“So we need to probably take a break in the non-seven home game model…”

Greg McGarity is telling anyone in earshot that he’s getting ready to feed us a steady stream of cupcakes, and we’d better like it, by Gawd.

The playoff era in college football arrives next season, and Georgia will begin it with a major nonconference opponent. But after hosting Clemson in 2014, the Bulldogs don’t have any other major nonconference plans, other than the annual rivalry with Georgia Tech.

In fact, athletics director Greg McGarity indicated he wasn’t pursuing anything. Don’t look for Georgia to make a habit of major nonconference games, due to reasons more financial than competitive.

Now, some of his bet hedging is explained by uncertainties over the future of a nine-game conference schedule and how much weight the new playoff selection committee will give strength of schedule, but that only goes so far.  (For one thing, a ninth conference game is still going to offer another opponent on a home-and-home basis, so it doesn’t address McGarity’s financial concerns.)  But let’s not lose sight of what’s important here – the bottom line is the bottom line.

Only having six home games this year cost UGA “more than $2 million,” McGarity said. That’s the revenue UGA typically gets from a home game at Sanford Stadium. The surrounding areas also lost potential revenue. So McGarity said he is “absolutely” focused on getting seven games at Sanford Stadium per year, with finances a big reason.

“This past year really hurt us financially, because we only had six home games,” McGarity said.

That’s a trifle misleading, in that the revenue the school receives from the WLOCP exceeds what it would make if the Florida game went home-and-home, but McGarity’s right in that by playing the season opener at Clemson instead of hosting, say, Georgia Southern, the program is leaving money on the table.  At least that’s the case in the short run.  But what about the longer term picture?

Here are two assertions that don’t seem contestable:

(1) The cost of attending most major sporting events has been rising in real terms for decades.

(2) The cost of watching most major sporting events via remote technology has been plunging, especially in recent years.

The second point might require a bit of elaboration. “Cost” in this context means the relation between the price of watching a sporting event other than by attending in person, and the quality of that experience. That experience has been improving at a very rapid rate in recent years: for example, watching a high definition broadcast of a sports event on a 50-inch screen costs a sports fan today perhaps one-twentieth of what purchasing such an experience would have cost a decade ago. (HDTV is an especially superior technology for sports viewing).

In addition, the variety of games available for remote viewing, and the technologies available for viewing them other than standard televisions (computers, mobile devices etc.) are vastly superior to what they were even a few years ago.

As a simple matter of economics, these trends can’t both continue indefinitely. 40 years ago the average NFL ticket cost $30 in 2013 dollars: this year the average is probably over $100 when you include the cost of private seat licenses. And the cost of parking and concessions has risen even faster than ticket prices. Meanwhile a giant television with a superb picture costs in real dollars what what a 12-inch portable black and white TV that pulled in a fuzzy broadcast of two games per weekend cost a generation ago, and you can for a fairly modest price watch literally every NFL game of the season on your IPhone if you so desire.

Admittedly, it’s hard to gauge when those two trends cross paths for college football.  There are regional ties and traditions that give the sport an impressive brand loyalty.  But it’s not immune to erosion, especially when the powers that be running the sport act in a way that indicates they take those ties and traditions for granted.  And when they assume, as McGarity does, that the fan base will accept a watered down product (the matchups, not the home team) at greater cost.

The Georgia football season ticket is already one of the most expensive in the SEC, once you factor in the mandatory Hartman Fund contribution.  As the cost of staying home and getting a choice of watching more competitive football at a lower expense accelerates, what can McGarity offer the fan base as a sweetener to keep them coming back to Athens?  That’s a question he’s going to have to answer sooner or later.

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36 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

36 responses to ““So we need to probably take a break in the non-seven home game model…”

  1. PTC DAWG

    Check AU’s home schedule and amount of home games lately..

    I have seen many posts on here saying folks want to be like AU and just win baby!

  2. Bob

    The 1980 team played 6 SEC teams, plus Southwest Conference Texas A&M and TCU, ACC Clemson and Independents South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
    The 2012 team played 8 SEC teams and Georgia Tech. Oh, I forgot…we also played Georgia Southern, Buffalo and Florida Atlantic. Sorry, but Georgia ain’t hurting for money that we cannot play at least 10 major opponents.
    But McGarity is McGarity. He will only hear about it when we play a joke of a schedule like last year and wind up #5 and just outside the playoff because of that crap. Until then, no way. Damn red panties.

  3. Neon Boudeaux

    Senator, you mention UGA as having one of the most expensive season tickets. Not asking you to show your work but I’ve never seen that info posted somewhere comparing the differences. What’s your source? If you did the work yourself it’d definitely make for an interesting post, especially woth Hartman contributions due soon.

  4. Connor

    Besides the long-term erosion of live game attendance, all the other factors point to few or no out of conference games. It makes immediate financial sense, as McGarity says; Coaches generally hate them; and in the coming playoff model a loss to a good team is far more likely to keep you out of the post season than a win against one is to put you in. Even if people like McGarity appreciate that there is a potentially huge long term cost to the policy(which is no sure thing), the short term benefits will ensure they won’t do anything about it.

