Most traditional office jobs measured by a clock are out-dated (pun intended)
It sounds great. A 40 hour-a-week job where you spend eight hours of your day in an office. The reality is you probably only work 25-30 hours a week. Most of the rest of the time is waiting for someone to get you something or in meetings that could have easily been an email or 5-minute call.
The truth is your bosses have their own tasks to attend to and can't spend all of their time assigning you work. They're busy just like you. They have goals and objectives that make up those goals just like anyone else. Your job makes up a small part of those goals. You should do it as efficiently and to the best of your ability. However, keeping someone at an office for a set amount of time is pointless.
Everyone should do their tasks and be allowed to live their lives. We should be focused on maximum output and employee happiness over total hours worked.
The only people who should have consistent shift work are people who are frontline with customers.
Fix: Jobs should be task based
The better way to operate is to have a task list for any given day, week, month or quarter with expectations for completion dates. Allow flexibility on where someone works and when they work. Coming from the start-up world I would sometimes have to work 14 hour days to accomplish the goals I needed to and at other times I could work 3-4 hours and be perfectly fine. I could leave in the middle of the day to go eat and work out, then come back. Often I worked until 5-6 PM, but I felt good from moving around mid-day.
What was nice about that is it left me room to handle errands, fitness and other tasks in my everyday life that are important to me. Do you know hard it is to get your car serviced or get a haircut when you work 9-5 every single weekday? Everyone crams into those few available Saturday or evening spots.
How much more relaxed would you be if you finish all of your tasks by Thursday afternoon allowing you to grocery shop, hit the gym and get your car serviced before hitting the road Friday afternoon for a 2 1/2 day weekend?
Constant email bombardment
We all hate it. Ping...ping...ping...ping. When I first took over my job I was still getting forwarded all of my predecessor's emails. Between my mail and hers I was getting about 150-250 emails per day. In reality about 90% of this was junk I could ignore. It was an amazing relief to disconnect her old account to mine. But with every notification to avalanche against me built.
What makes the matter worse is the expectation that you have your work email attached to a device that you take home with you. For a while I got away with this, because I refused to step into the smartphone world. Ultimately I ran out of options at the phone store and got an iPhone. Every time my phone vibrated it brought a little bit of stress with it, like "Oh, there is one more thing."
I started reading some time management books and email was seen as a constant distraction. Essentially if you claim to be multi-tasking you're probably not good at any tasking. Focus in one doing one task really well and then move onto the next. Mute your email until your next time you assigned to check it.
Fix: Only check your email 2-3 times a day. Never check it once you leave for the day.
This was a game changing behavior move. Once I relieved that I didn't need to check my email inbox every time one came in it allowed me to focus on projects. If you invest all of your time to solving the shallow problems that you get in an email inbox then you won't have time for the deeper more time consuming problems. I check my email 30 minutes after getting to the office, before I leave for lunch and then one hour before I leave for the day. I really only answer what I need to.
When I'm at a conference I will only check my email once a day. In my mind, my job is to be absorbing as many ideas and techniques as possible at the conference, not attending to needs at the home office. It is a waste of time if I am not meeting with peers and spending every free moment on my phone or in my room. What is the point of going?
The constant 24-7 connection is a lot of the reason, combined with virtually unlimited entertainment at your fingertips, are some of the main reasons there is less civid engagement from young people. Also an environment where both partners have to work to maintain a household of expenses beyond what they need.
Minimal meetings or committees
There is no phrase that gives me more chills than "Let's form a committee". What this really means is we don't waste any of our time, so let's create more meetings for someone else. I'm a bigger fan of handing out tasks to the people that best can handle them and reporting back to the group ASAP.
Most meetings could be a simple email with an assignment. Back away from that person and let them come up with their own ideas. The problem with meetings is that often the highest paid person in the room gets deferred to. This isn't fair to that person nor the others in the room. An open and honest dialogue has to be had to accomplish anything. A good productive meeting is like 15-20 minutes tops.
I once had a week where I had 17 meetings that ate up 24 hours of my 40 hour work week. I got dreadfully behind on what I was supposed to be doing. The lesson you have to learn is....
