Friday, March 02, 2012

L’AFFAIRE LUPOI: LES LESSONS



                Recently, certain Old Blues have been raking Tosh Lupoi over the coals regarding his “questionable recruiting tactics.”

                This week’s S.I. has this to say regarding head coach John Calipari:  “Lured the following year to Kentucky, Calipari took two key players from Memphis’s top-ranked recruiting class, John Wall and Demarcus cousins, with him.”

                One should never justify bad behavior with worse behavior, but lots of folks have come down on Tosh for “stealing” kids he’d recruited to Cal.  I assume those critics felt it was wrong that Chuck Muncie and Vince Ferragamo and the dozens of other athletes we rarely hear about  ended up at Cal via the same route.

                Michigan State icon, Duffy Doroughty, said football was not a contact sport.  “Dancing is a contact sport,” he said.  “Football is a collision sport.”  Well it’s clear that recruiting has more in common with football than dancing.

                Personally, I don’t see how these adults put up with it.  Who would want to spend his time in some mother’s living room, fawning over her apple pie and vying for the attention of an 18 year old while he alternates between Pokeman, and Grand Auto Theft -- while you keep trying to fend off “Uncle Joe” (there’s always an uncle Joe) who needs a job which pays six figures?

                Macbeth summed up our recent recruiting dust up best “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

                In truth five star athletes often play like one stars and certain two stars (think Alex Mack) become five Stars.  It’s an inexact science.  And if we get more five stars like MeSean Jackson, who wants to root for them anyway?

                Make no mistake:  We were headed for the number one recruiting class (on paper) in the country. 

                Of  course, that and $4.95 will get you a skinny venti roybo soy latte frapacino at Starbucks.  (Ok.  I made that up).  But the rest of this is true.

                Paying an assistant football coach $500,000 (almost what it costs to fund an entire sport like Rugby or Soccer) won’t pass mustard in today’s political climate.  (Ketchup yes.  Mustard no).

                A pre-emptive strike (larger than a 10% raise) would have kept Tosh here for much less than the 500 grand.

                That being said, the AD just signed a new contract for $500,000.  She’s brought us to the highest Director’s Cup Standing ever—third place.

Which is more important?  Should we lose our best recruiter due to lack of funds or should we reverse the priorities and pay an AD $164,000 knowing we might be 100th in the Director’s Cup?  You decide.

There’s other money as well.  Coach Tedford’s yearly salary according to an article on SFGATE  is $2,756,654 


That appears to be at least market rate.

                According to the Regents’ meeting of February 5, 2009,


He will also receive the following (not counting government mandated condoms):

The retention bonuses have been eliminated and replaced with the
following:
• UC will pay $500,000 as regular income to the Coach on
January 8, 2009.
• UC will contribute $500,000 on January 8, 2009 to the
Deferred Compensation Plan on behalf of the Coach.

• On January 8 of each subsequent year the Coach is
employed through the end of each season through 2015,
including post-season play, UC will contribute $500,000 to
the Deferred Compensation Plan on behalf of the Coach.

There are other bonuses which can add up to $1,000,000 for winning the National Championship (we can all support that), but the two other most interesting ones are:

Coach remains as Head Cal Football Coach until team fully
occupies the Simpson High Performance Center (amount
due within 30 calendar days following game): $250,000

• Coach remains as Head Cal Football Coach on the date
team plays its first home football game subsequent to the
completion of the West Side Improvements (amount due
within 30 calendar days following game): $250,000

            I’m a capitalist.  Tedford negotiated fair and square. He’s entitled.

            But it now boils down to a question of priorities—both the head coach’s and the AD’s.

                We all remember when Ray Willsey insisted that part of his salary to go to his assistants when the guano hit the fan years ago—so there is precedent of a head coach contributing to assistants’ salaries when situations dictate.

                “Upsetting the salary structure” is a non-argument, though the AD holds to it.  If we want to pay off the bonds on a $350,000,000 stadium, we must pay what the market will bear.

                The girls who are responsible for delivering the most revenue—make the most dough.  The guys who sell the TV space on Fox, make more than the executives.  The same is true from law firms to Wall St.  Those who generate revenue reap the rewards.

                We’ve painted ourselves into a corner.  We are obligated to pay off the bonds.  To pay off the bonds we have to fill the stadium.  To fill the stadium we have to win.  To win we have to have BOTH the players and the coaches.

                Lupoi (apparently) was supplying the players.  He should have been compensated accordingly—not after the fact—when he was being lured away.  He should have been rewarded for what he was doing, and his $164,000 salary, clearly did not reflect that.  That was a big failure by management.

                Now that each Pac 12 school is going to get over $20,000,000 per year in TV revenue, we should have a strategic plan in place on how that money is going to be allocated given the reality of the new arms race.

