Tuesday, January 08, 2008

None Of It Matters

Like all of mid-major football America, I was struck dumb by SMU’s $2M a year deal with June Jones. That isn’t to say it is a good hire- but holy smokes- this is the busted C-USA, not West Virginia.

But you know, it makes sense. It is a desperate play- for a school that sort of has to be desperate.

SMU is a lot like Tulane- a private school, same League, the only I-A program in a football-crazed major metropolitan area that couldn’t give a fig, same recent one historical generation problematic athletic record.

But SMU is also every Tulane fans' dream. They hire and fire coaches for not winning- Jones is the fourth head coach in the last ten years- none left voluntarily. They back up the program with big bucks: both facilties and coaches. In 2000, they actually went and built that all time Tulane fan’s fantasy: the fabled on campus stadium.

And you know what. The Mustangs are a failure. No one goes to the games (an incredible 9th in attendance in C-USA). Their W-L record is worse than ours.

Tulane ain’t good either- but we didn’t just drop something like $60M on a new stadium- and another $30M in related facilities and coaches. Rather than praising SMU for its “commitment”- one ought to realize they are sitting on an enormous disaster. You simply can’t justify the bang for the buck.

They’ve had the building for seven years now- and two coaches (Cavan and Bennett) have been able to use the promise of it and the reality of it to recruit- and nothing. Since the Mustangs broke ground : 4-6, 3-9, 4-7, 3-9, 0-12, 3-8, 6-6, 6-6, 1-11.

Frankly, they’re in so deep they need to throw the Hail Mary. It might be good money chasing bad- but when you are already $100M in the hole, you have to justify it. You can’t just quit on that sort of investment.

And it is a fair question to be asked of any athletic booster of Tulane agitating for a nine figure commitment to football and associated toys. Why would Tulane’s experience be any different? It might be different- but if Tulane were to spring for a $100M spending spree on coaches, facilities and stadiums- it would change the over/under on our five year win total by maybe five games.

I don’t see why replicating the SMU experience guarantees Tulane success- and yet a lot of Tulane fans disagree. It makes me very nervous- to hear glib calls for a new stadium or a new this or that... I look an SMU and realize that in C-USA it is VERY possible to make an off-the-charts commitment and fail anyway.

Maybe it is worth it. But SMU had tactical problems- but throwing $100M at tactical problems probably doesn’t solve the strategic problems at busted C-USA football outposts one iota.

This $2M SMU is offering Jones isn’t a sign of strength- but a sign of desperation. Otherwise they’ve literally thrown $100M down the toilet with no significant advancement in football, athletics or the university. It is counterintuitive- but Tulane disregards that lesson at its peril.

Anyway, here is the opposite take from a good C-USA blog: SMU Football Blog

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