Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at

  • Jan K. Oski

    I’m disappointed that you even bothered to put this anti-sports editorial on your blog, J.O. Did Amy pull the strings? In my opinion, it is obvious that Mr. Borenstein completely misses the connection between sports and real life for the athletes and the real life escape for the fans. These topic are deep, so I’ll key on the reality of professional sports, the multi-billion dollar industry, and the eminence need of athletes to have solid mentors. Does Mr. Borenstein realize he is dwelling on money to a coach with a perfect record in ethics? The same man spends at least 40 hours a week with student-athletes. I don’t recall a single professor (6 figure salaries) being available more than 10 hours a week, while I was a student. Money in Tedford’s pocket is well spent in forming young men for the challenges of being some of the most visible personalities in America.

    I have to wonder if Borenstein is looking for a way into a professorship with this article. We all know that paper media is going to plunge into the sea in one or two decades.

  • Steve in Concord

    Evidently Mr. Borenstein doesn’t quite grasp the concept that college football is a commercial enterprise, and that the world of commerce has a different pay scale than the academic world. Why is that? Consider the following facts.

    A sold-out Memorial Stadium probably brings in close to 25 million dollars per season from ticket sales alone…not to mention revenue from television and radio broadcasts, concession and merchandise sales, ad revenues, etc.

    If Cal could recruit a physics professor whose lecture series could fill the stadium at fifty bucks a head and bring in millions of dollars for television broadcast rights I’m sure the University wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to pay him 2 million a year.

  • bearfan98

    His article reflects his bias or his ignorance. A simple analysis of the financial benefits that Tedford brings exceeds his compensation.

    Oh yeah, does the UC system president sleeps in his office so he can maximize his time at work.

  • Bear in Duck Land

    Is this guy running for Berkeley City Council? Man, he lives in his own world. I’ll add to the two excellent points already made by Jan and Steve.

    Americans think college sports is too commercialized? Duh, what a revelation. Most Americans think Christmas is too commercialized too, yet those same Americans spend an average of $600 – $800 on Christmas presents. And many of them by college sports tickets, TV packages, and game jerseys. He can’t paint “most Americans” as being on his side on this one.

    Professors think sports coaches are overpaid!? Another colossal Duh. It’s called professional jealousy, and professional academia is rife with competitiveness, competitive fund seeking, and jealousy. Steve’s point about the Physics professor says it all.

    And he glosses too quickly over the funding questions. No academic funds are being used for Tedford’s bonuses. The Athletic Department BUDGET (not “subsidy” – why doesn’t he call the Chemistry department budget a subsidy?) may fund 45 hypothetical instructors, but they didn’t fire 45 instructors to pay Tedford. When Cal eliminates the History department to pay a coach we can talk about mispaced priorities.

    Borenstein fails to acknowledge one simple thing: the world of college sports HAS CHANGED. Cal didn’t change it, and neither did UCLA or the Regents. But now that it has changed they all have a decision to make: do we continue to compete here and develop student athletes in ALL sports, supported by FB and BB revenues? Of course the answer is yes.

  • amythicalprogram

    Jan K. Oski Says:
    May 9th, 2008 at 11:01 pm
    I’m disappointed that you even bothered to put this anti-sports editorial on your blog, J.O.

    In defense of JO his responsibility is to fair and accurate journalism. His main coverage is the football program at UCB. The editorial was about priorities and how the allocation of money is a good or bad indicator.

    In your worldview an important priority is to help fans escape from real life. You even call this a deep topic. I bet the producer of Survivor, Dancing With the Stars and a hundred other reality TV shows would love to have you writing their scripts.

  • N8Bear

    Jan, you make good points.
    However, If it’s true that what the athletic department generates is not distributed to the rest of the school, I think this should be remedied. I don’t know how much of ticket and merchandise sales go into the general fund, if any. According to Mr. Borenstien it sounds like none. I recall an article by the Mercury news that miffed Tedford regarding how much money Marshawn Lynch was generating for the school from merchandise sales. Which is it?
    Jo, perhaps you could research where the money goes considering you felt it appropriate to post the link for us.

