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SBD/January 27, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
Buccaneers Owner the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik Thursday announced Greg Schiano will be the team’s new head coach, and they “view him as a serious, hands-on coach who knows how to make a few repairs,” according to Rick Stroud of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Dominik said, "We liked his leadership, his structure, his organization, and he's a football guy through and through.” Dominik said that he “will retain authority on personnel decisions, similar to the structure he had” with former head coach Raheem Morris. Schiano was “the biggest surprise among the three finalists for the coaching job, which included former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/27). An NFL official said, "He will make what first-year NFL coaches in his situation typically make, which is between $2.8 and $3.8 million per year." In New Jersey, Tom Luicci notes Schiano's contract as head coach at Rutgers, which “paid him approximately $2.3 million per year, had five seasons left on it” (Bergen RECORD, 1/27). NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi said the Buccaneers “wanted to think outside the box,” and the hiring of Schiano “is a critical move for them” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 1/26).CBSSPORTS.com’s Josh Katzowitz wrote the hiring of Schiano is “a big surprise, considering his name wasn’t mentioned among the 11 other candidates who the Buccaneers supposedly chased.” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that the two sides “met twice without any word leaking to the media, including Wednesday” (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/26).
WHAT'S THE WORD? In Tampa Bay, Stephen Holder notes the reaction to Schiano's hire “was generally positive,” and there was “a great deal of sentiment that he is a good fit for the Bucs given their undisciplined, inconsistent ways in 2011” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/27). But ESPN's Michelle Beadle noted the Buccaneers recently had a hard time selling tickets and said, "You’re going to go to these guys who are your potential ticket buyers and say, ‘Guess what, guys? We got the third-best coach in the Big East coming in. Time to get your season tickets'” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 1/26). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said, “It’s clear that the Glazer family really wanted to hit a home run in some way. ... The word was they were really digging in the college ranks, and clearly Greg Schiano struck a chord with them. I guess this is just to try to energize their fan base. I don’t know if that’s going to work” (“NFL 32,” ESPN2, 1/26). SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg wrote Schiano’s hiring is “the most baffling NFL coaching hire I can remember.” Rosenberg: “How do you go from Tony Dungy to Jon Gruden to Raheem Morris to Greg Schiano? Does that seem like progress to anybody on this planet?” In the last three years, Schiano's Big East record at Rutgers was 8-13, and he “never won the Big East” (SI.com, 1/26). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said Schiano "was a hot name a few years ago but has turned into being a very mediocre coach in a fairly mediocre football conference in the Big East" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/26).
After being selected with the second pick by Team Chara in the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft Thursday night, Bruins G Tim Thomas was interviewed by TSN’s James Duthie on-stage, where his decision to skip the Bruins' White House visit earlier this week was alluded to. Duthie said to Thomas, “Pretty uneventful week for you all in all.” Thomas replied, “Yeah, no problem.” Duthie asked, “Did you expect this whole thing to get so big?” Thomas: “I followed my conscience. I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from my teammates, fans and friends. I said in that statement that would be the only time I would be addressing that topic and we’re here in Ottawa to celebrate the game of hockey and I’m just extremely excited to be a part of that” (“NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft,” TSN, 1/26). In N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote there is a "good chance this NHL All-Star weekend may wind up being all about" Thomas. The kerfuffle surrounding Thomas’ "decision to skip his team’s visit to the White House earlier this week because of his political views simply won’t go away." Twice at Thursday’s All-Star draft, Thomas was "asked to talk about his rationale for skipping Monday’s visit, and twice he stood by his decision in terse but unmistakable terms. (NYTIMES.com, 1/26).
WEIGHING IN: Canucks G Cory Schneider said, "I have no problem with his personal beliefs, but (Thomas) can suck it up for an hour, say Hi and be with the team, and avoid all of this. Respect the (Presidency). He plays for Team USA and he has no problem making millions of dollars in the USA but he can't go say Hi to the President. You get a lot of benefits living in the US and he should have little bit of respect for that." In Boston, Eric Wilbur wrote where we "have to draw the line is with how [Thomas is] making his organization look." The Bruins have been "put in an unfair situation with Thomas's constitutional rights hanging over their heads" (BOSTON.com, 1/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote, "You can stand behind the president in the White House without standing behind him on principle." Cotsonika: "If Thomas can't make that distinction, then frankly I question his critical thinking. I'm glad he lives in a free country where he can express his views, but if he wants to influence hearts and minds, he should pick a more appropriate time and place to express them" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/26). In N.Y., Pat Leonard wrote there are "certainly citizens who will applaud Thomas for exercising his right to free speech, and no one wishes to take it away." But Thomas' "actions were shortsighted" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/26).
