With the announcement that Will Muschamp is heading to Auburn and him earning somewhere between $1.6 and $1.8 million, something has become abundantly clear, the college football arms race has officially reached a new level.
Think back 15-20 years ago. The only games on TV were the large national games, big rivalries, and Notre Dame. TV contracts were virtually non-existent, and the bowl system was much, much smaller.
Flash forward to today. Every directional school in the United States is on TV. We have Fox Sports 2, ESPNU, and conference networks. It used to be that simply being on TV, having a sold out stadium, and tradition meant that you would have the upper hand. That is no longer the case.
While the Sooners question the merits of Tim Kish, Bobby Jack Wright, and Josh Heupel, the Auburn Tigers just took the game to another level.
We are seeing the next step by the truly upper echelon programs: the best facilities, coaches, and everything that money can buy.
The gap between the haves and have-nots decreased over the past decade. Just ten years ago programs such as Baylor and TCU were virtually non-existent on the college football landscape. Now they are competing and succeeding at the highest of levels. Further these teams have closed the gap in terms of talent and facilities. 10 years ago it was unthinkable to lose a recruit to Baylor or TCU, now it's becoming the norm. Baylor and TCU just completed new stadiums and major renovations.
Schools such as Auburn are simply taking their game to an entirely different level. Muschamp's hiring just proves the point. In order to continue to win and win at the highest level, programs such as Auburn have determined (and rightfully so) that to maintain the edge they have had, hires such as Muschamp must be made or they risk dropping back to the pack and becoming just another part of the group.
Think back to Stoops assistant coaches. Stoops coaching tree at once was growing and producing fruit nearly every year. From Leach to Long and Sumlin to Wilson, Norman used to be a regular stopping point for AD's looking for the next man to lead their program. Now that tree has all but dried up and shriveled.
The on the field results for Auburn's defense this year were less than stellar. They finished 59th in total defense (6 spots worse than OU) and had been embarrassed in the Iron Bowl giving up an unheard of 55 points to Alabama. That might not be seen as a bad loss but the Tigers gave up 38, 41, 34, and 55 points in their 4 losses.
The gap between the haves and have-nots had closed and the Tigers didn't set pat. They acted and Muschamp was the result. The Sooners sit in a similar position, and the question is what will they do?
Here is where I see the Sooners and the Tigers. The Sooners are learning to add and subtract, while programs such as Auburn are teaching the subject.
This should hopefully be an interesting offseason and should go a long ways to determining the future of the Sooners program.
Will the Sooners join the arms race or simply become a part of the group?