San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Bay’s Big Decision Imminent

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of “Turmoil at thetop,” a three-part series examining the aftermath of San Diego Statefootball’s head coaching change.

It’s rather commonplace to see San Diego State’s ExecutiveDirector of Athletics, Rick Bay, in the press box at Qualcomm Stadiumbefore SDSU football games.

The process is routine for the A.D.

He spends the time prior to kickoff listening to suggestions fromVIPs, entertaining guests or chatting with the media.

But this is no regular Saturday night for Bay. The school’s A.D.,now in his sixth year at SDSU, has a big job ahead of him. Aftertonight’s game (Nov. 17), Ted Tollner will no longer man the helm ofthe Aztecs’ ship — and it’s up to Bay to find his replacement.

“It’s a big task, but there are a lot of people interested,” Baysaid. “We have a good reputation in football. We haven’t wonconsistently, but we have a lot of players in the pros and we’ve beento a bowl in the last four or five years.”

Make no bones about it — this is the biggest hire in Bay’s tenureat SDSU.

It comes at a critical juncture in SDSU’s football history. Withthe CSU-budget crisis looming, there is a small, albeit realisticchance the Aztecs program could become extinct. Last month,Northridge followed Long Beach and Fullerton, becoming the third CSUin the last decade to shelve its program.

“Those are different situations in that even in a not-so-good yearat San Diego State, football still pays for itself,” Bay said. “Untilwe start losing money, it makes no mathematical sense to drop it.”

But with each passing season, the issue comes closer to reality.

The last two seasons in particular have been damaging. In each,SDSU posted a 3-8 record.

The fans, getting tired of boring football, have stayed away.Attendance has slipped from 30,000-plus in each of Tollner’s firsttwo seasons to a paltry 22,518 this year. The final two games eachdrew only 16,000-plus.

“Perception in the community is that we aren’t making enoughprogress,” Bay said.

Hence, Tollner’s removal.

Now, the search is on for a replacement. While Bay needs to takethe time to find the right person, he must also do so in timelyfashion.

“It’s very important,” Bay said. “I won’t be the one limiting whatwe can do.”

With each passing day, the recruiting picture becomes a littlemore cloudy. Twenty-three seniors exited SDSU’s program with the endof the season, meaning junior-college players will play an importantrole next season. The only problem: JC-signing day (Dec. 19) is fastapproaching.

“You have to encourage them (recruits) to be patient,” said SDSU’srecruiting coordinator Brian Stark.

Starks speaks from experience. He was at the University ofColorado when current Washington Huskies head coach Rick Neuheiselleft. Instead of selling the coach, he had to sell the program.

“You have to sell the school the best you can,” Stark said. “Thehead coach is a big factor, but we have a beautiful city, greatcharacter in the players and great athletic facilities.”

As far as signing day, Stark said he would try to keep in contactwith all the possible recruits.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a coach before they make their decisions,”Stark said. “We just have to make sure all the information isorganized, so that if a coach comes in they can make a quickdecision.”

Stark will likely have a tougher time selling a program without acoach to players than Bay will selling the school to possiblecandidates.

“It’s a good job,” Tollner said. “It’s not a great job, but it’s agood job. Great jobs have everything in place from a financialstandpoint, fan base and all those things that get recruiting going.”

To get the coach going, Bay will have an estimated$200,000-$500,000 to spend. He also said he would go to the communityif more was needed.

“We have to get somebody who is a strong recruiter, and can hire astaff of recruiters,” Bay said. “Then, we have to get the playersplaying an exciting brand of football.

“You have to win, but it has to be exciting.”

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Bay’s Big Decision Imminent