The page one headline in this past Wednesday’s USA Today sports section read “Kansas finds wins elusive, expensive” with the first paragraph saying, “The cost of football victory keeps climbing for Kansas.”
“This season, the school paid Charlie Weis $2.5 million for one win — the highest cost per victory among public schools whose teams won at least one game,” according to the USA Today Sports analysis of head coaches’ pay. “KU paid Turner Gill $1.05 million for each of two wins last season, after paying Gill $700,000 for each of three wins in 2010.”
Later in the story, the report states, “Kansas is the only NCAA Bowl Subdivision school among the top five in cost inefficiency in each of the last three seasons. This season, KU paid more than $1 million more per win than the school that had the lowest rate of return last season.”
By the way, the same story says Kansas State ranked sixth in the country in the “most cost effective” category. The Kansas State football program and its coach, Bill Snyder, won 11 games this season, which figures out to $200,000 for each win.
The KU cost figure, as well as those for all schools, does not include the costs of scholarships, improvements in the physical plants, payoffs for fired coaches, tutoring costs, medical expenses and other expenses tied into a football program.
The millions of sports fans who read the USA Today story, as well as millions of others who merely scan the sports pages but are interested in higher education, in particular, KU sports fans and alumni, must be asking themselves, “Who is responsible for this sorry and embarrassing situation?”
There are a lot of targets in this finger-pointing exercise:
• Former KU Athletic Director Lew Perkins, who nicked KU and Kansas Athletics for millions, fired the very capable Mark Mangino, hired the very ineffective Turner Gill, all of which left Weis with little to work with
• The KU administration, which allowed this situation to develop
• Those who serve on the Kansas Athletics board who apparently didn’t care or have no power
• Members of the Kansas Board of Regents, who evidently don’t concern themselves with the athletic fortunes of the schools under their supervision
• And/or alumni who don’t speak up, ask questions and demand performance, not only from the athletic department but also from the entire university operation
Alumni and friends of KU should be embarrassed by the football program, as well as other shortcomings at KU, but history shows very few in this category are sufficiently concerned to call for better performances.
• • •
Once again, Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute of Politics, put together a timely, interesting and highly informative post-election conference.
The two-day “Post-Election Conference 2012” brought together senior advisers to the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates along with some of the nation’s most respected pollsters and journalists who have covered the national political scene and presidential campaigns for a number of years to discuss all aspects of the just-completed campaign.
All comments are on the record, and all participants are candid in their thoughts about the campaigns. For a political junkie or anyone giving serious thought to the possibility of seeking the presidency, attendance at the gathering at the Dole Institute should be a must.
For example, it would seem any of those, such as Sen. Marco Rubio or Rep. Paul Ryan, who already are being mentioned as possible front-runners for the GOP nomination, should have had one of their advisers in the audience to hear about campaign strategies, what worked and didn’t work for Romney or Obama, and many other facets of the campaign.
Some of the nuggets coming out of the program:
• Obama and his strategists had the advantage of starting their campaign at least two years before the 2012 election and being able to use many of the resources they developed and used in the 2008 election effort. They also were able to develop deep campaign strategies to be used against whomever Republicans nominated for their presidential candidate.
Added to this was their concentration on organization, organization and organization at every level of the campaign. They had the money and time to put together the largest and best-organized campaign from those who knocked on the doors to those who told the door-knockers where to knock and what to stress to those who answered the door.
• The technical backup in information provided to campaigns was more sophisticated than in any previous campaign.
Romney had to survive a bruising primary campaign, which cost his team more than $87 million, and he was not able to put together the large presidential campaign organization until after he won the primary. He did not have the time to prepare a national effort, and his campaign workers were dwarfed by the Obama powerhouse, even though record amounts of money were raised by both campaigns.
• Democrats worked to get voters registered and to the polls ward by ward, door by door, precinct by precinct.
• The multimillion-dollar super PAC funds do, indeed, operate independently from the campaign and often are not as helpful or effective as the public might think.
• Romney was damaged far more in the primary by the attacks on him by his primary opponents than any attack Obama may have used in his campaign.
• Nothing negative about Obama seemed to stick, no matter how hard the GOP tried. In addition to the $87 million spent by Romney in the primary, the millions spent by other Republican hopefuls helped to deplete the GOP war chest. Both Republican and Democratic panelists used terms like “genius,” “brilliant,” “fascinating” and “fabulous” in describing the planning and organization of the Obama effort.
• Romney was more concerned about the ability of his vice president to serve as president than who would bring in the most votes. Romney’s selection of Ryan helped energize many in the Obama campaign. At the end of the GOP primaries, Romney was the GOP “nominee” but wasn’t the GOP “leader.”
• Bill Clinton was the perfect spokesman for Obama at the convention because he energized and motivated the party. Conventions provide the opportunity to elevate a candidate, get people on stage who help validate the candidate.
• Are national conventions a thing of the past? Are they necessary and are future conventions likely to be smaller and less expensive?
• “Organizing works,” one Democratic panel member said. “It’s how you can change the world.”
• Approximately 45 million to 50 million people took advantage of early voting, and Obama won the early voting by eight points.
The question of early voting and voter identification sparked more observer interest than about any other topic. It was pointed out that a large share of early voting took place before the end of the presidential debates, meaning millions of voters cast ballots before they heard all the issues. At one point, many in the audience applauded when a panel member spoke against voter identification and reducing early voting.
• The size of crowds at campaign stops is the worst possible indicator of voter support.
• It was pointed out Obama was supremely confident of his own ability and talents and often didn’t heed or want the advice of others.
• Several panel members said it is doubtful that the Democratic Party will be able to generate the same commitment and zeal for its next presidential candidate as Obama did this year with his support from minorities.
Again, Lacy does an excellent job of putting together and inviting panel members and then serving as the panel moderator.