Tag Archive: The Oregonian


Remember the Oakland Raiders and their “Commitment to Excellence”?

The Silver and Black catch-phrase was quietly buried along with its originator, Al Davis.

Is it time, actually past time, for the Pac-12 Conference to drop its divorced-from-reality tag: “Conference of Champions”?

Consider that only 35,000 (assuming you believe the “announced” official attendance) bothered to show up for the conference football “championship” game this past November 30. The game was an absolute non-factor in deciding which four teams made the College Football Playoff (CFP).

Why would any conference commissioner hold its football championship game on a gridlocked Friday night in a pro-football Mecca, while the real Power Five conferences play their championship games on Saturday?

The literal oceans of empty seats in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara sent an unmistakable signal to the sports world: If Pac-12 fans don’t care, why should you? What ya think Pac-12 boss Larry Scott?

Weigh that only two times has the Pac-12 qualified its teams for the College Football Playoff (i.e., Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2016) out of a potential 20 spots over five years.

In bowl games, the conference is 4-12 in the past two years: 1-8, 2017-18; 3-4 2018-19.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in football: USC in 2004.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in men’s basketball: Arizona in the previous century,1997.

The last time a Pac-12 team won the national title in women’s basketball: Stanford, ditto for the 20th century, 1992.

The conference is fond of championing its NCAA Director’s Cup standings as tantamount to “athletic success,” most notably Stanford, UCLA, USC, Cal and Oregon. Does anyone really care about college sports outside of the aforementioned football, men’s and women’s basketball?

Yes, Oregon State is the current champion in baseball. Oregon won its seventh track-and-field championship in 2015 … but other than piling up Director’s Cup points, do these championships really matter to the sports public?

From Love to The Embarcadero

In 2009, the Pac-12 presidents hired Larry Scott away from the women’s tennis circuit (where love means nothing) to run the conference, which was falling behind the other Power Five conferences (i.e., SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12).

To Scott’s credit, he took the lead in creating the Pac-12 Network. He also brought in the Denver and Salt Lake City media markets into the fold with the expansion of the 10-school contiguous state balanced conference to include non-contiguous Colorado and Utah.

The aforementioned conference championship game was added to the mix, but for some reason Scott and his lieutenants can’t seem the figure out the Levi’s Stadium dog just won’t hunt after five tries.

When was the only time the conference championship ever sold out? The first game in 2011 held at the venue of the team with the best record, Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. Why not persist in awarding the championship game to the team with the best record?

Sure beats an empty tarped stadium with an “announced” crowd of 35,134 on a Friday night.

The conference’s men’s basketball tournament is held in Las Vegas. There are zero Pac-12 teams in Nevada. Are gambling tables and shows with lots of skin, the secret to drawing fans to watch the conference’s best?

John Canzano of the struggling Portland Oregonian penned a four-piece mammoth series essentially asking if the Pac-12 is getting the bang for its buck. The conferences pays Scott $4.8 million per annum and devotes $6.9 million yearly for its offices near the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco.

Pac-12 members receive $31 million annually from the conference. By contrast, SEC members receive $41 million and the Big 10 universities garner $37 million from their respective conferences.

Certainly geography is not Scott’s fault, but it still must be his concern. The majority of Pac-12 members are situated three hours west of Bristol, Connecticut, the home of ESECPN. What Almost DailyBrett does not understand is the surrender implied in “Pac-12 After Dark.”

In order to provide ESPN and Fox with late evening “sports programming” for insomniacs in the Eastern and Central time zones, our fans and teams must sometimes wait until 7:45 pm to kick-off or tip-off our games. The alternative is 11 am kickoffs, fostering 8 am tailgates. Pass the orange juice.

Hey Larry instead of the networks deciding the times of our games, let’s team with Pac-12 presidents and athletic directors in courageously insisting the majority of our games be held between 12:30 pm and 5 pm local time for our fans on Saturdays.

As for the tagline: “Conference of Champions,” let’s shelve/deep six it until Pac-12 teams once again actually win some real championships.

https://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2018/11/pac-12-larry-scott-leftout-part1.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/pac-12-after-midnight/

 

 

woodwardbernstein

All reporters and editors should be treated equally. Right?

In theory, this egalitarian approach is the correct way to go.

As PR flacks increase their 3.6-1 ratio lead over the ever-dwindling number of media types, it makes sense to treat every remaining reporter/editor fairly and justly.

After all, every reporter and editor is always fair and just to your organization, your chief executive and your cause. Right?

And most of all, every media outlet is created equal. Right?

You know the answer to that particular question.

There are two undeniable truths as it applies to the flack/media divide; one is time-tested and the other is relatively new:

1.) The media always needs fresh news and information to thrive and in the majority of cases that manna from Heaven comes from the public relations industry. This uncomfortable media fact is compounded by the competitive need to be first and conversely by the aversion to being “scooped” or worse, “burned” on a story.

