Washington proves “punting is winning”
For the Washington Huskies, scoreboards and football fields are a painful reminder of a season passed. In Tyrone Willingham’s final year, they were the only FBS program to finish winless. Their twelve losses were a record amount for a Pac 10 program, and when you include the tail end of the 2007 season, it stretches to 14, the longest current losing streak in the nation.
In last year’s Labor Day contest between UCLA and Tennessee, Rick Neuheisel provided a sound bite, expressing to his team that “punting is winning”. That phrase spawned many jokes, and the Bruins finished the year punting more than any team in conference, booting the ball back to opponents 14 more times (and winning 4 more games) than the Washington Huskies.
But despite the zero in the win column, and an offense ranked 116th in the nation, Washington’s punts did produce somewhat of a victory on paper. The Huskies finished the year as the worst FBS football program, but only 4 Pac 10 schools had more earnings for the period of 2007-2008.
It’s no surprise that the passive marketing of the Pac 10 results in programs showing less earnings than other BCS conferences. Even with all the success at USC, the Trojans placed just 19th nationally in total earnings ($76,409,919), and below Pac 10 leading Stanford. Washington, the school hosting the most miserable football program in the country, earned $60,729,016 during the period, the 33rd most in the nation.
To put the numbers in perspective, the winless Huskies showed more earnings than ACC champion Virginia Tech ($56,029,172), Miami ($46,849,990), Florida State ($45,414,953), and the only undefeated program in the country, Utah ($26,949,005).
This may not satisfy the fans or boosters wanting trophies and respect. But when it comes to athletic departments, victories are best served in green. Punting is winning, if you maintain your earning potential. The Washington AD is often criticized for the bold scheduling of a program in shambles, but those high profile games shown on national television are worth a pretty penny. They may not beat the Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame or LSU’s of the world, but paper victories lie in the shadows.
[Source: Orlando Sentinel | View total earnings for FBS schools]