Extras From Interview With Brad Bates: Part One

November 12, 2012

The Heights: Did you have any expectations coming in or a to-do list of top things you needed to address?
Brad Bates: “I really have a hundred-day plan, and there were definitely key stakeholders that I wanted to meet and talk to and get in front of. Some, because of proximity don’t live near enough so I had conversation with them. There were certain areas that I really needed to study. I needed to get a handle on the budget and I need to focus on where we are academically with our students. There’s been staff that have really brought me up to speed on that and tutored me in that regard.”
The Heights: Was any of the groundwork with scheduling football games with Ohio State laid before you got here?
Bates: “Yeah, I can’t take credit for that. That was signed before I came here. It was just something that Ohio State and Boston College decided to go public with, coincidentally after I was named [AD].”
The Heights: That’s a big recruiting state…
Bates: “We’re excited. We are going to be very strategic in how we schedule football games that generate a lot of enthusiasm for our fans and help our coaches recruit to the program because players want to play against the best teams. Also, it’s going to position us nationally so we get a lot of attention and it’s going to help our competitive success, so we’re going to be very deliberate in the way that we schedule games.”
The Heights: Any update on who you’ll schedule for the 12th football game next year?
Bates: “No, I was hoping we’d have it sometime in the next week and a half or so, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we can still do that. We were really thrown a curveball with the vote, and there are not a lot of teams out there that are looking for games. So we’ve been in discussions with about a half dozen schools and we’re really looking for what best serves Boston College and our program next year.”
The Heights: What factors do you consider when scheduling out of conference opponents?
Bates: “There are a variety of factors. It goes into your personnel and what your team is going to be. Typically when you really want the national stage is when you’re going to have a lot of experience on your team, whereas when you’re young and you’re developing that youth, you’re probably going to schedule a little more lightly. You’re going to look at other teams and their personnel and their recruiting and deciding whether they’re veteran teams and other factors like that. We’re going to look at years when we think we can compete for national championships and ACC championships and you want to schedule the right teams so you can be in the mix in terms of the rankings. You always want to try to pair up with television opportunities, like this weekend [against Notre Dame]. The problem is that you can’t always predict how good teams are going to be. We have no idea where Ohio State is going to be in the year we’re going to play them down the road, so there’s got to be continuity to what you try and do and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good philosophy in how we approach it.”
The Heights: Do you feel like you need to wait a certain amount of time between gaining knowledge and making decisions?
Bates: “The quick answer is that decisions have to be made right away. There are certain things that require immediate attention and there were decisions that I had to make on my first day on the job here. But then there are other decisions that are not time-sensitive. One of the things we want to do in the coming years is develop a strategic plan. We want to define where we are, where we want to go, and how we want to get there and that’s going to be a pretty significant process. That’s going to involve a lot of internal and external constituents. Any decision you make, you want to be as informed as possible. You want to gather as much data and information as you possibly can. That, ultimately, will lead to better decisions, but sometimes the timing doesn’t allow you to gather as much data. The quick answer to your question is that decisions are being made every day, and they’re being made on the timelines which best serve our department.”
The Heights: Did you ever have any coaches face adversity or tough seasons at Miami?
Bates: “With any program, whenever you go through adversity, what people tend to forget is the coaches—the first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to look in the mirror and asses themselves before they start assessing a strategy to deal with the adversity. Coaches are very self-critical and very analytical and they’re going to look at ways that they can improve the situation. No one wants to lose, and so in dealing with programs that have struggled the two things you’ve got to look at is how can we support the program? How can we provide resources? How can we provide creative initiatives that help that program, whether it’s short term or long term, to achieve their vision of excellence? And then the second part of it is you’ve just got to make sure that you’re a soundboard, that you’re giving observations and feedback, and that you as an athletic director can provide feedback that hopefully help the program in some capacity.”
The Heights: A lot of people thought expectations were being lowered by the last administration when certain teams were struggling. In terms of football, do you think we have to quell expecations?
Bates: “Why would you ever squash expectations? We want high expectations. That’s our mantra, ‘Ever to Excel.’ Are we always going to go undefeated every single season? No, but that shouldn’t diminish what our goals are and what our vision is for any of our programs. I also want to tie this in to student development. I honestly believe that there is only one way that you can justify athletics in higher education and that is to ensure that it is inherently educational, and part of that is competitive success. There are very few opportunities that people have in our society or in the academic curriculum where they can come together as a group, strive toward a shared vision of excellence, literally face daily scrutiny and adversity, learn to cooperate within this intensely competitive environment, and unless they achieve at least part of that vision of excellence then they’re never going to fully realize their maximum development. I really believe that winning and competitive success is grounded in student development. When you win a championship, you acquire a set of skills that will serve you in any future endeavors you engage the rest of your life. And so competitive success to me is part of our athletic curriculum and maximizing the development of our students.”


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