Daily Archives: December 30, 2007

He’s paid for insight like this.

Stewart Mandel can’t really be as naïve as he comes off sometimes, can he?

… SMU’s interest in Jones makes perfect sense. His run-and-shoot offense helped Hawaii make a dramatic turnaround as soon as he arrived in 1999 (jumping from 0-12 to 9-4) and would almost certainly lift the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984 (pre-death penalty). I’m sure the school has some deep-pocketed boosters that could float him a sweetheart deal.

I just don’t understand why Jones would want to go there. Not only is he at home, he’s a guaranteed hero there for as long as he coaches. I could see him leaving to take another stab at the NFL, but not to take over a struggling Conference USA program. Maybe I’m being naïve.

According to Coaches Hot Seat blog, June Jones currently ranks 66th nationally in total compensation, at $800,000.00 per year (his contract is set to expire).  Further, according to USA Today, Jones’ salary at Hawaii ($400,008 ) is less than the salary of fired SMU coach Phil Bennett’s ($495,602).

But that’s not where the story ends.  According to the Dallas Morning News, SMU boosters have reportedly raised something like $10 million for salaries for their new head coach and staff.

So, no, that’s not naïvete, Stewart.  That’s total freaking cluelessness.

By the way, good news for us Dawg fans – Mandel blogs that he’s at “the New Orleans Marriott/Convention Center, media headquarters for Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl and next Monday’s BCS Championship game — and, in turn, my home for the next 10 days.”  We’ve got a lot more keen analysis to look forward to.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles

“Who wants another iPod?”

I’ve said it before, but as a group if there’s a more clueless bunch than collegiate sports administrators when it comes to handling money, I’d love to see ‘em. Maybe Congress in all of its infinite wisdom is worse, but it’s a closer call than you’d think.

Read an article like this and you realize why coaches’ salaries are out of control all over the country. Start with these three profiles in fiscal prudence:

Northern Illinois, 2006 Poinsettia Bowl: NIU sent 434 people to San Diego, costing the school about $916,800 in expenses. The school’s share of the payout was $598,901, leaving NIU with a $317,898 deficit, more than the school spent last year on six of its nine women’s sports combined.

Ohio University, 2006 GMAC Bowl: Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich led Ohio to its first bowl appearance since 1968. The celebration in Athens, however, was short-lived. A $277,550 bowl deficit was more than an athletic department already awash in red ink and facing Title IX sanctions could take. The university was forced to dip into general reserve funds to pay the bowl tab and just weeks after the game the school dropped track, swimming and lacrosse, leaving 383 athletes without teams. Ohio spent less than $200,000 annually on the three dropped programs.

Texas A&M, 2006 Holiday Bowl: The Aggies ran up a Texas-sized deficit — $489,978 — in San Diego. A&M’s awards expenditures explain some of the red ink. The Aggies spent nearly as much on awards for players and staff — $133,645 — as Florida and Ohio State did combined. Two years earlier, A&M spent $198,395 on awards at the Cotton Bowl.

As you read the article, it is obvious that the level of fiscal mismanagement is staggering. Even worse, it’s accelerating.

…Nearly half the schools competing in last year’s 32 bowl games lost money, according to the Register study that also reviewed conference financial documents, NCAA bowl records and athletic department financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Education for all 120 universities in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A.

The 64 teams playing in postseason games last season had combined bowl expenses of $69.7 million, a $16.8 million increase from just four years earlier. [Emphasis added.]

And as much as some of these schools’ administrators want to bitch and moan about how they’re expected to carry the bowl mandated expenses of hotel rooms and meals that they don’t really need, what comes across over and over again is how little self control these institutions have.

“Bowls used to be a celebration of success,” former NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey said. “Now you have 6-6 teams going to bowls. And they’re taking everybody under the sun that has ever had anything to do with the university.”

For last year’s Sun Bowl, Oregon State and Missouri paid for 1,186 people to make the trip to El Paso. Wisconsin took three Bucky Badger mascots to one recent bowl.

“I guess if the first two Buckys get too wasted on New Year’s Eve,” said Sperber, the former Drake Group chairman, “you’ve still got a third Bucky for the Rose Bowl.”