SHIPPING OUT? In Boston, Stephen Harris asks, "Could Tim Thomas' political protest end up costing him his spot on the Bruins?" Even before Thomas’ "ill-advised stunt, the possibility existed that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli might face a difficult and profoundly important decision this summer on the netminder, who turns 38 this April and has just one year remaining on his contract." Thomas’ decision to "snub the White House and then release an anti-big government manifesto was an embarrassment for the team and no doubt angered the front office and ownership greatly" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/27).
Braves Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk said that the team has “set a player payroll budget of $94 million for this year, leaving them with several million dollars still to spend,” according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. McGuirk said that the $94M is “the maximum amount supported by the Braves’ projected revenue, contending the team will operate at that level with ‘no profitability, no free cash flow.’” McGuirk: “I think this team is on a glide path where it has the ability with all our youth to be good for a long period of time, continue to raise enthusiasm in Atlanta and drive revenue and allow us to spend more on the team.” He added, “In a way, I almost relish when one of our competitors goes in the free-agent market because it’s so inefficient and such a bad use of dollars. You almost never get the value out of a free-agent market expense.” McGuirk also said that team Owner Liberty Media “has expressed no intention of selling the club in the near future.” He said Liberty is “very satisfied with the ownership.” McGuirk: “It’s no secret that part of the purchase had to do with a much larger tax-based deal, but there’s just no need to sell.” He added, “You certainly take a chance when you deploy the amount of money it takes to own a franchise and you don’t make money during the time you own it. You better be fairly certain you’re building the franchise in a credible way so it will potentially be worth more.” McGuirk also disclosed that the Braves “are locked into 25-year local TV contracts that will prevent the franchise from cashing in on Major League Baseball’s trend toward dramatically higher telecast rights fees.” He said there is “no opportunity for a different deal than the one we have.” McGuirk: “They were at-market deals when they were done, but the market has changed. We will have to look elsewhere for the increases that we will need in revenue to continue to build this franchise. It’s what the owners at the time decided to do, so we have to live with it” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/26).
A's Owner Lew Wolff gave his take on why the team is "rebuilding and trading so many quality pitchers, citing the improbability of contending in a division with two teams' payrolls topping $100 million and a desire to be competitive if and when the A's move into a new park," according to John Shea of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Wolff said that the team's payroll "will be just over $50 million, by far the lowest in the division." Shea notes even the Mariners "top $80 million." While the A's "initially reported a loss in 2011, Wolff revealed they made a slight profit because the World Series extended to seven games." He said, "We made $370,000, and that's after revenue sharing, not before." He added that last year's "revenue-sharing check was $32 million." Wolff: "I have to admit, without revenue sharing, we'd have a huge loss, and we don't want revenue sharing. We'd like not to be a receiver if we could." Meanwhile, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig at this month's owners meetings said the A's and their stadium issues are on the "front burner" and the league is acting at a "quick pace." Shea notes a "move to San Jose would need the Giants' territorial rights overturned, and Wolff hopes to get a resolution long before the next owners meetings in May." Wolff said, "I don't want to wait till May. It's really up to baseball. I think the Giants have done a terrific job. We'd just like the same opportunity. ... We don't want to own a team outside the Bay Area. I have not spent any time on that. I refuse to, actually." Asked which Oakland site "was the best opportunity, Wolff suggested the Coliseum parking lot." He said, "Even if there is disagreement or distrust in my efforts, the committee appointed by MLB has not, in concert with Oakland, refuted a single aspect of the effort we made, to my knowledge. We've been and will continue to be a good business citizen of the city and county and hope our efforts are recognized by the majority of our fans and citizens" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/27).
Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob said even though the team has a 6-11 record through Thursday, "we're not going to panic," according to a Q&A with Tim Kawakami of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Lacob said, "Though the fans are disappointed, though I am disappointed, though we’re all disappointed, Mark Jackson and his staff, and the players are all disappointed ... I still think it’s early, 16 games in. Other teams are having problems, too. How bout the New York Knicks? They went out and got another big acquisition, but that doesn’t seem to be working, at least so far. The Celtics are off to a slow start. The Lakers are only 10-8. So I don’t want to panic. Obviously, it’s not what we were hoping for." Lacob added, "We have not performed to the expectations we as an ownership group and management have for this team." When asked about the Warriors' offseason plans, Lacob said, "We have been extremely aggressive in free agency. I think everyone understands that and we will continue to be that way and we are positioned for next summer to do that again. ... Let’s just say we have to overcome two decades of not being an attractive place to be. We think it’s different now -- we’re making it an attractive place to be. Very attractive" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/26).