Fix: Sometimes you have to say "no"
Whether this is towards sales reps that want to take an hour out of your time to come in, 15 minutes of your time by phone or an organization that wants to eat away at your time everyone wants a piece. Only you know your limitations and can properly budget your time for what is important. If you don't think it is important then don't set time aside for it just to appease someone else.
After hours business networking
I've been to countless numbers of after-hour business functions over the years. They really only accomplish three things:
These events tend to be costly and at hours only really convenient for people that wrap up their day at 5 PM or a little after. In previous jobs I've been done at 4:30-4:45. My gym only offers evening classes at 5:30 and 6:30, but the majority of after hour events start at 5:30 or 6 . What does someone in my position expect to do for an hour?
Fix: Time to volunteer in the community
I've developed waaaaayyy more good business contacts with simply being visible in my community through my own personal life than anything else. That is my gym, going to the library, cooking classes, recreation sports, volunteering at businesses and a host of other opportunities. These are things I love doing in my spare time anyways. If you're social and active you'll do just fine in a way more fun environment.
My local community does a "Day of Caring" which allows you to tackle community problems as a team. I LOVE these kind of events. The best friends and contacts I've ever made have come from working together for a common goal in a fun way.
The goals you should take away from this:
Who makes up the top 10 cities for NFL players all-time?
In this list above, which covers the entire history of the NFL according to Pro Football Reference we see a lot of traditional blue-collar northern cities and some large southern cities. How does that differ from what we see today?
Who makes up the top 10 cities for active NFL players?
What about at the state level?
Throughout the history of the NFL you've seen a certain hierarchy of players coming from California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and a few others. As rust belt cities have shuttered, people have retired to the south and jobs as a whole have moved below the Mason-Dixon line you've seen a shift in the concentration of NFL players.
and for active NFL players?
With current players you've seen Florida strengthen and the emergence of Georgia and Alabama make its way to the stage. This is great news both from a recruiting and development standpoint for the universities in those states. Not only do you have a multitude of players to choose from in your backyard, but you also can boast that you have a lineage of NFL talent and point to recent examples.
If you want to play around with the Tableau Public chart feel free. The chart that I think will interest you the most will be the last page which shows what are the top HS's for producing NFL talent in each state. I eliminated any school that has any less than 7 players from the model to keep it to a cleaner look.
Dude, did you get robbed?
This is a phrase I hear occasionally the first time someone comes over to my place. Why? I simply don't own a bunch of items just to fill a space. I've grown an appreciation for a wide open and clean room. It is relaxing to me to not be surrounded by stuff and clutter. However, I don't get weird about it like sitting down to thank every item for the value it brought to my life. I come in more like a contract killer and quickly put the item in a donation bag. If an item isn't bringing value to your life regularly it isn't worth keeping. Find a way to sell it, gift it or donate it if possible.
When you're thinking more about the usage rate and the milage you'll get out of an item the less stuff you'll likely end up buying. Short-term use items should be avoided if at all possible.
DVD, CD's, Blu-Ray, etc.
My rule for movies is if I haven't watched them in the last calendar year they go out the door on January 1st. Like most people I have a handful of favorite films. At one point I owned upward of 150 movies on my shelves, but living this rule for the previous five years I have narrowed down my movie collection to around 40 films. Playing into this has been the growth of platforms such as YouTube, Vudu and Netflix competing for my time.
This is admittedly a bigger challenge for me than the movies. I say this because over the years I've probably had a bit more of donation regret. I don't allow myself to keep any more books than I think I could read in a normal year. For me that is around 40 books total. If I were trapped on a tropical island what books would I want with me? Haha, outside of survival books. Currently, I won't buy a book brand new unless I've already read it and loved it. If I buy books it is almost always second-hand books. Rarely do I pay more than $5-$6 for a book. If I am going to experiment with something I haven't read I rely on the local library system to do so.
We're creatures of habit. We tend to eat the same things every week and find ourselves filling up our carts and baskets with the same items every single week. So why do we have pantries and basements full of pre-packaged food. It is one thing to have grown and canned your own food to use throughout the winter, but why do you need 96 granola bars and 3 economy sized bottles of Ranch dressing? I think that getting a good deal has outweighed the practicality of what you actually consume. In the United States we throw away nearly 40% of the food that we buy. This is a number we all need to work on. Buy local and maximize your food.
