Thursday, January 3, 2013

One-Of-A-Kind Skill Set?

TigerBlog is always fascinated when he watches a game in which he has no natural rooting interest and suddenly finds himself pulling for one team or another. He can't even figure out why; it's just happening.

The other day, TB was watching the Rose Bowl, and he was instantly sure he was rooting for Stanford instead of Wisconsin.

He usually roots for Wisconsin in the Big 10, so it wasn't an ant-Badger thing. He couldn't even figure out why he was rooting for Stanford - maybe it's because it's the alma mater of women's assistant basketball coach Milena Flores.

Then he remembered something he'd heard about the Wisconsin coach, or sort of coach. Barry Alvarez, the school's Director of Athletics, was coaching the team in the Rose Bowl because the coach this season, Brett Bielema, had left to take the job at Arkansas. Rather than bring in an interim coach from the staff, Alvarez put himself back on the sideline.

This was fine, because Alvarez had spent 15 years coaching football at the school and had already won three Rose Bowls. Clearly, he knows what he's doing on the sideline.

The part that irked TB was that he was essentially getting paid $118,500 to coach the game, in addition to his regular salary, which tops $1,000,000.

The figure was equal to 1/12 of Bielema's salary plus 10% of his regular AD salary, which comes to $118,500 above his regular monthly salary. Yes, TB sort of understands it. Still, there's something that just doesn't seem right about it.

Now TB has no idea about Alvarez, who has always seemed to come across at least as as decent man. Maybe he donated the entire $118,500 to charity. Who knows? TigerBlog certainly doesn't.

Then there was this little tidbit, from the USA Today story that TB read:
Interim UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward said the pay package was fair and proportional.
"Coach Alvarez has a one-of-a-kind skill set that the university needs to be successful — both in the Rose Bowl and in attracting the best coaching candidates in the search for someone to lead the Badgers football program going forward," Ward said.

A one-of-a-kind skill set? Please. For one thing, Wisconsin lost the game. And Alvarez won barely more than 60% of his career games as a head coach (118-75-4).

For another, this is clearly an attitude that is overwhelming in big-time college football and basketball now. Somehow there is the belief that these coaches are in fact in possession of "one of a kind skill sets," when the reality is that some of them are just in no-lose situations.

But this is what contributes to having schools turn their back on decades-old conference arrangements and rivalries, in pursuit of every last penny that can be drawn from the well.

TB definitely was rooting for Northern Illinois, at least for the three minutes he watched that game. NIU was another school that had lost its head coach, who was watching in the stands. That made for interesting TV at least.

TigerBlog can't really blame the coaches who jump at the opportunity to leave the school that they've brought to a bowl game in favor of a better paying job in a bigger conference or the school that hires them. At the same time he gets that it's not really in the best interest of the players he's leaving.

It's just how it works.

TB hasn't really watched too many bowl games. For the most part, they simply haven't interested him.

He was rooting for Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl - but the Scarlet Knights lost. Miss TigerBlog's buddy Bridget's brother is one of Rutgers' tight ends.

He was rooting for East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl - but the Pirates lost. Scott Jurgens, who used to be Princeton's marketing guy, is now at ECU.

He was rooting for Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - but the Midshipmen lost. TB loves how Navy plays.

If you're interested in seeing Navy play in other sports, then Princeton is a good place to go.

The Mids will be here this weekend for men's swimming and diving and men's track and field and then Tuesday night for women's basketball.

There are 22 events between now and first-semester exams. The first is tonight, when women's hockey plays at UConn for the second straight night.

The biggest pre-exam event in the next two weekends is the basketball doubleheader against Penn next Saturday (the 12th), with the women at three and the men at 6 here at Jadwin.

There's also all kinds of men's hockey, with games tomorrow (Harvard at 7) and Saturday (Dartmouth at 4) and then again next weekend (Union and RPI, also at home).

And then it all shuts down for two weeks.

So take advantage of the next 10 days. There are some events definitely worth watching.

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