In L.A., Dylan Hernandez reports the Dodgers were "secretly in at the end" of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, "losing out only when the Tigers upped the ante after learning last week that Victor Martinez had severely injured a knee and probably will sit out the upcoming season." Sources said that the Dodgers offered Fielder "$160 million over seven years." The Dodgers went into the offseason "with about $90 million budgeted for the salaries of the 25 players who will be on their opening-day roster." But outgoing Owner Frank McCourt "was willing to add $25 million or so for Fielder -- and Fielder only." Sources said that McCourt and GM Ned Colletti "were also mindful that a potential bidder for the team might not want to inherit a seven-year contract" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27).
WINNING IS THE ONLY THING: MLB Network’s Tom Verducci discussed the Tigers signing Fielder and said of Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch, “There’s probably only a handful, maybe a little more, of owners who wake up every morning and they think about winning the World Series every day, even when its January. Ilitch is one of those guys." The Fielder deal "cost a lot of money," and people "are criticizing the money of the deal." But Verducci said, "The fact is he got a guy who he thinks is going to get him -- finally -- his first ring” ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 1/26).
NOWHERE TO GO BUT DOWN: ESPN N.Y.'s Adam Rubin noted after Mets GM Sandy Alderson "revealed the organization lost $70 million last year, the Mets appear poised to have the biggest one-year payroll drop in MLB history -- roughly $52 million." Rubin indicated the drop "would surpass the former record: $48.4 million by the" Rangers from '03 to '04. The Marlins from '05 to '06 "had the biggest reduction by percentage, trimming nearly 75 percent of their payroll, but the total was $45.4 million." If the Wilpon family is to "survive as Mets owners -- which is their intent -- the austerity likely will continue into future offseasons, meaning fans bear the brunt of the payroll constraints with a less-than-optimal product" (ESPNNY.com, 1/23).
ENERGY BOOST? The co-hosts of MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” discussed the Astros possibly changing their team name during the “Real or Rumor” segment. MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian said, “New Owner Jim Crane is kicking the tires on the idea of changing the name of the Astros. Real or rumor: The Houston franchise will be renamed the Houston Energy for 2013.” The four co-hosts began laughing, with MLB Network’s Verducci shaking his head and saying, “No, no please. How bad is that? It’s got to be a rumor.” Vasgersian added, “What would you rename that franchise? The Houston Humidity? ... What would you name it? There’s nowhere else to go.” Verducci: “Something plural would be nice, okay?” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 1/26).
In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes with only "five days to go before the first critical deadline" for outlining plans to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome, "isn't it time that someone take an accurate pulse of this region to determine just how badly we want or need an NFL franchise to call our own?" Burwell: "Ask yourself the simple question: What's it worth to the St. Louis region to be one of the only 32 municipalities in America that has an NFL franchise? ... If we can get a true temperature of the region and a consensus of intelligent people agree that there is legitimate value in having an NFL franchise in St. Louis, then the commission negotiators must get creative enough to entice" Rams Owner Stan Kroenke to stay (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/27).
GOOD PAY, POOR PLAY: In N.Y., Ken Belson noted despite outgoing Owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's financial success, the Maple Leafs, Raptors and MLS Toronto FC "have slipped on the ice, the court and the field." The Leafs have "not made the playoffs since 2004 despite having one of the highest payrolls, although this season’s team has a winning record at the All-Star break and is in ninth place -- one spot away from the playoffs -- in the Eastern Conference." The Raptors "draw well in part because the team has a roster full of international players, a good fit for an ethnically diverse city like Toronto." But in their "first 16 years, the Raptors have only five winning seasons and one division title." Skeptics say that MLSE and its parent company, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, "are too corporate to run successful teams." Some fans "seem eager for new ownership, even if it means paying more for tickets" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/27).
LOOKING GOOD: MLS Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman said the team has sold 1,000 more season tickets season-over-season, but the club still needs "to deliver at a different level." Heineman: "We always need to be thinking about how to make the in-stadium experience better from the way to treat people to the quality of food.” In K.C., Tod Palmer notes the “only piece that hasn’t fallen into place yet this offseason is a jersey sponsor.” Heineman said, “We’ll announce it when it’s done. But I can’t really comment right now, because we are not in the position as sole decision-maker” (K.C. STAR, 1/27).