< A Cal Fan's Notes

A Cal Fan's Notes

Saturday, June 28, 2014

 

WHY THE CHANCELLOR DRINKS FOR FREE



A little bird flew through my window Thursday and told me (provided that I keep it to myself) that should anyone see Chancellor Dirks sidling up to a bar this week, they should buy him a brewski.  He had earned a few free cold ones.

It’s not easy, so early in one’s tenure, to make an announcement that a major player in one’s department is "history."

One must be gracious.   (This is three days late as it is my 7th re-write—it’s so hard to be polite and refrain from what one really wants to say).

But we (the tapeworm and I) would be remiss and less than honest, if we didn’t admit that a gigantic weight has been lifted from the shoulders of those who love Cal. 

Sometimes I think there are two camps.  Those who love Cal and those who love “Berkeley.”

It’s kind of a Sunni/Shia thing, with slightly more be-headings here than there—at least metaphorically.

Our former Chancellor loves “Berkeley.”  And his vision filtered down into the Athletic department.  He saw Cal as a world-wide University, catering to the best minds around the globe.  Financial pressures led him to sell desks to wealthy out of state students (who paid three times more than locals) to the detriment of  in-state students whose parents, grandparents and great grand parents, built our school with their tax dollars. 

He wasted money on a bloated administration and paid teachers like Professor Barsky (the one who attacked Cal athletics)   to teach classes on “How to photograph demonstrations at Cal”—and others to give finals where kids had to make sock dolls--under the guise of academic excellence.

But I digress.

Chancellor Dirks now has an opportunity to “reset” Cal as the greatest University in the World.  Like it or not, Athletics is in the forefront of any school’s “brand.”

Since I’m sure he wants my opinion (and he constantly calls and begs for it), the Chancellor could do worse than appoint a new Athletic Director who is “Cal-centric.”  One that understands that each University is unique--and Cal is “uniquer” than most.

No.  We don’t need some yahoo who can sing the Cal drinking song and “rally the troops.”  We need an adult.

Under the previous administration Cal grads in the Athletic Department were edged out.  The mantra was “We’ll never win over the traditionalists.”  They openly treated us with disdain.

That’s why we lacked “Mos maiorum”—The old Roman concept of collectively adhering to the time-honored principles and social practices that made Rome, Rome. Mos maiorum was unwritten—traditional—but everyone knew (and most adhered) to the “code.”  That has been missing for 10 years under this past administration.

Let’s hope the new AD hires people around her based on merit and on knowledge of the culture—that she finds roles for former Cal greats like Craig Morton,  Dave Ortega and others.

The Chancellor now has the chance to say “no mas” when it comes to three consecutive years of A.P.R. scores of 934, 926, and 923—landing our football team at the very bottom of ALL division one schools!  (High marks for bringing it up to a more modest 969 this year--but the obvious question is, "What took so long?").

Cal can never be at the very bottom of anything—especially the Pac 12 when it comes to graduation rates for our footballers and basketballers.

Let’s hope the new AD never thinks it’s a good idea to play the Cal Stanford Big game in a foreign stadium.  And more important—(mos maiorum) she understands why such a concept is beyond silly—and downright insulting.

Let’s hope she never thinks that a program that graduates its kids, supports itself financially, and wins national championships like Rugby, ever gets demoted.

Should the new AD ever have to choose one sport over another (soccer vs. Rugby—roughly the same budget and same number of kids) let’s hope she never again bases it on the Director’s Cup.  How silly is that?

When times get tough, let’s hope she turns to the Cal community for help and never makes unilateral decisions like cutting sports without giving clear cut guidelines—goals and benchmarks—for the sport’s supporters to meet in order to keep the sport on Campus.  If they fail, fair enough—cut it.

(In fairness to the former AD, it is an open argument amongst those involved whether this insensitive approach, which turned off so many Cal supporters, was the brainchild of the former Chancellor or the AD).

Let’ hope she builds a culture where all coaches understand that they and they themselves are ultimately responsible for what happens on the field and that she never allows a coach to throw an assistant coach or a kid under the bus without acknowledging his own culpability.  As another Bear, Bear Bryant used to say, “When something good happens, the kids did it.  When something bad happens—that’s on me.”

Let’s hope she uses some gentle persuasion to stop the Campus cops from breathalizing students and making them wait 30 to 45 minutes to enter the stadium.  We should do all we can to encourage student attendance.

Let’s hope she knows how to use a chain saw.

Let’s hope she reads the well written article on the demise of student and alumni participation at Michigan:

http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/road-saturday/201406/college-football-fan-stadium-students-business-tv-ncaa-michigan-tickets

Let’s hope she sees David Shaw’s TED conference 10 minute video:


and sees what can be done at an academic institution when the focus is on kids and academics—not kids who (maybe if we play our cards right) can just barely get through school.

Let’s hope she understands why out of all the schools in the country we are the only one referred to as LOYAL Golden Bears.

Let’s hope she follows the S.E.C. lead and says no more cupcakes with names like Blue Hose and Stanford—er Southern Utah on the football schedule.  Inflating coaches’ records, or rankings is a disservice to the kids who came to play the game and test themselves against authentic opponents.

Let’s hope she learns the value of the Cal band and bans all piped in music during football games and builds a game day experience rather than a TV oriented experience.

Let us hope she learns to say “thank you” when major donors try to help.

Clearly, college athletics are changing—the O’Bannon case may have serious ramifications and the Northwestern NLRB decision could change things radically.

That means we don’t need a new Athletic Director who majored in Sports Management (though my daughter did get her M.A. from Columbia in that field).

The Chancellor could take a page from the Wizard of Oz and realize that there is no place like home.

We need someone who can navigate the treacherous waters in this new age of intercollegiate athletics. It kills me to say it, but we need to follow the  Stanford State’s Indians’ example.

Since the Chancellor keeps asking my advice on a daily basis, here’s a tip:  It starts with an Athletic Czar.  The Chancellor could look to local businessmen (or women) who have built and run successful companies.  There is no surfeit of such gentlemen.  Since I don’t have permission to print their names—in the tradition of anti-establishment Cal—I will—just to tick them off (hey, this is a private e-mail for Allah’s sake):  Ned Speaker, Gary Rogers,  Joe O’Donnell, Dwight Barker, Grant Inman, Bob or Wally Haas,  Jim Fetherstone, Stu Gordon, Buddy Lyons, Rick Cronk, Bill Ausphal and Dick Beahrs are just a few of the Northern California names that come to mind. 

There are dozens of talented ex-CEO’s on our bench—and I haven’t even touched Southern California.

Anyone of them could serve-–though each one will adamantly deny being willing to do it.   (However, if you offered them $1 per year, they might give back and take it on for 12 months or so).  

Remember, without men like them there would be no Cal sports today.  Should I repeat that?  Every achievement Cal has had over these past 10 years can be laid directly at their feet—plus a few others.

They know how to put together a team, hire the right people, establish a vision, develop a strategy and put metrics in place to measure progress in a meaningful way.

Plus they know what we all know:  That like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ  she already possesses the secret to achieving her dream—she needn’t search any further than her own feet.

Click her heels and what does she get?  Jack Clark, of course—not only the obvious—but the perfect choice for AD.  (Although now that he’s been mentioned here, he’s doomed for life).

If the Chancellor doesn’t like that idea, he can always hire my daughter.  That way I’ll be out of his hair because (like all kids) she never listens to anything I say, anyway.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

"We don’t want men who will lie down bravely to die
But men who will fight valiantly to live.
Winning is not everything,
And it is far better to Play the game squarely and lose
Than to win at the sacrifice of an ideal"

ANDY SMITH