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A. Last year Arizona beat Arizona State for the first time in a decade and won more games (nine) than ever. It is now 17-5 in two seasons under Coach Jim Young, who learned at Michigan. It has enlarged its stadium in Tucson to a 58,000 capacity, tops in the Western Athletic Conference. Arizona is coping.
Q. But Arizona is winning. How does the spirit move those who do not win?
A. What do you want, miracles? Southern Illinois has had successive seasons of 3-7-1 and 2-9 but is entering the Missouri Valley Conference next season with a beefed-up schedule and a renovated stadium. Furman and The Citadel operated in the red but are actively promoting their games. The Citadel brought in an outside public-relations agency, and Furman staged a series of special promotions, including a rather breathtaking innovation: a money-back guarantee on season tickets.
Florida State has lost 24 of its last 25 games. Yet it increased home attendance by 8,000 per game in 1974 and balanced the budget. FSU went to work, scheduling night games, bringing in Burt Reynolds, a onetime Seminole halfback, booking local rock groups to thump and bang two hours before kickoff, and so forth.
Q. Is it true that almost any football budget can be cut?
A. Of course. The NCAA's recent cuts, though relatively superficial, will save the colleges $15 million by the estimate of Walter Byers, the NCAA boss. A few breast-beating coaches complained that by not being able to suit up 70 players they will be hard pressed to hold down the score against weak opponents. Well, there are other ways to hold down the score. Off-tackle left, off-tackle right, to name two. Coaches will have to use their imaginations.
Rosters can be cut (the NFL has 43 players per). Recruiting limits can be enforced. A head coach does not need 18 assistants. A team does not need a color TV in every dorm room, first-class air travel and every new muscle-building piece of paraphernalia and fitness apparatus in the catalog.
One of the greatest penny-pinchers in athletics is Georgia Athletic Director Joel Eaves. The Bulldogs have never operated in the red since Eaves took over in 1963, though the budget has more than tripled (to about $2 million). Eaves is not above posting Day-Glo orange stickers in athletic-department rest rooms to remind people to turn off the lights. Or to advise them to get off the phone more quickly, or to avoid writing unnecessary letters. "We're not too big," says Eaves, "we're just too wasteful."
Q. But Georgia and the various name schools get those TV windfalls every year. How can those who are blacked out compete?
A. In the first place, TV windfalls are often illusory. Georgia made one TV appearance last year, in the Tangerine Bowl, and the proceeds barely covered expenses. Florida spent most of its Sugar Bowl money on expenses. Florida and Georgia would have been in the black without television. It is true, however, that TV checks have rescued many a treasury over the years. Navy had to lobby hard to keep its game with Army on TV, and thus prevented a year-end financial bath. Two regional telecasts kept Miami afloat. Illinois, Northwestern, Indiana, Kansas and other major-conference members admit that TV splits helped them avoid deficits, though they weren't on the tube themselves.