Category Archives: College Football

“So, when does college football start?”

There are many answers to your question, grasshopper.

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Filed under College Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Hot, steaming chafing dishes… yum.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, College Football, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Only in Australia

Rice and Stanford open their seasons in Sydney this week.  Cue the cute koala at press conference moment.

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“Football was life; the rest of the year was just biding time.”

Okay, it’s reasonable to expect that a college football piece in a New York Times “forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless” might be a little overwrought at times, but there is a paragraph in it that resonated with me, although not for the reason the author intended:

The extraordinary reach of football into fans’ lives makes perfect sense when we see it for what it is: the most popular mechanism in contemporary America for cultivating a sense of self that is rooted in a community. In a world of uncertainty, fragmentation and isolation, sports fandom offers us clear winners and losers, connection to family and community — and at its best, the assurance that we are really No. 1.

It strikes me that is the primal force the people running college football are screwing with in their quest to shakedown every dollar they can get their hands on.  That community, or, if you prefer, the regionalism that has fueled college football’s unique power, is being tampered with in more ways than I can keep pace with by a business plan designed (using that word loosely) to appeal to some amorphous national interest that substitutes the quality of our passion for the quantity of eyeballs that seek entertainment on occasion.

Conference realignment, convoluted scheduling that reduces the relevancy of conference play (insert your Georgia-Texas A&M snark here), the Big 12’s ridiculous decision to tack on a championship game at the end of a round robin-scheduled regular season and, of course, the Holy Grail of playoff expansion with its own attendant absurdities like a selection committee weighing the worthiness of its potential dance partners for weeks — all in the name of appeasing the broadcast gods who weigh ever more heavily in the sport’s orientation — these are things illustrating the attitude directing college football now that has served to alienate the fans and that sense of self she references.

It’s not even a steady decline over a long period of time.  When you look at that list and realize most of it has occurred in the past five years, the reality is that the trend is accelerating.  It’s an undertow growing stronger.

It’s easy to allow ourselves to get sidetracked by some of the other issues she mentions, but at its core, this is what’s ruining college football.  I write a college football blog that enjoys a loyal readership.  We see every day here evidence of that sense of self in a shared community.  Much the same can be said of the emotion I feel every time I set foot in a Saturday college tailgate.  I cherish that feeling; I expect you do, too.  But it’s impossible to avoid the realization that the community we share grows increasingly fragile because the money flow matters more than our love of the sport and that community.

Unfortunately, I fear it’s a lost cause.  By the time the power brokers realize they’ve pushed things too far, it’ll be too late to do much about it.  You have no idea how that saddens me.

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Hang in there.

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Best bowl name?

Or best bowl name ever?

How would you feel about being on the announcing crew that had to repeat that name throughout the broadcast?

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“I don’t know anybody that says a bad word about…”

I got a few emails yesterday about this Bruce Feldman piece.

I’ve covered college sports for 20-plus years and have often dealt with the inner workings of the games, but one area I rarely thought much about was the people at the top: the athletic directors. I knew what ADs generally did and I knew who most of them were, but when it came to who the good ones were and, more specifically, what made them good at their jobs, I didn’t have a lot of answers. So about a year ago, I began a project to get a better handle on what makes a good athletic director and who the best ones are. I decided to conduct two anonymous surveys: one with 15 of my media peers who cover college sports, both on TV and in print. The second was with 10 ADs themselves.

I asked two basic questions of each group: What factors determine how effective these folks are at their jobs? And who are the best three ADs in the business?

Gee, I wonder why anyone might think I’d be interested.

Actually, the second question really matters little to me — let’s face it, had Greg McGarity’s name popped up as one of the top ones in his profession, it would have said more about Feldman’s methodology than about McGarity’s competency.  (In case you’re wondering, McGarity didn’t get a single vote.)

The first question, though, is another story.  Here’s the media’s criteria for what makes an athletic director successful:

Hiring and retaining coaches/staff (34 points): “Clearly, their most important role is hiring the right football and men’s basketball coaches and then keeping them happy and focused.”

“I respect athletic directors who don’t rely on search firms and make hires themselves.”

Fundraising (25): “Smart ADs are great salespeople. They know how to leverage their assets, and they understand the business of college athletics.”

Accessibility/Communication skills (10): “This is the tricky one for the long haul. It’s about being able to say no to powerful coaches or boosters and recognizing when a little problem is threatening to metastasized into something larger (hello, Baylor).”

Crisis management (8): “I’m also big on ADs holding their employees, players and themselves accountable. That includes meaning the AD is accessible to the public, doesn’t just hide behind nonsense statements and doesn’t put himself out there simply to get attention. When times are tough, does the AD make the right call and/or explain himself or herself? Properly handling a crisis is one of the biggest tasks for an AD these days. Look at [former Baylor AD] Ian McCaw and how that worked out.”

Culture building (4): “You have to make people proud of what they have and in a sense what they don’t have.”

Innovation/creativity (4): “Thinking outside the box is also a key trait for me, especially with the need to find different ways to sell out stadiums and pay for the increasing costs associated with athletics.”

And here’s how athletic directors judge their peers.

Culture building (18): “Everything starts with your ability to develop a culture of integrity and accountability and how well you communicate, and then everything falls from there.”

“If you have the right culture, you’ll be able to attract the right coaches.”

“You can look at the kind of experiences the young men and women are having in your program and also the level of academic success they are having.”

Hiring and retaining coaches/staff (12): “It’s not just about being able to hire good coaches. It’s also really important about knowing when to fire those that are a bad fit.”

Fundraising (9): “You hire good people/personnel, you win football games and then it’s easier to raise money.”

Crisis management (5): “You’d better be flexible and not someone who gets stuck in their ways because it seems like every day arrows are coming at you.”

There’s a good deal of overlap between the two.  Outside of bringing money in the door, it’s hard to see where what goes on in Athens checks any of the boxes.

I’d love to hear what you guys think about the lists.  Is McGarity being underrated, or are the lists an inaccurate way to evaluate the job?  Should Jere Morehead pay attention?  Have at it in the comments.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football