Category Archives: It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Keep shooting the messenger.

If at first you don’t succeed in getting the evaluation you need to eviscerate your football program, try, try again.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has hired another sports consultant to produce a new study about the decision to cut football, bowling and rifle. If you’re keeping score at home, it’s the same firm that a UAB athletics task force initially decided not to pick.

UAB announced Monday that its task force has selected College Sports Solutions (CSS) to produce by May 15 what figures to be a highly-scrutinized report. Because the university dropped football, UAB’s future membership in Conference USA remains in doubt. Conference USA’s presidents meet shortly after the May 15 date the report is due.

Last month, CSS lost its bid to become UAB’s new consultant to review the work by previous consultant, CarrSports. UAB’s task force announced in early March the hiring of consultant OSKR after a unanimous vote.

But UAB’s administration cited perceived biases by OSKR because of articles written by its co-founder and eliminated the company from consideration. UAB owes OSKR $22,400 for work the firm did after initially getting approval, AL.com reported.

So the UAB administration overrode the task force’s decision, because Andy Schwarz had the temerity to note that the emperor had no clothes.

I guess the new guys know what they need to do.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, It's Just Bidness

Great moments in bureaucracy

I’m guessing it’s not a good thing when the head of a task force you authorized to get your ass out of a crack for making a very unpopular decision sends out an email to the other members confirming you lied.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Best “fool me once” story you’ll read today

Idaho ditches the proposed make up game with Florida for a match with Missouri that pays better.

If you’re doing the math here, play one SEC game, make $2.3 million.  Not too shabby.  Plus you get to slap the Gators as a bonus.

That has the makings of one of those old MasterCard “Priceless” commercials.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

At UAB, the fix was already in.

You will be shocked, shocked to learn that the decision to kill the UAB football program was made before the release of the report the school had hired a consulting firm to furnish.  Hell, it may have been made before the start of the 2014 season.

… according to documents obtained by AL.com, the decision to kill football and the other two programs may have been made prior to the start of the football season.

The documents show that public relations firm Sard Verbinnen & Co. prepared detailed plans for UAB to announce last September that it would eliminate the three programs, months before the school made the actual announcement.

The documents also show the school pushed back the announcement date until the conclusion of the football team’s regular season on the advice of both Sard Verbinnen and CarrSports.

The documents indicate that Watts misled his student-athletes, coaches, supporters, faculty members and others on at least three separate occasions in November and December when he said the decision to kill the three sports wasn’t made until November.

As appalling as flat-out lying may seem – really, when will bureaucrats ever learn the coverup is usually worse than the original story? – it’s the rationale expressed for delaying the decision until after the football season ended that’s really shameless.

That memo offers “our basis for opposing a mid-season announcement.” It suggests the potential for “a critical mass of immediate transfer requests … where students refuse to finish out the season” or “a full team boycott.”

“If not effectively managed,” the memo says, “it is conceivable that UAB would not be able to field a competitive team – or any team.”

The memo also suggests the possibility that UAB football players “may react very badly if an announcement is made during the season.”

In other words, don’t do it for the kids.

And this is just as bad.

Sard Verbinnen, the New York PR firm, advised UAB in September to “allow other tough decisions to set the stage” to announce the review’s results. For instance, the university announced last June that UAB Medicine Employees would not receive annual merit raises based on “profound shifts in healthcare.”

Sard Verbinnen advised UAB that “further isolating the athletic department’s results from others announced earlier in the season will also lessen the chances that the UAB lumps all ‘tough decisions’ together and concludes that the university is in financial duress.”

It just goes to show you can never have enough bad news to prime the pump.

So why go to all the trouble to mislead almost everyone with an interest in UAB athletics?  It can’t be political, can it?  Nah… just ask the PR folks.

Also, Sard Verbinnen advised to wait until after the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees meeting in November to help mitigate “unwarranted speculation” that the decision was driven by the board. Many UAB supporters believe several powerful trustees with Crimson Tide ties, including Paul Bryant Jr., got football killed. The board oversees UAB.

“The strategic review required time and careful deliberation by the department and the community’s perception of it should not be compromised by the negative optics that could result if it were communicated in parallel with a Board of Trustee meeting,” Sard Verbinnen wrote.

Good to see that’s been avoided.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Whoa, oh, Alabama

When is a mid-major school not a mid-major school?

When the SEC is in need of a little scheduling juice.  Congrats, BYU and Army!

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, SEC Football

Sunday morning buffet

A tidbit here, a tidbit there…

  • Something to keep an eye on with this season’s Kentucky football team:  “From that highly touted 2014 signing class, ranked No. 17 in the nation, UK was able to redshirt 16 players…”  That includes redshirting every offensive linemen the current staff has signed.
  • Bill Connelly ponders what the future of football analytics will bring.
  • Marc Weiszer Fletcher Page  has a nice piece on this year’s Paul Oliver Network gathering.
  • Les Miles thinks Matt Womack signing with Alabama is enough of a punishment for his program.
  • So Andy Schwarz is being hired to produce the new report evaluating the report that led to the shutdown of the UAB football program?  That’s beyond interesting, both for what he’ll have to say about UAB’s decision as well as shining a light on college athletic departments’ bookkeeping practices.
  • Here’s another roundup of questions as SEC spring practices get underway.
  • She may be a little girl, but she manages to hit on the essence of being a Georgia Tech fan in one sentence.
  • Speaking of Tech, the computer hacker has been sentenced, but “The district attorney said he believes Pickren entered a guilty plea, meaning failure to complete the program would bring the student back to court for further sentencing.”  So you’re saying there’s a chance?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, Life After Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA, Wit And Wisdom From The Hat

Saturday morning buffet

I’m heading up to Athens shortly for the basketball game, but there’s still time to set out the buffet.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Georgia Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA