Daily Archives: May 12, 2008

What the market will bear

Another call for cutting football coaches’ salaries, this time from Contra Costa Times’ columnist Daniel Borenstein regarding Jeff Tedford’s contract at Cal. It’s the usual recipe made with the standard ingredients – a little sarcasm, a dash of envy, a drop or two of cluelessness mixed with a heavy portion of illogic – that results in the typical stew.

As UC struggles to maintain academic programs, as proposed state cutbacks portend increased student fees and smaller classes, it’s time to rein in wild spending by athletic programs at the state’s public universities.

So how much is Tedford costing Cal? Well, Borenstein can’t say that the head coach is costing the school anything.

UC officials will tell you that Tedford’s success before last year brought in more money and that Tedford’s compensation comes from athletic department revenues and private fundraising — that no state or general campus funds are used. Indeed, season ticket sales have more than doubled during Tedford’s reign.

But no matter. Since the school is subsidizing the athletic department as a whole, it’s appropriate to be critical of Tedford’s pay. After all, that athletic department subsidy could pay for 45 full-time instructors, Borenstein tells us.

And that’s fine. Just quit acting like this is some sort of zero sum game, such that every penny cut from Tedford’s salary (which the school couldn’t do anyway until the current seven year contract it has with the coach expires) can be directed to a specific area of academic need. That only works if the next coach the school brings in for less money – because there’s no reason the current guy who’s brought his school to a level of success unmatched for sixty plus years is going to agree to be paid less than the market allows – is able to maintain the same level of success, both on the field and in the bank, that Cal has enjoyed under Tedford. Otherwise, all that math goes out the window.

Bottom line, you pays your money and you takes your choice. If it’s financially irresponsible to pay a coach what he’s asking for, don’t do it. But keep in mind that if you find a diamond in the rough who improves your program for what you consider a reasonable salary, you can’t expect it to last forever. At some point in time, somebody with a bigger checkbook will come knocking on his door.

This whole thing reminds me of the classic quote from Babe Ruth:

“I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”
— Reported reply when a reporter objected that the salary Ruth was demanding ($80,000) was more than that of President Herbert Hoover’s ($75,000).


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

Is ‘skyrocketed’ an adjective?

Lots of coachspeak in this article about Big 12 football strategery, but one thing can’t be denied – offenses in that conference are ripping it up right now.

… The proliferation of high-powered attacks within the Big 12 — the league’s top seven offenses last season, as measured by total yardage, ranked among the top 18 nationally — perhaps contributed to Nebraska’s decision to hire a bright defensive mind as its new coach.

It’s actually seven of the top 19, but that’s still damned impressive. Pellini’s old conference only had two in that same bunch.

Of course, the flip side of that coin is that the Big 12 had only one team in the top 19 in total defense last season. The SEC had four.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

“Compared to every other sport on the planet, college football hardly exists.”

MGoBlog’s Brian Cook takes a stab at, as he puts it, debunking anti-playoff arguments in this post. How well he succeeds at it is probably a function of the reader’s own playoff biases, but from my selfish standpoint I would simply note that he digs himself a pretty deep hole in his initial paragraph when he dismisses any discussion of mission creep. Cook does so not because concern about mission creep isn’t a valid anti-playoff argument, but rather because in his mind his own six team playoff proposal renders analysis of any larger format unnecessary.


Here are the anti-playoff arguments that Cook addresses:

  • regular-season games would be less meaningful.
  • Playoffs don’t necessarily crown the best teams or include all deserving contenders.
  • A playoff would diminish my college football fandom.
  • We should go back to the old days.

Skipping the last point – I’m not even sure that rises to the level of an “argument” in the first place – the other three points are variations on a theme, namely, that a formal playoff would rob the D-1 football regular season of some of the relevancy and passion that makes it unique in American organized sport. Now, I don’t believe that a small playoff would have much impact on that, and Cook doesn’t want to concern himself with mission creep, so maybe there isn’t much else to say about his post.

Except for this:  the rationale that running the playoff gauntlet would cure the problem of not having enough meaningful games during the regular season to cloak a MNC winner with a good enough resume is misplaced justification at best.  If you find it necessary to improve the caliber of regular season competition and reduce “meaningless” games (was Michigan-Appalachian State meaningless before or after it was played?) so that whichever school is crowned #1 at season’s end meets with general approval, is it really necessary to create a playoff for that?

In truth, the short answer is no.  There are any number of ways to tinker with the current setup short of setting up a playoff that would raise the general level of regular season competition.  Paul Westerdawg suggests two:  reduce the number of D-1 schools (I’d be in favor of whacking more than the twenty he proposes, but it’s certainly a good start), and cut back on the number of games against 1-AA opponents that can count towards bowl qualification (as a general principle, I would prohibit playing more that one 1-AA school in a given year).

To that, I’d add a strength of schedule component to BCS qualification.  Either factor SOS directly into the computer numbers, or set a minimum threshold – maybe top half nationally – in order for a school to participate.  The system should reward schools like Fresno State that are willing to play anyone, anywhere over schools like Hawaii.  (And speaking of Fresno State, the system should punish gutless programs like Kansas State.)

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, The Blogosphere

Speaking truth to power

Mike Tranghese, the Big East commissioner, isn’t a playoff fan, which means he didn’t vote in favor of Mike Slive’s recent proposal for the BCS to adapt a plus-one format.

Aside from the “walks like a duck” critique of the plus-one, Tranghese doesn’t think the plus-one would have served its purpose in getting the four best teams on the field to play for the MNC.

“Last year, West Virginia loses to Pitt,” Tranghese said. “So that left us with Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma [as the top four teams]. That would have meant Ohio State would have played Oklahoma and LSU would have played Virginia Tech.

“Meanwhile, the fifth and sixth teams were Georgia and USC. But most thought both were actually among the best four teams. So the [plus-one model] wouldn’t have solved anything.

“I saw all six teams play. And clearly Georgia and USC weren’t fifth and sixth.[Emphasis added.]


See, not all playoff opponents are idiots.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football

Envy and jealousy: spurned edition

It’s going to be a long time before people in the state of West Virginia get over Rich Rodriguez’ departure to Michigan.  In the meantime, they amuse themselves by following every little contretemps that pops up in Ann Arbor.

Like Rich Rod awarding the #1 jersey to a (gasp!) defensive back instead of a wide receiver.

For Bob Hertzel of the Times West Virginian, it’s just another look into the soul of Rich Rodriguez, control freak.  A man who, when he was at WVU, felt the need to change everything:  the uniforms, the helmets, the offense, the defense, the introduction in the stadium, the huddle.

And with that, Hertzel gets off a terrific shot.

He controlled everything, except the line of scrimmage against Pitt.


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Filed under Envy and Jealousy