A couple of you wrote notes not unlike this one:
Chris from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, writes: What's your take on the comments by the Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that Pac-10 fans are " fair weather." Me? I find it a insulting and desperate coming from someone about to lose his golden pay check. From what I understand, his legacy is defined by futility so his comments are not surprising. Your thoughts?
You're right. Beebe was insulting Pac-10 fans.
He probably didn't think his insult would be made public (the comment was contained in a confidential e-mail to Big 12 presidents from Beebe and was discovered by Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples after a public records request to the University of Colorado).
Here's the quote in full: "I grew up in Pac-10 territory and although there are outstanding institutions in that conference, the facilities and fair-weather fans are a disappointment."
He also insulted Big Ten country, by the way, writing about jumping to that conference as "linking the future with a part of the country that is losing population and tax base relative to the Sun Belt."
You can read the entire e-mail here.
Obviously, Beebe was doing some "dirty recruiting." In order to sell his conference, he had to tweak the ones that were trying to poach his teams. I think we can all understand his position, even if his comments touched a nerve.
Are Pac-10 fans "fair weather"? Well, sometimes.
USC's average attendance in 2000 was 57,339. When the Trojans took off under Pete Carroll, it perked up a bit, the average increasing to 91,480 in 2005.
Washington was No. 1 in the conference in attendance in 2000 with an average of 72,469. In 2006, the Huskies averaged 57,483.
Washington State averaged 36,128 in 2003. The Cougars averaged 25,909 last year.
In fact, of the BCS conferences, the Pac-10 took the biggest hit in average attendance last year: minus-3,164. The Big 12 was down just 81 in 2009. And the season before, the Pac-10 lost one percent while the Big 12 was up 3.3 percent.
In terms of percentage of capacity, all Big 12 schools -- other than Baylor -- typically average 90 percent or greater. Only four Pac-10 schools were at 89 percent or greater last year: Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Washington.
There are plenty of reasons Pac-10 attendance was down in 2009. The recession hit the West Coast hard. USC's attendance dropped by 2,000. But it's also fair to say that Pac-10 fans do react to the "weather." If their team starts losing, many will turn away.
Am I saying that Pac-10 fans are inferior. Absolutely not. Things are just different out here. The Pac-10 is a big-city league with lots of entertainment options other than college football. The Big 12, much like the SEC, is not. How many Big 12 teams are within 100 miles of multiple professional sports teams?
I don't see any reason to demonize Dan Beebe for doing -- and saying -- anything he could to save his conference. My impression of him, in fact, is very positive.
The best course here is to emulate Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott: No hard feelings.