  • BluenGold

    Its always been my understanding that the money generated by revenue sports such as football and basketball is used to fund the other intercollegiate athletic programs. Most of those generate some revenue through ticket sales and fundraising, but not nearly enough to finance the programs entirely.

  • Several points I disagreed with:

    1. Reversing the flow (if there is an excess) to fund other UC programs. Many of the donors to Cal Athletics may not want a portion of their funds to go to the university. Everyone has the freedom to donate to athletics as well as academics. As an alum and Bear Backer myself, I donate separately to Cal as an academic institution – but that should also be the donor’s choice. To take monies donated for Athletics and shifting to the academic side could cause many donors to stop – thus lowering revenues.

    2. Since JT can’t guarantee wins, he shouldn’t get paid so much. To got from 30K per game to 60K fans per game with increased ticket prices more than pays for the salary already (guaranteed – do the math – 30K x $20 per ticket vs. 60K at $35 per ticket – hmmm). In addition, increased TV revenue (I know its split in the Pac-10 – but every Cal game on TV does benefit Cal), increased sales of souveniers, additional revenue to local businesses, etc FAR FAR exceed his salary (can’t guaranteed exactly how much more – but 60K on a Saturday will spend more than 30K fans).

    3. The $6.4MM subsidy claimed in the article could go to better use somewhere else. Not sure what percentage of the entire Cal budget $6.4MM is – but I would say that you could just as easily go through most of the major line items and say that money could be used more wisely. Unless one is under the assumption that student athletics does NOT bring with it any benefits to the student experience or the university, I would say that a small percentage of the budget allocated to this is NOT a waste of funds.

    4. My understanding is that the revenue sports pay for the non-revenue sports – so the success of Football (and hopefully Basketball in coming seasons) at the box office also translates into more financial support for the other sports as well. This is not taking away from academic pursuits.

    5. JT’s other benefits somehow make the contract even worse. I am sure the University offers all sorts of incentives to try and attract / keep top-notch faculty as well (it has been documented in other areas the challenges Cal faces competing for ‘academic power’ with some of the private universities). In addition, when those professors ‘discover’ new things, write books, etc – don’t they also share in the revenue of the patent, book etc?

  • There is no disconnect here. The athletic program brings in tons of money for the University. It does so by bringing the alumni closer to the university. Athletics and academics are an integral part of education.

    A Football team may raise money to ensure that the athletic department has a full budget, and a winning football team will raise more money. And if you have a quality athletic program, with kids competing to go to your school, it has all sorts of positive benefits. Writing a new book about the history of greek philosophy, while it may be important, is not going to raise a ton of money for the school. The school needs superstars to go out with the rich guys and get the juice flowing. If you disagree, then look at the alumni contributions since Tedford came to Cal vs the years before.

    When you are a laughing stock, it is hard to go out and raise cash. When you can show your constituency that you are achieving on all cylinders, it brings in more cash. And let’s not get it twisted — if there were no Football program, the university would not have that two million to spend elsewhere, because that was money specifically for the head football coach.

    I know that I give the same each year to the athletic department as to my school that I graduated from. Since they raised the Bear Backer levels last year, I had to increase both just to feel right. Overall, they squeezed an extra $600 out of me. It all counts.

  • Daniel Andrade


    Has the editorialist been waiting 50 years for a Rose Bowl?

    We have more Nobel Laureates that anywhere else, academic, or private sector. Our faculty is second to none.

    Nobody in the outside world has ever started a conversation, or asked if their child should go to Cal based on the strength of our academic credentials.

    If we sweep the SoCal schools and win Pac-10 titles, we will recruit the best overall talent in all fields and that talent will be able to come to a school that represents the best of the best in all respects.

    Nobody comes into academia to be a multimillionaire, and when Coach Tedford was a part time assistant at Cerritos College making $10,000 a year he had no dreams of his current contract, but the economy is the economy.



  • Greg

    It seems that most people who dislike the contention that the football coach makes too much money argue that his salary is justified because football is a big business and creates revenue through ticket sales and alumni donations.

