Friday, May 8, 2009

House Cleaning


This Friday blogpost is going to be a veritable hodge-podge of stuff, so let's get to it, shall we?

When 5-for-7 rocks, and when it just sucks.
In sports, going 5-for-7 generally is good. If Amorrow Morgan is 5-for-7 shooting, that's awesome. If Megan Miller goes 5-for-7 in a doubleheader, we should probably win both games. If Kyle Blum or Russel Hill go 5-for-7 passing on a drive, ISU is probably gonna score. In all those ways, 5-for-7 rock. So when does 5-for-7 suck? When the Idaho State Journal runs something regarding Keith Goins, Ryan Anchetta-Major, and Travis Anderson's legal troubles five of the last seven days. Really? I understand the first deal (although the headline and positioning was a bit much), and I get the little thing on the editorial page today in a way, but seriously, this isn't a free for all on the athletic department.

The only day there was nothing regarding this information was in Tuesday and Wednesday's paper. Matt Stucki (Pocatello) won four awards last night in the Bennion Awards Banquet, and Michelle Grohs (Salmon) won three .... we honored 37 or so student-athletes. All that got into the paper on that tremendously positive story was a listing of the winners in the agate section. No photo of all of our student-athletes dress in ties and dresses looking great ... just the agate. Hell, let's see who did have a picture in today's sports ... Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Kellis Robinett, Ben Crane (who you ask? he's on the PGA tour), a high school softball pitcher from Malad (name withheld due to NCAA rules), some high school tracksters, and LeBron James.

Now, as I have always stated, I don't write for the paper, and I have a great relationship with Tim, Kelvin, and Kellis, and maybe they have others above them making decisions on things (of which it should be pointed out that most of the incident stuff this week avoided the sports section, save for Kellis' column where he basically has decided ISU's hiring and firing practices ... I'll still buy his lunch next week though), but you would have to think that somewhere a picture could have made it. I will give kudos for running a small second APR story that painted a much truer picture of ISU's APR standing, brings me to my next nugget.

NCAA/APR/LOL/OMG
The NCAA loves the APR acronym, but I'll let Dave Hickman of the Charleston Daily Mail describe a great point in his column from yesterday.


"For starters, I'm never really sure what to call it because, apparently, neither is the NCAA. You know it as the APR, but that can refer to either Academic Progress Rate - which seems to be the NCAA's semi-official moniker for the system itself - or Academic Progress Report, which is what the group uses to refer to its yearly account of its findings. And just for kicks and giggles, the folks out there in Indianapolis also sometimes refer to the APP (Academic Performance Program), which seems to be the umbrella under which those APRs (take your pick) fall."


Nice right? Since the APR (take your pick) is here to stay, the NCAA has to do a better job at a couple of things with it.

#1) Retitle the reports.
When you go to the NCAA website and get a report, for instance, the one that came out last Wednesday, it is titled "NCAA Division I 2007-2008 Academic Progress Rate Public Report". Well guess what...that's wrong. It's not the 2007-08 APR...it's the four-year rolling score, meaning the correct title is 2004-08. If the report is entitled that, then folks know that the men's basketball score of 897 is spread over two coaches, Doug Oliver and Joe O'Brien, not one. Instead, it looks like Joe is saddled with an 897. O'Brien's score since he's been here? 926, and that includes having to get rid of guys from the previous staff like Tony Jones, and stuff like that (not bagging on the previous staff here, just making a point).

#2) Make the individual year reports available.
Why is this not available? Well, each school has an APR officer who has a pass code to gain access to it, but why not the publicity people who have to get the information out? ISU's four-year APR scores are OK, but the single-year scores for this year are higher in 13 of our 15 sports. Why wouldn't the NCAA make that publically available? I get the four-year score, but let's take men's basketball. In Doug Oliver's final year, the score was 827 (43 of a possible 52 points). In Joe O'Brien's first year, the team got 45 of 50 points, a 900 score (Tony Jones hurt here, and then Joe cleaned a few guys out of the program, like Ryan Baumgartner off the top of my head). His score for last year, which was just released, was a 956 (43 of 45), losing a point for Steve Anderson, who transferred out just half-letter grade under the 2.6 GPA mark. The guys had a perfect fall, and so, just for arguements sake, let's say that men's basketball gets 52 of 52 points, a 1000 score. Next year's report will list ISU's score for 2008-09 as 920.

