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Sandy Barbour Interview: Cal Football Scheduling, Cutting Sports

Part III of our interview (click here for Part I, here for Part II) with Sandy Barbour! How has the Cal athletic director bounced back from nearly cutting rugby, baseball and other Olympic sports?

Sandy Barbour chats with Lindsay Brauner
Sandy Barbour chats with Lindsay Brauner
Avinash Kunnath

Sandy Barbour interview: Cal football scheduling, nearly cutting five sports (via Lindsay Brauner)

LB: Looking back at the five teams that were cut a couple of years ago, how healthy are those programs looking now?

SB: Well, obviously, that was a dark moment for us, there's no way around that. I think the positive that has come out of it is that those communities have really rallied around the programs and really have been incredibly supportive from both an attendance standpoint in supporting those programs and venues, but also in being generous and philanthropic in funding the programs.

Those term endowments we created were designed to last seven to ten years; we're in year two. All of those communities are working very diligently on raising money to increase those term endowments as well as working in partnership with our development office in creating long-term solutions. The bar's been raised and the light bulb has gone off in terms of what has to be done. They've realized they need to be self-sufficient and are working in partnership with us to make that happen. I'm very encouraged about where we are with those programs and their long-term prospects.

Sandy Barbour chats about new Memorial Stadium (via Lindsay Brauner)

LB: Looking ahead at our football schedule, we have some tough opponents like Ohio State and Northwestern. Do you like seeing Cal play that tough of a schedule or do you have a different philosophy?

SB: Well, I think it's been widely known that we have kind of an A-B-C philosophy. Putting together a football schedule, particularly when you play a very rough-and-tumble Pac-12 schedule is a bit of an art and it's a mix and a balance.

We've always talked about having a BCS-quality opponent on the schedule, that's the A slot; maybe in the B slot more of a middle-of-the-road opponent; and then the C slot has kind of worked its way into a 1-AA opponent. I would like to see fewer 1-AAs in that C slot and have it be a 1-A, but you also never know when somebody you think is a C-slot opponent is going to end up developing their program and when you've got them on the schedule five years after you signed up with them, they may end up being something different.

Putting Northwestern and Ohio State together happened because of a relatively late schedule change; Ohio State asked to switch the years in which we were playing and we moved them into a year along with Northwestern. That's tough and it would be tough in any year. Certainly I've given Sonny a challenge with that schedule right out of the chute.

I do like the fact that all three of them are at home, so it gives us seven home games with our four Pac-12s, but Sonny's philosophy is that we'll take them on and we'll play them. Although he'd probably like something a little bit less daunting right off the bat, he's not complaining about it.

Sandy Barbour talks Cal football, Sonny Dykes (via Lindsay Brauner)

LB: In terms of out-of-conference scheduling philosophy, are there likely to be any foreseeable changes in future years?

SB: There was a point there where our schedule was because of the Pac-12 and things we were doing from a facility standpoint were a little up in the air and we found ourselves scheduling particularly that C opponent pretty light, which is one of the reasons we ended up playing Presbyterian a few years ago.

We're out of that--we've been able to line opponents up, so we continue to look in general at this A spot, B spot, C spot philosophy and certainly want to balance the competitive needs of the team with wanting to bring opponents to Memorial Stadium that our fans want to see and particularly in the travel game in the A slot, have them go to places that are interesting to our fanbase. I think the trip to Chicago in early September next year is gonna be a lot of fun for us, as well as having a pretty good alumni base in Chicago.