The Plane Truth: the University of Minnesota needs to give Richard Pitino a bigger travel budget

It’s no real secret that the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program really hasn’t lifted off under the tutelage of Richard Pitino. It’s widely known that the players that have graced Dinkytown during Pitino’s reign haven’t exactly been the best characters in the world with PR nightmares ranging from sex tapes on social media to an arrest for sexual assault. All of those are big problems, Richard Pitino’s travel expenses, and apparent overages on them, are not a problem.

Pitino’s travel expenses were thrown into the spotlight via the Star Tribune when it was revealed that the young coach had gone past his budgeted $150,000 over the past two fiscal years and had actually spent $325,000 over that span.

First of all, this overspending was approved by then-current Athletic Director Norwood Teague. Can you really overspend your budget when it is approved by your superior? Sure, that superior is a creep and is gone from the University now, but you can’t change the game on Pitino after the game was played.

Second, there is no real reason the University needs to be looking at the books of the athletic department. Athletics are self-funded, they spend the money that they make, and, to the best of my knowledge, are not taking money from the rest of the school. They are basically a standalone entity using the name of the school and its students to run itself. As long as the department isn’t stealing money from academic departments and is still operating at a sustainable level, President Eric Kaler and the Board of Regents should get their nosy noses out of athletics’ business. The nosy-ness probably comes from the hire of Teague and his later dismissal, but this is what happens when you hire an AD that had never overseen a football team before. That hire wasn’t a smart big boy move in a school that should be with the big boys.

Speaking of which, this paragraph is integral in the Star Tribune story:

“Elsewhere, other coaches have bigger private jet budgets. Rick Pitino, Richard’s father and the coach at Louisville, has a reported annual budget of $250,000 for private jet travel. At Kentucky, John Calipari spent more than $342,000 in 2013-14. In the Big Ten, Indiana spent $569,000 on chartered planes for all of its coaches to recruit that year. At Ohio State, Thad Matta is given a budget of $65,000 or roughly 11 hours, for recruiting, as well as an additional 15 hours of jet time for private use.”

His father has four times the budget at Louisville. Conference rival Indiana has over 11 times the budget. Thad Matta at Ohio State has well over double the budget if you factor in the private use hours. If you want to play with the big boys, the $50,000 budget that Pitino has isn’t going to get you anywhere close to the best schools in the country or, more importantly, close to the recruits you need to be successful. Hell, these other schools probably hire someone to fill up their head coaches’ rental car gas tanks, too. Pitino was flagged in the audit for returning rental cars without a full gas tank.

Pitino has this team in a mess, but his overuse of private plans isn’t a problem. The real plain plane problem is the lack of a reasonable travel budget for the head coach of a profitable sport at a Division One school.

Mark Coyle has more than enough on his plate as the new AD of the Gophers, but he should be adjusting the private plane budget before his new business cards are even made. The next basketball coach will greatly enjoy the added privilege if Pitino leads the Gophers to 8-23 again.


For crying out loud, can’t you just lie to us, Jim Pohlad?

The baseball season is only a little over a month into the season and already the local nine in Minnesota are doomed. The Minnesota Twins stand at 8-23 with the 7-23 Atlanta Braves being the only other team in Major League Baseball to not have at least 12 victories so far. It’s pathetic, it’s sad and it’s painful.

The list of reasons why the Twins are so bad runs as long as it is from Buffalo Lake to San Diego but if you say the right things, maybe the fans will get off the team’s back for awhile and simply accept a losing season. Sure, it’s not the best option, but the right public statement can help, at a minimum, contain the fire for a little while.

The Minnesota Twins can’t even get that right.

Jim Pohlad, owner of the Minnesota Twins, talked with Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune on Friday and made all the wrong comments. The highlight being:

“We’ve been at this for a little while … the owner can’t do a whole lot. But what could (General Manager) Terry (Ryan) do? Or what could (Manager) Paul (Molitor) do? I just don’t know at this point. It’s just a total system failure, so to speak.”

