I did a double-take when I saw that Ben Braun got a two year contract extension yesterday; what in the world could have warranted that? I quickly calmed down, however, after realizing that the extension in question was the same one given to him last June, and all that happened yesterday was that the UC Regents finally approved it.
Now, having attended Cal, I know that UC can be a glacially slow bureaucracy, but this is ridiculous. Yes, these things take time, but 13 months to approve a 2-year extension? The contract’s hardly longer now than it was when the extension was granted!
The point of this extension is obvious; Cal wants to demonstrate to potential recruits that Ben Braun will still be the head coach when they graduate 4 years later, as if this would actually provide assurances. We all know that Braun’s job security depends on his team producing this upcoming season, and the number of years left on his contract will have no bearing on whether Cal will choose to retain him. The best that can be said of such an extension is that it means Cal has no immediate plans to fire Ben Braun, and that he will likely be the head coach when potential recruits actually make it to campus.
However, by taking so long to approve the extension, Cal has tarnished the benefits of the extension. Last year, potential recruits must have wondered why Cal was dawdling in approving the extension, and thought perhaps that the school’s commitment to Braun was wavering. This year, recruits now know that Braun is under contract until 2011, but none of them will graduate before 2012; clearly, just as this extension is approved, the question of another extension arises.
Personally, I don’t know much about recruiting, but this Scout.com article (there we go again, linking to Scout) has what seems like a pretty good rundown of Cal’s 2008 recruiting situation. Nowhere in the article is Braun’s job situation mentioned, but Scout is very vague about the reasons these recruits are citing (perhaps they’re learning not to publish unverified hearsay!).
Now, regardless of whether I think Braun should remain Cal’s head coach, I’m glad UC finally approved the extension. As much as I like winning (and I do!), integrity still matters, and I’d hate for Cal to be one of those schools that, seeing the basketball program going south, decides not to approve an ill-advised extension offered months earlier. As Sandy Barbour stated back in March, "We made a commitment that we mutually agreed on, and that’s that. It’s as good as ink as far as I’m concerned." Well said, and Go Bears!