No politics tonight…well, maybe later. But for now, I have bigger, more athletic fish to fry. I have a problem with my alma-mater’s athletic department. Specifically, I have a problem with the scheduling philosophy utilized by the Athletic Director and his staff. Mike Alden has been the AD at Mizzou since 1998, when he took over for the departing Joe Castiglione, who left for the University of Oklahoma. Let me be clear, this post is not a critique of Alden’s job performance, as I think he has done a better than average job. He was almost fired a few years ago, but was allowed to stay, and his selection of Mike Anderson as men’s basketball coach seems to have made up for what turned out to be the disaster that was Quin Snyder’s tenure.
That being said, I do have a serious problem with Alden in this regard: he scheduled boring opponents for both the football and basketball teams. There’s no steak, there’s no sizzle. There’s just…mediocre teams that nobody is excited to see. It irks me to no end. Why can’t he schedule a marquee non-conference game every few seasons? Why can’t there be a marquee non-conference basketball game EVERY season? Why? Nobody has ever been able to answer that question for me. Sure, some people will say, “Why risk losing a football game that could jeopardize your bowl eligibility?” Why? Because it will energize the fan base, that’s why. And you don’t have a schedule a game that you’re probably going to lose. I just don’t buy that argument. There’s no reason why Alden can’t schedule the football team to play somebody like Tennessee or Florida State or Georgia. And there’s no reason why the basketball team can’t play a Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, etc. No reason at all.
So what prompted this post? This story followed by an exchange I had with a member of Mike Alden’s staff. Notre Dame…yes, THE Notre Dame, wants to host a game against a Big 12 team in Chicago at Soldier Field. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Still need convincing? Here are 5 reasons why Mizzou should pursue this game:
- The game would be on national television.
- Notre Dame is the premiere college football program in the country.
- The game would boost the football program’s exposure and reputation.
- This game could be a huge sell to potential recruits.
- A substantial amount of money could be made from gate receipts, the tv contract, concessions, etc.
As soon as I read the story, the gears started turning in my head. I was on my lunch break at work, so I decided to send the following e-mail to Mr. Alden and Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel:
Dear Mr. Alden,
As a graduate of the University of Missouri (2006-Columbia campus), I take great pride in the state of the University’s athletic programs. I think you have done a more than admirable job of raising the profile of the athletic department. That being said, I came across something today–an opportunity–that could raise the profile of the athletic department, specifically the football team, even more. I’m sure you’ve heard about this already, but the link below is to a Chicago Tribune story detailing how the University of Notre Dame is trying to line up an opponent for a 2012 game at Soldier Field in Chicago–possibly a Big 12 opponent. Needless to say, playing one of the most recognizable college football names in the country could do a lot to bolster MU’s reputation. I strongly encourage you and Coach Pinkel to contact Notre Dame about scheduling this game. I don’t how it meshes with your current scheduling philosophy, but the University would be foolish to not at least explore this opportunity. Think about it: a nationally-televised game against the University of College Football in North America. THE Notre Dame. I’m excited just thinking about the possibility.
Thank you for your time, sir. Again, I implore you to try to make this happen. It would be huge for the team, Coach Pinkel, the fanbase, and your legacy.
University of Missouri, Class of 2006
A reasonable e-mail, right? Well, I received an auto-reply a few moments later alerting me that Mr. Alden would be out of his office and without e-mail capabilities until next Monday. His reply also gave me the e-mail address for his assistant. I wrote a shorter version of the e-mail above to the assistant, who forwarded my query onto Mark Alnutt, who handles football scheduling. I received this response from Mr. Alnutt:
Thanks for reaching out to us. We are looking for home games during both these years. We’ve made a commitment to our community and fans to have at least 6 games in Columbia every year. Thanks again and we appreciate your support.
That’s it? I come to your department with a legitimate request and that’s the answer you give me? “We’re looking for home games, so we’re not even going to explore the possibility of playing the most recognized and most well-followed college football team in the entire country in a sold-out NFL stadium.” Are you serious? What kind of bullshit is that? If you’ve made a commitment to your community, then why have you moved two potential home games (Illinois and Kansas) to neutral locations? Commitment my ass. A commitment to making money, perhaps. Which also doesn’t make sense, because a game with Notre Dame would bring BANK. In case you were wondering, Mizzou’s non-conference schedules over the next few seasons rank somewhere between garbage and dog crap. Don’t believe me? Check it out here. The schedule features such powerhouse programs as Toledo, Indiana, Western Illinois, and Miami…of Ohio. Arizona State is on the schedule, but they’re not Notre Dame. Not even close.
It’s just frustrating that our athletic department schedules like they’re afraid of playing anybody good, and that’s a damn shame. Here’s a suggestion: suck it up and play somebody, or else don’t bitch when people don’t show up to watch Mizzou play the Kent State Flashes…or whatever the hell their mascot is.