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Ask the California Golden Bloggers: Are Athletics Departments Too Big?

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I was the first receiver to ever top 100 catches in a single season in the Pac-10, though my speed (or lack thereof) led me to be more of a possession receiver than a big play threat. I was drafted in the fourth round but didn't ever end up playing for the team that drafted me - instead I spent four years on the opposite coast mostly as a special teams player, only managing 14 catches for my entire NFL career. Something of a latter day Sean Dawkins (or Geoff McArthur's predecessor?), who am I?

Answer after the jump.



Dameane Douglas, that lovable Eagles special teamer.

New trivia:

A former NASCAR driver, I was an EECS major who graduated in 1984. Almost as amazing, I was the first African-American to race in a Busch Series race in 1999. Though I never did win a race, I managed seven top ten finishes and earned three poles throughout my career. Someone who actually started his career working at HP before deciding that turning left for hours was a better career move, who am I?

I don't know the first thing about racing or what a Busch Series race is either. I have no idea if anyone will get this one.

Why are athletics departments so big?

Let's look at the University of California at Berkeley, a college with renowned academics and highly selective admissions policy. Cal has a 27-person staff for football coaching and administration, overseeing a roster of 110 players. That's a 1-to-4 ratio of staff to students. The school's English department has 71 non-emeritus personnel, plus about 50 support staff, serving a student body of 35,843. That's a 1-to-296 ratio of staff to students. Judged by staff, Cal devotes even more resources to football, versus English, than does Ohio State. In staffing terms, Cal treats football as 74 times more important than English.
-- ESPN's Tuesday Morning Quarterback-- ESPN's Tuesday Morning Quarterback


This is an odd paragraph that lacks context.  For example, as the football team goes, so does the English department.  Why?  When football is doing well, donations to the school increase across the board.  

Further, student body of 35,843 is misleading.  How many of those take English classes at any single time?  How many of them are GSIs?  How many of them major in English?  Football players are students, too.  Why don't they compare the 27 football staff to the student body of 35,843?  

Further, that is not an apples to apples comparison.  It starts out with "Why are athletics departments so big?" and then compares solely football, one of 29 sports (soon to be 24 sobs).  He wants to look at athletics departments, lets do that.

I probably shouldn't give away the goat, but I'm working on an upcoming post regarding this and here is some of the information I am working off of.  Sandy Barbour recently provided a link to alumni with an Athletics FAQ.  
We had a post on this briefly before.  

Here is the link (caution PDF):

So, if you want to compare athletics departments and whether Cal has too many support personnel for their athletics department compared to academics (as TMQ tries to), look at this paragraph on page 7 of the FAQ:

But these facts hide the issue that the department has underinvested in critical human and operational
assets at a time when needs for institutional support have grown. As Cal Athletics has tried to meet the
challenges of a difficult economic climate, it has adopted the philosophy of "doing more with less" each
successive year, a maxim that acknowledges the stress and strain on available resources. This point of
view is particularly relevant when comparing Cal Athletics’ staffing levels to its peers, especially within the Pac-10 Conference. Cal ranks seventh in sports medicine staff per student-athlete and eighth in strength & conditioning staff per student-athlete in the Pac-10. The department falls to 10th in the league in terms of overall staff per student-athlete.

So, as noted above, there are a variety of inaccurate comparisons here.  

Do you think Oregon has a chance against Auburn? Have they faced a defense with a pulse this year? Is it moot as Alabama fans are already printing up T-shirts reading 2010 National Champion – (Vacated).
-- my good old WVU alum coworker

Yellow Fever

I think they have a chance, but I wonder if Oregon’s offense is like one of those things like Georgia Tech’s triple option – the problem isn’t the scheme as much as it is just putting in the time to prepare for it, since the scheme isn’t very complicated. (To be fair, they run it extremely well, but everyone involved with the program does say the scheme isn't complex.)

Our Bears had great success against Oregon and our defense isn’t the best in the world - though it is pretty damn good in spurts - and I’m honestly not sure how good Auburn’s defense is since I take most everything related to SEC praise with a huge grain of salt. But they can’t be that bad. I think schematically there’s a better chance that Auburn can figure out a way to slow down Oregon rather than vice versa, since Cam Newton seems like a force of nature.

With the Pac-12, Big Tenelve, and Big XII-II going to 9 conference games will the SEC dominance myth persist as they continue to schedule 4 cupcakes every year to pad their resumes or will Parity win out?
-- Ravenous Ute

Yellow Fever

I think the SEC dominance myth (although even I'm going to start coming around and believe that perhaps there might be more to it should Auburn win the national championship this year) will persist as long as they're winning national championships. Yes, their regular season records need to be taken with a grain of salt because of the cupcakes that populate every one of their schedules, but winning as many national championships as they have does give them the benefit of the doubt. At least a little bit.

I do think a lot of voters and pollsters are aware of the disparity in scheduling practices, but I don't think anyone's going to ding them for it until a SEC team that reached the NC game on the basis of a creampuff schedule gets exposed on that stage. Like Ohio State did.

Let's crack open Cousin Stew's mailbag.

The prevailing thought seems to be that the BCS conferences would never give up the automatic-qualifying status for conference champions. However, do the bowls hold any sway in BCS negotiations? At this point, the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl are probably tired of hosting subpar teams from the Big East and ACC.
-- James, Ann Arbor

Yellow Fever

Stewie says they don't, so I'm going to take him at that. But the other point is that I don't think any of them would rock the boat and give up the chance to host the national championship game either. I'm pretty sure that outweighs the concerns that these bowls have in needing to pick the ACC or Big East champions in down years. But the Big East isn't always going to be this putrid (especially with TCU joining) and the ACC champions has a few big schools that travel well to the Orange Bowl.

