Kudos to ch414 on Rivals, for posted today about an exchange between Tony Kornheiser and John Feinstein on D.C. radio. You can listen to the audio archive here, it starts at 11:20 in. I'm not going to rip Kornheiser too hard, because he clearly knew nothing about the subject beyond what he saw on Outside the Lines, and several of his comments were made in jest. In the first section I believe that he's describing the segment's inference, and not actually comparing Rutgers to the recent Binghamton scandal, which would be pure lunacy. Feinstein, on the other hand, was blatantly dishonest at several points in the interview. I have transcribed the segment below, after my comments. All bolded emphasis is mine.
What's truly remarkable about the segment is that Feinstein appears to be under the impression that stadium expansion is still on the horizon, and that Rutgers Stadium still only has the capacity of 41,500. (Thereby, expansion is unnecessary). Actually, major construction was finished in September, and those empty seats (which were largely sold) were a consequence of expansion. Which has, by the way, was a terrific financial success in 2009. The problem with nearly every criticism of the project is that they:
A) Don't understand the funding mechanisms, that is a bond tied to future ticket revenues which does not detract from the overall university budget. Rutgers is on the hook if things go bad, but they're not robbing Peter to pay Paul.
B) Don't understand how incredibly low the bar was set for the numbers to work. Meet the 70%/80% revenue projection, which the athletic department released over a year ago, and the math works. That's a fairly conservative number. This thing wasn't built on a pie in the sky fantasy.
How in the world does Feinstein get off calling Greg Schiano a "bad man"? Because he occasionally runs up the score? Does that make Joe Paterno a "bad man"? What exactly has Schiano said that was "patently untrue"? Greg Schiano's such a bad guy that his players don't get in trouble and actually go to class. That's saying something, considering the string of recent announcements that many other bowl teams are losing players to eligibility issues. Taking academics and character into account, and given Schiano's commitment to Rutgers when so many college coaches are willing to jump programs at the drop of the hat, there's a fair case that Schiano is one of the most principled and grounded men in what's increasingly becoming a very ugly and immoral profession.
Feinstein also fails to mention that one significant factor in the recent string of disappointing bowl bids were disappointing conference tie-ins. Rutgers had a great year in 2006, and had to settle for the Texas Bowl because of that, and the Big East asininely letting the Meineke Bowl sign a one year contract with Navy (a team that Rutgers absolutely throttled that season).
That's not even the worst of it, as Feinstein makes a mockery of athletic director Tim Pernetti, barely conceding that Perneti was an executive at CBS College Sports Television. In fact, he was the executive VP for content, and previously was a programming director at ABC Sports. Pernetti, was, in reality, one of the most influential actors in all of broadcast sports. That's a fact that Feinstein should be well aware of considering his relationship with the Navy athletic department. The irony here of course is that Tim's first year on the job has been an unqualified success.
I believe that the afore-mentioned story about the bowl system was this one. Actually, Rutgers lost $184k on the Papajohn's.com bowl last season (it would have turned a profit without bringing the band and cheerleaders). At least he admits that is fairly commonplace. Figures from this year's bowl game haven't yet been released. In contrast to the general theme of that article, Rutgers ticket sales to the St. Pete Bowl were fairly healthy at the 8,000 or so range, with about 2k more in attendance that didn't buy through the school.
TK: Let me ask you this, and this is following up on one of those Outside the Lines stories with Rutgers. Rutgers became this month's Binghamton, where they said that Rutgers makes this commitment to big time football, and jocks get everything, and it bastardizes the way academics are run because now there's Thursday night games, and kids can't go to school. Which I think is all nonsense, because the experience of going to your school and rooting for your team is one of the reasons you go to school. In any case, what do you make of all this sort of anti-football at Rutgers sentiment?
JF: Well this has been going on for years at Rutgers. I mean, this has been, because, there's been this battle within the school. The academic side, you know, Rutgers is a very good school.
TK: It ain't that good, right?
JF: It's a very good school. I didn't say it's Harvard.
TK: It isn't.
JF: It's a good school.
TK: It's no Binghamton. It's not. It's not Binghamton.
JF: Harvard. The Binghamton of Boston.
TK: Right. That's right.
JF: Anyway, Rutgers, uh, has had this controversy really for at least twenty years now. Because they've been trying to build their football program. They were terrible for years. They went to one bowl game in 1979, and did not go to another bowl game until five years ago where they brought in this guy Greg Schiano.
TK: Right, from Miami.
JF: A bad guy and a good coach. Uh...
TK: Is he a bad guy?
JF: Oh he's bad guy. Runs up scores, and, and, and, you know, just says stuff that's patently untrue. He's really a bad guy. Um, but, anyway, but he's taken them to five straight bowls. And, so, um, but, and, they're building a 10,000 or 12,000 seat addition onto their stadium.
JF: Which is ridiculous. They do not need more than 42,000 seats in that stadium. They didn't sell out most of this year because they started the season poorly, and people didn't think they were gonna be any good, and they ended up being 9-4, and they won their bowl game. Um, mostly because they played some lousy teams. They play a terrible non-conference schedule every year. But they put all this money into building the stadium and people got upset because, you know, with the economy being what it was, and they're putting all this money into expanding the stadium, the athletic director got fired last year.
JF: Was replaced by this guy Tim Pernetti who's just a bobo for Schiano, and nothing more. He was the radio color guy. And they made him the athletic director.
TK: (laughs) That's what he was? The radio color guy?
JF: Yeah. He had some job at CBS College Sports, you know, I don't know, he was like some, you know, some guy who
TK: He was the radio color guy, and left that to be the AD?
JF: Yes. No no, he also had a job at CBS College Sports to be fair, which I don't like being fair to Pernetti because he's a bad guy. But, he got hired because he's Schiano's bobo. And, so, all this stuff's swirling around, and the football team every year, you know, goes to the St. Petersburg Bowl.
TK: They make some money.
JF: Which means they lose money.
TK: They lose money going to the St. Pete Bowl? All the way to Russia?
JF: A great story, yeah, all the way to Russia, in the San Diego Tribune last week about the fact that almost every team that goes to a non-major bowl loses money because they have to buy, like, 7-12,000 tickets per bowl, which costs huge money, and they spent 3-400 grand before they put a player, a cheerleader, or a band member on an airplane.
JF: So, all these, and plus the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, while everybody's losing money playing in these bowls, they're adding two more bowls next year.
JF: So, that, you know, Rutgers goes to these minor bowls every year, and they, you know, they've been in the Texas Bowl and the St. Petersburg Bowl, and, you know, some other minor bowl, and they probably lose, like everybody else, 3-400 grand every year on a bowl. And everybody's saying, we've got a winning football team, and we're still losing money.