Monday, February 11, 2008

A 90 minute financial divide

I want to point you to two interesting reads....

Over at they did a very interesting non-scientific study of the have's and have-nots, specifically as it relates to football and comparing "profit-per-player". There are plenty of flaws in the logic, but the big-picture point is worth it.

Basically by comparing revenue vs expenses to gleem profits, then dividing that by 85 scholarship players in football, they come up with this very lose idea of "Profit per player".

Not surprising, the SEC is the most profitable conference per football player, and UGAg is actually the 2nd most profitable school in the nation behind Texas using that metric. They come in at a whopping $451,334 "profit" per player.

Last on their list of BCS schools? You have got to be freakin' kidding me...... welllll.... no..... . that would be us...... at a -$31,467 loss per player. They sum up their article by actually pointing to the disparity in our rivalry:

In short, take away this, at least: if you were constructing a hypothetical scenario, you still couldn't conjure up a greater disparity in philosophy between two rival athletic departments than exists in the gap between Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Does it really mean we have differences in philosophy to UGAg? The article refers to the core academic schools of the ACC as having "non-profit thinking". I would tend to argue against that line of thinking - particularly with new AD Dan Radakovich. Maybe former AD Dave Braine was less inclined to balance the books (or force his academic advisors to understand the books for that matter), but D-Rad is certainly bent on getting in the black. Firing a solid but uninspiring head football coach after 6 straight winning seasons had more to do with loosening the purse strings of hard-to-motivate fans than putting a radically different product on-the-field.

So what does it mean? Well, in good ole' business terms, we're either spending too much on expenses or not bringing in enough top-line. Clearly D-Rad's goal is to drive the topline. He has cut expenses in the department, but that was easily offset by our yearly Gailey-payments of $1mm for the next 4 years. After all, most business leaders realize at some point in their careers that you can't save your way to prosperity. Of course in the business world it's a lot easier to cut heads than to convince customers to buy your unispiring, undifferentiated products. At some point, you're got to give the people value for their dollar. It just turns out in the football world ONLY winning a certain number of games won't cut it. It has a lot to do with which games you win, and a little bit to do with how they were won........

...... I ran across this nice article from Birdog, a Navy blogger. It's really a story about the tribulations of the non-BCS fan. The "mid-major" follower. The "FCS" as it were.

The intesting part of the story is about the fact that the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) has become a proving ground for leading-edge offensive gurus to hone their craft. The entire article is worth the read, but I wanted to include this portion:

The cycle goes something like this: faced with the pressure to win against more talented competition, a coach will devise a scheme that accentuates his team’s strengths while masking their weaknesses. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. At first, this new scheme is dismissed as a “gimmick” by media outlets and fans. But the more that team is winning, the more credible that scheme is in the eyes of the mainstream. Eventually, someone at a BCS school gets the idea that if a scheme works that well with lesser talent, it will be unstoppable with BCS talent. So the innovative coach is hired at a BCS school, where he installs his scheme and keeps on winning. Success breeds imitation, and other coaches start to incorporate bits of that scheme into their own systems. Eventually, what was once labeled a gimmick becomes part of the mainstream, and soon the non-BCS coaches are devising something else to overcome this new standard. The non-BCS coach subscribes to a slightly different bit of football wisdom: “Good football teams either do something different or they do it better.” Doing it better isn’t really possible without the best talent. That leaves doing things differently.

And when it comes to doing things differently, no place is better than the non-BCS conferences. This is the proving ground of football ideas. This is where Urban Meyer unleashed his offense before taking it to the SEC. This is where Paul Johnson did the
impossible at Navy before taking his spread option to Georgia Tech. This is where Jim Grobe devised the schemes that would take Wake Forest to places it could never have imagined. This is where a school might be willing to take a chance on a high school legend like Art Briles at Houston or Todd Dodge at North Texas. This is the realm of Chris Ault’s pistol and Todd Graham’s Tulsa offense that leaves defenses cross-eyed. This is the last bastion of innovations past, with June Jones running the run & shoot to perfection and Ken Hatfield having clinged to the wishbone at Rice years after both were abandoned by everyone else. Innovation isn’t limited to the offensive side of the ball either, with coaches like Rocky Long perfecting his 3-3-5 scheme at New Mexico. The variety of schemes and ideas are what the game of football interesting, and the laboratories for these ideas are the non-BCS conferences.

So why don’t more BCS schools innovate? Why don’t they take more chances? sometimes they do, especially at schools that have traditionally struggled (Kentucky and Hal Mumme’s Air Raid, Duke with Spurrier’s fun & gun). But for the most part, BCS schools don’t want to innovate. It’s too risky. With the money at stake from boosters, TV, and ticket sales, there is tremendous pressure to win right away. That means hiring proven winners, not visionaries. Faith is something that doesn’t have a place in the BCS hiring process; they don’t want to believe that a coach can win games; they want to know that this coach will win games. And they usually have the money to hire someone who fits the bill.

That leaves the non-BCS schools to carry the flag of ingenuity. And that makes non-BCS football the thinking man’s game. Sure, nobody at the water cooler will care, but they aren’t football fans as much as they are fans of everything that surrounds it. Maybe you don’t have anyone to talk to, but hey– that’s life on the cutting edge. When we watch our games on Saturday, we’re watching the future of the sport.