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June 30, 2009

The Steady Erosion of UGA Athletics?

The final NACDA Learfield Sports Cup rankings came out Tuesday and the news isn't good for Dawg people.  For those that don't know, the cup (it was once the Sears Cup, but is now sponsored by something called Learfield Sports) is the award for the best overall athletic performance by an NCAA athletic department.  Each school's score is based on a system of point allocations.  Points are given to each athletic program based on how their athletic teams finish in NCAA championships.  Each program gets to take their top twenty performing teams, ten teams of each sex.  Stanford, who fields an enormous amount of D-1 teams, always wins because they can usually pick twenty really good teams from their diverse portfolio.  UGA, in comparison, has only 20 athletic teams and riding horses doesn't count in the standings.
Across the conference, however, the criteria are fairly equal.  LSU has 19 sports teams and UF has 20, but one is women's lacrosse, which they haven't ever gotten points for.  So, of the three SEC athletic programs which are consistently in the top 15 in the standings, all have the same number of sports, 19.  
For the first half of the previous decade, UGA and UF were always fighting it out for the best SEC athletic program.  From 1999 to 2005, these two schools were in a constant battle.  UF held on to the conference crown in successive years only once.  Other than those two years, it was an alternating honor between the two schools.  LSU was a consistent third.
Since 2004, however, check out the trends:
That's disturbing for UGA as it illustrates a consistent erosion in overall athletic competitiveness.  This year's finish sees us outside of the top 15 for the first time since 1997.  Meanwhile, LSU has been on the opposite trajectory, rising for its first back-to-back top 10 finish.
So, what's the problem?  Could it be Damon Evans, who assumed the reigns of the UGA athletic department on July 1, 2004?  Or is that just a coincidence?  Damon inherited Felton (the basketball program has garnered points only once during the decline), Andy Landers had his worst year in a long time last season, and it was an odd year for the baseball team.  Most of this year's differential with LSU can be accounted for by two sports: track and basketball.  Every other UGA team is within the general area of their 2004 performance (baseball was #3 in 2004, but we did get points this year).  When UF and LSU are putting every team they have in postseason, UGA is going to fade fast with a couple of misses.  That's just what happened this year.

Any year you finish in the top ten is a good year.  This year's big drop isn't necessarily Damon's fault, but it should be a warning.  UF and LSU are demanding and getting excellence from every program they field.  We should do the same.  I hate for UGA to be second in anything.  I hate third even more. 



shadrach said...

This will change when Fox rights the mens ship and Landers fades and is replaced by someone who isn't in the last stanza of their career. Perno is building a more consistent winner on the diamond. The new gym dogs coach isn't Yoculan, but it was her choice. We're in good hands.

Anonymous said...

I know I am probably in the minority, but I am much more interested in the "revenue" sports than I am in softball, soccer, etc. I'd rather see us pump more resources into the football program even if it is at the expense of some of the "title IX" sports.

Unknown said...

It's interesting that the NCAA takes victories away from coaches, but not Athletic Directors or Vince's stats wouldn't look as good for '02 and '03.

When Fox gets hoops turned around and Andy's assistants get recruiting back on track (I've heard this has been addressed to some degree), we should be back in the Top 10.

Right now, Men's hoops and Volleyball are the biggest anchors on the program.


Carter said...


Do you have access to figures that show what the profit or loss is for individual sports in a given year?


Unknown said...

Carter, Yeah, but it's not accessible. Bottom line is almost all profit comes from football. Basketball posts a profit of more than $1 million.

No other sport posts a profit. Gymnastics comes closest.


Carter said...

I was interested to see if baseball and basketball turned a meager profit or broke even. I would assume that TV money is the main revenue stream for basketball. I assumed that gymnastics would have turned a small profit.

I'm not a fan of title 9, and the only times I've ever watched women's athletics Anna Kournikova was involved. I wanted to see what sports were the biggest revenue drains. Is that why the figures aren't for public consumption?

I know that financial figures are available on the academic side with the open records law, but I guess the AA doesn't have the same requirements.

MikeInValdosta said...

I do not feel it is anything related to Damon. I also agree getting basketball (M&W) turned around will put us back where we need to be.

As for Title 9, it has playee to out favor in the past. I do not have any stats, but I believe our women have outperformed the men pretty consistently. Equestrian should count, Nascar too!

Carter said...

Title 9 is athletic socialism, and I prefer athletic Darwinism. But reasonable people can disagree on the matter, and we all have more important things to worry about.

Anonymous said...

It is Damon's fault. Look, everyone knows that Landers is in over his head at this point. Hiring Tasha's mom was the last desperate step for a man whose time was the 1980's. Kids today simply do not respect the way he goes about his business. Certainly, he is not Bobby Knight, but the way they look down to their players is similar. Kids just do not play for guys like that anymore. Time for Landers to go.

Why do we still have a volleyball team? Have they ever been any good?

Women's golf and tennis used to win national titles. Neither has done so in a while. I know the women's golf program underwent some turmoil a couple of years ago. Need to get that righted.

