Geno on Difficulty of Getting Competitive Out-of-Conference Games | The Boneyard

Geno on Difficulty of Getting Competitive Out-of-Conference Games

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JoePgh

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John A's article in the 12/1 Courant contained a quote from Geno where he said something that I don't think he has said previously (in public). After saying that he would like to have more "really good opponents" on UConn's out-of-conference schedule, he said:

"You can't always get people to agree. You'd be surprised how many teams who don't want to do it. There are five, six, seven, eight schools who want to do it but we already play them but then there are a bunch of schools who don't want to do it. Carol Stiff (ESPN) has a hard time putting games together because some schools say, 'I don't want to do it', which I find hard to believe."

I find it reassuring that Geno recognizes that playing the Towsons, Pacifics, and Holy Crosses of the world does not make for a compelling schedule for fans. But I find it disappointing that both he and ESPN find it so difficult to make a more competitive schedule happen. You would think that other Top-50 coaches would recognize that losing to UConn is an honorable loss that will not hurt their chances of getting an NCAA bid or a favorable seed, and you would think that the prospect of a nice payday from ESPN (or just from the financial guarantee that UConn provides to those whom it plays at home) would be a substantial inducement.

I can understand why UConn is reluctant to agree to a home-and-home series with a Top-50 team unless they are truly a top team, given the abysmal attendance (and revenue) that would result from the game at the other school. I'm sure part of the problem is that even with attendance of 6,500 or so, UConn realizes more profit from a Towson game at home than from (let's say) a Penn State game in State College.

Nonetheless, one must acknowledge that this is one area where the orange folks can make a legitimate comparison that is favorable to themselves. The Tennessee out-of-conference schedule consists of Pepperdine, Miami, Virginia, Baylor, Middle Tennessee, Texas, DePaul, Rutgers, Stanford, UCLA, Old Dominion, Chattanooga, and Notre Dame. While the top of UConn's out-of-conference is similar (Baylor, Stanford, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Duke, North Carolina), the rest of UConn's out-of-conference schedule is indeed filled with (admit it!) cupcakes. Why are the Vols able to overcome the obstacles that Geno cited in the quotation above? Is it simply that their scheduling is less driven by the profit motive than UConn's?
 
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This is really a helpful post, because it lays out, IMHO, in a way most of us haven't really seen, the fact that a comparably tough team (or almost as tough), does a better job scheduling non-cupcakes. Okay, three are from the Big East, so it's not like UConn could schedule them, but there probably are comparable teams in the SEC that UConn could target. And those aside, there are a number of others that would be good opponents for UConn.

One thing that works against UConn is that it's a shorter trip for the UCLAs of the world to get to TN than to CT, which makes scheduling logistics tougher. But I have to believe that UConn can do better than it has in the last three years. Objective number one should be to replace the World Vision Whatever, which is simply a guarantee that there will be 2-3 cupcakes in a three-day period.
 

wire chief

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Doesn't Tenn have sinificantly higher attendance figures than do we? That may play a part.
 
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It's likely that more people attend their games because those games are more competitive.
 

alexrgct

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I think Tennessee has done a better job of actively marketing and pricing their WBB tickets than has UConn's AD.

Additionally, although Tennessee has had a tremendously successful WBB program, even they have not had quite the same exhausting run of success UConn has had over the past 11 years. They had time to miss having exceptional teams, and they've still only had one complete juggernaut season (1998). In 1995, you might have thought UConn would never have a season as special as right then, and you owed it to yourself to see as many games as you could. And then the 2002 was REALLY special...and then you might never have another player as special as D on campus...but then three years after she graduated, we did...and then we won 90 games in a row. It's kind of reached a point where no matter what UConn does, they'll reliably be able to do it again. And if you have a team like the one this season who's "only" a top-5 kind of squad, not the favorite to win it all, with no transcendent player, it may seem pedestrian by comparison. If there's no urgency because the team is so reliably good year after year, it can hurt attendance. Even Tennessee has not matched the kind of heights UConn has reached. The effects of being able to take historic greatness for granted represent in many respects a good problem to have, but it's still a problem.
 

Zorro

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They are also benefiting from the disasters in the UT men's basketball and football programs. There is just less competition for the sports entertainment dollar around Rocky Top.
 
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Call it whatever you want but being from the south you can't compare the level of fan support in the south t0 the north. High school sports games crowded to full capacity where here it is mostly parents of players. From what I've seen and experienced a lot of college sports are the same.

I would also say that the fans feel much more valued and appreciated as well. I think here a lot of fans feel taken advantage of with raised ticket prices and parking. Crappy seats to the Big East Tournament package etc... Get what you can get from them attitude!!
 
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Our new AD will and is making a new effort to rebuild a fresh attitude with Media, Admin, fans and students......Give him time to get it right.
 

semper

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We should rejoice that the Big East provides such strong games, or at least many of them are. That evens us out with UT from a recruitment and fans' point of view. There we get a much better schedule, better indeed than any other in the country.
 

JoePgh

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The replies thus far have mostly addressed why Tennessee's attendance is greater than UConn's. To me, that is not the greatest mystery, nor is it the question that I was trying to pose: Why are other schools in the "pretty good but not Top 25" range of WCBB (such as UCLA, Texas, and Virginia) willing to play Tennessee but not UConn? They are equally likely to lose against either opponent, and I assume ESPN pays pretty much the same.

I am guessing that part of the reason is that Tennessee is willing to do home-and-home series with such schools, while UConn is not -- for financial reasons. Another part may be that Tennessee is simply more willing to sacrifice revenue for the sake of a competitive schedule than UConn is. And, as one post has suggested, travel may be part of it, but I suspect not a large part.

With respect to attendance, I believe that Tennessee's tickets are priced substantially lower than the $22 per game that UConn charges to season-ticket holders. I also recall reading that Tennessee loses much more money on its WCBB program than UConn does -- an annual loss in the range of $1.5 - $2M at Tennessee vs. a few hundred thousand dollars at UConn. If the UT administration is ready to accept such losses for its WCBB program, that is a testament to its commitment to women's basketball (and to the importance that the state attaches to it). I doubt that either the UConn administration or the CT state legislature would accept that magnitude of losses as the price of a competitive schedule and a full arena for nearly every game.

In other words, money talks.
 
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This is really a helpful post, because it lays out, IMHO, in a way most of us haven't really seen, the fact that a comparably tough team (or almost as tough), does a better job scheduling non-cupcakes. Okay, three are from the Big East, so it's not like UConn could schedule them, but there probably are comparable teams in the SEC that UConn could target. And those aside, there are a number of others that would be good opponents for UConn.

One thing that works against UConn is that it's a shorter trip for the UCLAs of the world to get to TN than to CT, which makes scheduling logistics tougher. But I have to believe that UConn can do better than it has in the last three years. Objective number one should be to replace the World Vision Whatever, which is simply a guarantee that there will be 2-3 cupcakes in a three-day period.
The bottom line is always money. Including the exhibitions, the first 10 games were at home.
 
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That's a tough question, Joe. I doubt that we'll know the financial details that would bring UConn a home-and-home with, say, UCLA, so it's hard to know. What may be obvious is that the more competitive games UConn gets, the higher the attendance.
 

KnightBridgeAZ

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Tennessee also has some traditional rivalries that may not play every year, but there is a long history of Texas (from when Jody was there) and Virginia (Ryan). I don't know if Virginia will continue, obviously.

I do think a big difference is the home / home concept. Even Vivian won't do it for a "little sister of the poor", but Geno I have always heard is extremely reluctant to play away.

Plus, ultimately, there is no great advantage for decent programs to play UConn vs. some other top 10 team - who will return the visit. The difference between an "honorable" loss to UConn as opposed to Stanford, Baylor, Duke, etc. is no difference, ultimately. If their ranked above you and likely to stay there, it ultimately is an "ok" loss.
 

UConnCat

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but Geno I have always heard is extremely reluctant to play away.

That is simply not true. This is about revenue, period. UConn is unwilling to give up a certain number of guaranteed home games for both its men's and women's teams. The men's non-conference schedule is very weak this year with a lot of games against teams that are not very good and don't insist on a home and home. UConn doesn't have a big-time football program that brings in the substantial revenue seen at other universities. The athletic dept needs whatever revenue it can get from its two basketball programs and that means scheduling as many non-conference home games as possible.
 
