Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Are big-time sports worth it and spoiled kids

Thanks to John W for passing along this Atlantic article on college sports. The Flutie Effect gets mentioned but it is not the focus of the article. I know the stats of the Flutie effect have been debated and challenged for years, but I do think sports (specifically football) have had a definite positive impact on Boston College. While the school is so much more than sports, sports has been a great vehichle for spreading that message. And our unique position of being the only Jesuit school playing big time sports is a strong selling point.

In contrast, this is the type of article that makes you cringe at college sports. Nothing makes the process seem more exploitative and mercenary than learning kids are picking programs based on jersey numbers.


JBQ said...

According to a recent Forbes article, ND has the second most lucrative college football team at 112 million. Texas is valued at 129 mill. Penn St., LSU, and Michigan make up the top five. ND has 72M in revenue and 47M in profit while Texas has 96M in revenue and 71M in profit.

blockparty said...

Please allow me to vent for a few minutes about the current state of our basketball team. It is the ramblings of a madman.

It is a colossal failure that BC is starting 5 freshman this year and Skinner is not to blame. BC is not a NBA factory, e.g. Kentucky, nor is it coming off of a collegiate catastrophe, e.g. Len Bias, Sandusky. It is a solid NCAA program that went 7 out of 10 for NCAA championship appearances. To go from that to where we are now, without a cancerous coach like JOB blowing up the team or point shaving, is absolutely horrendous.

We all know that Skinner lost his key assistants and stopped recruiting as well as he had. Instead of recruiting Craig Smith he recruited a shorter, fatter version in Shamari Spears. BUT he did have 3 solid recruits coming in as well as existing talent and transfers. Bradley Heslip is on Baylor contributing 10pts per game, Kevin Noreen is seeing more time at West Virginia and our old friend Evan Ravenel is seeing minutes at Ohio State!!

GDF then kicks him out, and brings Donahue in. I don’t know if Donahue tried to keep the recruits or if he didn't but come on, the fact that we have 3 former BC players / commits playing at top basketball programs while we are a doormat of division I basketball should make BC fans sick. If you take over a business you try to RETAIN the talent to ease the transition while you make your changes. So what if Al’s guys don’t fit into Donahue’s system, you’re a coach, be a little flexible (isn’t this what Al haters really despised when Al kept cramming the flex down his players throats when he didn’t have the right team for it?) I understand that players may leave anyways, but to keep no one!?

And it all comes down to GDF.. who completely mishandled the situation. How do you allow your new coach not to retain any incoming recruits. He just absolutely despised paying Al Skinner all this money to wear turtle neck sweaters and look like a boob on the sidelines. Once Donahue from Cornell came around he knew he had someone who he could sell on paying for a buyout of Al and bring someone new in with Academic prowess and making it to a Sweet 16. I guess he thought that blowing the BC basketball for 3 years would be no problem with the fans who had been accustomed to being competitive.

Listen I loved Al Skinner and but I as all BC fans could see that he was slipping especially with the loss of Cooley. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of him but I don’t blame people for wanting someone else. But, to blow it all up, not even try and salvage any of the talent that was currently there is just disgusting.

Now we have 5 freshman that, in the Ivy league, would finish in the bottom half. This doesn’t mean that Anderson wouldn’t be an impact player with Noreen, Ravenel and Heslip around, it just means that both Donahue and GDF have failed BC basketball.

Anonymous said...

1994-95 11-22-2
1995-96 16-17-3
1996-97 15-19-4
1997-98 28-9-5 Hockey East, Tournament Champions, NCAA Tournament finalists

Let's all be glad that message boards don't make decisions about coaches. Jerry York would not have made it past year 3 around here.

Donahue made his decisions on Al's guys and went a different way for a reason. He plays a completely different style of play from "The Flex" and those players did not fit his style and/or BC.

9 freshman will probably be 6 juniors in two years. He clearly needs 2-3 recruits same as he had at Cornell that put him over the top. I have not watched them much but I am told he has one real potential player on the team. Two more to go.

6-6 Fordham just beat #24 Harvard, it is college basketball and it comes and goes....

JDK said...

Michael - you raise a good point but overall I agree with Block Party.

I don't think the argument is against Donahue as a program builder from scratch.. he could turn out to be a great coach or a dud it's too early to tell (though watching the team doesn't breed much confidence right now). He did it at Cornell maybe he can translate that to ACC competition.

