Big Time People in a Small Time Program

Posted by on December 3rd, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

These are people you should know, doing a good job in an otherwise forgotten athletic program.
 
USD, the catholic university up on the hill overlooking Mission Bay, has a quality campus, an impeccable academic reputation, and an athletic program people don’t pay much attention to.  And that is a shame.
 
It must be tough to operate in a major league market, and really be on the outside looking in, in terms of fan support, community dollars, and media recognition.
 
Ky Snyder, a man of unique and varied business and athletic accomplishments, has done a magnificent job in fund raising, selling the message to alumnus, and gathering behind the scene support for Toreros teams, that win, but don’t garner much recognition.  He oversees successful programs, notably soccer and baseball, but they are who they are in the most important sports, limited in basketball and football. 
 
Dale Lindsey was just named Coach of the Year in the Pioneer Football League, the coast-to-coast non scholarship football program.  His USD team last year should have been in the 1-AA playoffs but did not get there because of a clerical rules violation.  They did this year, but last weekend, suffered a terrible setback at the hands of annual 1-AA power Montana, the school with 63 football scholarships.
 
Bill Grier got USD to the NCAA tourney, and even pulled off a shocking upset of UP-Conn, in his first year, but has struggled to keep basketball above the .500 water mark since then.
 
Rich Hill has carried the USD banner on a spring-to-spring basis, with a quality baseball program, that wins allot, gets to play in a new stadium, travels some, and gets a select few kids drafted.  He has elected to stay where he loves the job and the school and the city, rather than move on.
 
It’s a different type of student-athlete who arrives at USD.  The play, they graduate, they become lawyers, doctors and business people once the final game is played.  It is a very different feel from places like the Pac 12 of SEC.  It’s almost a feel like tweed jackets and bow-ties that is Ivy League, and that has a specialness to it.
 
You wonder though from inside Alcala Way, how hard it must be for them.
 
Snyder is a marketing whiz, with big time Athletic experience from Arizona State and his involvement with the San Diego Super Bowl committee.  You wonder how frustrating it must be, to not be on the radar of the San Diego sports scene.  He says it would take 11M to take his football program to  1-AA, the cost of scholarships, facility upgrades, and matching program under Title IX, too costly a price to pay for the move up and recognition.
 
Lindsey has spent his entire career in college football, NFL football, and now this type of football.  He is a teacher first, an educator and then a coach, but seems to like his role at that school.  But you wonder if it feels weird to play in front of 4,000-fans in your own football stadium, get virtually no media coverage despite your success and hard work?.
 
Grier came from Gonzaga and knows what the potential is to build something special.  But that was Spokane, where there is nothing else.  This is San Diego, big city, where there is a big program just on the other hill at Montezuma Mesa.  The Aztecs play to 12,000 sellouts, the Toreros sometimes draw 1200.
 
The University of San Diego is a great place, but USD has its limitations, in terms of fan support, finances, and media coverage.  Maybe it is what college athletics used to be all about, just the chance to go out and play, and have some fun, while getting to the true finish line, a college degree.
 
Maybe it is okay to be a Linfield (Oregon) or a Mount Union (Ohio) amongst so many other places.
 
USD’s leaders, doing a good job, in just a very different athletic environment.
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