  5. Skeptic Dawg

    McGarity will be responsible to for decline of Georgia football. As we are currently witnessing, he will fill the schedule with cupcakes, reducing home attendance which equates to lost revenue. Look no further than Ohio State to see the results of poor scheduling. He will continue to support Richt along the road to continued 8-4, 9-3 seasons (that is what a 74% gets you). 3 to 4 L’s will equate to a decline in fan/ national interest which equals lost revenue. Reduction in revenue will lead to a decline in facilities and a decline in facilities will lead to loss of recruits. So as McFrugal squeezes every penny, he will forgo millions of dollars that high profile games generate, potential recruiting advantages, larger bowl payouts and possible championships. In short, UGA under the superior guidance of McFrugal, is destined to become Ole Miss. We will brighten his financial spreadsheet though by purchasing anything with a “G” despite that fact that he is leading this athletic department over a cliff.

    • David K

      Disagree. We’ll continue to play an SEC schedule that includes Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, and a couple teams from west. Ohio State doesn’t have that going for them. Nobody has ever tried to hold Bama’s or Auburn’s schedule against them and that’s essentially what we’re aiming for now.

  6. Cousin Eddie

    Can’t wait until McGarity starts selling ad spots on the grass and on the uniforms. If he could turn money he would replace the G at mid field with Ford tough or Have a Coke. Where the Bamma schools would sell their souls for a MNC he would sell UGA’s for a shiny nickel.

  7. I Wanna Red Cup

    I would rather have games against major teams home and away but that ain’t going to happen. Auburn has been playing crappy teams and getting 7-8 home games a year, but I don’t give a shit about that. We are going to play cupcakes and likely have a better record and will see less people attending and I will not blame them one bit. I though will be there regardless because it means more to me than who we are playing. The best part of my life is going to Athens with friends, tail gating, listening to and singing the songs we have sang for years, eating Popeyes fried chicken, and drinking beer. Fewer and fewer people will be willing to do this. I am for NO playoff, a 9 game SEC schedule, and playing the best damn teams every year. But money rules and no one cares about what I think.

  8. Bright Idea

    I can better tolerate the cupcakes if the team shows up, plays consistently well and looks like they actually practiced when they play SEC teams. Isn’t this the competitive aspect of playing cupcakes? Having 3 cupcakes should develop depth, rest injuries, sharpen execution and lessen the demand for peek performance 12 games a year. Too often we play down to the level of the cupcake for 2 or 3 quarters and it carries over to the big games and creates negativity. We need to play an out of conference heavyweight at least 2 out of every 6 seasons but we don’t need to travel to Arizona State the week before we play Alabama. We also don’t need to open with Clemson or Oklahoma St. knowing we will always have suspensions. There has to be a happy medium and not too many cupcakes of the cupcakes.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      First game of the season always should be in Athens and needs to be a cupcake to get the kinks worked out. Then start playing real teams either OOC or conference schedule. I also favor playing a Clemson or another good OOC team but do it later in the season. A team like that will want home and away, though. How to work around the WLOCP, the annual Tech game and still do the above–that’s the question.

  9. Beer Money

    As alluded to earlier, UGA used to play much better schedules when there were only 11 games total and 6 SEC games. Just off the top of my head, in the 70s and 80s, I know we played Oregon St., Baylor, Virginia, TCU, UCLA, Duke, Wake Forest, A&M, along with the mainstays of S Carolina, Clemson, and Tech. We don’t have to play Notre Dame, Texas, and Ohio St. But why can’t we find some mid- lower BCS conference teams that are willing to come to Athens without a return trip?

    • Bright Idea

      Great question. They might say “no” but at least ask, Army, Navy, Air Force, Miami, UNC, Houston, TCU, Texas Tech, W.Va., Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Tulsa. They might want all of the $2 million I guess.

    • Big Max

      Oregon State, Baylor, UVA, TCU, UCLA, Duke, Wake, A&M, and Cal (also) didn’t require that we play them at their place. Big difference nowadays.

      Also, most of those teams were very bad at that time, at least when we played them and most likely when we scheduled them.

      (I think, technically, we were supposed to play at UCLA but someone (UCLA) cancelled it.)

    • Governor Milledge

      I agree with most of the sentiments here and in other above posts… but devil’s advocate time: what was the scholarship limit back in the good ol’ 70s & 80s? When did the practice of a freshman squad of players end?

      My point here is playing a murder’s row of teams in the 80s likely was a lot more viable due to the sheer depth (and more simulated experience — 20 hour per week limits anyone?)

  10. {“the revenue the school receives from the WLOCP exceeds what it would make if the Florida game went home-and-home”}

    I’ve never seen that, you sure? If so, IDK the answer. Just seems like we can’t win.

    On second thought, I do have one possible answer for McGarity. Do whatever is necessary to see that the University of Georgia plays the game of football to its talent level (and by that I don’t mean fire Richt, unless he just can’t get it done).