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I think Tennessee has done a better job of actively marketing and pricing their WBB tickets than has UConn's AD.quote]
Tennessee's tickets range from $7 to $60+ depending where you sit. Tickets prices at high end seem to vary with who is playing. High end must be boxes. Parking seems to vary from about $7 to $16 per game with a parking pass ($120-$260).
 

alexrgct

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I'd take $60+ in a heartbeat. Good seats for UConn games either require significant UConn club donation or significant per-ticket premiums in the secondary markets.
 

KnightBridgeAZ

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That is simply not true. This is about revenue, period. UConn is unwilling to give up a certain number of guaranteed home games for both its men's and women's teams. The men's non-conference schedule is very weak this year with a lot of games against teams that are not very good and don't insist on a home and home. UConn doesn't have a big-time football program that brings in the substantial revenue seen at other universities. The athletic dept needs whatever revenue it can get from its two basketball programs and that means scheduling as many non-conference home games as possible.
I was just using "Geno" to refer to the program. UConn has a reputation for not wanting to play away games unless it is for TV purpose or a player's homecoming or against a top opponent. Your explanation of the reason doesn't surprise me. There actually is no good reason to play a home and home if you don't have to. However, there will be teams that won't schedule you, as you note with the men.

Incidently, some not very good teams also try and insist on a home and home. RU turned down someone, I think Stony Brook, because they insisted on a return visit.
 

EricLA

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The Huskies average home attendance of 10,182 ranked second to Tennessee's 12,896. See: Attendance
Actually, last year Louisville surpassed UCONN and ended up 2nd. they averaged 10,859 per game. UCONN was 3rd at 9,788 followed by ISU, Notre Dame, Baylor, New Mexico, Purdue, Michigan State and TTU.
 
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With respect to attendance, I believe that Tennessee's tickets are priced substantially lower than the $22 per game that UConn charges to season-ticket holders. I also recall reading that Tennessee loses much more money on its WCBB program than UConn does -- an annual loss in the range of $1.5 - $2M at Tennessee vs. a few hundred thousand dollars at UConn. If the UT administration is ready to accept such losses for its WCBB program, that is a testament to its commitment to women's basketball (and to the importance that the state attaches to it). I doubt that either the UConn administration or the CT state legislature would accept that magnitude of losses as the price of a competitive schedule and a full arena for nearly every game.
In other words, money talks.
Money does talk, but the Tennessee women's basketball program can lose that amount of money because the school has an SEC football program with a 100,000 seat stadium. In CT it is the other way around. Women's basketball helped pay to get the football team up to DI, and the football program is still long way off from returning the favor. The two programs live in two different eonomic realities, and the chief difference is almost entirely football.
 
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This is semi-related to the original intent of the thread, but I think it's relevant. The original women's first fans were a bunch of seniors and it was obvious at games at the Civic Center compared to the men. The seniors are getting killed income wise with interest rates at close to zero. All the games are on TV. Why bother to stretch the budget? Tenn still gets good attendance because all the games aren't on TV. Playing cupcakes is only part of the problem. The big problem is the economy for the heart of the paying fans. Scheduling won't solve the real problem.
 

Jmpenn

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This is semi-related to the original intent of the thread, but I think it's relevant. The original women's first fans were a bunch of seniors and it was obvious at games at the Civic Center compared to the men. The seniors are getting killed income wise with interest rates at close to zero. All the games are on TV. Why bother to stretch the budget? Tenn still gets good attendance because all the games aren't on TV. Playing cupcakes is only part of the problem. The big problem is the economy for the heart of the paying fans. Scheduling won't solve the real problem.
Pretty much all TN games are on TV or available for free on the web. You may not get all the games in CT but there is Sportsouth and the SEC Network that carries games in the south. Even the exhibition games were on the web for free.
 
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Pretty much all TN games are on TV or available for free on the web. You may not get all the games in CT but there is Sportsouth and the SEC Network that carries games in the south. Even the exhibition games were on the web for free.
I know a bunch of fanatical seniors with only basic cable. Watch on the web? What's the web?
 

Jmpenn

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I know a bunch of fanatical seniors with only basic cable. Watch on the web? What's the web?
LOL. In the south we don't get most of the UCONN games and up north you wouldn't get the TN games. Just depends on where you live.
 
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