Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Three Rules of Contract Law?

Winning covers up problems and losing brings them out of the woodwork. Al Groh was supposed to lead UVA to the promised land of a big time successful football program like instate rival Virginia Tech (perhaps with less tolerance for criminal activity). Poor Al works to balance the demands of putting a team that can contend with student-athletes and when the classroom does not measure up must be the heavy.

Keeping in mind that we are dealing with young men in the 18 to 22 year old range, there comes a time in our live when we grow up and begin to accept responsibility to the outcomes of our actions. Such may be the case of Chris Johnson who was suspended from the UVA team for poor academic performance and then charges that Mr. Groh stopped caring about him. The exact meaning of , “[Groh] said, ‘Get your academics straight and come back to me,’” was vague with Chris and his father seeing as a promise to keep a scholarship open while Al Groh intended of a ”We will see.”

Like much of the rest of our society managing the players on a big time college team can no longer be done with a handshake. We will need endless forms that detail the exact terms of the agreement. At risk here, for the vast majority of those college players not going on the NFL, is the valuable education that should be the primary goal of the student that just happens to play football. A sheep skin with the University of Virginia name on it has considerable value when you are seeking a job.

Chris Johnson should be the poster child for the student athlete at the 119 D1A schools with the education being the centerpiece of the college experience. Given the cost of a college education and the potential future earnings for those with a degree the economics would dictate that the players see graduation as the goal. Unfortunately, players are drawn to the sizzle of the program rather than the steak of the education.

Mr. Groh, Mr. Johnson a student from any college business law class could answer the question posed in the title.

1. Get it in writing
2. Get it in writing
3. Get it in writing

Friday, June 16, 2006

Heroic or Futile

Look at the options list on cars made in the 1970's and you will see an example of how wealth in the United States has grown. Equipment like power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, AM radio, and steel belted tires cost extra on most models. Today those are gives with GPS navigation systems and DVD players options. This while the cost in constant dollars stays about the same. A 1974 VW Super Beetle from the era might sound romantic but without A/C on a hot day the love will soon be a puddle on your vinyl seat. On the other side the wealth enjoyed in this nation has made use spoiled gluttons consuming out of boredom and spending time in the hot VW would build some character.

The announced renovation of the Big House with the addition of luxury box is not without opponents. An entry into "Change of Subject" by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn summarized a Michigan Board of Regents member that opposes the expansion. In addition a save website SaveTheBigHouise.com has been put up to stop this proposal. The arguments are basically:

1. The boxes will not pay for themselves
2. Michigan football games were meant to be watched from the stands
3. The boxes would detract from the look of the Big House
4. UM could use the money elsewhere.

While ths case made on the payback on the luxury boxes is compelling there could be funds coming from donations to fund the boxes. Time will tell if this is a case of killing the American SST (an American supersonic passenger jet) or AT&T that thought that this internetworking of computers was never going to amount to much.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hidden Dollars

Both these articles are several month old. The intention was to comment on these two stories but they got left behind. The point of interst for each is the light thet shed on the money in the cable business.

Dolan's Magic Kingdom In Danger of CrumblingThe Business of Sport

The Dolans, who own the MSG Network and are partners in FOX Sports New York, collect about $4 each for somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5 million subscribers for both services, which means cable subscribers, whether they watch either channel or not, are paying more than $180 million a year in revenue for the channels. TV and government assistance help make the Knicks a lucrative business,which makes Dolan a lot of money.


Industry sources said that CSTV would command about 15 cents per month per subscriber from a cable company. Multiply that by one million, and that would cost a cable company an additional $150,000 per month if the channel is offered to all subscribers.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Check Out Last Year



Dr. Gray and his colleague Phil Klotzbach, which was
issued in April (an update is coming next week), was
for 17 named storms, including 9 hurricanes and 5 major
(Category 3+) hurricanes.

NOAA's outlook, which came out a few days ago, is
similar, for 13 to 16 storms, with 8 to 10 becoming
hurricanes, of which 4 to 6 could become major


The year 1999 seven months

From the sky will come the great King of Terror.

To resuscitate the great king of the Mongols.

Before and after Mars reigns by good luck. (X.72)*

College Football 2005

The lion of the east
In a union with the near west
Will be at the middle of the pack
Unlikely to be among the top quarter 100

Penn State did finish in the top 10 and showed the pre-season predictors wrong. Most above average college fans with some time could be as accurate as Street, Smith, Steele, The Sporting News and the rest. They are correct on the obvious yet, none predicted the meltdown that the Vols had in 2005.

An similar game can be played with the fall TV offerings with the exception that the trick is to find the handful that will be still around in January.

These publications are entertaining and provide a great source on information along with nice pictures. Perhaps they should come with a disclaimer not the bet on the future the see and an honest recap of the priors years forecast. Or they could start writing the predictions in verse?

Go Go Gophers

Who knew that the construction of a new stadium would be
so complex? The economics of any football stadium is somewhat
of a mystery in that you have a facility that is empty 359 days
per year. Over a 25 year period this new stadium costs $10.6 million
per year and assuming 6.25 games per year the just under $1.7
million per game. This does not include maintenance, the players,
and in the case of this stadium future expansion.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Conference Network Reconsidered

So, ESPN is not going to pick up Vandy v. Mississippi or PSU v. Youngstown St. This does not mean that there is no money to be gleaned from these seconds. A devoted fan will watch their team with out regard to the opponent and pay for the privilege. Further these conferences have hours of other sports that are bring in next to zero dollars so anything is a bonus.

