Saturday, January 05, 2008

Less Than Rosie

PAG or Premier Auto Group was Ford Motor's attempt to cobbble together a premium, high margin consisting of Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo with the existing Lincoln division. On paper this is an excellent part of the auto industry to enter as Porsche reportedly earns $28,000 per car or at least enough to be buying Volkswagen.

Ford's problem is that they were trying to put create PAG out of a patchwork collection of firms with rich histories and the parts did not add up. The problems were:

1. Diverse product lines and that for the most part did not share much in common with the larger parent firm.
2. The expense of developing new products for these unique entities.
3. The lack of a home run car. Or more exactly, never getting the volume out of Jaguar for the X-type (a dressed Ford Mondeo) and the S-type that was hoped.

The parts were good but the expectations were too high and the with the down turn in the fortunes of that parent company PAG was doomed. Aston Martin has been sold and Ford is in talks with Tata to unload Jaguar and Land Rover. Porsche's success was built over years with patients (having to recover from the 914 and 924) while PAG's life depended on quick success.

When the ACC expanded John Swofford had visions eclipsing the SEC by adding football to the the conference's highly successful basketball tradition. The plan was simple add three more teams with solid football reputations (and their respective TV markets), improve leverage with Disney Sports, add a lucrative championship game and get additional dollars from putting two teams in BCS bowls. After the lack of an impressive team during this past season and needing to move the championship game due to lack of interest in travelling to Jacksonville, it may not be time for a fire sale but a lowering of expectations may be in order.

In How much worse can bad get? Bob Lipper all but throws in the towel on the Atlantic Coast Conference as a football power.

The ACC is actually in a perpetual spin cycle. It's now 1-9 in these BCS jousts, 4-37 against top-10 opponents over the past seven seasons and nowhere close to the muscular alliance it hoped to become when it expanded clumsily four years ago by extending its corporate-greed tentacles to Boston and South Florida.

The ACC lacks a hit product. The ACC does not have one team let alone two that are what could be considered marque programs. Virginia Tech, the conference champion, lost when confronted with quality out of conference teams getting destroyed by LSU and coming up short against against Kansas. The teams of the ACC have all the sex appeal of Rosie the Robot as Miami is mired in mediocrity, Florida State waits for Bowden to retire, and Virginia Tech looks for that big win. The rest of the memebers have done little or nothing to attract fans. (Wake forest as the little team that almost could being an exception).

Even the writer of the ACC Football Report seems to be at a loss to explain the "commonness" of the conference and has cried Uncle. Given that one of the motivating factors for the Business of College Football (BCF) was the ACC raid on the Big East, you might expect cheers of joy over this state of affairs but, there is no such joy to be found.

The ACC unlike PAG has the time to allow for the flower improve. The business of college football does not currently have obvious agents of change that will cause a new set of conference realignments so the ACC has time to change its current situation.

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