the amount of money West Virginia is shelling out for a contest where, despite being a 19-point favorite, it stands a reasonable chance of withstanding a spirited fight -- $850,000, according to a contract obtained by the Post-Gazette through a public records request.

Even in the opulent realm of guarantee games, that's a pretty hefty chunk of cash. Short of what is paid by conference Goliaths Texas and Oklahoma, both of which were among the top 10 Division I schools in athletic spending in 2014, that's as expensive of a guarantee game as there has been in the Big 12 in the past several years. (Georgia Southern, it should be noted, generally gets paid at least $600,000 for these type of games. I'll have more details on this in a story for tomorrow's paper).

To better contextualize that $850,000 payment to Georgia Southern, I filed open records requests with five other Big 12 schools -- Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech -- to get an idea of what they dole out for these guarantee games. TCU and Baylor, which I'd assume also pay pretty handsomely, are private schools and are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Big 12 guarantee games

There's a clear line that is drawn between what FBS and FCS schools are able to command for these kind of games, as many of the teams in the bottom half of this chart fall into the latter.

Still, what West Virginia is paying Georgia Southern is equal to what it will receive later this year from Georgia and next year from Ole Miss and more than what Florida in 2013 ($550,000) and NC State in 2014 ($700,000) contributed. It's also more than what Georgia Tech will pay the Eagles in 2016 ($750,000).

In instances like this, you can only see the numbers and terms, so it's dangerous to make too many sweeping conclusions when you didn't know how negotiations played out. One thing, though, is plainly clear -- even for relatively meaningless games, there's A LOT of money thrown around in college football.


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Vacation post - 09-04-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins forward Tomas Sandstrom (right). Acquired late in the 1993-94 season along with Shawn McEachern in a deal which sent Marty McSorley and Jim Paek to the Kings, Sandstrom spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He finished 1993-94 by appearing in 27 games for the Penguins and scoring 17 points. In six postseason games that spring, he failed to score a point. Sandstrom played in 47 games in 1994-95 and compiled 44 points, third-most on the team. He saw action in all 12 of the Penguins' postseason games that season and contributed six points. Despite being limited to 58 games in 1995-96, Sandstrom hit the 30-goal plateau by netting 35 goals and 70 points. He played in 18 postseason games that spring and contributed six points. After 40 goals and 24 points in 1996-97, Sandstrom was traded midway through the season in a deal which brought Greg Johnson from the Red Wings. In 172 games with the Penguins, Sandstrom scored 155 points, 54th-most in franchise history.

-Happy 46th birthday to former Penguins forward Alex Hicks. Acquired early in the 1996-97 season along with Fredrik Olausson in a deal which sent Shawn Antoski and Dmitri Mironov to the Mighty Ducks, Hicks spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. The son of former Penguins forward Wayne Hicks, Alex Hicks finished 1996-97 by appearing in 55 games for the Penguins and scoring 20 points. He appeared in five postseason games that spring and contributed one assist. In 1997-98, Alex Hicks played in 58 games and once again netted 20 points. In six playoff games that spring, he failed to record a point. In the 1998 offseason, he joined the Sharks as a free agent. In 113 regular season games for the Penguins, Alex Hicks recorded 40 points.

(Photo: Robert Laberge/Allsport/Getty Images)