Baseball, what can you say? Expected to get a top 8 finish there, inexplicable collapse.

Why UGA has never been good at track is beyond me. We should fire the men's and women's coaches and start over. There is simply no reason why UGA should not be a top 10 track program in the country. I wish that Damon would make this a priority. It doesn't take but 2 or 3 really good kids to make a great track team, and it seems that every year a great kid from SW Dekalb goes to Ufk or that Pole Vaulter went to Baylor or somewhere like that. We demand mediocrity from track and that's what we get.

Unknown said...

That is absolutely ludicrous that the equestrian stuff doesn't count when Stanford and UCLA can run away with it using sports like crew, water polo, and field hockey.

NCT said...

Both women's and men's tennis did pretty good this year. I think the women finished later than last year, yes? Out of the NCAA tournament in the semi-finals. For the men (out in the quarters, I think), it's hard to match back-to-back championships. Women's swimming was more of a consistent winner, but I'm not worried about that program.

Softball picked up some slack this year, and it's a very young team, so things look good for the future.

I'm optimistic about basketball and bullish on baseball, so I don't expect the downward trend to continue.

Anonymous said...

Check out our disparity when looking at seasons. Our fall stats are abysmal. 92 points generated from Football, Volleyball, and Women's Soccer.

Unknown said...

Carter - There are no secrets financially. I just don't have the stats handy, and I don't feel like looking them up honestly. They're available on somewhere and in your Hartman Fund annual report if you're a donor.

They break out the finances publicly for football, men's basketball and all other sports in those 3 categories if memory serves.

Basketball's profit is exceptional considering how bad ticket sales are right now. And how good they CAN get once we start winning.

Ryan - Equestrian
There are only 18 schools playing "Div I" equestrian. They still haven't standardized many things for the sport like how many girls are on a team and (I think) how many scholarships are given. It's still very fluid in terms of building out the sport. It will eventually be a sport that counts.


Unknown said...

For the bashers of Andy Landers. Over the last 10 years....

SEC Titles - 1
SEC TOurney Titles - 1
Elite 8 - 2
Sweet 16 - 4
2nd Round - 2
NCAA Tourneys - 10

His last two years have really been tough, but before tha he had 5 consecutive years of Sweet 16 or better.

The problem as I understand it was losing his ace recruiter to a head coaching job, and Tasha's mom didn't recruit a lick. Last year's recruiting class was very strong, and this one looks good.

Don't count him out yet.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about Stanford, i didn't realize they have some many varsity teams, just googled it and found this list:

Question --- Does anyone know how Stanford supports all these teams? It's not like they have a cash cow football program like we do, yet their athletic department supports 35 varsity sports to our 19.

UGA Student said...

Guys, I don't think there is much to worry about here.I think we can all agree that the Georgia "brand" is as strong now as it has ever been - and it is getting stronger.

I base this on how much money our athletic department makes compared to others; how Georgia is more on the national scene than ever before with games in Arizona, Oklahoma, and our spring game on ESPN; we are signing players our of our region that 10 years ago might not have been possible (see Stafford, Moreno, Murray, Marlon Brown, AJ Green, etc.).

I do not think that Georgia is on a downward trend in the least. If anything, I think we are going up. Interesting post.

Quinton McDawg said...

Financially, you are absolutely correct. Those trends have been going up without a doubt.

But, what good is increased financial success if it doesn't translate into increasing athletic success?

The Watch Dawg said...

I'm not sure how much I care about a ranking of 19 different sports, the majority of which nobody cares about. I care even less considering that they don't consider equestrian a sport, when as a poster above commented, Stanford gets points for crap like water polo. Yet we win consecutive national championships in equestrian but they don't count.

It's not Damon's fault. I think we can all see that he's been working hard to make every sport a contender... it just so happens that it was an unlucky year for more than one of our sports. Football, well, we know what happened there. Baseball, we have no idea what happened, but we know Perno is the guy for the job there. Basketball we feel is on the way up with a new coach.

Might have been a down year for the University in general, but I don't think its a trend.

Anonymous said...

There isn't one single problem with UGA Athletics that can't be solved by a dramatic improvement in men's basketball. Everything else is just cycling between varying levels of good and great.

Anonymous said...

Stanford makes more money in interest on their endowment than our athletic association does.

They could probably field another 100 sports if they were so inclined.

Anonymous said...

Let Stanford win the Sears Cup. We'd kick their Cardinal asses in fooball.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy hearing how we compare to the other national programs every year with this award, but I don't lose a lot of sleep over not winning something that Stanford is able to win every year.

Ask me if I'd trade Stanford's program for ours and it's a no brainer. It's been a long, long time (never?) since I've had a guy sitting at the next barstool praising the Cardinal.

Anonymous said...

Basketball and Baseball are LONG overdue for facilities upgrades.

I see lots of plans but very little progress.

Other SEC schools are swimming in money from the latest conference media deal and have new facilities and/or construction projects to show for it.

Not sure why we are sitting on our thumbs.

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