Friday, July 13, 2007


The State of A-State

Dan Zeiger of the East Valley Tribune has had to create his own stories this offseason thanks to this new-fangled idea called discipline. In the wake of a $30 million deficit and Sun Devil Stadium's structural inadequacies, the overall ASU sports program seems to be doing as well as it ever has as evidenced by Zeiger's article.

A 10th place finish in the Director's Cup standings, although weighted heavily by consistent success across the Olympic(non-important) sports, is a reason to have faith. Rob Evans and Dirk Koetter are out. Pat Murphy(College World Series), Charli Turner-Thorne(Sweet 16), and Clint Myers(WCWS) are staying put. Herb Sendek and Dennis Erickson are in.

I bear the gifts of Frankensense, gold, and a physical defense.

The Director's Cup finish is of little consequence unless one examines the company in which ASU sits. Zeiger puts it well:

ASU is expected to reach the $40-million revenue mark in fiscal year 2008. [athletics director Lisa] Love said that $50 million in annual funds is most ideal, yet realistic.

She looks at the Directors’ Cup standings and marvels that her school was in the top 10 with Texas ($97.8 million revenue in 2005-06), Florida ($82.4 million) and Michigan ($85.5 million). ASU finished four spots ahead of Ohio State, which had the nation’s largest ’05-06 revenue at $104.7 million.

“We are incredibly, competitively efficient,” Love said. “Now, you can’t help but dream. What could our university do (with Ohio State money)?”

Holy freaking smokes. This leads to the chicken vs. egg argument about Sun Devil athletics- do we win to create revenue or do we spend extra money to get more wins? This is also alluded to in the Trib article, making mention of Koetter's famous departing quote regarding the perception/reality of ASU and Zeiger hints that it may have to do with financial competitive advantage based on a smallish and somewhat apathetic fan base. Also cited is the example of George Mason, who after their 2006 Final Four run had a 20% increase on freshman admission applications and a 25% increase in athletic donations.

How does this affect football? Gymnastics coach John Spini says that morale at ASU is the best it's been during his 27 years in Tempe. Morale makes for a happy place, which makes it easier to recruit. A new coach has invigorated the fan base and created a buzz around town. We won't be punting late in the game when we're behind. A schedule with 8 home games can't hurt, especially when seven of them are guaranteed to be at night. Season tickets for those 8 home dates start at $99, and a happy fan base donates money and creates a bigger fan base which makes it easier to recruit. A butterfly flaps it's wings and so on...

Basketball still gets a pass since they can still only go one direction, but Sendek seems to have laid the foundation for on-court success and local support. The uber-recruits coming to Wells Fargo Arena this season can't hurt either, and while getting excited about recruits is usually reserved for the folks in Stoopsville remember that new blood turns basketball around much quicker than football.

Life seems to be good in Tempe, but as usual it will all come down to winning on Saturdays in the fall. The schedule plays in ASU's favor to gain some early confidence in themselves and for the Valley to get excited and show support before the meat of the schedule comes to town. Phil Steele thinks we have a good shot at starting 8-0, and if he says it it must be true. This is as much of a make-or-break year as ASU has ever had. The deck is stacked in Sparky's favor for once and it's time to put up or shut up. Now is the time to makes strides.

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