    Make sure that happens, and all of the financial problems will disappear.
    ~~~

  11. BulldawgJosh

    I just skip one of the cupcake games he schedules every year out of protest. We are going to always have some cupcakes, but the 4th out of conference game that could be good but isn’t, I skip. Anytime someone asks me why I’m not going, I just say its the “McGarity Game” and I refuse to go.

    • Bright Idea

      We’ll miss you at the Charleston Southern game. So soft they shouldn’t even be called a cupcake.

    • Bob

      It is crap to talk about lost revenue for Athens’ businesses when scheduling Florida every year in a Florida city ensures that. Two cupcakes like this year is more than enough. Usually a minimum of one of our SEC opponents is also a cupcake.

      And Emmerson did not really spend much time researching. Even Florida is now looking at leaving Florida for a non conference game, which they have not done since 91 by signing to play Michigan in Dallas. Play a damn game in Atlanta…not exactly home but also not very neutral.

      I hope Slive says enough of this crap and forces the 9th conference game. It will mean the end of anyone non conference outside of GT, but at least we will have 10 major opponents. I would still like to see that occasional home and home with an Ohio State or Oklahoma or ND…but I have given up on attempting that. Sorry, not remotely interested in any more games against Coastal Carolina and the likes. I hope the new bowl selection committee slaps anyone playing and FCS team.

      • 79dawg

        Athens gets none of my business when we play cupcakes…. With free weekends at a premium, it’s much more fun these days to go to road games than watch us play Directional State at home…

  12. Will Trane

    Now how many teams in the SEC East are ranked and ahead of us.Auburn on the road and they play for a NT. Tech on the road. How many BCS champs in a row in the SEC. And someboyd gets their panies in a wad about 7 at home. Damn, somebody needs to get on the field and out of the stands to understand cupcakes.

  13. Will Trane

    No doubt AU’s schedule was huge in getting that team along and to the point where they are today. Do not have to be a genius to understand how 7 was big again for them. It is not 7, but 95,000 in the stands for everygame no matter who we play. But you can never get UGA people to underatand that.

  14. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m confused about McGarity’s role at UGA. One would think an A.D. is dedicating all his efforts to improving the various sports programs. He seems more like ‘head beancounter’ evaluating every dollar spent. The steady declining performance of all our teams does not reflect well on McGarity. Not sure how much longer he’ll be around if our teams don’t start winning more often. If he doesn’t support our coaches they aren’t going to to be very sympathetic when the pitchforks come out.

  15. Disagree, we understand, but we do not underand.

  16. rampdawg

    Hookers and beer?

  17. NoAxeToGrind

    There ia a very simple solution to McGarity’s approaching money dilemma. Simply hire a coach who can and wants to compete at the highest level on an annual basis. With a loyal fan base like UGA’s, everything else will take care of itself. 7-5, 8-4, 9-3 will get old after a while.

    • RandallPinkFloyd

      Yep. That is so simple…and easy. I can’t figure out why it hasn’t happened, yet. I wish Richt showed more emotion, it obviously means that he can’t and he won’t compete at the highest level.

      • NoAxeToGrind

        Has he yet?

        • NoAxeToGrind

          One thing more. When was UGA last in a BCS bowl?

          • AusDawg85

            Well, you’ve proven you’re just a Florida troll since you selectively listed records while omitting we went 12 – 2 last year and watched ESPN put your beloved gators in the Sugar Bowl…a team we beat and who ducked the SECCG and playing eventual MNC Bama.

            As I’ve stated repeatedly, it’s not the anti-Richt ranting but the complete lack of using facts to support / defend an argument that makes your POV tiresome.

            • NoAxeToGrind

              A FL troll, whatever that is, wouldn’t have given to the Bulldog Club, that’s what us old guys call it, and bought season tickets for 30 plus years, twenty years of which was spent as an officer in the U.S.Army with not a bat’s chance in hell of getting to a game. So, AusDawg85, that’s what the hell you know. Nothing.

  18. Atticus

    The Cocktail Party causes UGA to lose a home game every other year. GT is our rival and they are non conference just like UF-FSU and SC-Clemson. Auburn and Bama don’t lose a home game because their rival is in conference same with LSU-Ole Miss. I don’t blame McGarity as much. It’s just the way college football is going. But that doesn’t mean it’s right and they better get used to more and more empty seats for the patsy games because that is a direct result. Costs are getting higher and HD TVs are getting bigger. But it would be nice to at least schedule some teams with a history or some regional connection if you can get them to take the money without a return. As far as McGarity is concerned he said in his press conference when he was hired that he “expects every program at UGA to win championships” but so far in basketball and football we need an asterisk because there are other considerations and a lack of accountability and some sort of quantifiable goals to measure against. And unfortunately that issue goes even higher than the AD.

  19. 69Dawg

    I personally love cupcakes. It’s great to go to a game that I don’t have to worry about and can just enjoy Athens and the surrounds. The thing that kills me is when the team plays like they would rather be somewhere else. UGA has always lacked the killer instinct except on rare occasions (see Vandy last year and UK this year.)