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Vacation post - 09-03-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins all-star forward Martin Straka (above). A first-round pick in 1992, Straka spent parts of 10 seasons over two separate stints with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1992-93, Straka appeared in 42 games and scored 16 points. He saw action in 11 postseason games that spring and contributed three points. Straka took a big step forward in 1993-94 by scoring 30 goals and 64 points while playing in all 84 games. That spring's playoffs saw Straka play in six games and score one goal. After only scoring 16 points in 31 games in 1994-95, Straka was traded to the Senators in exchange for Troy Murray and Norm Maciver. After bouncing between the Senators, Islanders and Panthers, Straka returned to the Penguins as a free agent in the 1997 offseason. He appeared in 72 games and scored 42 points. In six postseason games that season, Straka scored two goals. Straka returned to the 30-goal plateau in 1998-99 by netting a career-high 35 goals and 83 points and was also selected to his only all-star game. He stepped it up in the postseason by leading the team with 15 points in 13 games and played a pivotal role in the eighth-seeded Penguins upsetting the first-seeded Devils, 4-3 in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series by scoring 11 points. Injuries limited Straka to 71 games and 59 points in 1999-2000. He rebounded in the postseason by pitching in 12 points in 11 games. Straka's best NHL season came during the club's memorable 2000-01 season. Playing primarily on a line with Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang, Straka played in all 82 games and scored a career-high 95 points, sixth-most in the NHL that season. In the postseason, Straka appeared in 18 games and scored 13 points and two game-winning goals, including a series-clinching score in a 4-3 win against the Capitals in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (below). Injuries once against hampered Straka in 2001-02 as he was limited to 13 games and nine points. He fought through more ailments in 2002-03 but managed to see action in 60 games and contributed 46 points. After 22 games and 21 points in 2003-04, Straka was traded to the Kings in exchange for Martin Strbak and Sergei Anshakov. One of the most prolific players in franchise history, Straka's name can be found throughout the Penguins' record book. In 560 regular season games for the Penguins, Straka scored 165 goals (ninth-most), 277 assists (12th-most) and 442 points (10th-most). Additionally, his 26 game-winning goals are seventh-most in Penguins history. He also holds the franchise record for earliest game-winning goal as a result of his goal 32 seconds into a 4-0 home win against the Flyers, March 13, 1999. Straka, the only player to wear No. 82 in franchise history, was just as productive in terms of postseason play. In 65 playoff games, Straka scored 19 goals, 27 assists and 46 points. He is currently the general manager of HC Plzen in his native Czech Republic.

-Happy 28th birthday to former Penguins forward James Neal. Acquired midway through the 2010-12 season along with Matt Niskanen in a deal which sent Alex Goligoski to the Stars, Neal spent parts of the past four seasons in Pittsburgh. He finished 2010-11 by appearing in 20 regular season games for the Penguins and scored six points. In seven postseason games that spring, he scored two points. In 2010-11 Neal set career-highs in games (80), goals (40), assists (41) and points (81) and led the NHL in power-play goals with 18. In five postseason games that season, he scored six points. During a lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Neal appeared in 40 games and scored 36 points. That spring, Neal played in 13 playoff games and scored 10 points. Last season, injuries and suspensions limited Neal to 59 games and 61 points. He appeared in 13 playoff games and netted four points. During the 2014 offseason, he was traded to the Predators in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. In 199 regular season games with the Penguins, Neal has scored 184 points, 42nd-most in franchise history. In 38 postseason games, he has scored 22 points. He is currently a member of the Predators.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Michal Rozsival. A fourth-round pick in 1996, Rozsival spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1999-2000, Rozsival appeared in 75 games and contributed 21 points. He would see action in two postseason games that spring but failed to score a point. Rozsival was limited to 30 games and five points in 2000-01. He rebounded in 2001-02 by playing in 79 games and scoring 29 points, most among the team's defensemen. Injuries limited to 53 games and 10 points in 2002-03. After missing the entire 2003-04 season due to a knee injury, Rozsival joined Trinec in his native Czech Republic. In 237 games with the Penguins, Rozsival scored 65 points. He was a member of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup championship team last season.

-Today would've been the 83rd birthday of former Penguins coach Marc Boileau (right). Replacing Ken Schinkel midway through the 1973-74 season, Boileau coached the Penguins for parts of three seasons. He finished 1973-74 by 14-10-4. The team finished in fifth place in the West Division and missed the postseason. In 1974-75, the Penguins went 37-28-15 and finished in third place in the Norris Division. The 37 wins stood as a franchise record until 1988-89. The team reached the postseason and swept the Blues, 2-0, in a preliminary round series. Despite leading the Islanders 3-0 in a quarterfinal series, the Penguins lost the series, 4-3, and became the second NHL team in history to lose a best-of-seven series after leading it 3-0. The Penguins stumbled to a 15-23-5 record in 1975-76 and Boileau was replaced mid-season by his predecessor, Schinkel. In 151 regular season games with the Penguins, "The Shark" had a 66-61-24 record. He died Dec. 27, 2000 at the age of 68.