                Big time football may not be in alignment with the goals of an academic University.  Someone has to make that call.

                Or as my friend says, “We’re eight months pregnant.”  The call has been made.

                If that is the case, then we need an independent commission of known alumni (you all know who they should be--not sure I'll make the cut) with the business acumen and smarts (and power) to map out a strategic plan as to how we are going to achieve the parallel goals of filling the stadium, and keeping to our core principles as a University.

                The administration has failed to outline this to us—or to themselves.  This is the biggest lesson from L’Affaire Lupoi.

                We need a plan and to plan for needs.

                Tangently—but on point if we are looking for a cause and a cure--here’s what a tall good looking guy wrote back way on November 30, 2010.

                …..But the most galling fact was the blatant dishonesty regarding our Chancellor's and AD’s approach to Rugby. 

Rugby was designated “Varsity Club” due to Title IX. 

The 64 male spots which Rugby took up were supposed to help alleviate the current imbalance (too many men, not enough women).

Here’s the dishonesty: In an effort to placate snotty Old Blues like me, they said, “No one will ever know.” Wink, wink. Details had to be worked out, but basically Coach Clark’s boys would get access to the athletic study Center, training facilities, locker rooms, athletic trainers, equipment etc. The only thing different would be that Rugby would report to a Vice Chancellor instead of the Athletic Director—making it a club sport and we could still play for and add to our 25 National championships.

Many fair minded men, women, and major donors thought that was a reasonable solution.

…..I kept my mouth shut until the Oregon fiasco.

…..Our AD and Chancellor were gaming the system. They were saying we’re a “club” sport—but we’re “wink, wink” Varsity too. As a club, we don’t count under Title IX—even though everything’s the same as when we were Varsity! “Wink, wink.”

Institutional dishonesty had become an accepted mode of behavior.

“You don’t go down with a short hard fall, you just sort of shuffle along
‘Till you lighten your load with the moral code, ‘till you can’t tell right from wrong.”

And that’s what caused the Oregon Fiasco. An institutional mentality that it is ok to flaunt the spirit of the law as long as you adhere to the “letter of the law.” 

The Chancellor and the AD created a working environment where respect for the law and the truth could be flaunted as long as it was “politically correct”--or brought in revenue (see selling desks to out of state students while denying local tax payers' kids). 

Sock doll finals, Scrabble classes, Therapy classes, Diversity classes, Mad Men classes, bloated administration—all of it could be justified as long as we all “winked” together and pretended that they were necessary to produce a holistic educational environment.

Teachers got paid—they were happy.

Administrators got jobs for life—they were happy.

Kids didn’t have to study or flunk out—they were happy.

Parents got kids who graduated—they were happy.

Rugby would be “Varsity Club”—Title IX would be happy.

Everyone was happy except the kids who had taken Professor Richmond’s Shakespeare class who bought into Polonius' words to Laertes, “This above all, to thine own self be true.”

For some of us, the entire charade regarding Rugby and cutting baseball has been one big lie.
It boiled over in the Oregon Fiasco, when students from the University of California, “Faked” injuries so that our team could slow down the Oregon juggernaut.

Many of my friends—good people all—considered it gamesmanship……

Gamesmanship? Cheating? For some it’s a tough call. 

Coach Andy Smith on the issue: “It's Better to Lose than to Win at the Sacrifice of an Ideal,”

By trying to “game the system” regarding Rugby, the Chancellor and The AD set an example that it is OK to “Look for the loop hole” as my friend says. That it is OK (in an educational institution) to take short cuts and violate the spirit of the law (Title IX)—as long as you don’t violate the letter of the law.

Tedford has a lot going for him on the asset side of the ledger. I’m not here to throw him under the bus. Think of all he's done for graduation rates.  Injurygate was not a fireable offense.

……Which is worse? Faking an injury or calling classes with sock doll finals academic courses?
Which is worse? Penalizing excellence (in the name of Rugby) or tossing a 29 year old kid under the bus for doing the same thing you have done? Bending the rules just a bit.

 (I’m not giving Tedford a pass here. Clearly, as the one in charge, it happened on his watch. He should have accepted responsibility. But he’s only reflecting the culture he’s been hired to protect and promote)…”

            The result of “Injury-gate” was a wound  that never healed.  Tosh clearly never forgave the school which branded him for life as “the coach who encouraged players to fake injuries so that….”

            Were I his parents I’d have been mad as hell at Cal and never forgiven them.

There’s a line in Doestoevsky’s The Possessed:  (or maybe it was a Gogol Short story—someone help me here).  The protagonist says (I’m paraphrasing here).  

“I despise Kirillov.”  

“Why?”  His friend asks.

“Because a while ago I offended him unjustly--and I’ve despised him ever since.”

That is the ultimate lesson of L’Affaire Lupoi.




               
               
               
               
               
               
               

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