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Afternoon musings: Who spends the most in recruiting?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon's athletic recruiting budget of $1,077,300 came up in the links this week (that includes all sports, but football is the overwhelming majority). Some surely went bug-eyed and started barking about booster Phil Knight and the extravagance of the Ducks' athletic department.

Well, this might give you more perspective.

Sure, Oregon ranked first in the Pac-10. But it was 19th overall in the nation. And keep in mind that travel out here is more challenging and expensive than in most other conferences.

The Chronicle of Higher Education story leads: "Nearly half of the nation's largest athletics programs have doubled or tripled their recruitment spending over the past decade, as their pursuit of elite athletes intensifies and becomes more national in scope."

Not surprisingly, five of the top eight were SEC schools, led by Tennessee at a whopping $2 million-and-change.

Funny how USC dominates recruiting like no other team (well, since Florida State in the 1990s), but spends way less than other elite programs.

The median number for Division I-A schools was $632,600.

The Pac-10 as a whole ranked fifth in spending among the six BCS conferences, ahead of only the Big East. (It's worth noting that the expenses were not adjusted for number of teams).

Also, folks who think this sort of spending is insanely excessive should keep in mind that these schools make a lot of money playing football. From the article: "... recruiting accounts for only a small fraction of overall athletics budgets. Among the top 20 spenders in athletics recruiting in 2007, recruiting costs ranged from 1 percent to 3 percent of total athletics spending."

The spending is exorbitant because the revenue is exorbitant.

Links anyone?

  • Here's a look at some position battles at Cal.

  • The Orange County Register provides a path to success for UCLA, despite all the Bruins issues, conveniently arranged as a series of five "if-then" statements.

  • Bob Condotta gives his perspective on how Washington will handle the absence of center Juan Garcia, who may return a few games into the season.

  • Oregon State names its captains: Seniors Victor Butler, Brandon Hughes, Andy Levitre and Sammie Stroughter.

  • RauRaur takes up the rivalry debate and explains -- from a decidedly pro-Arizona angle -- some of the reasons ASU-UA ended up No. 2 on my list. Of course, they did take issue with my ranking USC-UCLA No. 1. We at ESPN.com have been chagrined that our "Hate" project has inspired heated debate instead of casual, unanimous nodding of heads.

  • Heisman Pundit interviews USC running back Stafon Johnson. Johnson explains his nickname.

  • A Stanford training camp preview from Jon Wilner.

  • Some schools completely close practices to fans and media. There's zero real benefit to doing so during preseason or spring practices when little if any specific game preparation is going on, but a fear of spying isn't why coaches close practices. It's almost entirely about a coach's ego -- you know, "Look at me, controlling things!" USC is superior to every program that closes practices, yet it remains completely open -- going as far as to release practice schedules and officially encourage fans to come by. I'm sure the massive amount of goodwill that inspires doesn't help in recruiting.