The way I think about this is "How much time do I have between each wash/dry of my clothes?". Seeing that I still live in a coin-operated world my timeline is washing about every two weeks. With this in mind I keep about two weeks worth of clothes in my closet and drawers. This is the way people should be thinking to maximize the use of their clothes and minimize the cost associated with something you won't wear. Anything that goes beyond what you wear in a two week window can be donated. The process will get harder the closer you get to the budgeted number, but believe me you'll be amazed at the space you have and how little you miss the items.
I also have four scenarios I dress for: work, home, gym and dressing up. This is where you could react a lot of different ways to what I have:
"The United States has 3.1% of the world's children, but 40% of its toys"
This is a stat that blew my mind. As a full disclaimer, I don't have any kids. However I have many friends and family that have kids and totally believe the stat above. Many family members and close friends want to spoil little kids, which turns into huge mountains of presents at birthdays and holidays.
A good rule of thumb I've learned here is to teach kids about budgeting early. Not from a financial standpoint, but if a kid only has so much space to store their toys. Whatever they don't place in a toy box or chest gets donated to children who could play with it more. Let them decide what is and isn't important to them. Let them know that their toy isn't being thrown out, but is finding a home where they can be better appreciated.
Something I've heard that is a pretty cool idea is the gym membership concept brought to toys. A play space is created and loading with all the newest and coolest toys. Families pay a membership fee and have access to all of the toys in either the space or checking them out like you would a library book.
We face it all of the time. I work in marketing, so it isn't unusual for me to get items that grease the wheel from sales reps. When I go to a baseball stadium occasionally they have a giveaway item they're handing out to fans. It is really easy to accept everything handed your way. What if you don't really need it or know someone to immediately give it to? Why not just walk out wide and not pick up the items. Why not say "no thanks" to a gift bag? This stuff piles up in homes and offices everywhere. I avoid giveaway items like the plague.
This is a bit more of a challenge, because some kitchen tools you have are simply for one particular dish. Think of a pan you'd put a turkey in during Thanksgiving. For 363 days a year it collects dust in a basement, cupboard or attic.
My situation kind of works itself out naturally. Over time items just collect dust or see minimal use and are pretty obvious that I don't use them. Whatever rarely sees the light of day gets loaded into a donate bag. It keeps my kitchen uncluttered as much as a small kitchen can be.
This is much of the same approach I take towards tools. In my experience I don't use a great number of tools on my car, at home or camping. Most of what I use can be placed in a single toolbox. If I need larger items we have local access to a collection of tools that you might need for a one-off job or you can rent them from home improvement stores.
The two players that came up most consistently in the overrated column for draft positions have been DeShaun Watson and Kyler Murray. Murray had a bit of the rookie blues last season with an above-average interception rate and a below-average TD rate. I would expect some improvement from the rookie QB, but not a 6th round draft choice gamble. I see a similar outlook for DeShaun Watson. Much like Murray he has the feet to get you some added yards and rushing TD's, but he also lost his top receiver in the offseason and doesn't have great numbers.
I ran several models and the two names that came up time and time again were Kirk Cousins and Gardner Minshew. They take care of the ball, are above-average in TD's thrown and all averaged 230+ yards passing. I'll take a 4 TD to 1 INT rate any day of the week. If you're looking for a steady rate of return these might be your guys to grab late in the draft. I am talking like round 14 or later and have starter potential.
As you prepare to make your wish list for a 2020 fantasy football team let's take a look back at 2019. What do the stats tell us? I used Tableau to help tell that story.
I definitely found some surprises. To start off with I only included players with at least 50 rushing attempts to remove WR's, but I also removed QB's from the equation. I wanted strictly running backs with 50+ rushing attempts. You can thumb through the various charts below to understand what franchises gave the most touches to their RB's. Touches are defined as rushing and receiving in this example.
