Bearcats Breakfast 4.11.12

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Huge thanks to Whit Babcock for joining the podcast yesterday. If you haven't listened to it, you'll want to. Go here. 

So many great points and insights coming from the conversation. There's no denying the department is in great hands and that isn't just because he's my boss. You can listen for yourself and make your own judgments.

I'm not sure how many ADs in the country would sit down and do a podcast in that forum and talk as openly about critical issues facing the department.

Let's eat...

--- I want to expound on
a few topics Babcock talked about during the podcast. First, I think the Nippert renovation ideas are interesting. Much speculation has been made about the difficulty of making expansion happen but he sounds as confident that it will as anybody I've talked to.

One of the questions sent to me from reader Gary Porteus was wanting to know if you stadium could get to 46,000-48,000 capacity to find themselves among the top programs in college football.

Only four teams in BCS conferences have a smaller capacity than The Nipp (35k). Duke (33.9k), SMU (32k), Houston (32k) and Wake Forest (31.5k). Of course, two of those are soon to be in the BCS, joining the Big East in 2013.

The problem with looking at this expansion is fans might become obsessed with pushing that number up as high as it can go. Is this about posting a number so recruits and other programs can see the rank push up on a list of stadium capacity?

If you want 48k, we can slam seats into every nook and cranny as high as allowed by the university and find a way to "increase capacity," but what will that do for the game experience?

Babcock, rightly I believe, contends this should be about creating the most hostile environment to win games, generate revenue and create comfort for the fan base.

"I'd rather make it the hardest place to play in the country that is more comfortable for our fans," Babcock said.

As for a number, he said he hopes the capacity begins with a four, but can't guarantee that right now while still trying to sift through all the possibilities. There needs to be more suites, restrooms, concessions and other amenities and that means transforming the West side of the stadium. A number of plans for doing that are on the table right now, one of which includes lifting the press box and placing seating underneath it.

A big key will be adding some luxury seating that many members are clamoring for and will assist in paying for the expansion.

Take a look at this story from Forbes magazine written in 2007 regarding the most profitable programs in college football. It broaches the topic of luxury suites with this:

"In fact, 16 of the 20 most valuable teams have undergone major stadium expansions and renovations over the past 10 years, and three others have renovation plans in the works. Premium seating has proved to be a valuable revenue stream that was non-existent at the time most aging college stadiums were constructed. Ohio State (Ohio Stadium) and the University of Tennessee (Neyland Stadium), for example, added 81 and 78 suites, respectively, in recent years."

Forbes went on to say premium seating and suites generated $12 million for the University of Texas five years ago.

For reference, Nippert Stadium has two luxury suites. Two.

Revenue. Comfort. Wins.

Those are the three priorities driving a stadium expansion. Not reaching some certain number just to say your stadium holds as many people as the Carrier Dome.

--- So, we know what UC wants out of expansion, but how will it get there? Well, the road to renovation begins with the Big East TV contract. That's not shocking news. It's been what every program in the Big East has pointed to for years.

Babcock said he would be hard-pressed to believe there's another program in the conference, however, who will benefit more from the financial windfall it could create than UC.

How much more money per year are we talking?

Well, UC currently receives about $4 million per season from the TV deal with ESPN. The negotiation period with the WWL will begin in September.

For reference, member schools of the Big Ten and Pac-12 all receive more than $20 million per year with their TV deals with the SEC just shy of that threshold. The ACC schools receive in the area of $15 million from their deal with ESPN.

What would a new TV deal mean for UC? Well, depends on how the negotiation goes. But if conference administrators can pull off a deal in the vicinity of the ACC, that would mean about $10 million more per year for UC. And you are on your way.

To think the TV deal will get the job done on its own would be crazy, but it certainly draws the vision closer to reality. At that point, it would be up to those close to the program to make it actually become one.

--- Bill Koch wrote about the three-headed monster UC might employ next season with George Winn, Ralph David Abernathy IV and Jameel Poteat. Many kind words for the development of top recruit Poteat.

--- Todd McShay broke down the top 100 draft prospects down into tiers and placed Derek Wolfe as a late second round selection and Isaiah Pead as a third-round pick.

--- Coach Butch Jones Blog had this promo for Bearcat Bowl VI. Cool to relive last year's run.

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