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HOT COUGAR ACTION: Just What Is The Value Of College Athletics?

Normally we lead off with something directly related to the Cougars, but I ran across a story this morning on Vince Grippi's blog regarding a recommendation from a committee to cut five to seven sports at Cal in order to close a perennial budget deficit in the school's athletics department. (There were other recommendations, but obviously that's the biggie.)

There was one passage that caught my eye, just as it did Vince's:

That's a reference to a major theme of the report by the chancellor's committee, that athletics is a gateway to philanthropic donations that extend beyond sports. According to the report, the university's top 138 lifetime donors to the athletic department have given $280 million to sports and $370 million to academics.

Mogulof said Cal's sports teams are "the tie that binds" alumni to the university, noting, "People make their first foray into philanthropy in athletics, and it goes from there. It's an inseparable part of the whole that is Cal."

Indeed, the committee noted a likely "philanthropic blowback" of as much as $25 million if select sports are eliminated on campus.

There's always a lot of debate about the value of college athletics, especially in the view of the enormous budgets that those departments deal with in relation to their academic counterparts. But WSU has seen it first hand -- the bump the school overall got from the Rose Bowl in the year following the 1997 season was staggering. I can't find any articles on it, but I remember a significant increase in applications to the school and donations across the board.

The bottom line is that sports -- and, more specifically, the football program -- are the largest public relations arm a university has. Positive athletics experiences lead to positive feelings about the school in general. Sociologists can argue forever about whether that's a good thing, but it's reality. And any decision to scale back athletics has to be made with that in mind.

Anyway, some food for thought this morning.

On to the links!

WSU News

NCAA: Washington State vs SMU Game Week - SB Nation Seattle
The Cougars finally got in the win column Saturday, coming from behind to beat Montana State in Pullman, 23-22. The victory was Washington State's first since another early-season comeback victory over SMU in 2009 at Martin Stadium. The Cougs look to draw on that game as they travel to Texas to take on the Southern Methodist Mustangs this weekend in a rematch of last year's thriller.

Tackling a Tuesday emphasis at WSU - SportsLink - - Sept. 14, 2010
The one element worked on above all others? Tackling. Open field tackling to be precise. Just like the Cougars will have to do this Saturday in Dallas. After watching the scout team offense against the WSU defense, it’s obvious that the Cougars expect SMU to get guys isolated in space. It’s not a vertical attack, but guys are running hard across the field.

Wulff talks SMU, WSU - SportsLink - - Sept. 14, 2010
C.J. Mizell came up in both calls, including one question asked if he would start this week. Wulff took pains to praise the freshman, especially for his improved practice presence and his ability to make plays. But he also pointed out Mizell made some huge mistakes Saturday, including blowing a coverage near the goal line that allowed a touchdown pass. So there are growing pains that will need to be worked out before Mizell is playing every down.

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap - Week 3 of 2010 - WSU Football Blog
Sorry to disappoint but no, they didn't discuss the topic of the moment around the blogosphere/message boards/etc. Not that you would fully expect something like that on his own radio show, but Bud did NOT bring up Wulff's job security, his thoughts on blogs and boards, really none of that talk at all crept into the evening. It was pretty much business as usual. Hoffman-Ellis has words for Cougar fans
"As far as the critics go, if they consider themselves Cougs fans, they'll take it for what it was, appreciate it for what it was. It was an ugly win but it was a win nonetheless, and we fought. And we’ve got some momentum to build off that."

Mizell has his prayers answered in WSU win | WSU Cougars - The News Tribune
Washington State middle linebacker C.J. Mizell thinks last week’s "miracle" comeback against Montana State involved some divine intervention.

The Washington State University men's golf team finished in first place for the second time in as many years at the second-annual Palouse Cougar Collegiate at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Tuesday.

The Washington State University women's golf team saved its best score for the final round, posting a 301 (+13) at the season-opening Circling Raven Collegiate Invitational at the Circling Raven Golf Club, Tuesday.

Ganzer's 30 Kills Leads Volleyball to 3-1 Win over Zags - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
Washington State junior Meagan Ganzer had her third 30-kills match in the past five contests as the Cougars defeated Gonzaga 25-20, 27-25, 23-25, and 25-19, Tuesday night at Bohler Gym.

Pac-10 News

The Fall of Troy - LA Times Magazine
Extreme arrogance led to USC's downfall. Worth your time to read.

Pac-10 stock report - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Stock down: Washington State's defense: The Cougars are yielding 475 yards per game, which ranks 110th in the country.

Bush admits 'mistakes,' surrenders Heisman - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
That's not the interesting part. The interesting part is trying to find deeper meaning in his 338-word statement, which I've included at the bottom of this post in its entirety.

Pac-10 Heisman update: Week 3 - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Here's a look at what the Pac-10's top Heisman Trophy candidates did over the weekend. This list will start to be whittled down starting next week (for real this time). Or some other names could be added.

Other Stuff We Like

Campus Corner: Nebraska Is A Potential Watershed Game For Steve Sarkisian And Jake Locker - SB Nation Seattle
While it can hardly be argued that a win over Nebraska on Saturday is the sort of thing that would propel these Huskies to another Rose Bowl - although, UW fans will most certainly dream - it will, without a doubt, be a major statement about just where this program stands under Steve Sarkisian. (Written by yours truly.)

Mr. Anonymous: Agents In College Football Are Everywhere –
This week our anonymous player talks about agents in college football. While we’re now learning about how prevalent they are thanks to North Carolina and Reggie Bush, "Mr. A" explains just how out of control the situation really is nowadays.

WAC football: League takes Fresno State, Nevada and the MWC to court | College Hotline
As part of the legal complaint, which was filed in Jefferson County, Colo., the WAC is seeking to prohibit the Mountain West from including Fresno State and Nevada in its conference football schedule until the fall of 2012.