GoMids.com: Have you been contacted by any BCS or potential new conferences about the possibility of joining?
Chet Gladchuk: Yes. In the context you just mentioned…the possibility is exactly the case. We have had some discussions for quite some time and as it stands today there is so much uncertainty we are just stepping back a bit to take a look at how the dust settles here.
GM: Would it be fair to say that you are being pro-active in looking to join a conference?
CG: You can certainly say I have been. As an independent we are in safe harbor today. We have a wonderful television contract…we have bowls lined up…we have scheduling locked down for the next 6 or 7 years. We are in great shape today in our current shape. Being pro-active is thinking what we look like 5, 6 or 7 years down the road and that’s why I’ve been very interested in looking at the different dynamics and the what if’s and different possibilities. I thought that we had a pretty clear understanding of how things were going to unfold and what could unfold three or four days ago. But now everything is pretty well up in the air. I think what is most important is conferences don’t know who is coming and who is going on their own front.
GM: You have been very vocal about the importance of Navy remaining as an independent; however can you completely rule out the possibility of Navy joining what could be a newly formed conference in the coming weeks and/or months?
CG: Over the last ten years there has been no reason to go anywhere else. We’ve built a program over the last 10 years…renovated stadiums…built practice facilities…updating the resources for our football program. As a result, we have a very stable football situation right now. We’ve got bowls lined up. We’ve got television lined up. And we’ve got scheduling lined up. And Kenny’s winning games. But that may not be the future. If you take a look at what is happening with conferences today, they are basically going to be creating a monopoly. They are going to monopolize television. They are going to monopolize bowls. And they are going to monopolize scheduling. The speech that I have been giving for 10 years as athletic director may not be applicable for the next decade. And that’s why we have to be thinking about the future and not about where we are today. Today it works. Tomorrow, the way I see it, it probably doesn’t and therefore we have to be thinking of some type of conference affiliation very seriously and we are doing just that.
GM: Can you talk more about the calls you have been making and who they have been with?
CG: It’s all speculation…what if’s…even the things I discussed last week with commissioners are not the case today because of the movement (of Pitt and Syracuse). Take something as straightforward as the Big East. Right now, the Big East has to figure out who the Big East is. Losing both Pittsburgh and Syracuse drops that conference to seven teams. They are trying to figure out what to do…for starters, retain the current membership. Today as we speak there is a lack of clarity of how the dust will settle. The most important thing is that the conferences stabilize their current membership and once they do then they can talk about the next step. We have been part of that dialogue and we will continue to be a part of that dialogue. It’s tough to make any predictions when in fact they are not sure what they are going to look like.
GM: Would you say that Navy is an attractive school to any BCS conference looking to add a member?
CG: Absolutely. For starters just about everyone is aligned except the independents. And when you look at that, Notre Dame is going to be the most attractive to anyone…after that take a look at what we have accomplished…and the commitment that we have to a program with national stature. I really believe that Navy is extremely attractive. The only x factor is that these conferences are all-sport conferences and our interest in any type of BCS alignment would be as a football only addition.
GM: What’s the best case and worst case scenarios for Navy in terms of the conference realignment going on?
CG: The best case is we position ourselves to be relevant. The worst case is that in five, six years, we are irrelevant. We can’t afford to be irrelevant. So we have to make certain that we protect the traditions and the direction that this program has been going in over the last ten years. I don’t want to lose that…nor does our superintendent, our coach, our fans, or our alumni. Navy is a program of national stature. Conference alignment doesn’t mean that we still can’t be; it may mean that we might become a little bit more parochial if that were the case in terms of scheduling. In the meantime we have no ambition other than remaining committed to competing at the highest level. And if that means that we have to associate with institutions with similar competitive ambitions than that will have to be the direction we have to go.
GM: If you would have asked a Texas A&M fan a decade ago if he/she could imagine a day when they don’t play Texas in football, they would most likely say no…the same would be true if you asked a Georgetown fan about playing Syracuse in basketball. I’m sure neither Texas A&M or Syracuse talked to their rivals before abandoning the rivalry. Obviously you have to think of Navy first, but would you talk to your colleagues at Army and/or Air Force before any possible move from independence?