Ah, nothing warms you up for the big game like watching women field hockey on Saturday morn. Move over Game Day.

Conference Networks

When the Mountain West announced plans for their own sports network it seemed like a quiky idea that was the only option for a conference that is low on the TV pecking order. Now that the Big Ten and SEC are moving in that direction the assumption is that there must be something in theis business model.

This week, The Sporting News reported that the Big Ten is negotiating with DirecTV to form the Big Ten Network.

The magazine suggests the SEC would likely follow the Big Ten. Such networks would, of course, be funded by you, the fan, through pay-per-view television. Somewhere, Gordon Gekko smiles.

Because when it comes to the SEC, no dollar is left behind.

To be fair, the SEC schools aren't just hoarding their cash. They're spending it and in a big way.

Pay per view in sports is associated with boxing and the WWE. This seems to be an idea with a big flaw in that while the faithful Dawg or Nittany Loin fan will pay $10 or $20 to see the game there could be a lost in attracting the casual fan to watch the game. How much of a market is there for the Vandy v. Mississippi or Northwestern v. Indiana?

There is not much information as the details of these plans and the conference need to tread carefully in the land of media and money.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Luxury Boxes For All

Old Dominion University has decided to add football at the D-1AA level and has plans for an updated stadium with you guess it luxury boxes.

"According to the report, ODU intends to build "up to 11 luxury suites" in the south end zone of Foreman Field."

And when will this must have item make its way to your local high school stadium? Perhaps the money can be used for an indoor practice FACILITY.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Modest Proposal

In the soap that is major college sports the dollar is always in the background not as a bit player but as the director/producer calling the shots. Fan see the actors and assume they are in control of the action rather they are merely the vehicle (expensive props) by which the story is told .

Institutions tend just like people or corporations attempt to maximize revenue (or value), therefore the expected/rumored/ write it on the calendar splitting of the Big East along the football and basketball fault line the break up never made sense for the following reasons:

1. ESPN and CBS are also in also interested in maximizing value. Television contracts are best negotiated from a your strongest position and a gang of sixteen representing a swath from UConn through New York metro area across to Marquette with detours north to Syracuse, south to pick up Louisville and the Queen City and an outpost in Tampa. These markets capture a significant portion of the population. In comparison the split BE's would have only a patchwork of markets that do not have nearly the star power of the combined group.

2. In a divorce the division of the assets is a messy proposition and in the case the Big East would be no different. The first asset is the name and history the BE conference. The brand name has value and very well be damaged by the breakup. The other more visible asset is the conference basketball tournament at Madison Square Gardens a significant event in the middle of Gotham.

3. Members have ties with schools on both sides of the alleged schisms. UConn for example has rivalries built up over the years with Providence and St. Johns. Or Syracuse with the some of the same schools. Again those advocating for a divide ignore these rivalries or respond that these games could be OOC, miss the value but in financially and culturally.

Playing what if history is a waste of time. The Big East cannot undo the mistake of not inviting Penn State or not recognizing the benefits (to others if not oneself) of expanding to 12 teams. The hybrid conference that lives with a combination of 7 basketball only schools, 8 football schools, and a school that goes its on way in football is unique amongst BCS conferences.

The conference is now feeling good about itself with the success of the 16 team mega-conference in basketball and a BCS win the Sugar Bowl. If the past is any guide, the Big East brain trust will sit content blind to rest on their laurels. The conference needs a strong commissioner with something called vision.

Leadership is combination of coercion, force of personality, schmoozing, and manipulating with a clear goal in mind and the conviction to carry through without considering failure. Some could look at the hybrid set up and see an obstacle that the other BCS conferences do not have to contend. However, this configuration has turned into an asset.

Suggested Vision for the BIG EAST:

- Plan for expanding to 18 teams by adding a D1 football school (for all sports) and a basketball only school with a strong D1AA football program. An important caveat here is to look for programs that add to or compliment your current set of markets. Adding a basketball program in Chicago or Virginia could expand the TV appeal.

-The addition of two schools with D1 and D1AA would create a balance four home/away games eliminating the need to find five OOC game. The other team would allow for a ready made D1AA game (like Villanova) while keeping the money within the conference. The unintended consequence of the 12 regular season game is to drive up the prices of buying a visitor. Teams with these characteristics will reduce the increases in cost.

-The basketball would be set up as two sub-conferences with each member of the nine team group playing home and home against each other. Pairs of teams from each group would host high profile November or December tournaments. Teams would also play two or three games against members of the other group.

-Participation in the conference basketball tournament would be for 12 teams with the top four from each group given automatic placement and the other four to be selected in a yet to be defined wild card format.

-Notre Dame while not required to become a full member in football would play four BE team per year on a home and home basis. This would increase the value of the TV rights, improve conference status, sell tickets, and give the team in the Big East some impact on ND's post season. The Irish will not be full members in football but need to realize that they benefit from the prosperity of the group.

The cliché is that doing nothing is a choice. In the case of the Big East nothing is the wrong choice.
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