The Fifth Down

President's column:
Let us do our jobs

Things haven't quite worked out like Ron Wellman planned.

The former chairman of the Division I NCAA Management Council uttered these infamous words two years ago in regards to The Great Media Guide Debate.

"If people really want the information, it is easily obtainable online."

For FWAA purposes, Nikita Kruschev was less threatening 50 years ago when he banged his shoe and told U.S. officials
at the United Nations, "We will bury you."

To be fair to Nikita, Wellman doesn't have Kruschev's tact – or knowledge.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
• President's column: Let us do our jobs
• Members to get half off on Outland book
• Barnhart honored by CoSIDA
• Dodd honored by All-America Football Foundation
• Nagurski Trophy watch list
• Outland Trophy watch list
• All-America checklist (.pdf)

Here we are a year after controversial legislation limited the size of media guides. Wellman spit in our eye when he made that who-needs-them-anyway argument for downsizing.

When the condescending stopped, you had to laugh to keep from crying.

The information we need to do our jobs was more disjointed, harder to get to and there was less of it. The legislation neither contained costs, nor evened the recruiting scales.

Just ask the NCAA for documentation of a) percentage of cost savings vs. overall athletic budget and b) evidence of just one recruit who has picked a school based on its media guide before the legislation.

Can't be done, so we are left with this: This is the first piece of legislation that I know of that impacted a profession outside of college athletics to this extent.

Ted Gangi is fighting back in his own noble way. The FWAA webmaster has started His intention:
to offer a one-stop shop for college football media. The ACC, Big 12, Conference USA and Mountain West already are in, posting media guides and releases.

For all of us searching for information in those leagues, no more six clicks to get to the roster through the school's site. Or even worse, find that a roster or schedule hasn't been updated for 2006 in the middle of summer.

Those conferences are paying a small price to make Wellman's "dream" come true. Sure, stuff is available on the web, if you've got the time and a high-speed connection. Let's assume that's the case. Only a fraction of the information that we need is actually available.

The rest, we have to spackle – an e-mail here, a release there, a phone call, flipping through a guide. Question: As a national college football writer, why shouldn't every I-A school in the country be e-mailing their stuff to me on a weekly
basis during the season?

It should be up to us to tell them if we don’t want it. By "us," I mean the 32 national writers who are listed conveniently
on page 26 of the FWAA directory. See how easy it is when everything is organized in one place?

Big picture: The mission – getting information into the hands of people who need it – has become more difficult. We still need our physical media guides.

Those, we hope, never go away.

Wellman still doesn't get that part of it. I still can't envision a day when it won't be easier to flip through a media guide and find Adrian Peterson's birthday while a ball is being spotted than to try to find it online.

Cutting and scattering the information is not the way. SIDs now have been forced to issue supplements containing information that they were forced to cut out of the main guide because of the legislation. So what exactly got accomplished by the NCAA?

Look at the professionals: Their media guides are mostly standard in size – smaller than their college counterparts and stocked with pure information. Not a travelogue on Pullman, Wash. Even better, the NFL, NHL and other major sports have dedicated media portals.

Why can't we? Gangi is trying but he is still meeting resistance.

Why, one SID asked Ted, should I give you my information, directing people away from our website? The question, dear SID, is why shouldn't you?

I'll say it again. College football has little idea how to market itself. The sport operates, at times, like hundreds of little fiefdoms that don't realize working together is for the greater good.

BCS schools think non-BCS schools don't belong.

Individual bowls are only interested in themselves. Everyone prostrates before the networks. When Wellman championed his cause, he had no idea some schools would leave out their season-by-season scores (crucial), or another would spend 90 pages of the 208-page limit on recruiting garbage.

Meanwhile, Gangi got a call recently from an NFL scout after the draft complimenting him on The scout had an intern go through the 12 ACC sections on Ted’s site for information. It took 39 minutes, compared with 2½ hours if the intern had gone to each school’s site.

The ACC's Brian Morrison told Gangi his conference joined because it wanted to show the world it is a big-time football league.

Bottom line: We're still here, left to clean up the mess left by the misguided legislation. Wellman has long since left the Management Council.

Wake Forest's AD coached baseball for 12 years so we'll offer a deal that even he can understand. If Wellman also supports legislation to put his peers' lineup cards on CDs and give them to umpires before the game, it all makes sense.

If not, then he is a hypocrite.

Yes, Ron, we really want the information, as you put it.

It's called doing our jobs.

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