You saw a bunch of playoff teams leading the way in running back touches. This, I am guessing, would be from leading in the game and running out the clock. The number of total yards had strong correlation with total touches, but two teams stuck out to me a bit down the line. Carolina and Cleveland turned in high yardage relative to their total touches.
Of the top three touch teams (New England, Dallas and San Francisco) they take very different approaches. San Francisco seemed to rely on a distribute across a few backs, which isn't particularly optimal for drafting in fantasy while New England ran a 2-for-1 style with Sony Michel leading the way in their stable. However, Dallas leaned heavily on Zeke Elliott way more than any of the other leaders. With our outliers of Carolina and Cleveland the Panthers unsurprisingly leaned heavily on Christian McCaffrey and Cleveland with Nick Chubbs making their model more similar to Dallas.
Another weird item I saw was Tennessee's high dependency on running over passing. Even though they're 15th in RB touches they are in 6th place for rushing attempts. This shows their workhorse of Derrick Henry isn't much of a factor in the passing game, nor is his backup Dion Lewis.
I won't go much deeper into the data, but have fun sorting through it to find gems.
As many of you know my entire career has been spent in tourism and sports. I've gone into how you can help these industries today. If you're someone that is still collecting regular checks and care to have these things once restrictions are removed you should take ownership today. I wrote an entire article about this. This will be especially hard on smaller communities such as a West Lafayette, Iowa City, Pullman or State College. Even the schools that do plan to play will take a big hit. Think: Auburn, Tuscaloosa, Clemson.
With a potential cancellation of a college football season how do I see this playing out? I'm going to put on my Master's in Sport Management hat to take a crack.
1. Furloughs of staffs with the exception of absolutely essential employees.
I would expect to see this happening for any game day staff, but if there are no media contracts to fulfill this is when the layoff/furloughs could get bad. Outside of merchandise sales, how do you make money? You could go the route of some art museums and auction off some luxury pieces of merchandise that have no real place in the current or future narrative of your school. Basically hold an auction or a yard sale.
2. Cutting sports that are neither profit generators, haven't seen recent large infusions of investment nor are used to balance the gender scholarship scale.
Football is the 10,000 pound elephant in the room of every D-1 athletic department. Dozens of them produce well into the eight or nine digit revenue streams. However, the truth is there should only be a fraction of the number of teams there are nationwide if we're just looking at profit margins. These major football programs also occupy 85 scholarships and need to be matched proportionately from women's sports. Some schools get clever with this by financing teams like women's rowing that is relatively cheap to operate and have major rosters. In most cases the female equivalent sports have a handful of addition scholarships as opposed to the male counterparts.
What I could see happening is an athletic department placing schools into three buckets: Profit Generators, Gender Scholarship Balancers or Recent Large Investments. What I mean by this is your profit generators are likely football and men's basketball. Your gender scholarship balancers are basically what I described in the above paragraph and there are other programs that for the sake of timing have seen large financial investments int their facilities or teams. If you're a sport that doesn't clearly go in any of those three buckets I'd start to worry. Universities at the highest level only need to have I believe 17 varsity sports to keep their status. You've already seen this start to happen around the country, probably most highlights by Stanford cutting 11 sports.
3. Eating into financial reserves that might have been earmarked for facility improvements or budget increases.
Make no bones about it, major college football is an arms race. Who has the biggest recruiting budget? Who has the most swagged out locker rooms? It's all about the bells and whistles to attract recruits. Without great players it is obviously difficult to win. What could credibly happen is improvement projects that aren't coming directly from a donor could get postponed or even cancelled.
As this carries over into communities.....I'll take off my sports hat and put back on my tourism hat.
1. Minimal overnight stays
This is a no-duh item. If there is no event to go to, then you simply won't stay. College sports is an event driven business and without crowds there is no reason to come. The only overnight options I could possibly see doing well through all of this is remote home shares and possibly resort style locations with the capacity to social distance.
2. Slow restaurants
This is a no duh. Many restaurants operate on razor thin margins during the best of times. A prolonged dead period is taking the razor to the juggler of some restaurants throughout the country. When restaurants or even whole complexes (i.e. St. Louis' Ballpark Village) depend on pre-game and post-game crowds to make hay when the sun in shining it is hard, if not impossible to turn in a positive year. In university towns slow summers are often cured by busy falls. I would expect fall to be busier with students returning, but all of restrictions of not being able to move around freely to talk to other groups will be a huge hindrance.
