The Horned Frogs' head coach gives a rundown of the first day of spring football. cmendez@star-telegram.com
The Horned Frogs' head coach gives a rundown of the first day of spring football. cmendez@star-telegram.com

Mac Engel

TCU keeping pace with GP, and other sports musings

May 06, 2017 4:03 PM

As we all look under our respective couch cushions, or try to catch the Tooth Fairy to extort an extra dime or dollar, it might be time to consider that the best move is to become a college football coach.

This week the University of Texas approved the contract for coach Todd Orlando at $1.09 million. He’s the defensive coordinator.

By comparison, in 1994, TCU thought giving head football coach Pat Sullivan a raise was a good idea, and increased his annual compensation package to $300,000 per year. That was money well spent.

Then, in 1997, it decided it no longer wanted Sullivan as its coach; it gave Dennis Franchione a seven-year contract worth a total of $2.8 million.

And this week it was reported that TCU pays Gary Patterson $5.1 million to coach its football team, which is not even half of what Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.25 million) makes.

Many college athletic directors are wondering how much longer cable TV can support a business model that has exploded in the last 20 years. Even if it stays flat, the real winners are the coaches.

The moral of the story? Momma let your babies grow up to be head football coaches. Until the market collapses. Then raise them to sell medical equipment.

These and other self-important ramblings from a quieter week in sports ...

• On Thursday evening in downtown Fort Worth, Topgolf opened its door for a VIP party that included Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs LaDainian Tomlinson, Tony Dorsett, chef Tim Love and some spare actor from Big Brother with a pretty girlfriend.

Founded in 2000 in the UK, Topgolf continues to widen its international footprint, and stomp all over the traditional game. The spot in Fort Worth is the 29th in the U.S., and multiple locations are expected to open soon in Mexico and Australia.

It’s not golf. It’s more like bowling with golf clubs.

Golf traditionalists are not big fans of Topgolf, because it has people confused for what the game actually entails. Golf, of course, is a game of maddening skill, anger management, nuance, frustration, touch, annoyance, power, disgust, feel, rage, and precision. Topgolf offers an array of games that reward “getting close.”

Rather than dismissively thumb their nose at it, however, the PGA would be wise to use Topgolf as a means to attract “those darn millennials” to a course for nine-holes or even 18 holes.

Topgolf is not golf, but it is a highly entertaining evening. It can also be sales pitch to conventional golf rather than a deterrent.

• By letting the majority of their free agents walk, the Dallas Cowboys continue to try to re-shape their attitude toward personnel much like the New England Patriots.

The first step was letting free agents go and replacing them with younger players in the draft. You have likely noticed the team finally gave up signing high-priced veteran free agents. The last was the 5-year, $50 million deal for Brandon Carr in 2012.

The next step in this evolution is to try to flip aging pieces in return for younger ones. Clearly they haven’t mastered this step.

The Cowboys tried that in dangling defensive back Orlando Scandrick, reportedly asking for a third-round pick in return for the 30-year-old player. This is something the Patriots would do.

He’s a 10-year veteran who plays with an attitude and an edge. A fifth-round pick from Boise State, he made a nice career for himself.

Now, when we hold a garage sale we’d all like to grab an extra dollar or two, but slapping a third-round pick as the price for Scandrick is like asking $10 for a used broom.

• Speaking of the Cowboys, they have their rookie mini-camp this week and the most-watched player will be a second-year pro.

Linebacker Jaylon Smith will be the most intriguing “rookie” in the NFL this season, far ahead of Taco Charlton, Joe Mixon or any recent recent draftee.

Smith missed all of his rookie season recovering from a torn ACL, and the Cowboys continue to sell that his knee is recovering. Then they also say he will wear a brace for drop foot.

Until he plays in a game, or practice, or at full speed and is able to hit other players, which won’t happen until training camp in July, we should all be leery.

It’s been well over a year since he suffered that unfortunate injury in Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl game, his last as a collegian.Despite the considerable advances of modern medicine, this may be one of those injuries that prevents him from returning to the status of when he was projected as a top-five pick.

• Because the Dallas Stars can’t get their stuff together you likely missed that they were one of the winners in the NHL draft lottery. The Stars moved up five spots and will pick third in an NHL draft next month that is considered not great.

The last time this franchise had a pick this high was 1988 and the team was still in Minnesota. In that draft, it wasted the No. 1 overall selection on a bum who could barely skate, let alone play — Mike Modano.

• Through Friday’s games, Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is batting .247; that would be his second-best batting average with the team since he signed that memorable seven-year, $130 million contract in 2014.

• The Dallas Mavericks need a point guard in the NBA Draft, but do not be surprised if they select Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen next month. He’s a 7-footer who shoots 3-pointers. And he’s European. The Mavs did pretty well the last time they acquired a skinny, blond, seven-footer from Europe who was the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft.

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