Expansion. It has been a hot topic all summer long. Whether it was the Pac10, Pac12, or even the monstrous Pac16, a lot of digital trees have been murdered discussing this topic. Well, Cal alum and respected Bay Area columnist Glenn Dickey recently took a look at expansion. Relying solely on the thoughts of former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young, Dickey came out strong against expansion:
Scott’s original idea was to entice Texas to bolt from the Big 12 and lead other Texas and Oklahoma schools into a separate wing of what would be the "Pac-16." But, Texas had no incentive to leave the Big 12. It was only using the Pac-10 as a bargaining tool with the Big 12.
Now, the Pac-10 is left with the worst of two worlds. Adding Utah and Colorado will do nothing to enhance its TV viability. Figuring added travel costs, "It may be a net loss," Young said.
The chancellors and presidents still have to give final approval. Let’s hope they stop this freight train in its tracks.
Dickey and Young are very much against expansion. In reading this article, I found myself more and more confused and, ultimately, more and more agitated. The facts underlying the arguments put forth by Dickey (and really Young, who is the sole source for this piece) did not seem to relate to facts I was aware of in the real world. Further, I saw people at various places, including here at CGB citing this piece as something more than ridiculous fantasy!
I decided to take some time to do some real research on this matter and see if the allegations made by Young via Dickey's piece were unfounded. After several hours of work, I determined that, in fact, very little of the Dickey piece and Young's allegations are even remotely close to accurate. Many of the statements and numbers promulgated in the article seem to have no basis in reality and it is unclear how the author and his source arrive at these statements.
Follow me after the jump to learn more about the piece by Dickey, Chuck Young's factual allegations, and my research.
So, let's take a closer look at this article. I am not entirely sure if fair use requirements allow me to quote each line I wish to refer to individually, because that could lead to me quoting the entirety of the article. So, I will paraphrase the sections I wish to respond to and you have the link in the above introduction to reread.
1. The Knight Commission. The first thing to look at it is Dickey's reference to Young as being on the Knight Commission. He uses this as a means to appeal to authority. It is an attempt to make Young's points seem more legitimate not because of anything in the points themselves, but because Young is on a panel. But what is the Knight Commission? Wikipedia tells me the following:
Currently, the commission serves as a de facto watchdog group which seeks to reform issues in college sports, mainly relating to excesses in recruiting, gender equity, and academic problems of student athletes. As an independent commission, it has no official connection to governing bodies such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the primary sanctioning body for college sports in the United States, or any government agencies.
While they seem to have an important and interesting role to play, they have no official relationship. Young has no more power in this situation than I do. Except Young could get the ear of important people due to his connections, I am sure. I should also note this from the Wikipedia article:
A survey released at the meeting, titled, "Presidential Survey on the Cost and Financing of Intercollegiate Athletics"revealed the subsidies provided by most FBS institutions to their athletics budgets are rising more quickly than educational budgets. This, together with other opinions revealed in the survey, underscored the Commission's urgency to address the escalating costs of college sports through collective action, which requires support from presidents, NCAA leadership, university boards of trustees and conferences across the country.
This is important for later, but note that the Knight Commission is doing research and providing recommendations on the issue of subsidies provided by many schools to their athletics budgets. Hmmm, remember that.
2. Academics. Next, Young and Dickey talk about the academic angle. He casts aspersions on the academics of Colorado and Utah and feels that they pull down the academics of the conference. There are two responses to this:
Here is the list of all the schools:
111. Washington State
139. Oregon State
143. Arizona State
Here is the Academic Rankings of the World Universities, which some people like more than US News & World Reports.
Other schools including Oregon, Oregon state, and Washington State are not listed in the Top 100. So, to me, the argument about academics is a clear non-starter. Two separate rankings show both Colorado and Utah well within the normal range for Pac10 schools. Neither Colorado nor Utah are elite schools like Cal and UCLA, but they are both well above Oregon State and Washington State, amongst other schools. Young says that Colorado is equal to Oregon and Utah is not even "in the picture." This is simply not accurate.
By both of these metrics, Colorado is far superior to Oregon and Utah is well into picture. Young is either looking at other numbers that I am not aware of or simply does not know what he is talking about.
The second response to Young's concerns regarding academics is that he was the chancellor for UCLA in the late 70s when the Pac8 turned into the Pac10. At that point, Young did not block the inclusion of two of the less academically prestigious schools into the Pac10, Arizona and Arizona State. Not only that, he was the original spark for expansion!
The '78 expansion was driven by UCLA chancellor Charles Young and Arizona president John Schaefer and not by TV revenue.
In May 1976, Young announced he would send UCLA vice president John Sandbrook to Tucson and Tempe to explore the possibility of expansion. This time, the Pac-10 hired a Hollywood marketing agency.
So, in 1978, UCLA chancellor Charles Young pushed to include two of the less prestigious schools academically into the Pac8. Now, 32 years later, he's against the inclusion of two academically equal or superior schools.....because of academics. Young is talking the talk now, but 30 years ago, he was not walking the walk. He even faced people who didn't want to vote for expansion in the Pac8:
In December 1976, Washington president John Hogness said he would not ratify the UA-ASU expansion. The deal required a unanimous vote. "I've consistently said I'm opposed to the two Arizona schools joining the league," Hogness said. "I still feel that way."
Hogness also indicated that Stanford president Richard Lyman "didn't believe the Arizona schools are academically compatible with Stanford."
Young was successful in convincing all parties to vote for the expansion, so at that time he was completely and totally ignoring the academics argument.
3. Geographic Sense. Young and Dickey next assert that the expansion makes little sense geographically. In specific, he argues that there is a pod system with schools in each state. But the pod system is kept here, because we just keep Utah/Colorado in their own pod. So, that argument holds little water to me. It is not as if we are adding Colorado and San Jose State or Utah and Northern Arizona University.
