Great moments in athletic department management

Check out one of the reasons cited (h/t) by the Minnesota athletic director for letting the head coach go:

Johnson said Coyle cited the program’s poor performance in recruiting rankings and a dwindling season-ticket base as two primary reasons to fire Claeys. However, the ticket issue was also due in part to former athletic director Norwood Teague’s decision to drastically increase ticket prices for the 2016 season.  [Emphasis added.]

Not recruiting, but recruiting rankings.  “Tracy, you’re currently 61st in Rivals… what are you doing about that?”

Maybe the AD should start tweeting eighteen-year olds who don’t have the Gophers on their visit lists.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

Updating the Urban Dictionary

Clemsoning is dead.

Long live Georgiaing?

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Pay as you go.

For once, I welcome our new legislative overlords.

With the athletic departments of Washington’s two biggest public colleges reporting budget deficits two years in a row, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) is proposing a bill that will subject college athletics budgets to legislature approval if their athletic departments run deficits for three consecutive years.

Washington State’s athletics department has reported deficits of about $13 million in each of the last two fiscal years, while UW’s athletics department projected a deficit of about $15 million for the 2016 fiscal year, but that figure was later updated to about a $7 or $8 million deficit. Last year, new WSU President Kirk Schulz also proposed a plan that he believes will get WSU’s athletic department solvent by 2019.

Under the new bill Baumgartner is proposing, if a college athletic department cannot get back in the black after three consecutive years, its budget will have to be reviewed and approved by the Commerce, Labor and Sports committee before it can be adopted by the college.

‘Bout damned time.

“I’m a big fan of college athletics, but I have no doubt much of the public would appreciate a timeout on the arms race of college athletics spending,” Baumgartner said in the news release. “This is about ensuring the long-term viability of these programs that give our state’s students so many opportunities. This bill gives our state’s universities a three-year runway from today to get their budgets balanced, and if they can’t do it, my committee will help do it for them.”

Help us to help you!

Of course, the hard part comes in deciphering a college athletics department’s budget.

“The overriding goal is to bring transparency and public oversight to the use of public resources,” Baumgartner said in a phone interview with The Seattle Times. “I think sports is an important part of the university experience, but within balance and reason. More than determining the outcome, I want to make sure public dollars are protected.”

If this bill passes, what do you want to bet those deficits come down faster than planned?

25 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

“I think, if we have that same commitment in football, we’ll have championship football teams.”

I linked to this Bloomberg piece the other day.  It paints a pretty horrendous picture of the finances of the Cal Berkeley athletic department.

By another measure, Cal sports are in big trouble. After completing the most expensive college football stadium overhaul ever, the Golden Bears now owe more money than any other college sports program. Hobbled by debt service payments, the athletic department ran a $22 million deficit last year and expects to end this fiscal year deep in the red.

A university task force is looking for possible solutions, including reducing the total number of Cal’s sports programs. Any cuts could endanger some of the school’s most successful teams, which cost a lot more than they bring in, and Chancellor Nicholas Dirks recently gave the group more time. “Everything is on the table,” said Robert O’Donnell, a lecturer at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business who co-chairs the task force.

“Everything is on the table” is kind of an ironic sentiment in light of the fact that a scant few days later, the school canned football head coach Sonny Dykes.  Of course there’s a hefty buyout of his contract, made even worse than you’d expect because of the kind of dumbassery that’s unsurprising in the college athletics business (yeah, I use the term loosely).

With our intercollegiate athletics department’s typical management finesse, we extended our football coach’s contract about a year ago…and fired him this week. He walks away with about $6m in severance, but that’s OK because we’re just finishing up the zillion-dollar severance payments for the previous coach, and the AD who is now at Penn State, so there’s lots of money just lying around that would otherwise be wasted on fixing classrooms, or scholarships for non-athlete students who just play sports for fun and don’t put any eyeballs on TV commercials.

Add to that the money that will have to be laid out to bring in the next staff, and it’s lather, rinse and repeat time at the ol’ hacienda.  Even better, Cal’s athletic director has no time for the Rule of Holes.

… Our objective is long-term financial sustainability for our department. In order to do this, we understand that investing in football is critical. We believe that this change will reinvigorate the program, stimulate lagging ticket sales and renewals, and energize our donor base.

In other words, he has to destroy the athletic budget in order to save it.

What passes for leadership in college athletics shouldn’t be entrusted with running a lemonade stand.  But let’s keep insulating these idiots from the free market because… well, do they really need a reason?

45 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

It was the best of dynasties. It was the worst of dynasties.

Analyze Alabama’s status after narrowly losing the national title game at your peril.  In the meantime, consider this:

On top of that, there is a huge climb for any SEC team to remotely challenge Bama right now. No team in the conference had less than four losses and no team other than Bama won 10 games. Bama can take a step back and still be two steps ahead of anyone in the conference. They are doing a pretty good impression of Florida State in the 1990s, with the rest of the SEC playing the part of the ACC minnows.

