Aug 13, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

👋 Good morning! Let's sports.

Today's word count: 1,219 ( <5 mins)

1 big thing: 💰 College coaches are richer than ever

With television revenue rolling in, Power 5 schools are engaged in a new kind of arms race, paying significantly more money than ever before to coaches in so-called non-revenue sports.

Driving the news: USA Today examined how much money each Power 5 public school paid its head coaches in 23 sports other than football and men's and women's basketball in 2013 and 2018.

  • Their findings: In that five-year span, total compensation for those coaches grew a whopping 43%, which is almost the same rate of increase that football coaches saw (51%).
  • Specific examples: The average compensation in softball increased by 62%, with 11 schools paying more than $400,000. … The average compensation in baseball rose by 51% to $651,445 … and the average compensation in wrestling grew by 55% to $266,000.

Why it matters: "[T]he fact that compensation for coaches in lower-profile, money-losing sports has been growing at a similar rate to football raises red flags for some athletics directors worried about budget crunches," per USA Today.

  • It also raises red flags for critics of the NCAA model, who look at skyrocketing salaries in non-revenue sports alongside student-athletes who haven't seen a dime and see a broken system in desperate need of repair.

The big picture: In 2005, D-I schools spent more on scholarships than on coaches and administrative pay. But since then, the latter two have pulled ahead.

  • 2005: $736 million on scholarships, $721 million on coaches pay, and $686 million on administrative pay.
  • 2018: $1.92 billion on coaches pay, $1.72 billion on administrative pay, and $1.7 billion on scholarships.
2. 📺 The sports streaming landscape
Expand chart
Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The battle to become the next big sports streamer is underway, but unlike the entertainment streaming wars, there isn't a single dominant incumbent that's captured U.S. market share, Axios' Sara Fischer and I write.

Why it matters: Sports could be more consequential than entertainment to the future of live television.

The big picture: Until more exclusive rights are freed up from linear TV contracts, streamers are focusing on a mixture of live events and niche sports content, as well as other types of sports commentary and on-demand programming.

  • DAZN has amassed roughly 4 million subscribers worldwide — focusing mostly on combat sports like boxing and UFC, but working to acquire rights to other mainstream leagues in other markets. It's backed by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik.
  • ESPN+, which launched in 2018, has 2.4 million subscribers. It has a larger presence than DAZN in the U.S., but no global footprint. ESPN+ has the rights to hundreds of events, plus a wide variety of original content, and Disney said last week it would bundle it with Disney+ and Hulu.

Other areas:

  • Authenticated streaming: Most sports leagues still sell their biggest rights packages to linear TV networks, so many events are still streamed digitally through authenticated cable and satellite subscriptions, or through digital skinny bundles like Hulu and YouTube that license network content.
  • League-specific streaming: All of the biggest U.S. sports leagues offer their own direct-to-consumer streaming plans and products.
  • Networks: Most big sports broadcasters have created their own over-the-top sports streaming apps that can be purchased standalone or as add-ons to TV packages.
3. ⚾️ Gleyber Torres' historic dominance over the Orioles

Gleyber Torres after hitting yet another bomb against the O's. Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Yankees have played the Orioles 17 times this season, and infielder Gleyber Torres has 13 HR in those games — the most ever hit against a single opponent in the divisional era (since 1969).

  • By the numbers: Torres has five multi-HR games against the Orioles and hit three dingers in yesterday's double-header sweep. Overall, he has 26 HR this season, meaning half have come against Baltimore.
  • Watch: Please pray for O's announcer Gary Thorne, who is slowly losing his mind one Torres homer at a time.
4. 🏈 Fantasy Rankings: Top 25 RBs

Alvin Kamara. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

This week, we're unveiling our 2019 Fantasy Football rankings. Click here to see Monday's QB Rankings.

  1. Alvin Kamara, Saints
  2. Saquon Barkley, Giants
  3. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
  4. David Johnson, Cardinals
  5. James Conner, Steelers
  6. Todd Gurley, Rams
  7. Le'Veon Bell, Jets
  8. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
  9. Joe Mixon, Bengals
  10. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (holdout concerns)


  • 11-15: 11. Marlon Mack (Colts), 12. Nick Chubb (Browns), 13. Dalvin Cook (Vikings), 14. Melvin Gordon (Chargers), 15. Leonard Fournette (Jaguars)
  • 16-20: 16. Josh Jacobs (Raiders), 17. Aaron Jones (Packers), 18. James White (Patriots), 19. Mark Ingram (Ravens), 20. Sony Michel (Patriots)
  • 21-25: 21. Damien Williams (Chiefs), 22. Derrick Henry (Titans), 23. Chris Carson (Seahawks), 24. Kerryon Johnson (Lions), 25. Tevin Coleman (49ers)
5. 📚 Good reads

Simone Biles. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

🥇 The Unlimited Greatness of Simone Biles (The New Yorker)

"Serena Williams does not win every tournament; Michael Phelps sometimes lost a race. Biles has not lost an all-around title in six years. In that time, she has won twenty-five medals at the Olympics and at world championships. She has been competing against only herself for a long time."

⚾️ Who's Afraid Of Gerrit Cole? Every Batter He Faces (The Ringer)

"Imagine you've come to the plate opposite Cole. … You're a major league hitter and you've done your homework: You know to expect his four-seam fastball around 50% of the time; you know he throws lots of strikes and works ahead in the count. Still, there is a 36.8% chance you'll be disposed of without so much as testing the defense."

🏈 Tom Brady And Drew Brees Have Blown Up the QB Aging Curve. What Comes Next? (FiveThirtyEight)

"If the history of old NFL quarterbacks still has meaning, the end for Brees and Brady could come gently — but more likely, it will come without warning."
6. Aug. 13, 1948: ⚾️ Paige throws complete game
Satchel Paige. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

71 years ago today, Satchel Paige threw his first complete game in the major leagues roughly one month after making his debut at age 42.

The backdrop: Paige dominated the Negro Leagues from 1926 to 1948 before reaching the long-overdue milestone of playing in the majors 15 months after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

"It was me that ought to have been first. … I'd been the guy who'd started all that big talk about letting us in the big time. I'd been the one who everybody'd said should be in the majors."
— An excerpt from Paige's memoir

The big picture: That season, Paige became the first Negro Leaguer to pitch in the World Series. And in 1971, he became the first former Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Go deeper: 4-minute doc (YouTube)

7. 🏀 NBA trivia
  • Question: Who is the only bench player in NBA history to lead the league in steals?
  • Hint: Current head coach of an Eastern Conference team.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: 🚲 U.S. cycling star wants to "break every norm"
Screenshot: Legion of Los Angeles on Instagram

After winning multiple national cycling events as a teenager, Justin Williams was tapped to be an elite American talent. But his rise to the top ultimately stalled.

  • "He grew disillusioned," writes WSJ's Jason Gay (subscription). "[A]s an African American who grew up in the inner city, Williams said he felt a 'disconnect' from the Europe-based sport and its stubborn structures."

Fast forward: Williams, now age 30, is trying to reinvent not only himself but the entire sport of cycling with Legion — his L.A.-based, social media savvy team that competes in road races throughout the U.S.

  • "Everyone grows up wanting to go race their bike in Europe and that's great but I think there's room for more than just doing the Tour de France," Williams told Cycling Weekly.
  • "My goal is just break every norm that I've had to deal with in cycling. We're going to wear Jordans. We listen to rap. ... If you can make it appealing to kids, like in the hood, that'll change what the sport looks like."

The big picture: Williams believes audiences could be attracted to criteriums or "crits" — high-intensity, multi-lapped events that "resemble Nascar on bikes, and can be held in a compact downtown course, even at night," writes Gay.

Kendall Baker

See you tomorrow,

Kendall "Football needs to start back up ASAP" Baker

Trivia answer: Pacers coach Nate McMillan (Look at these stats!)