First of all, the owner of a Major League Baseball team can do a lot of things. The owner of any business can do a lot of things, really. The owner has power that is only controlled by the laws and, in this specific case, the rules of the MLB. If Jim Pohlad wanted to fire everybody from Twins President Dave St. Peter all the way down to the fry-cook at Hrbrek’s, he has that power. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the powers that owners have.

Should someone be fired for this, to put it nicely, mess? There’s truly an argument for both sides. The view that many have right now is that it’s hard to know what to even do to start to fix the Twins. That’s okay for fans and the media to say that they don’t know what to do, but not the owner of the team. Even if Pohlad isn’t the most hands-on owner in the sports world, you still need to be able to say something half-intelligent to put the fans at ease. That something intelligent isn’t putting the blame fully on the players either which is something Pohlad also did in his talk with Scoggins:

“I believe that somebody on this team has to step up as individuals and start winning some games for us. I don’t mean the team. I mean individuals have to step up and win games. They do on other teams. We’ve got to do it for our team.”

Would it be nice if Brian Dozier would be playing like he did before the All-Star break last year? Of course, it would. Would it have been nice if Byron Buxton could have not been a strikeout victim seemingly every at-bat during his MLB tenure to start the season? No doubt. But at the point of crisis, and in the sports world the Twins are well-beyond crisis, someone needs to take responsibility of what is going on.

Jim Pohlad had the perfect platform in front of him to take the blame and say that he needed to do better and that Terry Ryan needed to do better and that Paul Molitor needed to do better, but instead he guaranteed the job security of Ryan and Molitor and blamed the 25-some guys that Ryan assembled and Molitor has to get ready to win games and they both have miserably failed.

Somewhere along the line, most of us are taught, I hope, that you should take responsibility for your actions. Ultimately, Pohlad is responsible for the Twins. Maybe he doesn’t do day-to-day decision making, but he has the authority to put the pieces in place and so far that has failed this year and has been a failure a majority of the time since the team has moved into Target Field.

This isn’t leading up to a call for the Pohlad’s to sell the Twins, if you got the money and you want to be hated by your fans, hey, that’s your prerogative. Just own up to the mistakes of your organization. Be like a politician and lie to our faces if you have to. Say things are in action to fix the problem when, in reality, you don’t have a clue where to begin. Sure, people might still be mad, but at least it looks like you know how to run your business.

Album per diem: Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

It’s only installment two of Album per diem and I have already screwed up. Bob Dylan’s Shadows In The Night came out in 2015 on February 3 not February 2. We have arrived to the second without me even noticing my error, so we’ll keep it this way and get you prepared for the one-year anniversary of the Dylan’s 36th studio album. Yes, that’s a lot of albums.

Not usually do Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra go hand-in-hand. Both are musical giants, of course, but Sinatra is known for his knockout singing and Dylan for his poetic and beautiful songwriting. In this album, Dylan knocked down the walls and did an album full of pop standards that were made popular by Ol’ Blue Eyes.