Within the conference, the question isn’t whether Alabama has slid a bit lately.  It’s whether it’s slid less than any other SEC school lately.  For the moment, it’s pretty obvious what the answer to that question is.

54 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

If it ain’t broke… ah, hell, tinker with it anyway.

Stewart Mandel traveled to Tampa, Florida, spoke with various CFB movers and shakers and proclaims the eight-team playoff currently has less life in it than Charlie Weis’ career prospects.

During my stay in Tampa, I spoke with numerous commissioners, ADs, coaches, players, bowl executives, TV executives and other industry officials. The consensus vibe was that of overwhelming satisfaction with the system they created four-and-a-half years ago. In nearly every key area it has met or exceeded their expectations.

Not coincidentally, I sense zero appetite across the sport for an eight-team playoff. Before the CFP started, I predicted the system would expand halfway through ESPN’s 12-year contract. I was wrong. There’s even less support for the idea now than there was then.

Now I could start to lay into this by noting the folly that a large part of his conclusion is drawn from Bill Hancock’s confidence in the current arrangement, but I’ll take a pass on the low hanging fruit to focus on another point Mandel makes.

For one thing, power brokers on both the playoff and TV side are pleased with the positive effect they’ve seen on the regular season. The BCS first helped turn the traditionally regionalized sport into a more national model; the CFP has only enhanced that.

In particular, the intense focus on the four-team race once the committee starts producing its weekly rankings in early November has raised the stakes for games that previously might have flown under the radar.  [Emphasis added.]

So the shift to a more national model is seen as an enhancement.  And the selection committee’s weekly rankings being flogged relentlessly has raised the profile of certain games.  Before writing that, I wonder if Mandel thought about this year’s Iron Bowl, which was reduced to an irrelevancy in the eyes of many —  prompted in large part by ESPN’s narrative — after Auburn’s loss to Georgia meant the Tigers had zero chance of attaining the national semi-finals.  I guess we’re gonna have to disagree on that whole enhancement thing.

The rest of his piece is a mish-mash of contradictory signs of marketing acceptance and money-making (which is all that really matters, when you get down to it).  This, in particular, is truly depressing:

Finally, give the folks in charge credit for achieving one particular vision. When I first interviewed College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly in 2014 for my book about the playoff, he spoke of turning the sport’s new national championship game (the first to be played outside of the traditional bowl system) as “a hybrid” of the Final Four and Super Bowl.

This year’s game in Tampa felt like exactly that. Unlike initial sites Arlington, Texas and Glendale, Arizona — where events were spread out across large metroplexes — fans, media and industry folks all seemed to congregate in downtown. Media Day was at Amalie Arena, a fan fest at the adjacent convention center, concerts (with acts like Usher and Flo Rida) at a nearby park. Many of us stayed at hotels within walking distance of everything but Raymond James Stadium itself.

Expect a similar setup next year in Atlanta.

Mind you, the staggering costs involved did not exactly make the game accessible to the common fan. Even the lowest-priced tickets on sites like StubHub were approaching $2,000 by kickoff.

Yes, credit is certainly due.  Pricing out the common fan from the biggest game of the season is exactly what the sport was missing to make it truly special.

At least it’s more convenient for the media now.  That’s gotta count for something in Montana.

41 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

Mean Coaches

Hugh Freeze, topic of conversation:

Many conversations in the hallways and lobbies inside Opryland Hotel centered on Ole Miss. Coaches here anticipate NCAA sanctions for the Rebels in the next two or three months — presuming there is not another round of investigation, which still remains a possibility.

Some coaches and industry sources are of the opinion that the results will wind up costing coach Hugh Freeze his job. One of those sources said he believes Freeze “is on the hot seat as much as any coach in the country.”

Another coach pointed out that skepticism — and maybe jealousy, to some extent — is perhaps causing coaches to wish for doom in Oxford more than it will actually come. But even those close to the program seem to be bracing for NCAA impact.

At their most optimistic, people inside the football building are hopeful that, like the Miami case, the hovering cloud and perpetual fear wind up being worse than the punishment itself.

“With the NCAA, you just never know,” one industry source said. “Impossible to predict.”

Vultures, vultures everywhere.

If coaches are saying this to the media, one can only guess what they’re saying to recruits and their families.  The great thing is that they can play the faux concern card on the recruiting trail and still get plenty of mileage out of the sheer uncertainty surrounding the program right now.  In that light, another round of NCAA investigation putting off Judgment Day a while longer would be a bug, not a feature, for Freeze.

By the way, Ole Miss currently sits next to last in the current 247 SEC team recruiting rankings.

16 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA