Mitch Vingle: IMG, baseball, Huggins’ salary
Comparatively, it’s a less-crazy time of year in sports.
It’s always, always crazy, but, at the moment, less so.
And it’s allowed for a bit of reflection.
I remembered that, over the past months, a bunch of folks complained about WVU television and radio football and basketball coverage.
There certainly was change. And whenever there is change, there is complaining.
Yet some of the complaining seemed well founded after IMG College won the Mountaineers’ Tier 3 multimedia rights.
There were complaints that games were hard to find on TV. Sometimes it was like trying to find the pea in a shell game. There were complaints that areas of the Mountain State weren’t sufficiently served in regard to radio.
Part of the latter frustration was because people don’t like change. West Virginia Radio Corporation stations, which number 26, have the state blanketed. It also used to have the university’s game rights via the Mountaineer Sports Network.
You know the rest of the story. When the multimedia rights were put up for bid, IMG College won with an $86.5 million, 12-year offer. Those at West Virginia Radio were upset. They went to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who nixed the first bidding process, and then, after IMG won the second, they went to the courts.
The result: West Virginia Radio stations — many with powerful signals — were on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, some stations with weaker signals won the right to take over.
“I thought it went fine,” said Mike Egan, general manager of WVU IMG. “There was a learning curve, sure, but overall it went fine.”
Egan wouldn’t comment further until he checked with his bosses. (Sometimes corporations really over-think this public relations stuff.) WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, however, expounded.
“I think given the circumstances IMG did as good a job as could be expected,” Luck said. “They had a late start. They couldn’t get going until July.
“Certainly there were holes in the network, but I know they’ve been working hard in the last few months.”
Although many, especially in the Wheeling area, had difficulties finding some Mountaineer television games, Luck seemed satisfied in regard to TV.
“With IMG, West Virginia Media, Root and the Big 12 TV package we’re in much better shape than we have been,” Luck said. “The women’s [basketball] team has been much better off. And next year every [Big 12] men’s game will be on one of the ESPN networks.
“Where IMG really has work to do is [in regard to] radio.”
So fans’ frustrations have been noted. Luck, though, said he’d rather work out the few bugs than not have the IMG deal in place.
“Because of the money guaranteed by the Big 12 and IMG we’re able to put together that $75 million [for athletics] bond to make improvements that are much needed,” he said.
It’s kind of a shame WVU’s baseball team only has one more appearance at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park this season — the rescheduled meeting with Marshall for April 30.
There seems to be much more interest in the baseball program than I can remember in my 23 years covering the school’s athletic teams.
“It used to bother me that after the basketball season people here would say there’s nothing to do,” Luck said. “Why they didn’t go see baseball always bothered me. Well, now baseball [at WVU] has improved. It’s good to see people interested.”
And finally . . .
You know how some chirp about Luck spending money to improve WVU athletics?
Well, here’s something for those to chew on. Sometime during the ongoing NCAA men’s basketball tournament, USA Today published the annual salaries of the 68 coaches involved.
According to it, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is making $9,862,032.
Is that Krzy or what?
Coach K is making a whopping $3.9 million more than second-place Rick Pitino of Louisville.
So complain about the last couple of WVU seasons if you wish, but Bob Huggins’ current $3.1 million salary is a comparative bargain for a man with 739 wins.
Had WVU been in the tournament and Huggins on that list, he would have been slotted ninth behind Krzyzewski, Pitino, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, UCLA’s Steve Alford and Ohio State’s Thad Matta.
Yep, behind Steve Alford.
So there ya go.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.