Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Today BASS's Don Rucks was a lot nicer, said state Federation presidents.
By all accounts, Celebration, Fla. was a much happier place today than it was yesterday for just about everybody involved in the ESPN/BASS-BASS Federation presidents meetings. The confrontational tone that was set early yesterday (Monday) and prevented anything substantive from being accomplished was replaced by a let's-start-over-again atmosphere that apparently boosted the presidents' comfort level.
That, in turn, gave them more incentive to examine with an open mind BASS's vision for the new "Federation Nation," which was laid out by BASS VP and GM Don Rucks via a Powerpoint presentation. Not all state presidents were sure they liked all (or even most) of what they saw and heard, but the more relaxed manner in which it was delivered was greatly appreciated.
"It started out much, much better, especially on the BASS side," said Washington president Gary Morris, who was outspokenly critical of the demeanor of BASS officials, particularly Rucks, on day 1. "I would say it was run in a very amiable atmosphere. There were a few times when the discussion got a little bit heated, but nothing major.
"(Rucks) came out and apologized for the way he behaved yesterday and said that he was the kind of guy who puffed out his chest and got loud and animated when he thought he was backed into a corner, and that's just his nature. Personally, I accepted it. If things would've been run with that kind of attitude yesterday, they would have gone much better."
Other presidents came away with similar impressions.
"It was conducted much more professionally, with a lot more respectful attitude from both sides," said Gary Gunter of Oklahoma. "I think people probably sat down and realized that the aggressive, abrasive tactics weren't working, and for any progress to be made, everybody would have to be willing to listen."
And this from Rhode Island's Roy Costa: "As poor as I thought (Rucks) was on day 1, I thought he was that strong (today). He completely turned around an inability to communicate, and people were at least receptive to hearing him. The day before, there was a screen up. Nothing was getting in."
The New Deal
Among the highlights of BASS's Federation plan for 2007 and beyond is the creation of the Federation Nation, in which each state Federation will send six club teams – each comprising six anglers – to one of 10 regional competitions around the country. The Top 6 teams from each regional will qualify for the BASS Federation Nation Bass Club World Championship, where members of the 1st-place team will each receive a fully-rigged Triton boat.
The current divisional tournament structure will be eliminated and replaced by a format under which each state and international Federation will send its champion directly to the BASS Federation Championship – similar to the state champions tournament The Bass Federation Inc. (TBF Inc.) had been talking about.
BASS will pay the travel expenses for each qualifier and his/her spouse. Six berths in the Bassmaster Classic will be up for grabs at that event, and all of those anglers will receive paid entry fees into the Southern or Northern tour (angler's choice).
The presidents received hard copies of the plan at about 7 p.m. EST. They'll study it extensively over the next few days.
"The Federation does not exist (anymore) as it has for the last 30 years," said Larry Lewis of Georgia, who's held his president's position for that entire period, plus one additional year. "Now we have the Federation Nation, whatever that means. This is a big scope and it covers a lot of areas, but there are going to be problems money-wise because of the way it's structured."
Is it Affordable?
One of the presidents' initial reactions to BASS's proposal had to do with costs, always a big worry for state Federations. For BASS's new club championship, for example, the entry fee for the national club competition will be $250 per angler. Multiply that by 36, and that's $9,000 before travel costs even enter the picture.
"This isn't necessarily true for Georgia, but it's going to pose economic problems for a lot of states," Lewis said. "A lot of them aren't going to have enough money for fees, uniforms, motels, transportation, food and all that. Some only have 15 clubs in the whole blooming state. They're going to have to find a way to raise that type of money."
Washington's Morris agreed. "On the surface, it looks like it might be cost-prohibitive to some of the smaller states. If a person sits down and truly looks deep into it, I don't think the economics are there to make it work because of the entry fees and travel costs."
> To read BASS's Federation Nation document, click here. BassFan will publish the details of FLW Outdoors' proposal to the Federations when they become available.
> The presidents are scheduled to meet with BASS again tomorrow morning. In the afternoon, they'll meet with representatives of TBF Inc. in regard to the proposal they received Sunday from FLW Outdoors chairman Irwin Jacobs.
> Morris and Gunter both said one of the big issues for the presidents is the reinstatement of the TBF Inc. divisional representatives who were banished from BASS in November. They said Rucks told the presidents that BASS attorneys were looking into that issue.
> No word yet on exactly when the presidents will do a head-count, or state-count, to see where each state will, or might, go: BASS or FLW. But with both proposals now on the table, look for a vote soon.