-Today would've been the 66th birthday of former Penguins forward Brian "Spinner" Spencer (right). Acquired prior to the 1977-78 season in a deal which sent Ron Schock to the Sabres, Spencer spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He appeared in 79 games and scored 20 points in 1977-78. His final NHL season was 1978-79 and he was limited to seven games and no points. Early in the season, he was loaned to Binghamton of the AHL. In 86 games with the Penguins, Spencer scored 20 points. Spencer, whose father was shot and killed after he threatened a CBC television station in British Columbia at gunpoint for not showing a Maple Leafs game featuring his son, was shot and killed himself following a failed drug deal, Oct. 3, 1988 at the age of 38.

(Photos: Post-Gazette and Penguins Hockey Cards)

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Pat Narduzzi doesn't believe in your allergies, and other notes from the ACC conference call

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pat Narduzzi made his regular season debut on the ACC coaches conference call today, and he did so with a great anecdote about his time coaching with Syracuse's Scott Shafer when the two were assistants at Rhode Island in the early 90's. I'll let Narduzzi take it from there...

NARDUZZI: "I could tell you the kiwi story if you really wanted a good story, have you heard the kiwi story? You have not heard the kiwi story?

"We're sitting in defensive meetings, and you get to know your coaches. You become like brothers, and I feel like Scott is a brother to me. So one day he was telling me how he's allergic to kiwi, and my wife, she would always give me a kiwi. We packed lunch back in the days; you didn't have anybody bringing your lunch in.

"Well, Scott is like, 'I'm allergic to kiwi.' I'm like, 'No, he's not.' So one day before practice I take a kiwi peel — you know, you peel off a kiwi — and I rubbed it on the front of his desk and I rubbed it on phone because I figured he'd call someone at lunchtime. So at lunchtime he went back to his office.

"About 1:00 I come in, we're scripted for practice, and I walk in there and his eyes are swollen shut. Now, he's the DB coach. It's nice at practice to be able to see your DBs, right? And he's like, 'Man, something happened.' I'm like, 'You are allergic to kiwi.'

"So his wife ripped my butt that day. I think that's the first time I've gotten yelled at by a coach's wife. She had to bring him some Benadryl. So make sure when you guys are up here, you don't bring any kiwi into your press conference."

Narduzzi and Shafer are good friends now, so it's obviously water under the bridge, but still a funny story and a reminder that you shouldn't tell Pat Narduzzi about you allergies.

A few other notes from the call..

- Narduzzi is convinced his players are closer as a team than they were when he came in in December, but said it won't really be tested until the games start.
"I don't think you really know know know until adversity strikes — whether that be in the third quarter of the Youngstown game or the first quarter of Akron — if they really buy in," he said. "But right now, they're all in because really we haven't faced adversity. I really believe we've built a closer team here through the offseason, through what we call our "Fourth Quarter" program in the winter, all the way through the summer, what we call our "Victor's Edge" program. We've built a closer team than I think they were, and I think they believe that."

- Narduzzi said there isn't a huge difference from preparing for a game as a head coach versus doing so as a coordinator, but that it does let him take more of a big-picture look at things.
"It's really that preparation during the week, where you're putting the defense in a great position to be successful," he said. "The same thing goes on offense and special teams. It's really no different. I guess I don't have the day-to-day pressures of making sure we get through a certain down and distance or a field position that we're going to do. That's the biggest difference, I guess."

- As usual, he got the question about facing Youngstown State, the school where his dad coached and he played one season.
"It is amazing that [my dad]'s up in the big press box up above and we get to play against our old team, a team you grew up rooting for and really being a Penguin," he said. "I could sing the fight song if you wanted. There's some great memories there."

- Narduzzi was asked about how he felt about Pitt's quarterback position, and gave a little bit of the thought process behind them picking up quarterback Nathan Peterman this offseason.
"In the spring we really didn't have a backup that we really felt good with, and Adam Bertke is a great kid but not where we need him to be to play championship football, so we were able to go out — I think we had two scholarship quarterbacks in spring ball — and then we were able to go out and I guess get a free agent in Nathan Peterman from the University of Tennessee, so it was a good signee. Nathan will be our backup right now, and I think as a staff we feel comfortable with him as a starter or a backup."

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Countdown to Friday Night Lights -- Class A and City League previewl

Written by Mike White on .

