The Lessons and Warnings of Tennessee’s Greg Schiano Saga

College athletics are a lot like the media business. There are end users—the fans and the readers/viewers/listeners—but they aren’t the only customers. We sell you copies of the print edition of Sports Illustrated, but we also sell space in the magazine to advertisers. We give you columns such as this one for free on the web, but we charge advertisers to place their content next to ours so you’ll see it as you read about your favorite team. In a way, the advertisers are like the big-money donors in college athletics. Their opinions often count for more than the opinion of the average reader.

The advertisers and the big donors pay more money, so their voices often carry more weight in our enterprises. But what we in the media and the people who run college sports should realize is this: If we lose the end user, we lose the entire enterprise. When the kid stops running to the mailbox to see who made the cover or when the fan stops buying tickets for that one game a year he saves up to attend, we’re on borrowed time. Sometimes, we need to stop and listen to our rank-and-file customers. Tennessee’s administration learned that Sunday.

We can argue about whether the majority of the Tennessee fans who revolted to the idea of

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