Friday, November 9, 2007

The pay is good, if you can get it

What's a guarantee game against a Southeastern Conference team worth to a program like Jacksonville State?

Depending on whom you play, when you want to play them and how long you can hold out to get them, it means big bucks.

And if you get a win out of it, like Gardner-Webb did against Kentucky Wednesday night, it can be worth a lot more. OK, the GW-Kentucky thing was in a tournament situation, but you get the idea.

The Gamecocks picked up a check in the neighborhood of $65,000 for opening their season at Georgia Friday night. Not bad work for a three-hour bus ride.

If the Gamecocks hadn't finished their schedule so soon - way sooner than when it was announced - it probably could've gotten more than what it wrangled from the Bulldogs.

As it was, they wanted to play the first Friday night of the season, and Georgia had the date, so the game was made.

"Had we waited until August to knock it down, there were people offering 80-85 (thousand)," JSU coach Mike LaPlante said. "But once you get to that point in time, you're not going to be able to be selective on the dates."

The payday is comparable to the best the Gamecocks have ever gotten for basketball. It represents a shade over 10 percent of what the program spends.

And the ante has risen substantially since LaPlante scheduled Kentucky and Auburn at the start of his first season with JSU. The Gamecocks pulled down a little more than $40,000 for those; the Missouri Valley is paying more than that now.

"The market back then was 40," LaPlante said.

Now, the conversation doesn't even start until you're talking 50-55K.

"That's the least I would ever play (for)," LaPlante said. "I don't think I would even play now for less than 60 to one of these SEC schools, because that's what the market pays."

Selective memory?

According to the Georgia notes, Friday night's game was the first ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks.

But JSU lists a victory -- one of only two against SEC competition -- in the third game of the 1959-60 season.

Georgia lists a 6-0 record over Ohio Valley Conference schools, but one of those victories -- an 85-68 win over Murray State in the 2002 NCAA Tournament -- was later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Dawgs also have beaten Eastern Kentucky, Samford, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech (twice).

Debut delayed

Zack Winston's debut with the Gamecocks will be delayed until at least Monday. The 6-6 freshman forward from Mobile missed Friday's game because of a death in the family.

He played nine minutes in the exhibition victory over West Georgia, scoring three points -- all from the foul line -- and grabbing a rebound.

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