As you no doubt know by now, the Georgia Bulldogs advanced to the CWS yesterday, shit-canning the Pack Nine 17-8. I was disappointed, but in no way surprised or really upset.
Elliott Avent has been at State a long damned time. He has not won an ACC title, and twice bumped up against the “Sendek glass ceiling” – losing in the Super Regionals (i.e., Sweet Sixteen). His teams are consistently pretty good, but never great. Do I think Avent’s a great coach? No. Do I want him replaced? No.
You may ask yourself whether I am being intellectually inconsistent. But I have different standards for revenue sports (football and mens’ basketball) than the non-revenue world, even high profile non-revenue sports (baseball and womens’ basketball). And I think that’s completely fair.
Championships and major milestones (such as reaching the CWS) in non-revenue sports are to be celebrated and rewarded – but not necessarily expected. Analogize it to the business world – one would expect more out of a $750K salaried executive VP than a $60K salaried middle manager. The executive VP is well compensated for the demands of the job, which includes “no excuses” responsibility for the bottom line. “Solid” performance by the middle manager might mean smaller raises and being passed over for promotions. But rarely does that mean a pink slip is forthcoming. And the salaries we have paid Avent over the last decade haven’t made him set financially for life.
That does NOT mean non-revenue sports coaches should have lifetime contracts. Obvious failures like George Tarantini should have been fired many years ago. And it also does not mean that the athletic department should fail to strive for championships. Coaches that do achieve the highest level of success should be paid for it. As a Wolfpack Club member, I would heartily endorse part of our dues going to a “Champions Fund” which paid significant bonuses for non-revenue coaches leading the Pack to ACC titles and major national milestones. Give coaches a tangible reason to strive for the top rather than settle for the middle, and give aspiring “star” coaches an incentive to come here (note to Lee Fowler – offering de facto lifetime “no expectations” employment does not entice star-caliber people).
Also, one can argue as to whether baseball is truly a non-revenue sport. Like womens’ hoops, I think that it is – just a high profile one. Yes, I am generally more aware of (and interested in) Wolfpack baseball and womens’ hoops than, say, gymanstics or soccer. But really, who knows anything about the ACC’s television contract for baseball? Did anyone care about ACC expansion’s impact on that? How many games are even televised, prior to the tourney stage? How much are you charged for admission? Hell, just look at the newspaper coverage – Chip Alexander might as well be writing about Pee Wee soccer. It’s all mellow, “feel good” stuff, with lots of human interest angles. No detailed anaylsis, mostly just “great win” or “tough loss.” This is not the pressure cooker of ACC mens’ basketball, and the media coverage and fan interest bear that out.