Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've been having this ongoing debate with a couple of guys over at Wilner's blog regarding SJSU's move into the WAC. My bone of contention is that I don't think that it's suck a slamdunk that others seem to think it was. Sure, it looks good now, but for the past 10 years as all our high-profile teams have struggled to remain competitive and subsequently taken big hits at teh box office, I tend to think staying in the Big West might not have been so bad.

I don't have access to financial records or anything, but I'd imagine that we've spent at least twice as much on travel costs -- maybe considerably more -- by having to travel 16 different teams all over the country, as far north as Idaho, as far east as Louisianna, as far west as Hawaii and as far south as New Mexico. With the constant flux in membership -- at least since SJSU joined -- the travel issues have always been this way, sometimes even worse. With a much tighter-grouping of schools in the Big West, this is much less of an issue.

I'd imagine that massive amount of money spent on travel easily negates any gain we've made from regularly putting two-three teams in the NCAA Tournament -- schools are paid by number of teams from their conference and how far they go -- and having three bowl tie-ins with a fourth school often getting a more prestigous bowl -- like Boise in the Fiesta this year.

As far as prestige and image go, I just don't think SJSU has benefitted much here. Our teams have been so bad, I seriously doubt anyone looks at us and says "wow, I'm going to SJSU just because they play in the WAC." Sure, the conference gets better exposure than the Big West through its tv contracts, but SJSU rarely is picked for national broadcasts -- football has been on probably four times in 10 years and basketball, to my knowledge, has never made a national TV appearance. We get some of that money, but the prestige, image factor is essentially zero. I'd much rather have fielded competitive teams in the Big West than struggled in the WAC.

But that's where the rub lies. If we had still sucked in the Big West, I suppose we really would have cut football since there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and we certainly wouldn't ever gotten Dick Tomey. Still, I'll stick by my premise in this sense, if Bob Caret hadn't left, Leland Yu hadn't quit after one month and Don Kassing hadn't been hired as president we would not be where we are today. Kassing, more than membership in the WAC, is responsible for this. He had the foresight to fire Chuck Bell, fire Fitz Hill, fire Phil Johnson and hire Tom Bowen, who then started cleaning up the athletics department. These guys are responsible for making membership in the WAC work for us. Without these guys, we would have been better off staying in the Big West.

And where are we? We're playing in a bowl, something the Albuquerque Tribune apparently writes about on occassion.

Just wondering if the Merc is going to start writing anything about college football that doesn't focus on Stanford's cloak-and-dagger style search for a new coach.


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