3. Retail stores taking a beating
If I ran a local popular retail store I would really double down on a social media push out to the alumni of whatever school I was at for merchandise. Really pull on that tearjerker emotion of missing out on a season. If you aren't active through eCommerce, you should get on the ball quickly.
Once again HELP THESE BUSINESSES TODAY! If you're still getting paid, don't stay home for every meal or cancel your travel plans. This is especially true if you are driving to your destination. Buy gift cards from these businesses, shop local, buy from them online and share your experiences with friends.
I've been rejected from over 1,000 jobs throughout my career. The truth is I probably never heard back from about 85% of them. Do you really want to work for a company that leaves people hanging because they're too lazy to send an automated email back? You can't take it personally, you've just got to brush it off.
The truth is that I've never once stopped applying to jobs at any point in my career. In my opinion, without the incentive of pensions that pay out if you stay a number of years there is zero reason to be loyal to an organization. You should always have an idea of your open market value. In any given year, I am probably taking 6+ interviews to see if I am a fit and I can improve my career standing.
I failed my way to success - Thomas Edison
Getting Rejected Over 1,000 Times Forces You To Overcome the Fear of Failure
First off I graduated in 2008 from undergrad and 2009 from graduate school. Impressive to have a master's degree by 23 by any standard, but horrid timing in the market. Not only were companies tightening their belts, but now you were competing with the people who were cut by companies earlier in the year. I bet I pumped out 300-400 applications, took 10-15 preliminary interviews and 3-4 final interviews before I landed my internship in Cocoa, FL working at a sport complex. The first couple of months is rough, but the sooner you realize that you are getting better at the process of applying the more you'll get out of it. If you can get over the fear of failure you'll go far in your career.
Apply to the Jobs That Interest You, Not the Ones That Pay the Highest
I've made this mistake multiple times over my life. In a few instances I didn't do a good job of reading the job description and comprehending what the position really entails. When I get to the interview the job sound dreadfully boring and not motivating in the least. Even though the pay is great, I would dread going to the job every day. Walk away from these opportunities as fast as you can. The ideal situation is a position that makes you happy and pays the bills. It's harder to find than you may think.
Create a Market For Yourself
When you apply to that many jobs you start to create a market for yourself. What is interesting is that you won't have anyone call you for weeks, but then out of the blue three or four businesses will contact you in a week to set up phone interviews. Use these opportunities to learn the ins and out of the company you'll be talking to and have answers for your experience as it relates to the job listing. Give them two to three things you bring to the table that they might not have in-house already or improves their operations.
It Helps To Be Local
This has probably worked more against me than for me, as I've always lived in small cities. Companies prefer someone that doesn't take travel logistics for them to interview and can come right in and work. When you're someone coming from far away you have to be really good in the interview and head over heels better than any of the other candidates. It is very possible to do this by coming in really prepared for the interview, but.....
Go Into the Interview With the Attitude That You Want the Job, But You Don't Need the Job
You don't want to go into the interview desperate for the position. Come in prepared to answer questions, offer solutions to problems you perceive and let them know everything you bring to the table. You shouldn't leave the interview kicking yourself that you should have told them about this skill or that certification. Go beyond the resume you sent in. That earned you the first date, so sell yourself to get a second date. Much like the dating scene you don't want to seem desperate, because that will put the other party off. Act like you want to be there and have things move forward, but act as if it isn't your only opportunity.
Knowing Someone Gets You an Interview, But Not the Job
I've been on both sides of this. Getting an interview because I knew someone/someones on the team hiring and also getting an interview for someone. This only gets you as far as the door and the chance to interview.
I've gotten several interviews over the years because I know someone on the hiring team, but I still need to perform well in the initial interview to move forward. You should absolutely take these seriously, because your friend/peer is putting their credibility on the line.