2.) The media “gate keepers” no longer make the rules for access to target audiences and therefore can’t exclusively set the agenda. The ones and zeroes of the binary code ended this dominance and put self-publishing tools in the hands of the PR story tellers, and the good ones are using them.

Even though the media is rapidly changing in a mostly kicking-and-screaming fashion, there is still this mostly true axiom: Both flacks and reporters/editors are antagonists. They need each other as the former is a source of news and information and the latter conveys this same news and information to target audiences.

It’s called earned media (public relations) as opposed to advertising (paid media).

This relationship for decades has been unbalanced with the media serving as the “gatekeepers,” vetting news and information, and essentially deciding what is transmitted to the public. And with this hegemony (and inevitably arrogance) comes the notion that the media sets the agenda for the conversation, resulting in the flack “story tellers” gnashing their collective teeth.

If a tree falls in the forest, and the New York Times chooses not to cover it, did it make any sound? Nope.

And what happens when the media agenda and the flack story telling collide? There is friction, anxiety and related unpleasantness.

The flack may be tempted to go “over the head” of the reporter and to complain to her or his editor. Can you think of a better way to do a huge favor for the reporter? Talk about a red badge of courage.

Or the flack may do something more sinister: Leak a juicy story to a reporter/editor competitor, causing a burning sensation. Of course, a PR person would never admit to such a dastardly deed, but I understand this happens from time-to-time.

Sometimes the selective disclosure of material information to one media organization as opposed to another is done on purpose, and the SEC will not impose fines. Heard frequently in the Silicon Valley is, “Let’s give this story to the Journal…” The flacks in question are referring to the Wall Street Journal.

Some may think that print is dead, and for the most part it is. Didn’t the rocket scientists at the New York Times that bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion two decades ago, just sell the same newspaper to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million? Talk about buying high and selling low.

Also consider that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just purchased the Washington Post for $250 million and Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion six years ago. Both of these hombres are super smart, so you know they have no intention of eventually selling these rags for less than 10 cents on the dollar. They instead bought the mastheads, the brands and their respective print and more importantly, digital access points to the political/governmental community (Post) and the investor class (Journal).

WSJ

Therefore it makes sense for public relations professionals to “pre-brief” a supposedly dead media publication, the Journal. In fact, virtually everyone in Silicon Valley pre-briefs the Journal. What does that mean to reporters/editors of other publications? They don’t like it one little bit.

But what are they going to do about it?

About 10 years ago, I was toiling in the trenches as the head of corporate public relations for LSI Logic. We ran a $1 billion custom semiconductor fab (factory) in Gresham, Oregon, just immediately east of Portland. The big gorilla media for that market (at least at the time) was The Oregonian. We were good copy for the Oregonian.

LSI Logic entered into a nanotechnology development agreement with Massachusetts start-up Nantero. In turn, Nantero hired a New York PR firm to help put the firm on the map. The target publication was The New York Times and the heck with anyone else.

During a conference call with Nantero’s CEO on the line, I was asked by a Madison Avenue-type if we would help with the Gray Lady. Our answer was affirmative, but what about the beat reporter for The Oregonian.

“The Oregonian?…Who is the Oregonian?” the New York PR type contemptuously asked.

I reminded her that actual life existed due west of the Hudson River, and that my employer, LSI Logic, was not going to consciously “burn” the beat reporter for The Oregonian. We either brief both reporters with the same embargo or we don’t offer the story at all. She was shocked and appalled by my left-coast thinking.

We did it our way, which I am convinced to this day, was the right way.

Is the moral of this story that PR pros, despite the shifting landscape, should never play favorites with reporters/editors, thus setting up the possibility that someone else will be burned?

The answer is the practice will be…ah…practiced…but there are perils involved, particularly with local reporters who will be part of your daily life conceivably for years to come.

Do you want the benefit of the doubt, when you need the benefit of the doubt?

Caca happens.

And remember the profound words of Tip O’Neill: “All politics is local.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egalitarianism

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21583274-new-wave-press-barons-should-not-allow-newspapers-become-niche-products-keeping

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21583284-tycoons-keen-eye-bargain-are-buying-up-print-newspapers-chasing-paper-profits

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118589043953483378.html

http://www.nantero.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_O%27Neill

oregon

“It (Football in the State of Oregon) can come back if the schools take the right step and improve the facilities,” – OSU Heisman Trophy Winner Terry Baker, Sporting News, 1986

“On average, the faculty likes it when the football team does better. And we understand that it takes some resources to attract the best people. But obviously we’re jealous when we see the difference between their facilities and the facilities we have for teaching,” UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh, Eugene Register-Guard, 2012

Is anyone nostalgic for the University of Oregon alumni tent set up in a gravel parking lot at Autzen Stadium?

How about wondering if the UO Athletic Department could scrap enough shekels together to pay the $125,000 guarantee to the visiting team?

Want to revisit those serious discussions about Oregon and Oregon State becoming members of the Big Sky Conference (i.e., visits to scenic Missoula, Bozeman and Pocatello)?