    Accepting that the above is the case, one wonders about the players. The athletic talent sees not a single dime of all this money being generated despite having to literally risk their lives every time they step on the field. It is so hypocritical to hand out astronomical salaries for the coaches (management), and yet provide little financial benefit to the students (labor).

    You can argue that a scholarship to attend university is the reward for the players. Yet one wonders how much of an academic education they can hope to acheive given that they have a full-time, year-around job of playing football.

    We all need to face the reality that big-time college sports is corrupt to its core, and has been for some time. It is simply a diversion and entertainment for fans like us, as well as a mechanism to enrich the coaching class. The players, by and large, have been deluded into harboring dreams of `striking it rich’ in professional football, which is a goal obtainable by a tiny minority. Budget cuts, meanwhile, result in reductions to the educational mission of our taxpayer-funded institutions.

  • Jan K. Oski

    Oye Ve, Greg!

    Why not call for the heads of all capitalist, while you’re at it? You failed to mention in your hatred of college sports that the players also receive a Cal diploma, which players like Joe Ayoob have spoken highly of. Tedford never deludes player’s mind with “dreams of ‘striking it rich’ “. That’s completely untrue in his case, and you don’t have a shred of evidence to support your opinion. So, go back to your communist gathering, and find some other bone to pick…

    Budget constaints would not be an issue in the University, if waste was not so rampant. I see tens of thousands of dollars being flushed down the toilet with access that is only rivaled by the authorative rulers of this world. It is time that the universities start running like the rest of Corporate America with wise spending habits. Then and only then, will the mystery of budget cuts be solved. But, the bureacracy of the unversities is just as much a monster as the governments, so it will never be overcome. Thus, hatred for the fat cow will always be a topic for the utopianites.

  • iamalcindor

    Jan K Oski

    In post #1 you talk about the real life escape that college sports provide for the fans. Now in post #9 you talk about the rampant waste in the University. I think you just proved your point.

    Furthermore did you even take time to read Greg’s post? Thank you for your lesson in Economics 1 but you avoided a great point he made. (This is usually your MO by the way). He is championing for players to be paid. Afterall they are the ones putting in all of the work and sacrificing themselves in order to provide the real life escape for people such as you.

    BTW when your team experiences the greatest collapse in college football history what kind of escape did you have?

  • Jan K. Oski

    While we’ve been talking about the obvious old news in Bernstein’s editorial, there’s some new unethical news that’s brewing down south at a private school. I’m shocked that Bernstein a Cal grad wouldn’t write about it in his blog! Who wants to make a bet that he has a few red shirts in his closet?

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Jan and N8, just for the record, the only reason I posted the link was because it was something that appeared in our paper that may have been of interest to Cal fans. That is, after all, what this blog is for.

  • ho

    jan k oski – what news are you referring to? can you post the link? thx

  • amythicalprogram

    Hi Ho

    He is referring to the news about OJ Mayo and the supposed money and benefits he received from an agent. jan k oski is just trying to soil SC and our world class program. Move along…there is nothing to see here. Once again it will amount to nothing.

  • Big D

    What about the news on how the Chancellor’s house (Blake House and gardens 13,239 Sq ft!) in KENSINGTON will be getting a $10,000,000 renovation before the new chancellor (Yudof?) can/will move in…

    “The three-story, 10-bathroom house has sweeping views of the bay and is surrounded by 10 acres of land. Its impressive Mediterranean gardens, which are open to the public, are maintained by UC Berkeley’s school of landscape architecture. The mansion is typically staffed by one house manager. The president’s private quarters totals 4,328 square feet and includes three bedrooms.”

  • duke


    U$C had a great 2007/08 basketball season.

    Gosh – how did that happen?

  • amythicalprogram

    duke Says:
    May 12th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    U$C had a great 2007/08 basketball season.

    And a great football season too… both of which you know nothing about.

  • Jan K. Oski

    Hey Ho,

    here’s the news that I was referring to:;_ylt=Asm_yhCvWyiGjNsfXMR1YCE5nYcB?slug=dw-mayo051108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    It was the headline of yahoo sports this morning…

  • Jan K. Oski

    Hey Big D,

    How much money could be incurred by subdividing those 10 acres? Even in the present economic downturn Kensington is still a desirable place to live…

  • dball


    I find your leftist comments to be nearly as narrow-minded and as poorly contrived as the original editorial. Your suggestion to somehow shift funds to the players and away from the coach is not only impractical, illegal, and unethical, it would also reinforce the notion that players should be focusing on the field instead of the classroom. That already happens enough, see the statistics on graduation rates.