CG: We would protect (those games). Even if we would align without Army and Air Force, under no circumstances would we join a conference where we couldn’t continue the relationship with Army and Air Force. Nothing needs to supersede the importance of the Commander in Chief’s Trophy.
GM: Playing devil’s advocate…I’m Army and I’m left out of the mega conference picture – but Navy gets invited. I’m not so sure that I want to continue that rivalry.
CG: Are you saying Army goes Division I-AA?
GM: You said relevancy is your major concern…what if Army becomes irrelevant and Navy doesn’t? Maybe you position Navy better than Army positions themselves…
CG: It remains to be seen. I would be thinking that Army would be working diligently on their end to also make certain that they are looking at all the possibilities and positioning themselves for relevance as well. But I don’t know what their future holds and nor do I speak for them. All I can say to you, David, is that I don’t see under any scenario the Army-Navy rivalry going away. That would be my vision for the future. I just believe the importance of that match-up will be sustaining. If we were to join a conference I would make sure that the conference understood that’s a game that needs to be prioritized.
GM: You mentioned before the word ‘monopoly’ – that word comes with a lot of negative connotation. How do you put your hands around what’s going on with the NCAA. It’s like a free-for-all. There’s no control. There is no oversight. Do you think the NCAA would benefit from having some type of commissioner who has the authority to get everybody in a room to talk about the different scenarios…instead of people just following the money?
CG: I think the NCAA is staying in their lane and their lane pertains to specific services that they perform for the institutions. The institutions are autonomous in their decision-making with regard to conference affiliation. The money is so significant. The television is so significant. Unless the membership was to adopt a playoff model which could then become a model under the auspices of the NCAA…without a playoff, I just don’t see the NCAA getting involved with decision-making on each individual college campus. The NCAA can’t tell Nebraska what to do. They can say ‘these are the rules and you agreed to follow the rules’. And then they can hold them to the rules. But I don’t see any division one institution turning over its business autonomy to the NCAA with regard to football. It’s too lucrative and there is a business component to it which is evidenced by the fact that these conferences are just – it’s like pacman – they will monopolize the game.
GM: As a non-BCS school, what is your feeling about this? Is it good or bad for college football?
CG: Well it’s going to put a lot of people out of business in some respects I think. What will be left for the others – either you are in or you are out – and I believe if you are not in, you may be looking at crumbs. And that’s probably what is going to happen. If you get to this super-conference situation, you know as well as I do, where is the real interest by the media…by the market…by television. It’s going to be with the big guys. It’s no different than even last year. If you look at the BCS conferences and what they split – they split $750 million in revenues between television and bowl games. And everyone else – the other 60 schools or so got $23 million. It was already moving in that direction. This will be just another step in capitalizing on the dollars that are available. ESPN is always looking to televise the best game – CBS the same way – there are only so many television slots…so many bowl games and scheduling opportunities. If super-conferences merge as the way that it seems that they will…it will not leave much latitude for the others…certainly not enough revenue to allow them to successfully compete with those major institutions. I think we are looking at a separation here that could be significant in college football.
GM: Do you think there is anything that can be done to prevent that?
CG: It’s the American way of life. It’s Wal-mart. It’s the oil industry. It’s the way it goes. The bigger are just going to get stronger and they are working diligently to capture a greater share of the market. Do you really think that there was anything other than that (involved) when the ACC, very quietly and behind closed doors, negotiated with Pittsburgh and Syracuse?
GM: Future Navy opponents who are changing conferences could definitely have an impact on scheduling down the road, no?
CG: Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse…they are all on our schedule. The usual train of thought is that if you are going to play a very difficult conference schedule than you wouldn’t play a tough non-conference schedule. So I would expect somewhere down the road we would probably get a call (from a school) stating that their conference priorities would prevent them from playing us. In the meantime, scheduling is going to get tougher…based on the fact that these super-conferences are going to monopolize the market and it’s going to be important to some institutions to be a part of that. And we will see how that breaks out here sooner rather than later.
Today we are fine. Today things are wonderful. Today we are an independent and enjoying every moment of being just that. But today isn’t the future. And once we get a clear understanding of what the future can present, we’ve got to take everything into consideration. And trust me when I say that we are (looking at it) today.