As a practicing Duckologist, I have steadfastly saved a well-worn copy of 1986 The Sporting News college football yearbook. Included in the issue is an article by former Oregonian sports columnist Nick Bertram describing the dreadful state of affairs for football in the State of Oregon.

Besides scrambling to pay the minimum to the visiting school, Oregon was averaging only 23,000 at Autzen Stadium. In fact, there was talk of putting a dome on Autzen. The Ducks were 23 years and counting since their last (Sun) bowl game, and 29 years since their last Rose Bowl. Next year, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary (“celebrate” is the wrong word) of the last scoreless game in NCAA football history, the 1983, 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” between Oregon and Oregon State.

The root of Oregon’s historic difficulties in recruiting, competing and winning, comes down to one word: Geography.

The nation’s 9th largest state in land mass is also one of the country’s least populated (3.4 million), isolated in America’s cul-de-sac and one of the rainiest. All of these factors worked against previous Oregon coaching regimes, including the one I served as a student manager in 1975 (e.g., Don Read et al.). USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State and Washington do not face these same geographic obstacles.

The answers to unfavorable and unchangeable geography included targeting donor dollars to build the 101,000-square foot Casanova Center in 1991 to house the Athletic Department. They also consisted of finding recruiting diamonds in the rough by former Head Coaches Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti; continuity of the coaching staff (five assistants with tenures exceeding two decades); and miraculously making the Rose Bowl in one special year in 1994. All of these accomplishments preceded the major involvement in the program by Uncle Phil.

If you do not know who is “Uncle Phil,” you should stop reading now.

Since that time, Oregon built the first indoor practice facility ($15 million) on the West Coast, directly addressing the rain issue, the 117,000 square-foot Moshofsky Center. Autzen was expanded to 54,000 and the stadium has been sold out for every game since 1999 with more than 60,000 being shoe-horned into the insane asylum by the Willamette. Back on campus, the university leased property at its main entrance to Phil Knight. In turn, he invested $41 million into an academic support center for student athletes and donated the John Jaqua Center back to the university.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This same out-of-the-box thinking: lease-build-donate plan is being used for the $68 million, 130,000-square foot football operations center, located adjacent to Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center and the Casanova Center.

Oregon has come light years in the past 25 years, including winning the conference five more times since the 1994 Rose Bowl team. The Ducks are 34-6 in the last three years, including two visits to the Rose Bowl (winning this past January) and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

You would think everyone would be happy on campus by the success of the self-sufficient Athletic Department and “on average” that is the case, but jealousy still persists. Guess no good deed (or deeds) or achievement goes unpunished.

Some are now coming to the conclusion that college sports are big business. This point is evidenced by the debut this week of the Pac-12 network, which will provide $10 million in new revenue to each school’s athletic department. Some wonder if prime-time, college sports is inconsistent with the missions of great universities. They lament that an athletic arms race has ensued…and to some extent that is the case. It’s called competition.

There also has been an undeniable payoff that has benefitted academics as well. As a full-time instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I marvel at the number of students who wear the school colors to class. Success on the field and the court contributes to greater morale on campus and in the classroom.

Obviously, I note the expenditures for athletics (e.g., the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena and PK Park for the Oregon baseball team), but I also walk by virtually every day the William W. Knight Law School and the Knight Library. Uncle Phil has not only benefitted students who happen to be athletes, but regular students who are not athletes.

Certainly, not every building on campus is state of the art, but nonetheless some are striking including the Lillis School of Business and soon the ($15 million for 15,000 new square feet of space) newly renovated Allen Hall for the School of Journalism and Communication. I am looking forward to teaching at the new Allen Hall starting in the winter term.

Is there a direct connection between the success and national stature of the Oregon Ducks and the dramatic increase in enrollment and donations to Oregon? Some may try to argue against this point, but I will go to the mat saying there has to be a correlation. Ten years ago, 19,000 attended Oregon. Today, there are 25,000 students. The average incoming freshman GPA was a record 3.59 last year. There are more students; they are smarter and their retention rate is higher. Something absolutely Ducky is happening.

Oregon is a state-assisted university with only single digit percent of its total costs being provided from Salem. The rest has to come from tuition, fees and donations. Winning builds pride and that in turns spurs check writing from alums and fans. With some governments around the nation coming to the realization that the spending orgy is over, more needs to come from those who can contribute to their favorite school.

I went to Oregon back in the 1970s, but earned my bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting Journalism from USC. This past March, I received my master’s degree in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. And 23 years ago, I bought Oregon season seats at Autzen Stadium. I have been a witness to the Golden Age of Oregon football and an upgrade in academics as well. That’s what I call a job well done.

Yep, I was an Oregon fan before it was cool.

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/lights-go-up-today-on-pac-12s-tv-network-era/

http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/28375820-41/center-football-athletics-university-knight.html.csp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Baker

http://www.ehow.com/info_8144923_history-sports-scholarships.html

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