    The editorial’s statement that the University subsidizes $6.4M a year to support college sports is presented without benchmark or reference…is this amount more than other UC campuses subsidize….less than others…what is the trend? Its easy to go find a number, throw it up in your editorial, and try to make a point. But unless he’s going to put it in context, it makes him look weak as a reporter and makes it too easy to find holes in his argument. Show me how that $6.4M compares to 6 years ago when the football program brought in less money, and show me how much the University had to subsidize back then. And then maybe you’ll have my attention.

    Just another poorly written editorial by a journalist trying to appeal to the leftist sentiments of the Berkeley resident community rather than the Cal alumni community.

  • Norwalk Dave

    JO, ignore all these fools. Can you just put BOREnstein in a choke hold for us the next time you see him in the newsroom? Thanks.

    – Latrell Sprewell

  • fedupbear

    The problem with being paid $3 mill per is that SOME people think you actually should do something to justify that money. Crazy, huh? The bastards! A full Memorial Stadium, TV appearances, Alum donations? How long do you think all that’s going to last the NEXT time Tedford loses 6 games in a row? How much of that will be forthcoming next year unless Tedford discovers his inner coach — something that has yet to see the light of day? Bottom-line — The good Mr. Tedford has yet to justify his lofty salary. Pointing that out isn’t anti-Cal. It isn’t anti-Athletics. It’s a sad reality.

  • fedupoffedup

    fedup- winning is very important, but you think winning is the only thing that matters. you brush off “A full Memorial Stadium, TV appearances, Alum donations?” because they are not important TO YOU.

    But guess what? “A full Memorial Stadium, TV appearances, Alum donations” is worth many millions more to Cal than whatever you personally donate. If you don’t like it, don’t pay. Easy enough, except that you like to whine and bitch because that is the ‘currency’ you have and you seem to have a huge bank account filled with bitching and whining.

    luckly, its a ‘currency’ that no one really cares about. you have made yourself a fool and a joke of this forum.

    you are a child.

  • Jan K Oski

    good points, fedupoffedup, but Don’t Feed The Trolls! A response is all they need to make their pathetic existance meaningful.

  • iamalcindor

    Jan K Oski Says:
    May 13th, 2008 at 12:41 pm
    good points, fedupoffedup, but Don’t Feed The Trolls! A response is all they need to make their pathetic existance meaningful.


    I assume you are referring to post #25? What exactly was said in that post that would lead you call the poster a troll. If you and your bunch desire to enter into the world of bigtime college football then you better get used to high expectations by fans. It is laughable to me that any disagreement around here is met with accusations of being a troll, a communist or a liberal.

  • iamalcindor

    Jan K Oski Says:
    May 13th, 2008 at 12:41 pm
    Don’t Feed The Trolls! A response is all they need to make their pathetic existance meaningful.


    One other thing janko. The best way to silence a critic especially one from another team and program is to win. Especially important is that you should occasionally beat your rival and not lose to them in football, twice in men’s basketball and three times in woman’s basektball. It’s hard to defend a loser.

  • All the talk about athletic department economics is interesting and significant but misses a crucial element. A major goal of every university is to increase its perceived value so as to garner “better” students, better press and more money in a self-perpetuating cycle. The various methodologies may be flawed across the board, but college rankings are crucial to a college’s success. And two key elements of such rankings are money (driven by alumni giving) and the quality of the applicant pool. In each case, those elements are dramatically benefitted by a successful high-profile sports program (typically football and/or basketball). Duke has been a fine university for much of its history, but it’s no coincidence that its striking push up the rankings correlates to the national success of its hoops team (beginning in the mid-80s). Great teams mean that alumni write more and bigger checks and that more and better students apply, so paying top dollar to try to achieve and maintain athletic success makes perfect sense. Simple.

