I’ve known about something for a while that I’ve kept under my hat in order not to jinx it: our man Hoppy, star of stage and screen, is coming for the opener against Clemson to take in his first game between the hedges.
I promised the man at the time that if he ever showed up here, he’d never have to buy a beer in this state and I intend to keep up my part of the bargain. In that spirit, I’ve invited him to my modest tailgate that day. He’s accepted. So what the hey, you’re invited, too.
This will be a completely ramshackle affair, befitting me and the blog. You’re welcome to come, but bring your own consumables – and some beer for the man and his four-person group, all of whom contributed to the making of the video.
We’ll be set up somewhere in the railroad lot just up the street from the stadium (I think it’s Lot 29). Hoppy, as you might expect of someone who’s making his first pilgrimage to the Classic City, has several stops to make, so he won’t be spending his entire day with us. But we’ll get some sort of formal time arranged for anyone who’d like to know when to come by and meet. In other words, there will be a follow-up post or two about this. Basically I just wanted to get an early word out.
Hope to see some of you there.
Brandon Larrabee, in a piece analyzing Georgia’s 2014 schedule, shoots and scores with this bad boy about the season’s end:
And then there’s the game against a helplessly overmatched team. Oh, I’m sorry, got that backwards. Charleston Southern is next, then it’s the annual rivalry game against Georgia Tech.
Mark Schlabach talks to the guys who got crapped on the most during the BCS era, the computer dudes. And, yeah, maybe some of what they say comes off tinged with a bit of sour grapes to it.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see whether college football fans accept the decrees from a committee that’s meeting behind closed doors,” Anderson said. “Thirteen is a pretty small number. The BCS relied on 167 poll voters [62 coaches and 105 voters in the Harris Interactive Poll] and six computers. It’s an extremely small group. Who knows what they’re going to come up with. Clearly, the support was there for a four-team playoff. I don’t think the support was there for a selection committee. I think it’s a decision they’ll regret.”
But this doesn’t.
Colley says picking four teams will be more difficult than choosing two.
“One thing people don’t realize is that mathematically it’s harder to separate a No. 5 [team] from a No. 4 than it is a No. 2 from a No. 3,” Colley said. “What’s the difference between the 51st team and the 50th? It’s indifferent. I think there will be more reason to debate the merits of four versus five than there was with two versus three. I think you will see a pretty good debate on four versus five in most years.”
Until they go to an eight-team format, that is. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So now athletic directors across the country are worried that they’re losing the next generation of wallets… er, fans.
At Michigan, student sales were off so significantly this spring (an estimated 5,000 season tickets according to MLive.com) that the school made some of that allotment available to the general public. Iowa has been so desperate to draw students, it recently offered entry into a tuition giveaway drawing in exchange for buying a season ticket. Even Alabama has had issues filling its student section, prompting complaints from head coach Nick Saban last year.
“It’s a very real concern,” Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione said. “It certainly gives reason for pause because right now the demand for tickets may still be high overall in the marketplace, but within that segment the demand isn’t as strong. It’s an ongoing issue the last couple years and we’re trying a lot of different things to attract students to create a stronger connection.”
Though not every program is experiencing a student malaise – Minnesota, for instance, experienced an increase of 10,000 students across its seven home games last year in correlation with a surprising 8-5 season – the data suggests athletic departments are finding it harder to draw students into the stadium and keep them there.
What to do, what to do…
Well, there’s always beer sales. (I’m only being semi-facetious.)
More seriously, there’s a certain you’ve made your bed, now lie in it aspect to this problem. Wave to the cameras, fellas!
In some ways, schools have done this to themselves. College football is now owned by television and increasingly available on streaming video. The Pac-12, Big Ten and now SEC have their own networks, guaranteeing that practically every game is televised. Even some of the smaller leagues like the Mountain West and American Athletic Conference have deals to live stream a large portion of their content that isn’t picked up by national television.
The last round of television contracts (and subsequent conference realignment) set the bar at $20 million per power conference school per year, give or take a couple million from league to league. In exchange, schools were essentially left to compete against themselves.
“I don’t think it’s a targeted demographic problem; I think it’s more of a (high-definition) TV, living room, leather couch problem and we have to give the people a reason to come to our live product,” Washington athletics director Scott Woodward said. “It is something we’re going to have to address and deal with.”
But you guys have no clue. In-stadium wi-fi ain’t gonna save you.
At the very least, forging a stronger connection between football programs and the next generation of ticket buyers is going to take some work and creativity.
Pitt heavily promotes student tailgates and markets discounted club level tickets to graduate students because it believes that group is prime to be targeted as potential donors. Last season, Memphis offered two free season tickets to every 2012-13 graduate and got an attendance pop of more than 4,000 per game. Florida has come up with several incentives, including discounted tickets for recent graduates and the opportunity to win a “VIP” experience going behind the scenes on game day or to be part of the pre-game tunnel.
Student tailgate promotion isn’t a bad idea, but does anyone see Athens taking a course like that? Actually, the key word in that paragraph is “discount”. Expect a steadily larger dose of that in the coming years. If you’re an AD, half a ticket revenue loaf is better than none. And maybe you can make it up in the next TV contract.
Or you can give in.
“I hear concern from various (athletics directors) that their season ticket base is aging,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “You need to step back and take a look at the reasons and really understand what (younger people) want from that game day experience.
“And if I’m an athletic director now and I’m building a stadium or a basketball arena, I’d be very careful about the size of it. For years, people always felt bigger was better and I don’t think that’s true anymore, nor do I think it will be true going forward.”
You can do that at Georgia Tech, for sure.
One last cynical note: anybody notice the key word missing from the entire article? That would be “scheduling”.
We knew the appeal was coming, and so it is. But even in its inevitability, there’s something so… so NCAA about this:
… But antitrust and labor attorneys believe the NCAA’s strongest argument might be against the financial cap, a part of the decision the NCAA initially lauded.
“If she’s right that these restrictions are an unreasonable restraint of trade then the cap doesn’t make any sense,” said Robert McTamaney, an antitrust lawyer with the firm of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn. “Then student-athletes should be able to negotiate for whatever they can get.”
My guess is that’s where Kessler’s suit is going to wind up, but wouldn’t it be typical if that ruling came down on the NCAA’s appeal? Maybe somebody should ask Stacey Osburn if she has a comment about that.
A week before the season starts, a Clemson offensive lineman who has played 17 games in the last two seasons, with five starts, announces he’s transferring. He’s one of the four kids Swinney had suspended for the opener, so it’s not a new loss, but, still, doesn’t that sound like something that would have happened in Athens last season (or even this spring)?