• In this week's college football mailbag: an intriguing Ohio State-Michigan over/under, the AAC's revenue gap, the return of UAB and Oklahoma State's case as the nation's most fun team.
By Andy Staples
July 20, 2017

Welcome to #DearAndy, your weekly college football mailbag. For the past few years, I’ve been answering your questions only on video. Starting this week, I’ll answer some on video and some in print. (Novel concept, I know.) This should make this feature a lot easier to enjoy while you’re supposed to be working.

On to the questions….

From Nate: What is your over/under on career total wins by Jim Harbaugh over Urban Meyer? [Answer in the video atop this story.]

From Smitty: AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is very confident digital distribution to televise college football games is coming soon. Is the money there for the AAC to close the gap with the Power 5 conferences?

Digital distribution is here now. Just ask anyone who has cut the cord and uses a service such as Sling or YouTube TV, or ask anyone whose team has played games broadcast on ESPN3. But Aresco—a former TV executive—is correct that more people will get their television content delivered through their Internet pipe in the not-too-distant future, and that will provide an opportunity for leagues to reach viewers in different ways.

But will that close the revenue gap between the American and the Power 5? Probably not. The “Power” in Power 5 comes from companies’ willingness to pay huge money to broadcast the games of those five leagues. The market has shown no such love to the American, and it’s difficult to imagine that changing. If anything, the gap is more likely to narrow because of Power 5 broadcast revenues declining during the next set of media rights deals because media companies don’t have as much to spend. Of course, the Power 5 leagues are praying Amazon or Google or some other digital giant will jump in and offer the same kind of money ESPN and Fox pay now. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. But even if it does, it doesn’t mean those entities will be clamoring to throw money at the American.

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From @realbbbb​: Who will be the first coach to be ejected for receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties?

From Jeff: Being just weeks away from the return of UAB football, is there any national interest in the return and is six wins out of the question for my Blazers?

There is absolutely national interest just because of the strangeness of the situation. The university president buys a cooked report so he can kill the football team and then the community rallies to bring it back with even better facilities? That sounds like a movie. But that’s exactly what happened at UAB.

It’s tough to say what will happen in the first season back because UAB experienced a pretty big talent drain—evidenced by how well guys like Jake Ganus (Georgia) and Jamari Staples (Louisville) played at higher levels. But doubt Blazers coach Bill Clark at your own peril. Given the circumstances, his first season in 2014 was nothing short of miraculous. Then he drove the train to bring back the program and helped raise the money to put the Blazers in a better long-term position. If anyone can have UAB winning quickly, it’s Clark.

From Ben: Is Oklahoma State the most fun team in college football both on and off the field?

• From @AuburnElvis: Some CFB stadiums are moving their press boxes to less desirable sections of the stadium & converting the center press box areas into luxury seating. As someone directly affected by this, what are your opinions on this movement to increase revenue at the expense of sportswriter amenities?

That doesn’t bother me at all. It’s their stadium, and I can’t begrudge them an opportunity to maximize revenue. I’m happy to be in the building at all. If I’m not paying for a seat, how could I get mad at them for not giving me the best seats in the house? I can do my job from anywhere, so I’m not going to worry if the vantage point is a little different.

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