Fever, I'm pretty new to college football but I've been really enjoying what I've seen. A lot of long-time fans I know keep griping about the BCS and how the bowls are divvied out. If the BCS had never been, and the bowls functioned like they did in 1994, how would today's postseason look? Do you think, this year at least, it would be any better than what we have now?
-- E Blaine, Prineville, Ore.

Yellow Fever

Under the old format, the Rose Bowl would have taken the Big 10 and Pac-10 champions, the Orange would have taken the Big Eight (precursor to the Big 12) champions, the Sugar would have taken the SEC champions, the Cotton Bowl would have taken the Southwest Conference champions (who knew they were still around that recently?), while the Fiesta had no conference tie-ins whatsoever.

So...the ACC champions were left out in the dust? I couldn't find anything that said they were obligated to any particular bowl.

Anyway, under this alignment Stew posits that the following matchups would have occurred:

Rose Bowl: #2 Oregon (Pac-10 champion) vs. #4 Wisconsin (Big Ten champion)

Orange Bowl: #9 Oklahoma (Big 8 champion) vs. #12 Virginia Tech (ACC champion - at-large)

Sugar Bowl: #1 Auburn (SEC champion) vs. #6 Ohio State (at-large)

Cotton Bowl: #3 TCU (SWC champion) vs. #8 Arkansas (at-large)

Fiesta Bowl: #5 Stanford (sp) (at-large) vs. #17 Nebraska (at-large)

The selection of #17 Nebraska for the Fiesta makes sense if you consider that back in 1994 bowls weren't really concerned with selecting the best teams for the best matchups, just with trying to sell tickets.

Which, actually, is still true today.

How did 8-4 Temple get left out of the bowls? I thought there was a rule that said 6-6 teams could only be selected if there weren't any eligible 7-5 or better teams left. Since I'm too lazy to look it up and you're getting paid anyway, could you explain?
-- Alex, Pickerington, Ohio

Yellow Fever

Apparently the Big 12 pushed through a rule that stated that an at-large is an at-large is an at-large, which means that teams with records greater than .500 don't get any special preference over teams with .500 records once all bowl tie-ins are exhausted.

So too bad for Temple.

Have the automatic qualifying conferences ordered the bowls to never again schedule Boise State against a school from one of the AQ conferences in a bowl? Last year, it was against the other BCS-buster, TCU. This year it's Utah. Doesn't Boise deserve the chance to play AQ schools in the bowls?
-- Dennis McCullough, Kansas City

Yellow Fever

I wouldn't go that far, since their current situation has more to do with the WAC bowl tie-ins than with bowls specifically choosing to try and screw Boise State over. Before they were ticketed to the Las Vegas Bowl they were likely headed to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - but would they have proven anything by beating up a mediocre Boston College team? I say no. And I think them playing Utah should be a more entertaining game...even though I expect them to beat the Utes by the same margin they would have beaten BC by too.

The Discover Orange Bowl? Maybe I'm a staunch defender of the sport's oldest traditions, but it will always be the FedEx Orange Bowl to me.
-- Jonathan Nolen, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Yellow Fever

I miss the St. Petersburg MagicJack bowl myself. And not just because my parents actually picked one up. (It works pretty well.)

In the 13-year history of the BCS, has anyone ever had an easier path to the big game than Oregon? They have one victory against a Top 25 team (Stanford), they've defeated four bowl teams (five if USC is included) and their opponents' combined win/loss record is 54-69 (not including FCS Portland State). By the same token, has any team ever had a tougher path than Auburn? With South Carolina counting twice in each category, their résumé includes wins over six ranked teams, they defeated nine bowl teams and their opponents' record is 76-50 (not including FCS Chattanooga).
-- Thomas Coyne, Detroit

Yellow Fever

I think that's something of a loaded question, since there are numerous metrics (Sagarin's, for one) out there that will show you that the Pac-10 was just as tough a conference as any other out there, including the SEC.

Which is a point that Stew kinda buries while saying Oregon had an easy path due to combined winning records of its opponents.

Bob Stoops has built a great program in Sooner land; however, I must ask the following question: Given his current 2-5 record (with five losses in a row) in BCS bowls, should OU lose to UConn in the Fiesta Bowl, how much longer will he be welcome in Norman?
-- Steve, Mansfield, Texas

Yellow Fever

Steve, I'd like you to do two things for me instead of complaining about your coach that has won conference titles more than 50% of the time:

I have been reading your columns for years now and hold your opinion in the highest regards. So I ask you this on behalf of all the Minnesota fans out there that were hoping for a big name hire. What do you know about Jerry Kill, the new Minnesota head coach? Is he going to prove everyone wrong and win big consistently? All I want for Christmas is a trip to the Rose Bowl for the Gophers and to do it at least four more times in a 10-year span. Is that too much to ask?
-- Patrick, Maplewood, Minn.

Yellow Fever

All I know is that he's got a pretty sweet name. I mean, that's only one step removed from Coach Death. That's intimidating.

So, let's see if I have this one correct. Nebraska is going to the same bowl game that it went to last year, to play a team that it's already beaten this year by 34 points. If I'm a Nebraska fan, I might not even watch the game on TV after halftime, much less make the trip to San Diego. What are the Holiday Bowl people thinking?
-- Alex Wagner, Cottage Grove, Wis.

Yellow Fever

I don't think they had a choice, so don't hate the player. (The Holiday Bowl.) Hate the game. (The bowl tie-in system.)

Hey there Fever

Just thought u should knop wtjta West Viriginia is no the Big eats champ./
-- John Fraser, Guilford, Conn.

Yellow Fever

And to think this was still more intelligible than what the Stanfurd fan posted last week.