Blog Entry

Big Time Results Requires Big Time Investment

Posted on: December 15, 2008 12:52 pm

Brady Hoke's decision to take the San Diego State head football coach decision this week has opened many eyes and prompted more than a few questions.  I think it also shines a bright light on a major flaw within the Ball State program.

Ball State was the class of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) this season while San Diego State was a bottom feeder in the Mountain West Conference (MWC).  Both schools are considered "mid-majors" as members of non-BCS conferences.  So why would Brady Hoke leave a successful mid-major program he built from the ground up for another mid-major for arguably an even greater rebuilding challenge?

I think there are a few reasons.  

1. Economics.  After the 2007 season, Ball State extended Hoke's contract and gave him a raise bringing his annual salary to $240,000.  Even with this raise, Hoke was still only the 8th highest paid coach in the MAC.  San Diego State is reportedly offering a salary of $700,000 - nearly tripling Hoke's present salary. 

2. University Commitment to Football.  San Diego State is focused on "big time" college football and no doubt is expecting Hoke to bring back some of the Aztec glory days of old.  There is no comparison when you look at where Ball State prioritizes football, and athletics in general.  Ball State doesn't even supply coaches offices.  Part of what I believe Hoke was insisting on in addition to a raise for himself was a coaches office complex be built and significant salary increases for his assistant coaches.  While it was rumored Ball State was prepared to offer Hoke a new salary of $350K, still half what SDSU was offering, there was no mention of an office complex to be built or substantial raises for assistants. 

3. Family.  The Hokes' daughter recently moved to Arizona so a move west would keep the family closer together.

The Hoke situation illustrates that while the MAC and the MWC are mid-major, non-BCS conferences, the MWC is light years ahead when it comes to University committment to the football programs and head coaching compensation.  Below is a comparison taken from the College Sports Report website.


Ball State - $170K (website doesn't reflect the recent raise to $240k)

Akron - $244K

Bowling Green - $184K

Buffalo - $191K

Central Michigan - $266K

Eastern Michigan - $196K

Kent State - $170K

Miami (OH) - $144K

Northern Illinois - $305K

Ohio University - $269K

Temple - $575K

Toledo - $313K

Western Michigan - $266K


Air Force - $572K

BYU - $$ Not Available

Colorado State - $550K

New Mexico - $440K

San Diego State - $717K

TCU - $1,219K

UNLV - $439K

Utah - $678K

Wyoming - $551K

Here is the link to the website that lists all of the conferences.

If Ball State and other Mid-American conference programs expect to keep pace on the field of play with other mid-major schools like the MWC and the WAC, they are going to have to place a greater emphasis - and greater resources - on their football programs.  There has been significant reluctance to do so at Ball State, which is reflected throughout the program.

Scheumann Stadium for example, was built in 1967.  It has just in the past 2 years, received it's first expansion and upgrading of any kind.  It still seats something less than 25,000 people and it has been dressed up nicely but it still lags in the MAC in both size and amenities.  Coaches do not have office space and are forced to find corners in rooms wherever they can to use as makeshift "offices".

Ball State is in the midst of a major $200 million capital campaign.  I can assure you, none of the funds will be earmarked for the football program.  It simply doesn't make the cut when it comes to priorities.  However, this lack of funding priority doesn't stop the administration from demanding excellence from the program.  They make it clear they expect a winner but aren't willing to make the required investment to do so.  I might want to drive a Lexus but unless I make the investment, I won't be. 

Ball State lost a quality football coach today and they have only themselves to blame.  When your best offer is half what the other guy's beginning offer is, you've got a big problem.  If Ball State wants to narrow the gap that exists between them and the top mid-major programs in the country, they need to start with dramatically increasing the financial commitment to the football program. 

They have just completed a fantastic season - one they can build upon for the future.  They need to take full advantage of this success and take the necessary steps to ensure this wasn't a one time fluke.  Falling back into mediocrity is the easy way and the likely end result of keeping things business as usual.  Stepping up and seizing this opportunity for greatness requires vision and courage on the part of the President and administration.  Previous administrations haven't had it when it comes to the football program.  Let's hope this time it will be different, although based on what I've seen thus far, it isn't.





Category: NCAAF

Since: Nov 3, 2008
Posted on: December 17, 2008 8:06 pm

Big Time Results Requires Big Time Investment

Good article Flame – I would have to agree that you hit the nail on the head for all three issues here.  I did some simple research and found that in 2007 San Diego St. sold a little over 300K tickets while Ball St. sold on 112K. It has to be hard for a building team to compete against those numbers. This will be a never ending issue for a team like Ball St.

I know that 700K for Mr. Hoke should be more than enough to survive but $700K in San Diego is like $350 in Muncie Indiana.

In San Diego however he will have much larger exposure and if he is able to turn the program around there then he will have a bigger springboard.

I wish Ball St. all the luck in their search for their coach.

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