Op-Ed: Here’s The Deal

Opinion by and
Dec. 1, 2010, 12:09 a.m.

Dear Harbs (and Hennessy, Board of Trustees and Bowlsby),

First, let me thank you and congratulate you for your historic achievements in only four years at Stanford. You slew Troy and walked your talk. You did everything here in four years we thought might take at least five to seven years, if ever. You had the audacity of hope, the Enthusiasm Unknown To Mankind, the passion and the vision to make it all happen, and take us from self-imposed death’s door, to BCS, even National Title contention.

Now come the hard decisions…Do you continue to dance with the girl who stood behind you through all the growing pains? And does she step up her game to keep you? After all, it takes two…

I, for one, if you left tomorrow, would thank you for a great ride and restoring our hope in the Stanford football program, and wish you well. I hope that you stay for at least three more years and finish what you started, then decide. The other bitches will always be there, as will the bright lights that attract them with the promise of good times, the 100,000-seat bling and the national media harlots who will never show you the love you deserve while you’re here. The NFL? Really? Do you want stability and quality time for your new family? You are more likely to get that in D-1, but the lure of competition at the highest level probably isn’t something you can ignore forever…But now?

So here’s the deal—if Stanford doesn’t step up with a three year deal of at least six million dollars, and I would hope closer to eight million, then they aren’t trying hard enough and don’t appreciate what they’ve got. Period. It ain’t all about the money. But it’s an objective measure of commitment.

Attendance? Jim, you have to understand, Stanford’s run off more fans over the years because there’s never been a commitment to the average fan to keep consistently competing at the highest level possible. We still don’t trust our President and BoT to empower our AD to take full advantage of your skill set and our new facilities. We are like the Oakland A’s—a farm club for both management and player talent, willing to let them leave town when their game becomes too expensive to keep, and always looking over their shoulder for the bargain, off-price non-retail, talented beginner. It takes time and continuity for the fan base to come back, and it will. Even the disadvantageous demographics can be overcome once they “get it.” Of course, a more aggressive smart target marketing campaign might help too. (What other school has had, for two years in a row, arguably the Heisman Trophy candidate—and not even the same player?)

So it’s not just your decision Jim, it’s also time for the school to chart a new course and decide to support excellence rather than to run another on the job training experiment…for at least 3 more years…besides, who knows, the place may grow on you—and the grass on the other side of the hill? It turns brown too…

And if Michigan comes? Follow your heart…nobody could blame you for that…

No matter what happens, thanks again for all you have done. Truly magnificent, and against all the odds, as only we who truly know Stanford will testify…

John Olenchalk A.B. ‘77

Stanford football team, ’73-‘76

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