Last in a series previewing the four classes in the WPIAL and also the City League.

Before we get to the Class A and City League previews, in case you missed, the Class AAA and AA previews appeared earlier as did Class AAAA.

Now, onto ...


By The Numbers

Top returning statistical leaders from last season (regular season statistics only):


Anthony Welsh, Beth-Center - 102 carries for 1,426 yards


Lamont Wade, Clairton - 24 TDs, 14 points on conversions, 158 total points


Jason Dambach, Riverside - 121 of 227 for 1,857 yards and 14 TDs


Xavier Reed, Wilkinsburg - 45 receptions for 714 yards

Zach Chandler

Fab 5

Zach Chandler, Avonworth - Chandler (pictured above) missed all but three games at the beginning of last season with a broken foot. But he threw for more than 700 yards in those three games. He's back for his senior season, hoping for big things.

Frank Antuono, Neshannock - You haven't seen many 6-4, 220-pound QBs in Class A, but that's Antuono. Last season as a sophomore, Antuono threw for 1,750 yards and ran for 483.

Mario Latronica, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic - Rushed for more than 700 yards last season. With P.J. Fulmore and Jerome Turner gone, Latronica could have a big season.

Aaron MathewsAaron Mathews, Clairton, QB-WR-DB - One of the most heavily-recruited receivers in the state. But Mathews (pictured to the left) will play quarterback this season, the same position he played as a sophomore.

Lamont Wade, Clairton, RB-DB - Set a WPIAL single-season rushing record last season. ranks him the No. 1 junior cornerback in the country. Has more than a dozen major-college offers.

The rankings

1. Clairton (15-1) - Overwhelming choice as the No. 1 team. Set a state record for most points in a single season last year. Will be more of the same this year.

2. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (11-1) - Will there be terrible towels waving at North's games? Oh sorry. My bad. But former Steeler Jason Gildon is in his first year as coach.

3. Neshannock (11-1) - The Lancers lost a lot last year, but coach Fred Mozzocio just might have a program now that can sustain winning.

4. Avonworth (11-2) - The Antelopes have Chandler, but much, much more.

5. Greensburg Central Catholic (5-5) - The Centurions might return to prominence this season.

6. Jeannette (9-2) - You can bet the Jayhawks don't like being ranked behind Greensburg C.C.

7. Brentwood (6-4) - The Spartans could ride the Carr to good things. Pat Carr rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.

8. Shenango (8-4) - A number of starters return from a 7-4 team.

9. Beth-Center (9-1) - The Bulldogs, featuring RB Anthony Welsh, should win the Tri-County South Conference again, but will the Tri-County go winless in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season?

10. Riverside (6-5) - Jason Dambach (6-5) will put up big passing statistics.

City League preview

By The Numbers


James Jackson, Allderdice - 12 touchdowns, 2 points on a conversion for 74 points.


James Jackson, Allderdice - 55 of 115 for 16 touchdowns and 1,100 yards.


Tim Jackson, Allderdice - 39 receptions for 738 yards

Fab 5

Kenny Robinson, University Prep, WR-DB - Was a big-play receiver last year as a sophomore. Already has offers from Pitt and West Virginia.

Therran Coleman, Brashear, QB-DB - Recruited by major colleges as a cornerback, Coleman (pictured) made a verbal commitment to Pitt Sunday. Also will be a big key for Brashear as a QB.

James Jackson, Allderdice, QB-DB - Threw for 1,282 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Committed to Toledo to play possibly receiver or DB.

Tim Jackson, Allderdice, WR-DB - James' twin brother, Tim averaged 18 yards a catch last year. Has a few Division I offers.

Kahlil Sanders, Brashear, RB-DB - Was leading rusher for City League champs last year. Made all-City.

The rankings

1. Brashear - Many are picking Allderdice as the team to beat, but Brashear has enough returning to repeat.

2. Allderdice - With the Jackson twins and some other talent, the Dragons certainly have enough to win their first City League title in 48 years.

3. University Prep - It's a pretty close three-horse race for No. 1 in the City League. This team's fortunes could rest on how well Shawn Rutherford does at QB after transferring from Perry.

Speaking of Perry, don't sleep on the Commodores. They could be much improved from last year's 2-5 team.

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