Monday, April 11, 2016

Sentinel: Kingston leaving BG

Boom goes the dynamite.  Chris Kingston is leaving BGSU.  You know this kind of thing is eventually going to happen, you just never know when.  The report in the Sentinel says that he is going to work at Learfield Sports, which is a little bit of a surprise.  Learfield is the entity that handles the marketing of Falcon Sports Properties--basically the corporate partnership and marketing relationships, including the radio broadcasts.

Chris Kingston brought a lot of qualities to BGSU.  I believe he raised the competitive level of our teams and built on the facility work done by his predecessor.  He hired Dino Babers, handled the Jans thing correctly, and made what I believe was a good hire in Michael Huger.  I've written plenty about Jinks, and if that works out he gets credit for that, too...and for more than one reason.

He was known (from the people I talked to) for a legendary work ethic and an incredibly thorough approach to tackling the challenges in front of him.  Just for an example, he spent Sundays getting a list of future coaches identified for the football program, which led him to Jinks and I assume Babers.

He also was a great booster.  I saw his pre-game speech to alumni at the Purdue game, and he was just great.

So, he will be missed here at BG.  This is the world we live in.  People come to our school and they want to make their name.  When they do, they leave.  Or, when they don't, they leave.  The biggest challenge at our level is to win the Russian Roulette game of replacing coaches and administrators.

That game now rests in Dr. Mazey's office.

Best wishes to Kingston.  Good luck in all your future endeavors.


NWLB said...

He did throw himself into the role without reservation. I don't think I've known any coach or administrator who more gleefully threw himself into wearing BGSU gear. I will not however miss the talonsup farce, however well intended it may have been, with any luck that dies with his departure.

I don't think there is or needs to be any presumption that his departure is a suggestion that there are rough waters ahead for BGSU and he was departing before they arrived. But looking forward one has to ponder what challenges are looming and what the next AD must come to Bowling Green prepared to engage.

President Mazey's note to the community last year, discussing the challenges of funding the full cost of attendance, was frankly a cautionary message. She noted the cost and challenge it posed. It implied pretty directly that the University was going to try to rise to the challenge and how that would be done. Yet it was inescapable that the other side of the message was that the University might fail in that attempt. From that it is easy and logical to assume changes would be required in athletics which usually does not end well from the fan and student-athlete perspective.

The department's strategic plan speaks to how steep the challenge is and to my mind, how unlikely it is to succeed. Were I the director who had to put the hard numbers to paper and layout what had to be done, knew the community as well as I do, I would see no reasonable expectation of meeting the goals.

So we face two bodies of change coming. First are the changes and side-effects of the efforts the President and athletics strategic plan mandate will come in seeking to greatly boost funding. Then come the consequences of the University having given the community and athletics the chance to succeed but coming up short.

You look to the infamous hashtag fixation of the past couple of years. If you are seeking to boost merchandise sales year-over-year by 7%, the path of least resistance and least effort is to jam an annual body of quick and new tags onto high margin tee shirts. You shift Falcon Club more and more into a "pay to play" country club for those who pony-up the money. You choke off seating by ever more arbitrary lines with escalating costs. Traditions and history become subordinate to marketability and expediency.

If we get five years down the road and the money hasn't flowed by significantly greater amounts every single year, change of a more dire kind is almost a given to come. This is hardly a situation unique to BGSU, it is just beneath the surface at many non-power 5 conference schools. With BGSU's athletics budget among the the smallest among all of its peers, we enjoy far more success dollar for dollar than most schools. Yet that is no assurance of stability overall.

Now a new athletic director will take the wheel and attempt to execute on plans already set into motion. BGSU's community has rallied when needing to respond to Hockey being at risk. Now it maybe plausible to argue the entire whole of athletics as we know it has to be defended. What BGSU does will be in part impacted by larger events in the NCAA and among its peers. What it can do will be based on what the full University community will be willing to do.

We are about to live through very interesting times.

Orange said...

Wow, thanks, that's a well thought-out comment. Thanks! Without going into all of it, most of which I agree with, I would agree strongly with your basic point: it is going to be very tough for mid-majors to continue to keep up with the financial demands of this arms race. And, there is the expectation that P5 schools will leave the NCAA altogether. I don't think it means the end of mid-major athletics, just an end to reaching up and a beginning to something more sustainable. I think all this will look very different by 2026.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought he knew football was going to take a dip after the offensive skill position exodus and he didn't want to bear the impact of a potential blight on his CV for future AD job prospects, but all his hires will follow him wherever he goes whether or not he stayed to see the ultimate results firsthand.

This is a huge hire for Mazey.

NWLB said...

Unlike being hired as an AD, I don't suspect there are many jobs he can fire for at Learfield. So his hires are essentially out of luck. He's getting out of the AD world with this move, and maybe it is a good time given the bloodbath that could be coming in the NCAA.

I'd point out that the BGSU strategic plan assumes everything in the NCAA remains as it is. It won't.

How ever the Power 5 conference move, it will almost certainly mean several things all of which mean vastly less money for whomever isn't among those programs.

And in truth I think these changes must happen. We need to end the delusions of national football and basketball championship aspirations. End the inevitable coaching pay battles. Refocus on what the entire point of all this was supposed to be. Naturally the race will begin again, but if the Power 5 do this right, hopefully the slam the door hard enough to keep it closed this time.

Yeah, I think some, a few, will be turned-off by the changes. Meh. The sooner folks reconcile themselves to what is coming the less teeth gnashing and false hopes they'll make dumb moves chasing.