Companies Want the Internal Candidate To Get the Job
I've been on the short end of this stick several times over the years. You either take the call or find out later that there was a preferred internal candidate, but they needed to do their due diligence and interview external candidates. This blows, but put yourself in their shoes. If someone you've worked with for probably years wants a new position and you know they are reliable, why go with an unknown?
Work On the Commonalities in the Job Descriptions
Over time you're going to see common themes or skills in the positions you are applying for. It could be specific software programs, general concepts like CRM management, soft skills like public speaking or a host of others. Write down what you're commonly seeing in the posts and go to work trying to improve upon those skills. From there build examples for potential employers that leave them impressed and with zero doubt of your capabilities to handle said position.
Never Get Down On Yourself
When it comes down to job applications you will always fail more than you succeed. The thing to take from it is getting comfortable with the lessons you learn from applying, interviewing and developing contacts. Just keep building your work portfolio and making your case stronger. Work on projects, gain skills, grow those skills, build contacts and keep plugging away. You never know what will come your way.
I found myself making a comfortable lunch today that was quick and easy. Once I was done and sitting down at my coffee table I had to laugh. Why, you ask? I bet anyone I'm related to can tell you without reading any further.
You see growing up in a family of six in rural Pennsylvania traveling that involved hotels wasn't the most cost effective way to see the world. My family had a pop-up camper that allowed us all to stay together at campgrounds for a reasonable price. Many of our meals comprised of a peanut butter sandwich (or just a slice of bread with peanut butter on it) with a piece of fruit and more than likely a Little Debbie. In our family, the Oatmeal Cream Pie held a special place. But heaven forbid you open it up before the other items were gone.
When we traveled Mom was very persistent that we have to finish our sandwich and fruit before you can have the Oatmeal Cream Pie. Depending on how dry the bread was or overly ripe the fruit may have been might have been a difficult task for most 7-18 year olds. For a plate you tore off a paper towel, found a picnic table at a rest area and ate your meal before we got back on the road to continue the journey. Buying food for six people at a Wendy's or McDonald's not only wasn't nutrient rich, but also was expensive. In her mind she might have viewed this simply as feeding her kids without wasting time and money. To me looking back on it, it was a lesson in those things and delayed gratification.
How does this relate to the world I see when I step outside my door?
So many people just want to fill themselves with the dessert without putting in the work of getting the vitamins and nutrients of the rest of the meal. Their entire lives are living for the short-term. They want to be physically fit using some diet pill instead of simply burning more calories than they consume every day. People expect a high paying job without the hard work of building a strong body of work. This is why people invest in get rich quick schemes or waste their money buying lottery tickets rather than contributing money to investments and investing in assets.
What are you willing to sacrifice today to get to the rewards of tomorrow?
Can you give up going through the drive-through every morning? Something I am sure your waistline and wallet would both thank you for.
Can you give up buying a new truck every 3-4 years and ride it out with one for 10-12 years so you can invest money through index funds or open a Roth IRA? Your 65 year old self will thank your 35 year old self.
Can you give up an hour of Netflix or Hulu every night to build skills that get you where you want to go? The next time you have a job interview you'll be well-rounded by some new skill that allows you to add value to their business.
Can you give up happy hours and drag your butt to the gym every evening? You'll sleep better, feel better and have more energy.
Can you pass up the sweet snacks throughout the day in favor of fruits and vegetables? You won't just get a bunch of hollow calories.
Can you not open Facebook or Instagram to get your news, but rather sit down with a book on history? You'll become a more well-rounded individual in conversations.
There are entirely too many people out of shape, living in debt and without skills that are too weak of will to say "no".
How has this lesson impacted my current life?
I'd say there are many ways that this has benefitted me. Anyone that spends time with me can be annoyed by my love of lists and routine.
Many of these tasks call for a lot of short-term sacrifice and saying "no" to friends and family. Sometimes saying "no" is easier than other times. However, staying disciplined to my goals above has allowed me to stay healthy, fit, well insulated from financial hardship, mentally happy and well educated in a variety of disciplines and view points.
If you're into delayed gratification enjoy one of behavioral economics favorite experiments. The marshmallow experiment for kids. I would be willing to bet that there are some adults that couldn't pass this test.
