Dear Athletic Director Mark Massari,
Hi, my name is Reza Garajedaghi and I am a UCSB alumnus. I also worked at UCSB for 6 years in the admissions dept. and ran the campus tours for many years after finishing school.
Depending on whether you ask coaches (most will say I’m the most passionate and loudest fan) or staff (many of whom I kept bugging to do basic marketing and often did their jobs for them) you will hear different opinions about me. For several years I gave my heart and soul to organizing student involvement at Gaucho sporting events, but I have now left the SB area, turned 40 and my cheering days are long gone.
First of all, it is very exciting to have someone young and passionate running our Athletic Dept. Many of us alumni who reside now on the www.GauchoLocos.com message board were sick and tired of the lack of basic energy, vision and poor management within the department. Your predecessor had little understanding of the UCSB culture and was simply not passionate about UCSB.
As a former employee at UCSB I clearly understood the financial constraints the department was under; however, the lack of any form of creativity and enthusiasm to get students involved with athletics was mind-boggling. The fact that we even have a Gaucho Locos section is due to the passion of fans that have passed the tradition from generation to generation.
Here are some immediate tips to improve the program so we too can receive the kind of exposure OSU received when they upset USC. (Of course, that would most likely happen for us if you can find a way to make our hoops team the Gonzaga of Southern California.)
1) Do not be afraid to make changes! Status quos and pleasantries are the Achilles heels at UCSB. It is a bit like Dr. Seuss’s “Whoville.” Only a dynamic leader who can make the difficult decisions will impact athletics at UCSB — not someone like your predecessor!
2) Get to know Tim Vom Steeg and pick his brain. The man is a pure genius. What he did with UCSB soccer in the last ten years should be made into a movie. I was there when there were 50 fans in the stands and I looked like a fool singing soccer songs by myself; UCSB is now rewarded with thousands chanting “glory, glory Santa Barbara.” I saw the magic that he created by going outside the athletic department when he realized that most in the department were like the walking dead. He created his own destiny and received great success! I still get teary-eyed when I see the clips of the kids throwing the goalposts in the ocean after we stuck it to UCLA in 2006.
3) Mark, UCSB is a beach school; it is a natural volleyball haven. Why has our women’s team become the joke of the Big West and the West Coast? I love what Kathy Gregory has done for UCSB but it’s time to pass the torch. This would be a dream job for anyone. Heck if I could jump more than 3 inches off the floor or do a pancake, I would take on the job myself and bring some passion back into a sport that should be flourishing at UCSB.
4) Athletics marketing has been entirely non-existent! Most of the marketing directors who came and went were like carpetbaggers using this job to move on to bigger things. Pat and Chris (the only two guys who made any kind of impact and actually had some great ideas) were quickly dismissed by your predecessor since they were not toeing the line.
5) Mark Patton. The man bleeds Gaucho blue and gold and is a talented and gifted writer. Mark would be someone I would take out to a fancy dinner and make Arnold pay for it. He is a historian of sorts and he will be able to give you the insight and in-depth analysis of what went wrong here and what can be done.
6) Jerry Pimm. Say what you want but this man brought some serious national attention to our tar filled beaches. Sure he got a bit “Montecito” on us at the end but boy did he get the place buzzing in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Most of us alumnus who are still breathing, sleeping and eating Gaucho blue and gold owe it to him and how he made the Thunderdome a place where we would camp out for 3 days to get tickets to be on ESPN. Yeah you current Gauchos, UCSB basketball was off the hook back in the ’90s and we used to burn couches in IV after knocking off #1 UNLV on ESPN. As “Magic” Johnson said once; “I have never heard a place louder on TV.” He brought his traveling hoops team for an exhibition after he retired just to experience our insane crowds … go ahead, Youtube it and see for yourself what the T-Dome was like.
7) UCSB alumni who live on the www.Gaucholocos.com message board. We are a great resource and would love to share with you our ideas and thoughts. Guys with names such as zzzza, chiefstickyfinger, Mike, EC, GauchoDon, Fennis, BMac, GauchoFreg, Daykne62, GauchoAdam and Runnin Rabbi all have a great deal of insight into what has gone right and what has gone so very wrong in the last 10 years.
Finally, welcome to Santa Barbara. It is one of the most amazing places in the world — believe me, I know. I have traveled to and lived in several places. UCSB is an amazing school and Chancellor Yang has done an incredible job in bringing us a great deal of academic prestige. He is a brilliant man and now that the academic vitality of UCSB is set, I am sure he is ready to give you the tools needed to bring some excitement and success into our athletics.
I wish you the very best and hope to see you next time I am up in Santa Barbara. Just look for the short Persian guy in the middle of the student section who is clearly way past his cheering days.