Tuesday, January 17, 2012

L’AFFAIRE LUPOI

      

      “Beat me,”  said the masochist.  “No I won’t,” replied the sadist.  

            This old punch line sums up the current relationship between Cal Alumni and the extant administration.  We keep coming back for more—and they keep spanking us.  We must like it, or why else do we put up with it?

            Big Game October 20th?  I thought the Olmec God, Bolon Yokte, predicted the end of civilization during the 13th b'ak'tun, which won’t be here until December 21, 2012.  How could he have been off by almost two months?

                But the unmentionable sacrilege of Big Game in October could almost be explained away by other Athletic  Directors from the Pac 8 Conference—er, Pac 12 kicking sand in our faces.    No doubt Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State had our best interests at heart.  

No one saw this coming? 

                Alas, we can’t blame them or Bolon Yokte for L’affaire Lupoi.  That rests squarely on the administration and misplaced priorities

                At first glance, it could be portrayed as a prudent decision.  In these days of austerity, faculty unrest, higher student tuition, and the attempt to cut five sports, how can an athletic department ljustify paying an assistant coach, Tosh Lupoi,  the $500,000?

                Shouldn’t we applaud our school’s unwillingness to partake in the arms race which is destroying the concept of college football being played by “student athletes?”

                That was my first reaction, too (after vomiting on the dog). Then I remembered how I touted Solyndra as a good investment and decided to take a second look. 
                
                Let’s review the bidding.  (We masochists can’t get enough pain).

                Thanks to Alumni like Barclay Simpson and dozens of others we just completed the Simpson High Performance center to the tune of $150,000,000 (hopefully, that’s all).  I hear it’s better than the concrete floored weight room under the leaky stands at Edwards Stadium which we used.  

The stadium is set to open this fall with Oak, Burlap and Zachery Running Wolf planning to cut the ribbon.   Price tag, north of $ 340,000,000.

                The State ain’t paying for that.  We are, via ESL’s and ticket revenue.  

                Yes, the  Regents  put the good faith and credit of the University behind the bonds (don’t ask me how this is done—ask Petee) and if ticket sales don’t pay down the debt—the U gets left holding the bag.  (In reality, the tax payers end up loosing as the Regents backed it--but it's complicated).

IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE  EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT.

     There's no turning back.

    Were I running the world (fat chance--I don't even run my house), we'd play ball as we did before the Wright Bros.  Just local teams, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, Stanford, USF, and the L.A. squads for excitement, adventure, and oodles of silicon.  It would take place on Saturday afternoons--I'd see my friends--tailgate and enjoy young men banging their heads together.

       But that's not the commitment we made.  We committed to go big time with half a BILLION dollars in facilities and we need some expertise in paying for them.  We can't have amateur hours like losing revenue generating assets like Lupoi.  (Note how  hip I am.  In this new modern world of Pac 12 football he's no long a human being--just like we alumni are no longer people--like the players--he's just a machine to crank out gold).

                                Give Tedford his due.  He sold this plan on the basis that with upgraded facilities, we could compete recruiting-wise with the big boys.   The recipe for football success  is sometimes fairly simple.  Get the players,  add a pinch of coaching, (see Jim Harbaugh), attract a large fan base for home field advantage add a dose of student  school spirit and presto:  Double digit wins—big time bowls—big time revenues from TV and Radio, to say nothing of lots of tennis shoes and white helmets from sneaker companies.

                Before the new conference realignments, Notre Dame claimed to bring in over $5,000,000 per week not counting TV money.  The Bears brought in around $6,000,000 all year in TV revenue and what, $1,000,000 per game day?   If someone will send me the actually figures, I’ll get them out immediately, but don’t have time tonight.  

With the new Pac 12 contract it should be around $22,000,000 from TV, alone.   Add to that an average of 50,000 fans per week (at $100 per fan—tics, food,souvenieres,parking-- for 6 home games that’s 5 million per game or an additional $30,000,000 in gross revenue).   At  25,000 fans per week it’s half that.  

                Two out of three pieces are in alignment.  The Simpson Center is up and running the Stadium is almost set to go.

All that is missing are the elite players.  Well, we were just rated the 8th leading recruiting class in the country.

                (Inside the Athletic Department  my source, Dumpster Muffin, (think of her as “Deep Throat”—I do) said the Bears’ Brain Trust could envision not just the third best, but perhaps the number one recruiting class in the Nation.

                For the first time in History we had two five Star athletes (ok, for the first time since Forbes and I were there), and some big names were tilting slightly towards us.  (Can you spell Arik Armstead?).

BTW, elite players can bring on problems of their own.  We need to keep perspective.  We've seen the scandals at other schools and major credit to Tedford for not dragging us down that road.  Hopefully we can maintain it.

                However, now we’ve lost one five Star (McCarthy) to UCLA due directly to Tosh’s departure and the other, Shaq Thompson is 50/50 to de-commit  to UW.  

What’s this tell us?  Tosh Lupoi is literally worth his weight in gold. 

                Washington took its share of $22,000,000 and allocated $300,000 (assuming the guy he replaced was making 200 grand)  and literally bought big time players (indirectly) by giving that money to Tosh.

                On what are we spending our 22 million dollars?

                Why did Lupoi go?  Dumpster Muffin says he wanted to stay.  It is true that he and Tedford occasionally butted heads.  He wasn’t pleased at being sacrificed on the alter of injurygate.  He may have had some issues with Prendergast.   All this is tough to know for certain.

                What we do know is a bump from $164,000 to a reported $500,000 ain’t bad for a kid his age.  Who can compete with that?

               Someone who has a half billion dollars in bricks and mortar on the line--that's who.

                We all understand that an organization might not want to upset a salary structure by increasing one assistant well above the others. 
 
                But Tosh wasn’t just an assistant coach.  He was a very high performing asset who was literally bringing dollars and cents to the bottom line.  My guess is that 200 for coaching and a matching sum has recruiting head could have done the trick—maybe less—had we done it earlier.

                All he needed was some love.  

                Why was no one minding the store?  Why did no one go to him and say, “We are on a roll.  We don’t want to lose you.  What will it take to keep  you here—long before he got the offer from Washington?

                Why didn’t they structure his salary at x number of dollars for being an assistant coach and separate compensation for his recruiting prowess?  He was named the recruiter of the year last year, did no one think any other school would notice?

                Why did no one communicate to us, that it would be politically unpalatable to meet Washington’s offer, but perhaps a combination Cal/Alumni increase could do it?  

                Did they think after Rugby and Baseball the Alumni were all tapped out?  If so, just another reason why that fiasco was handled so poorly.

                Anyone who has raised a teenager knows what it is like to be held in contempt and treated with disdain (at least occasionally).  Well that’s the way the administration treats us.  We don’t count.  They don’t come to us for help.  They can’t see us.  They can’t hear us.

                We can tell by the un-returned phone calls, the unanswered e-mails, the 2nd rate seating at ATT&T (imagine opposing teams on the 50 yard line seats), the lack of acknowledgement after pledges—even the lack of executive porta-potties for the ladies at Memorial Stadium after we began to sell out.

                If you are displeased with this fiscally irresponsible decision let ‘em know.  If you support it, do that too.

Chancellor Birgeneau:  chancellor@berkeley.edu

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70