Up until the early 2000's the world of college football recruiting was largely a mystery to the common fan. One day you just opened the newspaper and saw a list of names that signed with your favorite program. Then came the internet.
In the early 2000's you started seeing various websites pop-up exclusively dedicated to the 16, 17 and 18 year olds and what program would gain their services. Never mind that the majority of people working these sites and evaluating talent have coached a high-major college football game in their lives. It didn't matter, the pressure was on for every major program to get a top 5 or 10 class year in and year out. That after all was the only way to compete for a national title.
Enter the book Meat Market, which follows Ole Miss for a season leading up to signing day 2007. The team is led by Ed Orgeron, the same that won the national title with LSU in 2020, in his pursuit to fill out a dominant class and compete against the likes of LSU, Alabama, Texas and others. The book is comical at times, frustrating at others and leaves you openly rooting for Orgeron. Of course you know how it plays out in hindsight with Orgeron being let go after the 2007 season where he went 3-9.
What Did I Learn?
1. I've read this book several times over the years, so in my most recent read I wouldn't say I learned a lot. However, looking back on this in 2009 when I first bought it was eye-opening. I had a general idea of how recruiting worked and even worked side-by-side in Penn State's recruiting gate during the 2007 season. However, this made me take another look at the cut-throat nature of the SEC.
2. I knew little about Ed Orgeron, but immediately liked him. He didn't fit the mold of the average pretty boy southern gent with the visor. He is a get down and dirty grind it out kind of guy. He was my kind of guy and someone I respected reading the book. Players seem to love him and his style, but his knock was his lack of polish.
3. I didn't really have any clue how many total players you had to offer to put together a good class. When you're a 2nd-tier SEC program like Ole Miss you really have to cast a large net. The state of Mississippi, although football rich, isn't a well populated state. You've really got to cover the entire southeast United States to build a good class. The challenge with a wide net is in that era it was more difficult to maintain a relationship with a kid four states over than it is today.
4. You really get an eye-opening look at academic and specifically pushing kids over the line to eligibility in this book. There were several players committed to Ole Miss that weren't initially eligible. There was a lot of checking in to see where kids stood. I would imagine a lot of premiere programs skipped over a handful of the Ole Miss kids because the risk of him not qualifying wasn't worth the reward of him joining the roster. In this way Ole Miss tried to wedge their way into a niche. You got a decent look at southern poverty, especially with the poor black community of the south.
I found this book wildly entertaining, even being someone who holds an advanced degree in Sport Management. For those that aren't super familiar with the business of major college athletics, specifically the large money making programs of the Power 5 conferences there is nine-digits floating through these athletic departments on an annual basis. However, collegiate athletic departments are classified as non-profit entities so they are exempt from paying taxes. This allows the money that they make to go flowing back into the programs in the form of large coaching salaries, gaudy facilities and lavish amenities not open to the average student.
The vast majority of collegiate athletic departments are not profitable and rely on student fees from the regular everyday student to stay afloat. Even with programs operating in the red it isn't unusual for the highest paid public employee in the state to be a college football coach. The challenge is raised whether these athletic departments with un-profitable football programs should even continue with a program.
Gilbert Gaul did an excellent job researching the book and getting a lot of first-hand accounts. I will admit that my eyebrows were raised by some of the quotes and perspective he provided throughout the book. It is definitely worth the read.
What Did I Learn?
1. I was aware that Title IX made college programs create comparable programs to women and provide a number of scholarships comparable to the student body. What really jumped out to me in Gaul's book was how women's rowing has largely been a driving force to help match the 85 scholarship given to football programs. Women's rowing is a relatively cheap sport to finance and most of the girls that enter the sport have little or not experience in the water. They just happen to be tall and strong.
2. Gaul digs into why the SEC is so dominant at football. I won't ruin that chapter for you.
3. I enjoyed how the idea of whether student athletes get a real education. Often times schools tend to funnel kids into majors and colleges that best fit the needs of the football program's schedule. Does that really benefit the student in the long-haul? The NCAA's comical "we're preparing for life after sports" campaign comes to mind. Do they really mean that when it comes to football? Or are they just protecting their cash cow?
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.