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Texas cut free meals for coaches, while schools with less money even feed *me*

If SB Nation can eat free at tiny Western Kentucky, the mighty Longhorns should buy their coaches more lunches.

Chris Covatta/Getty Images

The University of Texas is the richest dang thing in college sports, yet it decided it won't pay for coaches to eat more than 30 meals in the dining hall per academic year.

Some journalists are trying to put this absurdity in perspective with numbers, but the real math of athletics budgets is often cloudy. Administrators like to obfuscate expenses in order to stay on the pious side of college athletics' amateurism debate.

So instead, I'm offering a different criticism of athletic director Steve Patterson's new dining restrictions: a history of the free meals provided to football coaches at other universities, all considerably less rich than Texas, which I've mooched in the name of journalism.

And these are just the ones I can remember.

2011, Vanderbilt: Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, now at Penn State with head coach James Franklin, carried on a tradition of meatball lunch. A fully catered meal of Italian meatballs, salad, bread and pasta came from a Maggiano's across the street from Vandy's campus:

'Call up Boston College right now. I guarantee you they're eating meatballs. Same at NC State.'

Shoop brought Meatball Thursday to Nashville from BC, where he was safeties coach under then-defensive coordinator and current head coach Frank Spaziani.

2012, Western Kentucky: I spent seven days with the Hilltoppers as they prepped to play at Alabama. From what I recall, most of the lunches were brown bag or dine out, but bagels, donuts and pizza would appear early in the morning before the all-staff meeting and late in the evening after practice (Papa John's, mainly).

I learned these afterthought pizza orders were a godsend for unpaid graduate assistants, who would score free meals to offset their 19-hour workdays. Western Kentucky even ordered pizza for reporters attending its Monday press conference.

I'm pretty certain the football offices also offered free Keurig coffee, which is no small thing for a school then in the Sun Belt. Those pods are expensive.

2013, Mississippi State: Just a day visit here. Defensive coordinator and "Swag Juice" patron Geoff Collins' staff was preparing to slow down Oklahoma State's "diamond offense," and in the middle of an hours-long meeting, the whole staff had Abner's Famous Chicken Tenders delivered.

I think Collins might've paid for this himself because he's a pretty nice guy, but I bet he doesn't have to now at Florida.

2014, Cincinnati: Last year I spent seven days at non-power Cincinnati as the Bearcats prepped to play at Ohio State. At least one meal a day was provided to coaches, and often it was two, usually breakfast items and pizza for lunch (I ate the last of the pepperoni, and when an offensive coach asked, I blamed a GA). Some coaches dined at the training table with athletes. During Tommy Tuberville's weekly press conference, UC catered a spread of pulled pork, coleslaw, tea, stewed greens and brownies.

I also took a banana and two packs of vitamin-enriched gummies from the strength and conditioning coaches in the locker room at halftime and ate popcorn from the movie-style popper in Tuberville's office.

SB Nation might owe Cincinnati some money.


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