That 920 will get in the commented on potentially as a "lowlight" since it's no at the magical 925 mark .... but is that 920 a representative score? Should a new coach pay for a something that he could not control? Apparently, he has to, but in what I just described, O'Brien's APR for his three-years would be a stellar 952. So O'Brien has his squad performing OVER the national Division I average, yet according to the NCAA and the APR, ISU is below the mark? Denmark? Rotten? I think so....there has got to be a better way to properly showcase the improvements schools make, so that brings me to point number three

#3)Allow waivers to recuse schools that change coaches
Now, all of that might look like I'm blaming Doug Oliver and his staff, but to the contrary, Doug announced he was not coming back during in January of the season. Try as he and his staff might, he couldn't control if kids transferred out or went to class in April ... he wasn't here. Anytime there is a coaching change, the APR of either the first season of a new coach, or the last of the old coach will always be down. Look at football. John Zamberlin cleaned out the program, and because of that, he took a huge APR retention hit. But, the program is better off. Now, a few scholarship athletes do something stupid, and he boots three scholarship kids out of the program. Good for him, but bad too, because now his APR takes a hit. He kicks Rashaad Richards off the team. Rashaad is an APR hit. Coaches, who used to have to come to grips with the fact that letting go of a student-athlete might hurt his chances at winning on the field, now are put into a position of having to decide whether or not to clean out a program knowing it could devestate the APR, causing lost scholarships, meaning it's tough to compete, meaning it's hard to win and recruit better kids, and getting into a horrible catch-22.

#4) Actually post accurate information
When you go to ISU's website and click a boxscore, there is an understanding that you are downloading the official, correct stats. Well, guess what. If you pull ISU's 2006-07 APR score off the NCAA's official web site...it ain't right. ISU had a few numbers changed on that report after an audit...some scores went up, some went down. However, if you go to the NCAA website, like all of the nation's media were sent to, the NCAA hasn't fixed the older reports to put the new stats on there. Seems like that would be something to get up there pronto. Hell, I'd like it if they just told the SIDs that the school was audited, because I didn't even think to check the numbers.

Admitting a Gaffe
This is sort of a BengalDen response, but some questions arose (legitimate ones I might add) about how the football incidents with the four guys was handled. Let me go with the best political answer I can give here. We tried something a little different. For 11...well, 10 years and 10 months, we have always been pretty quick with things like this in releasing a short statement that "X person has been suspended for a violation of team rules". However, different coaches take different tacts with them, and while I was prepared to let folks know if they asked that they were suspended for a violation of team rules, no one in the media brought it up to me. Why that is, I have no earthly clue, but it wasn't. It was also decided to not release anything about the suspensions until I was asked so as not to throw the folks under the bus so to speak, which is something I have great empathy for, and after nearly 11 years, I decided to alter my own policy stance and try something different. In the end, it was my call.

Suffice to say what can work for a coach somewhere else might not work here, and that is why I regard everything as a learning experience. I was OK with trying something different, but clearly if the Idaho State Journal is going to have something about this incident in the paper in five of the last seven days, we need to go back to the original plan of action.

While these things are discussed with coaches, the bottom line is it comes down to my call, and I went in a different direction with it....hindsight shows it was not the correct decision. We learn (me especially) and move on. I have prided myself since being here of being someone who listens to the fans, and tries to represent ISU as best as possible, and I don't mind answering questions about it. Hope that lends a little insight.

In other news, Matt Stucki needs a pick-up truck
Matt picked up four awards last night, and Michelle Grohs three at the Bennion Banquet. There is no funner event for me that the Bennion Banquet, of which I Ihave now MC'ed twice, which is great. After all the hard work during a season, I take great pride in getting to announce season awards and read the accomplishments of the award winners to their peers. Everyone is all dressed to the nines, it's a great meal....fun times.

Graduation is Saturday!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, Frank. Thanks for owning up to the process and explaining.

As an out of towner, I can only see what stories appear for "free" on the Idaho State Journal's website, so I have no clue as to the coverage provided in print on a daily basis. I enjoy the ISJ's sports blog, because it's mainly filled with news and updates. While I appreciate the overall coverage Kellis has given ISU, I rarely read his blog anymore.

It seems like over the past several months, he writes columns and conducts interviews to incite and antagonize. I call that getting "cheap heat, " and in my opinion, that's the lazy writer's way. There's a difference between Kellis' current style and the style by which an editorial is written to uncover facts, stir thoughts and emotions, and encourage a free and open line of discussion.

Don't get me wrong. An editorial shouldn't sugar-coat everything; however, putting readers immediately on the defensive is a great way to alienate your audience over time. How many ways do you have to ask a question until you get the answer you want? Better put, how many ways do you have to ask the qeustion until you get the answer which you knew will make the most upset?

Frank Mercogliano said...

I agree...and I don't believe the Idaho State Journal, nor any media outlet, should be an ISU homer page, or our personal PR platform....that's what www.isubengals.com is for. It just bordered ironic that after all the events in the paper this week we couldn't get a Matt Stucki photo. That being said, the Journal did apologize for that.

I've seen reporters go through this phase, and honestly, I equate it to being a fan, in that when things are going good, Kellis is right behind the Bengals, like our loyal fans, and when they aren't going well, he gets down on us. In his defense, he loves to cover the Bengals, and he loves it when we win and are successful, as he has told me that directly.

Great comments...thanks!

Frank

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