The Savannah State Athletic Director Sure Does Hate His Football Team

Illustration for article titled The Savannah State Athletic Director Sure Does Hate His Football Team

Or least that's the way it looks in the short-term. Partly as an investment in the future, Savannah State has offered itself up as a cupcake to far better teams this season, and has proven itself thus far a rich, artisanal cupcake, with delicate pink frosting and cinnamon accents. The program's first loss of the season came last week against Oklahoma State in a game with the biggest pre-game point-spread (62) ever. The Cowboys surpassed that differential with 11:30 remaining in the third quarter, eventually winning 82-0. After the game, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy fended off accusations of running up the score and answered questions like, "How difficult is it, especially looking across the sidelines as the game goes on?" ("It's extremely difficult," he replied.) There's an explanation for the game from the Oklahoma State perspective here—conference realignment led some programs with which Oklahoma State had long-standing deals to renege, so they could fit in more conference games—but it also makes the game sound like a snafu, the product of a lot of unusual circumstances.


That's apparently not the case: Savannah State will take their sad Charlie Brown act into Tallahassee today for a game against Florida State which has an early line of 69.5 points, after dropping from 70.5. It's not clear who exactly is keeping track of these things, but it's evidently the largest spread ever.

After last week, Savannah State coach Steve Davenport said, "In retrospect, we probably bit off a bit more than we could chew," which is also what Zanzibar said after the Anglo-Zanzibar War.

For the games, Savannah State's athletic department will come away with $860,000 ($385,000 from Oklahoma State, $475,000 from Florida State), which is a nice lump of money (Forbes says it increases the team's revenue by 60%) but a lot less than other programs requested. Both Florida State and Oklahoma State cited Savannah as a reasonable choice for an early game partly because the program is a relatively cheap date—some teams were demanding over a million from Oklahoma State to get drubbed at the beginning of the season. The New York Times has a good rundown of what's in it for the generally woebegone Tigers (it includes the line, "[T]he gloom that has surrounded the team for more than a decade seemed to lift only for moments of almost surrealistic lunacy"), but some of it—which relates largely to an unfortunate recent history and hopes for a better future on the horizon—must be hard to grasp when you're down 70 in the third quarter. While there's a clear reason to schedule these games for Savannah State, the money largely goes to turning around the program in the long-term, meaning the players currently suiting up today are essentially sacrificial lambs. Spare a thought today for the kids who not only have to deal with being in Tallahassee, but also with a second consecutive week of athletic de-pantsing.

If you get bored watching Jimbo Fisher and Florida State try to be polite during their well-attended, full-contact practice today, you can switch over to No. 13 Wisconsin away at Oregon State, No. 2 USC, who trudged to East Rutherford to play Syracuse, or No. 7 Georgia, in hostile territory at Mizzou.

Correction: The College Gameday crew accurately noted that Savannah State forfeited $200,000 to the University of Northern Iowa (as part of an exit-fee agreement that was written into the original contract) in order to take the Florida State game instead. That brings their intake from the first two weeks down to $660,000, and reduces the NYT estimate as to the percentage of the annual athletics budget accounted for by the games against Oklahoma State and Florida State.


Savannah State A Record 70 1/2 Point Underdog Against No. 6 Florida State [Corrected To 69 1/2 In Text] [AP]