  1. I’m A Fool To Want You – Even if you are just a casual fan of the steel guitar, you need to listen to this track just for that alone. And all the initial reviews are correct, the vocal is surprisingly great. That’s just not Dylan’s forte and it was really nice on this track. Some horns get added to the steel guitar by the end of the song which is just an awesome sound.
  2. The Night We Called It A Day – The song sends you to a lounge somewhere and you get lost in the lyrics. Every once and a while you go, ‘hey, this guy sounds like Bob Dylan’, but then you forget about it and go back to sipping your whiskey in very dim lighting. It’s nice soft and another great vocal from Dylan.
  3. Stay With Me – Another solid track, but a little high for Dylan’s register. The high notes have never been the Minnesota native’s forte, but it didn’t take away from another solid track on the album.
  4. Autumn Leaves – More epic steel guitar to open the track. It’s become more than evident that the instrumentation just takes this album to a high level. Dylan brought his a-game to the vocals and the players have done an amazing job. This album would be a joy to listen to without Dylan’s vocals, that’s not saying anything about his vocals just how grand the players are.
  5. Why Try To Change Me Now – “Don’t you remember I was always your clown, but why try to change me now?” That’s a great line. I loved this tune. I didn’t really know what to expect with Dylan’s take on pop standards, but I really like what has gone down so far. The album lacks a little bit of energy at this point, but it might just work in this instance.
  6. Some Enchanted Evening – Another solid track, but it is getting to the point that you have to be in the right mood for the album. The songs are very similar which makes a great intensive listening to the album a little dull.
  7. Full Moon And Empty Arms – It’s weird to me to be hearing Dylan signing songs so blatantly about love. I don’t why, but that just isn’t the picture of Dylan I have in my mind. Another nice track, but the same issues as before of sounding similar.
  8. Where Are You? – Bob Dylan is not supposed to be able to sign this well. This song might be the strongest vocal on the whole album which is saying something. In an album that keeps a little dull, this is a good reason to keep going.
  9. What’ll I Do – Bob Dylan was made to sing sad songs. This song is a sad song. Bob Dylan was made to sing this song. The raspy quality that Dylan has matches what we imagine a sad song should sound like.
  10. That Lucky Old Sun – I’m a sucker for albums that end in some positivity and this song is about ending up in heaven. You can’t get much more positive than that. The horns on this song make it seem heavenly supporting another great vocal from Dylan.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe I’m not cool enough to totally love Dylan. I liked this album, but in the middle of the album I was finding it hard to fully give attention to it. A lot of the songs sound similar, but they still sound great. There is great instrumentation throughout, the steel guitar is heavenly, plus Dylan does give a wonderful vocal especially for a Bob Dylan album.

It’s worth a listen and if you’re into lounge-like music, you should definitely enjoy it. If you are one that is just a casual music listener, the album would make great background music, I say that in the best way possible. It sounds beautiful, but it’s one you can’t concentrate too hard on.

If you can only listen to one song, go with What I’ll Do with Why Try To Change Me Now? a close second place.

Next up: Roseanne Cash – Seven Year Ache

Yay, you hoar! Diving on in to the hoar frost!

Sometimes we question why we live in Minnesota. For example, the Vikings almost blew a 17 point lead to the Packers last night. Even when our teams don’t lose they still almost give a heart attack and no one should live like that.

We deal with snow and ice, too. Heck, if you ask anyone that’s not from Minnesota, I believe that we don’t get above freezing until June and we’re right back to the land of ice and snow before Labor Day. There are some downfalls to a Minnesota winter, but there are some real advantages, too.

The snow can be quite beautiful, the water freezes over so much we can walk on water and, one of my personal favorites, hoar frost.

Hoar frost isn’t an everyday occurrence, which makes it neat, but we all think it’s quite lovely. The reason a lot of the Christmas trees nowadays are ‘frosted’ is they are going for the beautiful look that these fine specimens get when hoar frost is present.

What is hoar frost? Glad you asked! From the ‘Frost’ article on Wikipedia, section ‘Hoar frost’:

“Hoar frost (also hoarfrost, radiation frost, or pruina) refers to white ice crystals, deposited on the ground or loosely attached to exposed objects such as wires or leaves. They form on cold, clear nights when conditions are such that heat radiates out to the open sky faster than it can be replaced from nearby sources such as wind or warm objects. Under suitable circumstances, objects cool to below the frost point of the surrounding air, well below the freezing point of water. Such freezing may be promoted by effects such as flood frost or frost pocket. These occur when ground-level radiation losses cool air till it flows downhill and accumulates in pockets of very cold air in valleys and hollows. Hoar frost may freeze in such low-lying cold air even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing.

The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective that means “showing signs of old age”; in this context it refers to the frost that makes trees and bushes look like white hair.”

That beauty came to us today. The beauty needed to be photographed, so Kirby and I hit the snow to take some pictures. Turns out there are more pictures of my dog than the hoar frost, but both are quite adorable.

Yay, you hoar! Enjoy!

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The King of Country and the King of Marketing: Garth Brooks

Nothing is by accident for Garth Brooks. Every single move is planned and thought through before the general public even has an inkling of what the third-highest record selling artist of all-time has up his sleeve.