  • Greg

    Why should it be unethical and illegal to pay players? They literally risk their lives everytime they step on the field in a way that the coach doesn’t. Many posters talk about how Tedford deserves his salary because the stadium is full (nearly full? how many times has memorial actually sold out) and a succesful football team attracts more donations. So in reality it is all about the money. He deserves a king’s ransom because he generates revenue. This totally ignores the contribution of the players, whom we pay to see perform. And the only ones not getting paid are the players. They are being exploited. It’s not leftist to say that it’s wrong to force people to work for free — especially when there are hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars sloshing around in the NCAA system. For example, if I am not wrong CBS paid the NCAA $6 billion for the right to show March Madness. CBS cashes in by running endless commercials of beer and SUVs. All of the scandals — the OJ Mayos, Reggie Bushes and Todd Bozemans — occur precisely because the players have no money! Many are from impoverished backgrounds and they are thrown into an environment where most of their college student peers are in fact from priviliged backgrounds. It is no surprise that corruption such as OJ Mayo comes out of a corrupt sytem. Give the players a cut of the proceeds — a living wage — and the bribes will not look as attractive any more. I love college sports — it is a great form of entertainment. But I also recognize that the current system is horribly abusive towards the players. Meanwhile you have coaches such as Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Dennis Erickson, Dennis Franchione, etc. etc. being rewarded for horrible behavior and showing the players that, yes, it really is all about the money.

  • Greg

    College sports fans need to recognize that the NCAA has basically become a minor league and talent proving ground for the NFL and the NBA. If you have the proper qualifications and talent, at age 18 you can fly an airplane, you can perform surgery, you can aruge a case in a courtroom — but you cannot be a player in the NFL or NBA! The NCAA is a willing partner with the professional leagues because it makes their product that much more attractive. Any industry that could mange to avoid paying a huge part of their workforce would find it very lucrative.

  • Jan K Oski

    Greg, you are so naive. Did you even bother to consider the fact that the players are paid through free rides which escapes the requirement of strong academic performance or massive paybacks after graduation?

    Here’s something else to chew on. Players are feed like Kings and Queens even during the offseason, while the rest of us ate or eat crap in the dinning commons. How’s that for additional payment?

    Allow me to tear apart your argument even more. Who will earn money in your scenario? Do you only pay football and basketball players, since they are in the sports that bring in the money. What happens to the other sports? They’d have to be cut like ASU just cut Wrestling, Men’s Tennis and Golf. That ain’t right, young man. I know they teach a lot of utopian ideas in college, but it is time to wake up to the reality that college sports are all right, and no human institution is perfect.

    Oh yeah, and whatever happened to personal responsibility when it comes to breaking rules and laws? It still exist. If you don’t believe me, break a law, and you’ll feel the full force of justice. Bush, Mayo and Bozeman are guilty, not the system, even if they were ignorant. That goes for the rest of us, too.

    Finally, how do colleges gain by allowing the NBA to take players after one year? OYE VE!

  • dball

    I don’t think we have to worry about many people agreeing with greg, his comments are just too far out there. And I wonder what he’s even doing on a colleges sports blog in the first place unless he’s that unhappy that his rhetoric can’t find an audience anywhere else. Can we get back to sports now?

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Matt (San Fran): Ivan, will the Michigan State-Cal opener tell us which one of these rising programs if for real? I think either could be a sleeper in 08.

    Ivan Maisel: (2:53 PM ET ) I’m kind of done with Cal as a sleeper after last year. Michigan State to me is an interesting team. Somebody is going to break out of the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. I’m not smart enough to know who it is yet.

    Does anyone know what this guy is talking about? It is very confusing what he means by “sleeper”. Does he mean that some sleepers never wake up?

  • Northside

    I think Borenstain went to school with me at Berkeley High in the early 1970’s. He wore an army field jacket, long hair and wire rimmed glasses and had a girlfriend with a dog named (I’m not kidding) “Come A-runnin'”. In other words, just your typical Berkeley nonconformist.

    Up against the wall pig, etc. etc. Yawn.

    He was a nice enough kid, not into sports, as I recall.
    Nice to see he’s make the big time in the ‘burbs.