However I think what you can say that to think as a BC fan that this transition was mishandeled since when did we have to build a program from scratch? (I don't know much about BC Hockey in the 90s but it looks like Jerry York took over after 3 losing seasons in a row, where as Donahue comes in after a rebuilding losing season, tourney, a disappointing losing season)

GDF took a team that was not doing as well as it had in previous years and blew it up for a more "exciting brand of basketball." Yes the flex doesn't always put butts in the seats but I tell you what really won't.. getting blown out by 50 by UNC. Yes, Donahue could get this thing going in 3/4 years but I think Al would have made the tourney last year and have a good shot to make it this year and the next.

I think it is safe to say that Donahue has 0 chance to make the tourney this year or next. And if Donahue became a basketball Jerry York, the best for BC fans.

jjmj said...

What was BC like pre Flutie...?

students showed up for games against Holy Cross, Villanova
and the like, So did alumni.
all sitting in a much smaller stadium, usually sold out.

The Jesuits influenced campus life
more than the sports programs did.
They were everywhere.

Although the pre Flutie BC had a lot less sports press, BC was considered a solid college on par with Scranton, Holy Cross, Marquette, ST Louis, Loyola, Villanova, Fordham, but not as storied as ND or Georgetown...but close.

There were a lot of local hardworking kids who went to BC.

Things always have pro's and con's, but BC would have thrived without sports, but in a different way.

Now that BC has big time sports the trick I think is not let sports
obscure the real mission of BC.
even harder is to make BC affordable for the middle class.

Joe said...

Check out the non-cringe worthy comments from Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins at the Kickoff luncheon in Orlando at the Champs bowl. His 7.5 minute YouTube video (google it)talk is about the positives of "grateful" student athletes (or "priviledged" as Kirk states re: himself)..which he then tranlates into "responsibile" actions (vs. "entitled" athletes that make most of the headlines today).

The above video was mentioned by one of the announcers during the 2nd half of the Mich. St./Ga. game...which was a doozie.

Thanks for your great articles & perspectives atleagle.

mod34b said...

ATL. Why are you propping up the Flutie Effect Myth? As you know, it is just not so. It is a falsehood (or, at best, a huge and not credible exaggeration) repeated again and again by lazy sportswriters. Here is why: http://bcm.bc.edu/issues/spring_2003/ll_phenomenology.html

mod34b said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Jerry York had already won a national title (at Bowling Green) when he came to BC. He was a sure thing. It made sense to give him a few years. I understand the basic point you're trying to make (don't judge a coach based on his first year or two), but the York analogy simply doesn't fit.

John said...

I agree with Tim.

John said...

The best AD is the next AD.

Gene must go.

VT and the ACC got jobbed last night.

Ry said...

You can't say that all the guys who were run off were not Donahue's type of player. Rakim Sanders had range and athleticism...was he too quick for Donahue? With only one year remaining, it was a shame that he transferred And if Brady Heslip isn't Donahue's type of player (3 point shooter who can't play D) then I don't know what is.

Joseph said...

So, who can say with certainty why they left? Speculation to bolster a predetermined viewpoint is fun but not very illuminating.

EL MIZ said...

exactly Ry. it is a 2-way street; with a guy like heslip, who's skills fit in seemingly to a T, why does it have to be donahue who said "you have to leave." it is just as likely that heslip said "i don't want to play here for X" and X could have been donahue, X could have been a bunch of other things. without the immortal blaudschun or ATL or some other journalist getting an inside scoop, its impossible to know.

blockparty -- i feel your pain man, it is really disappointing to see such a drop-off. to be fair, donahue did keep jackson around for one more year, kept raji and paris as well. you mention cooley and i think that is what the debate will come down to -- cooley interviewed for the BC job and was the big recruiter here during al's time (rakim transferred to fairfield to be with cooley). cooley is now of course at providence and it will be interesting to compare the two 4 years from now to see who's team is better.

JDK -- "al would have made the tournament last year" i think is grounded more in fantasy than reality. in al's last year, he went 15-16 with the same team that donahue coached last year to 21 wins PLUS he had rakim sanders, arguably the team's best or second best player. why then would al have coached that team to a 6-win improvement last year?

in my opinion, there are two ways to win with BC basketball. we have a program that has be to be among the bottom of all division 1 teams in terms of home atmosphere. we are not getting a guy who is looking at kentucky or duke or NC; watch the 2 home games and you can't blame him. we also have apparent academic restrictions and graduation rates, so no 1-and-dones or guys that are likely to leave school early.

the 2 ways are either how Al did it (a system coach [the flex] who relies on finding guys who slipped through the cracks in recruiting, often times for character reasons but other times because there is some perceived physical defect like being too short or whatever) OR how Donahue allegedly plans to do it (a system coach [up-tempo, ball movement, spacing] who relies on building a program, bringing in high character players who dive for loose balls and bring effort every night to make up for the fact that they were not mcdonald's all americans and are not the same caliber of athlete that will go to duke or NC; bring in a few of these quality guys every yr and play seniors and juniors who know the system, have experience, etc).

my guess is Gene thought cooley represented the "Al approach" and wanted something different given that many of Al's guys had screwed up and blemished BC (pistol whippings, drug deals gone bad, guys jumping out of windows to avoid home intruders, etc). donahue was the best guy on the market at the time; (he made as many sweet 16's at cornell as al did during his tenure at BC, fact or fiction?).

EL MIZ said...

i'm not a Gene apologist or anything; i really wish we were better. that being said, i think many people just look at the box scores, see that we are apparently getting drubbed, and vent about donahue not being the right guy and another reason to rip gene. if you watch the games, i think we have some exciting players and its hard not to appreciate the effort that the kids play with. ryan anderson looks like a real legitimate prospect as a stretch PF who can shoot the 3 but also score inside (he was Mr. California last year -- former winners include tyson chandler, baron davis, trevor ariza, chase budinger, tayshaun prince), patrick heckmann can handle the ball well and create his own shot as a shooting guard, we have 2 pretty mobile 7 footers, 2 guards who look somewhat dynamic (daniels as a slasher, jackson as a shooter). those are the good. the bad is i don't think danny rubin or gabe moton are ACC caliber players, matt humphrey (the transfer from oregon) is not good and seems to go 3-13 every game, we occasionally play a 25 yr old grad student (cahill) who i'm pretty sure used to be a plex all-star, and the only 2 recruits for next year are point guards on a team desperately in need of size and rebounders.

regardless, a year of baptism by fire and an offseason of playing together and LIFTING WEIGHTS (clifford needs to put on 25 lbs of muscle easily, caudill needs to get better conditioning, anderson needs to be tougher) and i think there will be marked improvement next year.

Tim said...

El Miz-
"we have a program that has be to be among the bottom of all division 1 teams in terms of home atmosphere"

Agree that BC's home atmosphere is wanting, but this is a chicken-and-egg situation. I've been to BC games when we had a competitive team on the floor (esp. against Syracuse, Duke, and UNC, but against other less notable opponents, too) that were packed, and the crowd was electrifying. Put a terrible team on the floor, however, and you can't fault people for not spending their hard-earned dough and several hours of their busy lives to watch BC get run out of its own gym.

The same is true in football. Compare our home attendance in 2007 with this year. Meanwhile, we currently have the highest attendance of any eastern hockey team, because we actually have a good hockey team.

Put a winner on the floor/field/ice and fans show up and make noise.

EL MIZ said...

Tim --

i respectfully disagree. look at kentucky's "midnight madness" or at the attendance at ohio state's spring football game. these are events of the YEAR at these places. there is just not the same amount of fan passion at BC that there is at the basketball factory schools or the football factory schools.

i've been to great atmospheres at BC, no doubt about it. good teams (and good opponents) bring that, you are right. my sophomore year at BC there were people camping out to get good seats to the duke basketball game (or maybe it was syracuse, i don't remember). it was the confluence of a great BC basketball team and a great opponent; but places like duke and NC need no confluence. people camp out every game, regardless of the year.

fan passion is yet another hurdle that BC needs to get over when attempting to recruit kids. state schools have fans that didn't even go to the school. BC has almost no local support (i wouldn't be surprised if the Brighton Coalition campaigned against all BC sports given the resulting depravity those residents are forced to see; this is indeed sarcasm) and the students will ONLY go and care if BC is ranked in the top 20 and the corresponding opponent is known and supposed to be good.

CEW said...

"And our unique position of being the only Jesuit school playing big time sports is a strong selling point."

I'm confused, are Georgetown and Gonzaga not playing big time college basketball year in and year out?

Tim said...

Kentucky bball has won more games than any other program. They've won 7 national titles and 26 SEC titles. Ohio State football has also won seven national titles, plus 34 Big Ten titles. That kind of long-term success breeds strong fan support / passion that is quite literally passed down through the generations.

Can you think of any examples in the college ranks of a sports program with a very mediocre history (like BC hoops and football) but with zealous, passionate fan support? I can't think of any. (In the pro ranks, the Chicago Cubs come to mind, admittedly.)

John said...

Only Jesuit school playing big time football.

mod34b said...

Tim -- the school you are looking for is Clemson

Tim said...

Funny, I immediately thought of Clemson when writing my post. But then I looked into it, and although they're not exactly world-beaters, unlike BC they've at least won a legitimate football national title (yes, I'm aware of BC's 1940 claim), plus 14 ACC titles. Their basketball history is pretty comparable to BC's (just one Elite 8 appearance all-time and zero ACC titles), but then again I think they're known more for passionate football support, not basketball.

mod34b said...

Tim -- Clemson won the NC in 1981 and won the ACC Championship in 1991. Then there was a 20 year drought. Clemson won the ACCC in 2011.

Clemson was hot in the 1980s and then had a resurrection 30 years hence. Very BC like, but the fans are more insane -- much more.

Texas A&M is insane for foorball and has not won too much either. They last on the NC in 1939 and the league championship 14 years ago in 1998. 2-9 in last 11 bowls. Very rabid fans -- very.

ND is another big name with not much success in decades but still has the fans. Last NC was 1988 and they are 2-10 in last 12 bowls.

Tim said...

ND is the quintessential example of what I was talking about earlier: a team with so much historical success (11 national titles and I think they're second on the all-time wins list) that fan support is virtually guaranteed for a generation or so.

A&M has won a bunch of Southest Conference titles and one Big 12 title. Clemson, as mentioned, has won a bunch of ACC titles.

Again, I'm not trying argue that programs like Clemson and A&M are real juggernauts, but the fact remains that even these two programs have had much more historical success than BC. In terms of fan support, it also helps that they are both larger state schools.

Anyway, this discussion started with basketball. I'm sticking to my guns. BC's basketball history is virtually non-existent. No national titles. No final four appearances. Only two conference tournament titles. You build a program that is consistently successful at a high level, and fan support will follow.

EL MIZ said...

Tim, my original comment pertained to recruiting and the type of coach that can win at BC. since BC doesn't have that tradition (we both agree) AND since we have academic restricitions, its not like we can hire john calipari and have him come in and start signing mcdonald's all americans. its just not happening.

we can have a coach like skinner, who thrives at finding under the radar guys. this type of program fails when you cease finding those guys (see the 15-16 season). you can also have a guy like donahue, who may not recruit the blue chippers but goes after the next rung of good kids who want to play at major schools, and you bring in enough of them that ultimately you have a team that is deep and hopefully experienced.

unfortunately we are in essentially year 1 of this.

so my comment had to do with donahue's expectations and the team this year. people are complaining but what do you want -- we have 7 freshman, and given BC's position in the college basketball world, those 7 freshman aren't going to be 1-and-done NBA guys or Mcdonalds AA's, so expecting this team to be like 11-3 right now as i read some people criticism's to amount to is completely unrealistic.

it had little to do with what you are perceiving it as, which is that BC will never have good fan support for the basketball program. i've been at good atmospheres at conte, against syracuse, against villanova, against duke. i have no doubt that atmosphere will come back when the team is good.

Tim said...

Yes, I realize I kind of highjacked the conversation a bit and steered it from the coaching discussion to the fan support issue.

Anyway, let's all hope that some day soon Donahue or someone else can build a program worth getting excited about.

blockparty said...

el miz,

so you are saying that even though we are starting 7 freshman and even though we will only win 5 games this year, thats acceptable?

EL MIZ said...

Blockparty, what did you expect coming into this season? i expected a sub-500 season and not making the NCAA tournament. our best player left for the draft and 5 other guys (raji, southern, trapani, paris, ) all graduated. jackson's best friend (elmore) transfered back home to colorado. all told, 7 guys left.

i don't think we're going to get blanked in ACC play, so i think we'll have more than 5 wins. its never "acceptable" to have such a bad season but losing 7 guys from last year definitely put us in a bad position.

what did you expect? what is acceptable to you, never having a losing season?

i agreed with much of your earlier post; how gene is to blame for letting the program more or less fall apart after cooley and al's other top assistant (forget his name) left after 06 or 07.