Why you should like Eric Wolford's extension
by Joe Scalzo - "A blog about YSU Penguin athletics, not the insides of penguins." (Contact) | 155 entries
1. On Tuesday, I tweeted out the news that Youngstown State football coach Eric Wolford would get a contract extension through the 2016 season.
Two minutes later, I got this tweet, "2016 can't come fast enough."
Over the next few days, I saw a lot of similar responses, with many fans wondering whether the contract will have a buyout (I don't know yet, but I think it's likely) and whether athletic director Ron Strollo is crazy (no).
Here's my take:
A. Whether or not you believed Strollo should have given Wolford an extension, once he made that decision, it needed to be at least two years. Wolford is already under contract for the 2014 season and it makes no sense to give him a one-year extension. That would only send a message to recruits that YSU doesn't believe in him.
B. If you're someone who wants Wolford gone (and I'm not), here's my advice: Cheer for him. If Wolford can lead the Penguins to the playoffs this year, he'll likely get some interest from lower-level FBS programs. Wolford isn't like Tressel; he's not looking to stay here for 15 years. Before he got to YSU, he'd never been at any school for more than three years. I think he's grown weary of trying to out-recruit FBS schools and would welcome a jump to the FBS and the raise that comes along with it.
C. As the great sports writer Joe Posnanski once wrote, "Don't be cynical in April. That will only make August unbearable."
He wrote that about the Kansas City Royals, but I think it applies to college football, too.
(And yes, I know I'm writing this in March.)
2. Wolford's extension hasn't been finalized yet, but I expect it to be for about the same money as his previous deal.
He'll make about $215,000 in base salary this year, with another $50,000 in marketing salary (for TV/radio appearances, speaking engagements, etc.).
I'm sure he'll get a raise, but I'd be surprised if it's a major one.
3. In case you're wondering, YSU basketball coach Jerry Slocum is also locked up through 2016.
He signed a three-year extension last May and YSU has an option for the 2016-17 season. Slocum's base salary is $137,443 and, like Wolford, he can earn certain performance bonuses based on conference and postseason play. (Slocum would get a $20,000 bonus for winning the Horizon League regular season title, for instance.)
Slocum's salary is the lowest in the Horizon League, which isn't surprising since YSU's basketball budget is also the lowest in the Horizon League.
For comparison's sake, Oakland coach Greg Kampe got a $50,000 raise when the Golden Grizzlies jumped to the Horizon League last year and now makes a little over $225,000.
4. Maybe next year Kampe can use some of that money on a haircut that doesn't make him look like he's wearing a toupee.
5. I wrote a couple stories this week about YSU's quarterback competition — you can read those here and here — and after watching the four candidates at the first four practices, I can confidently say one thing: None is making you forget Kurt Hess.
6. That said, Dante Nania and Tanner Garry have both looked better than they did last spring and I've seen good things from both Nick Wargo and Ricky Davis. All of them have potential.
I'm anxious to see how they perform in a scrimmage setting, because it's hard to get a good read during practice, even in 11-on-11 situations. Basically, they'll look really good for one or two plays, then look really bad for one or two plays.
7. Wolford talked about how he handled Hess with kid gloves his freshman year, which is a bit of an exaggeration. I'm sure they pared down Shane Montgomery's playbook, but Hess still threw 304 passes in 2010, the most of his four-year career. Hess was also named the Missouri Valley newcomer of the year and freshman of the year.
As a side note, RB Jamaine Cook was never better than in 2010. Watching him made up for having to write about a lot of last-second losses that season.