The next part of his argument I do agree with, however. He discusses how it could affect the California rivalries. I am with him 100% here. It would be truly unfortunate to lose the Cal-USC and Cal-UCLA games. In my view, I'd rather have the Cal-UCLA games as I really enjoy the UC relationship. So, point Young here!
4. Spending Of Money. Next, Young posits the Pac12 schools will spend this increased money from expansion on paying coaches more instead of on other more important needs. He also argues that they will spend the increased money from expansion on hiring more coaches instead of other more important needs. Let's take these in turn.
Firstly, regarding paying the coaches more, I would argue that against Young is not in a position to know this. He is not affiliated with any school at this time and is not privy to the plans of the universities.
Second, I would argue that it is not Larry Scott's job to spend the universities' money for them. It is Larry Scott's job to make more money for the universities. That is his sole focus. Once the universities get the money, then it is out of Larry Scott's hands. Expansion is the means by which Scott has decided to increase the money for the universities. How the universities spend the money in that sense is unrelated.
Third, I would argue that the schools will not just spend the money on additional coaches' salaries et al. I think that this is another way of Young essentially saying "They pay those coaches too much!" It is an argument I see from time to time. When I see it, I point out a few key facts that should be noted here. I will use Coach Jeff Tedford's contract as an example of how schools pay their coaches and whether increased revenues from expansion would go to pay these coaches more.
Tedford's contract (which you can read in pdf format here) is a complicated one. Section 3 on page 1 states that Jeff Tedford's base salary is $225,000.00 per year. Now that doesn't seem so big and is well under market, right? Section 8 on page has more information. It states that Tedford will also receive a talent fee of about $1.5 million dollars. What is a talent fee???? The Chron has further information:
To alleviate most of those questions, the initial contract terms are simple. Tedford's base salary would jump 34.4 percent, from $167,500 to no less than $225,000, and his "talent fee"' would see a similar rise from $1,332,500 to $1.575 million. The talent fee is widely believed to be funded by Nike, which provided Cal with its dashing array of uniform combinations this season.
It appears that Nike pays the vast, vast, vast majority of Coach Tedford's salary. So, when Cal gets more money from the expansion talks, they will not need to look at paying coaches more, because there are private sources involved that take care of that.
Regarding Young and Dickey's second argument that the Pac12 schools will use the increased revenues from expansion to hire more coaches, I am not even sure this is possible. Valued reader CalBear81 noted to me during discussions of this post that there are limits on the amount of coaches that a sport can hire. That is why we have a tight ends/special teams coach. In relation to football, they can have essentially 10 coaches:
Football staffs are allowed a head coach and nine full-time assistants on the field. Beyond graduate assistants, other staff members cannot work on the field in practice.
You might have read that the coach at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez, got in trouble recently. This was because he was circumventing this rule by having non-assistants (graduate or otherwise) performing coaching duties. So, even if Cal got an additional $1,000,000,000.00, they could not hire more coaches. Again, Young's allegations do not seem to match up well with reality.
In fact, it is more likely that Cal will use the money to save several sports from being cut. Regular readers of this site will be aware that a battle is brewing on Cal's campus. With severe budget cuts to Cal from the state, many players on the academic side are increasingly outraged by subsidies given to the athletics department. In fact, even Sports Illustrated mentioned it in a recent article on expansion:
Money matters. Earlier this month, a presidential committee at Cal released a scathing report that found that between 2004 and 2009, the university had given between $7 million and $14 million each year to subsidize the athletic department's now-$70 million budget. Those are taxpayer dollars funding sports at a time when faculty salaries are frozen and academic budgets are being slashed.
In that same article Scott himself pointed to Cal's situation as a reason why expansion is important:
Scott understands why some faculty members want to cut athletics subsidies completely. It's his job to find a way to generate enough revenue at the conference level so member schools won't have to cut sports or extras such as academic support for athletes if their universities decide they can't afford to subsidize athletics. "Cal is a microcosm of what's happening across our conference and, frankly, across the country," Scott said. "So I feel a tremendous responsibility and pressure, in a sense. ... There is more pressure on schools and conferences to be entrepreneurial, to pay for themselves."
8. Travel Costs. Finally, Young decries the potential increased travel. He says that because of the increased travel, it *may* be a net loss financially. Yes, it *may* be a net loss. Michael Mohamed also *may* be the starting QB for Cal in 2010. *May* is a word that means nothing. The Pac12 also *may* be an astounding success. May is a weasel word used to throw in certain ideas that are unclear without having to take a stand. Well, I will take a stand. There won't be increased travel. Let's take UCLA, Young's school. It is approximately 950 miles from LA to Seattle. It is approximately 575 miles from LA to Salt Lake City. It is 825 miles from LA to Boulder.
I could keep going on this. The Arizonas to the Oregons and the Washingtons is certainly a lot of mileage. Also, neither Washington State nor Oregon State are near major population centers/airports, while Utah and Colorado are, so that again cuts down on travel.
Again, the facts as presented by Young are not consistent with reality.
This article is based on the confusing and completely inaccurate statements of the former UCLA chancellor Charles Young. I think my post speaks for itself. Reality just does not match up with the 'facts' as presented by the former UCLA Chancellor. The facts are simple. Expansion is the best thing to happen to the Pac10. It is the only way to save multiple sports at multiple campuses. Without expansion, the Pac10 would fall further behind in the college football arms race.
Tom Hansen did nothing at all to help promote the Pac10 and took actions that kept it regional. Larry Scott has taken an aggressive stance and should be commended. Dickey should not be relying solely on one completely inaccurate source in writing hit jobs against expansion.