FanPost

Summer down-time hypothetical: Play AD for a day

I've thought of this bizarre type scenario, that I wanted to get a feel for what other people might think.  I'm pretty sure I could predict the outcome, but I think it's still an interesting topic.  For the sake of this study, please think about where KSU athletics is as an example, but try and separate yourself from the program and just think of it as school X.  I promised myself I would wait for baseball to be completely over before springing this up from the ground.  Follow the jump for my devious scenario.


Starting point:  Like I said, use KSU athletics as the example.  Other than conference titles, the reality is, the school has no national titles.  Personally, I found it embarrassing to come off of I-70 the Ogden-Ft. Riley Blvd exit coming West into Manhattan from my days growing up around Wichita, and seeing the signs off of I-70 touting our debate and cattle judging national championships. 

Scenario:  You have programs like K-state does and are a BCS school, that are pretty solidly established at this point with loyal coaches, at least on decent ground, between Football, Men's basketball, Women's basketball and Volleyball.  But you want to achieve recognition within your AD nationwide in pursuit of a National title in some sport.  You do some studies and you determine given your budget, you think your best chance is College Baseball.  But like all things in life there are no garuntees.

Why Baseball:  Again, for the sake of the scenario, let's just say School X's baseball team also happens to be in the shape KSU baseball was before Coach Hill.  Like the conclusion of the Clark days.  You just finished a new stadium, allbeit moderate in the face of big-time baseball programs.  I chose baseball for this scenario, because I would say it's probably the 3rd or 4th most recognizable National title (I might say more Americans could tell you who won the Women's basketball title before the baseball title in a given year), and I would think coaches salaries in the grand scheme of things would be reasonable enough, that you could do something extreme by paying a "new record" salary for a certain big time established coach, to try and pull them away from some program that perennially makes the college World Series.  It's just a reality of what you have to work with as a budget.

Obvious risks:  Part of having to "make a big splash" with a new hire, there might be more demands by this coach to take the job.  Yea you might have a brand new 2200 seat stadium (again, think 7-10 years ago), but this coach might be coming from a 5000+ seat facility.  You explain to him the attendance is a struggle so there's some negotiating on both ends, and he reasons he understands, but they at least need a comprehensive weight room at the facility and for baseball only.  Whatever, the possibilities could go on and on from here, but you get the point, there would be more of a commitment than just hiring 1 guy with an insane salary for a college baseball coach, like paying his staff a great amount.  At school X, just like KSU there would need to be a culture overhaul for this coach to take the job, so as an AD you understand the resource investment will be great.  So this means at the very least you're going to have to plateau the support, if not cut out a tiny sliver you give your revenue sports Football and Men's basketball for say 3 years to get the new coach, staff and culture a chance to start to build something and thrive.  This in turn gives the impression it's some wild AD just trying to put his stamp on School X's history, and as a result there's some bad blood starting to brew among other coaching staffs, that if future requests aren't met, it might be time for either of the coaches to start looking for that next open door, which in turn could be fatal to the life support of the funding of the athletic department yourself.  It's a gamble, but you've made it clear to the football and basketball teams that for the next 2 or 3 years, they'll have to make due with whatever they got in the previous fiscal year operational wise.  Keep in mind both programs saw some sort of facility upgrade in the previous year, although as a whole it makes their facilities still barely on the top end of mediocre.

Slim rewards:  Other than smaller schools like Wichita State, who have to rely on things like their baseball team to generate revenue, I have to think there are probably only like max a dozen schools who can pull off generating revenue at the BCS level from a baseball team.  When you look at what you're investing, the prospects for school 'X' don't look any better than a 40% chance of generating revenue, and even if you do it's under $100K for the year after you pay the coaches their appropriate raises for success due to the contracts, having a minimal impact on the department as a whole.  It would also be relying on the "culture change" to make this a self-supporting plus sport.  The other "small reward" is that trip to Omaha say 3 or 4 years out of 10.  No telling whether they bring home a crown, but in a subculture that is College Baseball your name/brand has now found another national platform to broadcast itself from, and the large local traveling fan base has portrayed itself as "good fun" and you might have peeked the interest in enrollment of students for the university.

Given the high investment-low reward scenario, if you were an AD and you ended up making a hire that resulted in a CWS National title, that you end up being semi-responsible for, was it worth it?.  Let's just say it was a 6yr tenure, but you're criticized for your Men's Basketball and Football programs stabilizing mediocrity (School X's achievements in the two sports never exceeded those of KSU MBB and Football in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) in the same time frame or you've "hampered their success", was it worth it? 

Was it worth it, if the alternate scenario would have been 1 BCS bowl (not nat'l tilte game) loss, and lower bowl appearances in the other years, 5 NCAA tournament appearances with only 1 Elite 8 appearance and your baseball team was irrelevant to even the local community?

I'd like to hear your thoughts.  Personally I don't think the reward is worth the risk, but I would be proud to see a road-side sign on I-70 that said Kansas State, exit 313, 2012 College World Series National Champions.

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