A quick basic background on Garth: he retired in the early 2000’s to raise his girls while they went through elementary and high school and vowed to return after his last child went off to college. His last child has left for college and Garth is out of retirement with a full-fledged world tour and new album. The man who dominated and revolutionized country music, and music as a whole, in the 1990’s has returned to his loving fans. Garth paved the way for country artists like Taylor Swift to convert over to the pop scene. Don’t hold that against him.

Garth is the king of marketing. It’s the subject that he majored in at Oklahoma State University and it shows in everything that he does in the public eye. If you see Garth across any newsfeed it’s because he wanted to be there in that exact moment.

Let’s start with the latest example: Garth Brooks goes social.

For years and years, Garth has avoided social media like it was the black plague. He didn’t touch it. The closest thing you could find to a legitimate Garth source on Twitter was his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood, or the account for his charity, Teammates for Kids. That’s all you could find. There was no official Garth Facebook page either. There was the awkward shell of one that Facebook pulled together from the Wikipedia listing of the country icon, but that’s all that could be found. That changed on Tuesday when Garth went social.

If you follow anything country, or really anything celebrity related, you got a message on Tuesday that announced the arrival of Garth across three social networks: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Garth already has over a million likes on Facebook and over 73,000 Twitter followers.

What was significant about Tuesday? It was also the release day of his first studio album in thirteen years. Garth bankrolled the press he would get for his Man Against Machine album and added to it the storm that he would get for joining social media. It’s a big story that the guy who isn’t on iTunes or Spotify joined the likes of the public in sometimes useless banter. Two big Garth stories on one day means about double the stories that are written about him. Garth knows all too well that he needs a lot of frequency. The more you see his name, the more likely you are to buy his album or buy anything from him.

The best thing is that Garth knows how to market this in a way that a lot of people won’t question it. In the first post on his new Facebook page Garth said that a friend told him to look at social media as a conversation directly between the artist and his followers. That might be a legitimate reason why Garth ‘changed’ his view on social media, but there’s no way that that friend told him the morning of his new album release and Garth somehow got meetings at Facebook and Twitter headquarters. Garth had this planned for a while. It might’ve been for a long time. Who knows? Well, more people than we probably think.

Brian Mansfield, music critic for USA Today, tweeted that Garth has had his current world tour planned out for years according to the infamous not named Nashville insiders. Maybe, just the skeleton of it, but Garth knows how to put together a body better than most. We don’t need to look far to see the evidence of this, in fact we just need to look at Garth’s tour stop in downtown Minneapolis at Target Center.

While Garth has been the home team for Target Center in November, it really is supposed to be the Minnesota Timberwolves’ home team. That hasn’t been true. The last home game the Timberwolves played at Target Center was on November 1. They won’t play their next home game at Target Center until November 19. That’s an unheard of stretch of days away from home for an NBA team. The funny thing is that the NBA schedule came out before Garth announced that he would be coming to Target Center. The NBA and Target Center just happened to schedule an awkwardly long road stretch for the Wolves? I don’t buy it.

Speaking of buying, Garth knew exactly how many tickets he’d be selling in Minnesota, or at least close to the number. I am convinced he knew he’d sell out more than four shows, the initial amount he offered. Garth knew that he was going to break his ticket record in Minneapolis like he did the last time he was in town. The headline looks a lot cooler for Garth if it says he added six, SIX, shows and sells out 11 compared to just selling out four shows.

I helped sell out those shows. I bought that album, twice. Yes, I bought the album twice: one physical copy and one digitally. It was the first album Garth has released digitally. He did it through a new online store he helped find called Ghosttunes because, well, more headlines. Oh, the physical copy? I wanted to be able to hold it in my hand, which is just me, but I also bought the ‘Limited Black Edition’ for four dollars more at Target. What’s special about the special ‘Limited Black Edition’? The color. Seriously, just the fact that the album cover has more black to it was enough for me, and thousands or millions more, to buy the same exact album for four dollars more.

Is it clear yet that Garth knows how to market? He knows how to market so well that I decided I should write about it for a Intro To Marketing Communications class required blog. Garth has marketed so well that the man has officially infiltrated my school work. That’s just the way the thunder rolls.