There’s a basic truth that a lot of these folks ignore in their planning: the worse the regular season finish, the less enthusiasm in the fan base for the post season. This shouldn’t be rocket science:

“It’s not just Oregon State,” Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said. “We’ve absorbed a lot of tickets for virtually everybody in the conference. Once you get below about the third-place (allocated) game, you’re not going to get a great deal of fans’ support.”

And yet, these schools take the offer year after year.

… Universities and their conferences have absorbed $51.8 million in unsold bowl tickets since 2002. In last season’s Cotton Bowl, Auburn and Nebraska were stuck with $932,040 in unsold tickets. Eighty-six percent of the schools in non-BCS games last season ate unsold tickets.

“The ticket allocating is killing us,” said Georgia Tech’s Mayfield. The Yellow Jackets ate $400,180 in unsold tickets for last year’s Gator Bowl. “When you have a season-ticket base of 25,000 and the bowl is making you sell 10,000 to 13,000 tickets, getting 50 percent of those season-ticket holders to go to a bowl can be unrealistic.”

Damn. And I thought NATS fans were falling all over themselves to get to Boise this year. And those Missouri fans complaining about getting screwed by the Orange Bowl? Take a good look in the mirror, pal.

… While Oregon State and Missouri might have paid for a lot of people to go to last year’s Sun Bowl, not many fans followed the Beavers and Tigers to El Paso. Each school was allocated 8,000 tickets. Oregon State sold 2,097, Missouri 2,025.

In fact, college football veterans said Missouri’s inability to sell more than 23 percent of its ticket allocations for its last two bowl appearances was a significant factor in the Orange Bowl choosing Kansas over the Tigers, even though Missouri beat the Jayhawks during the regular season.

Are the bowl committees being a bit greedy in mandating the hotel stays and dining expenses? Perhaps, but, just like with coaching salaries, nobody is holding a gun to the head of any school administrator. Their eagerness to participate in a bowl game is exploitable, and will continue to be as long as these schools and their conferences are willing to bear the fallout. And as much as these folks want to blame the “system” for the problem, the self-inflicted wounds are equally bloody.

…The high prices, however, haven’t stopped the party. University-financed New Year’s Eve parties, hospitality suites with 24-hour bar service, golf outings, tickets to concerts and sporting events and endless dinners and cocktail receptions have run up a combined $5.1 million tab in bowl-related entertainment over the past five seasons.

That total doesn’t include gifts schools give players, staff, administrators, boosters, sponsors and even university employee spouses and children.

Idiots.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

From the “it’s a slow news day” department:

… For the first time in his tenure, Richt will allow his team to wear different color shoelaces if they choose.

The man really has loosened up this year.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The road to the Sugar Bowl

Just to add some depth to the notion of the weakness of Hawaii’s schedule this year, consider that in its twelve games Hawaii played one BCS conference opponent (4-7 Washington), one school ranked at the time they played (#19 Boise State) and three teams playing in bowl games (Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State – all WAC schools).

But with a little digging, it’s even softer than that. Washington, by many accounts, played the toughest schedule in the nation this year and that’s apparent in that the Huskies played eleven BCS conference opponents, six ranked teams and nine bowl bound teams in its twelve games.

The eleven remaining schools on Hawaii’s schedule played a total of 130 regular season games (1-AA schools play eleven regular season games). In those 130 games, you’ll only find sixteen BCS conference opponents (12.3%), eight schools ranked at the time the games were played (6.7%) and thirteen bowl bound teams (10%). For comparison’s sake, Georgia played ten schools from BCS conferences (83.3%), four ranked schools (33%) and seven schools going to bowl games (58.3%) – in twelve regular season games, of course.

None of this guarantees a Georgia victory Tuesday night. But it does show that not only has Hawaii rarely been challenged, but that most of the Warriors’ opponents have rarely been challenged, by schools with better resources and talent pools. In other words, Georgia has much greater experience in what to expect from a quality opponent than does Hawaii. Honestly, that should matter.

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Filed under Georgia Football