When Matt Borman speaks…

you know money is involved.

The new west end zone project in Sanford Stadium is not only bringing a new home locker room, recruiting lounge and bigger video board, it’s also allowed Georgia to add more premium seats on the opposite side.

Coming this football season: 12 field-level suites overlooking the east end zone for big Bulldog donors.

“With the number of individuals that have come up and stepped up and supported our department in the past couple of years, a lot of them don’t necessarily have seats commiserate with the support that they’re giving us,” said Matt Borman, executive director of The Georgia Bulldog Club. “This gives the opportunity to put some of those people that have helped us out a bunch in seats that they’re very happy with.”

… More catering will be in there and, like other stadium suites, alcohol can be served.

Getting into a suite, as you might imagine, will cost you: a $40,000 donation counted towards your gift to the Georgia Bulldog Club and an additional $10,000 for tickets and catering.

It’s Butts-Mehre’s laser-like focus on improving the game day experience for literally dozens of fans that gives me such hope for the future.

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Filed under Georgia Football

What’s the SEC’s problem with beer?

A few tidbits from this David Ching piece:

  • “Truth be told, most SEC programs already allow alcohol in their stadiums, just not for the common folks in the general seating areas.”
  • “… 50 college football programs – 36 with on-campus stadiums and another 14 that play off campus – sell beer throughout their stadiums. And even the stodgy NCAA recently removed its restrictions on alcohol sales at championship events, following a pilot program that started with stadium-wide sales at the College World Series for baseball and the Women’s College World Series in softball.”
  • “… the SEC remains as the only major conference that refuses to allow its member institutions to formulate their own policies on the matter, and there is some reason to doubt that alcohol sales proponents will be able to muster the necessary majority vote of SEC presidents and chancellors to end the ban.”

David ponders the reasons why.  Bible Belt morality is an obvious guess, but perhaps too facile, as most SEC programs allow for alcohol consumption in the luxury booths.  “Southern politics and reasonable concerns over fan safety”?  Well, let’s not forget we’ve seen more than one state legislature poised to allow guns inside college stadiums, only to be pulled back by SEC displeasure.

Then, there’s this one, which, admittedly, I’ve never thought about.

… there are also economic factors in play.

Some SEC schools are either unwilling or unable to do a cannonball into the booze pool, and that affects their leaders’ opinions on the matter. But for those who are willing, there is often a nifty revenue stream available to tap.

For instance, Texas generated more than $3 million in each of the last two football seasons with alcohol sales, netting $1.3 million of the annual totals after expenses. And that doesn’t even include the approximately $5 million Texas will rake in annually thanks to sponsorships with MillerCoors and Corona.

Ohio State made $1,231,280 in net revenue off alcohol sales last fall, up from $1,166,497 in 2016, its debut season with stadium-wide sales.

The earnings are more modest at smaller programs – Purdue reported $550,000 in gross sales last fall in football and another $241,701 from men’s basketball season, its first school year with stadium-wide sales – but the overriding point is clear: Alcohol can be a big moneymaker, and college athletics programs are rapidly warming to the possibilities.

Profitability may be part of the problem for the SEC’s alcohol-sales proponents, however.

At a school like LSU, where in-state colleges like Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane already sell alcohol at sporting events, the state’s festive culture and warm weather indicate that beer sales would be a massive success. Athletic director Joe Alleva has long been one of the conference’s most vocal proponents of lifting the conference-wide ban on alcohol sales. The school has already experimented with beer gardens at sporting events and sells alcohol at football games in premium areas like its Skyline Club, Stadium Club and suites.

Beer and wine sales figures from the 2016 College World Series showed 430 drinks sold per 1,000 fans, and it would be reasonable to expect LSU to at least match those numbers. Were that to be the case, LSU would have made approximately $3.4 million in alcohol sales in 2017 from football, men’s basketball and baseball games alone (with 1,137,124 in reported attendance and $7 per drink purchase).

But in a conference where member schools share TV and postseason revenue, some within the league might view alcohol sales as a potentially unfair advantage for the big programs who sell. Obviously the schools who shun alcohol sales would receive no additional revenue, and even if the smaller programs made the attempt, they likely would rake in only a fraction of the money.

Take Vanderbilt, for example. The Commodores reported 489,019 in combined attendance between football, men’s basketball and baseball in 2017 – about 50,000 greater than LSU’s baseball attendance alone. Operating by the same sales assumptions as above, Vandy would have generated approximately $1.5 million in sales in 2017 if alcohol had been on its concessions menu. Kentucky would have generated roughly $2.6 million based upon its 856,346 in reported attendance from the three sports.

While it might seem petty to quibble over a couple million bucks when your school boasts a $100 million athletic budget, this is the SEC we’re talking about. A conference opponent potentially gaining any sort of competitive advantage is sure to bring out the claws.  [Emphasis added.]

The SEC, where booze sales just mean more.

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Filed under I'll Drink To That, SEC Football

Jeffrey Kessler update

If you’re looking for an easy to follow summary of where the Alston and Jenkins cases currently stand, click here.

If you want the tl;dr version, here it is in one tweet.

Those are going to be tough rows for the NCAA to hoe.

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Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Thank you for your support. Gotta run now!

Chip Towers visits the second stop on this year’s UGA’s Coaches Caravan and wonders where everybody went.

Anyway, it seems that my collection of observances from the Columbus proceedings touched a nerve with some UGA folks, particularly those who plan and organize these undertakings. I noted in my column Monday night that the event at the Convention & Trade Center in Columbus seemed lightly attended and somewhat compressed in overall length and depth of the program.

Less taste and less filling!  Sounds like a plan.  It also sounds like Butts-Mehre wasn’t amused.

That was indeed the case. But, while there were a few more no-shows than expected, I’m told that it was intimate by design. That’s according to Matt Borman, Georgia’s executive associate athletic director for development (aka, chief fundraiser).

Oooh, there’s a plan!  Tell us more, Matt.

Borman and his staff organize these events, which aren’t to be confused with your father’s and grandfather’s Bulldog Club meetings. These functions aren’t advertised or marketed anywhere, Borman told me. They’re free and open to anyone to attend, but they’re essentially invitation-only events. The people who show up are UGA alumni and/or season-ticket holders — and their friends or children — who received an email telling them that the Top Dawgs are going to be in the area and they should come out and hang out for an evening.

This is not to be confused with the “all calls” of the past, where thousands of Georgia fans from all around were summoned to some massive venue to bark and whoop it up for their Bulldogs. This is what you’d call a “targeted audience.”

“We’re not trying to be more exclusive,” Borman told me Tuesday, “But we are trying to create a more intimate atmosphere for a group of alumni and fans to spend with our coaches.”

Case in point: The 10-minute speech that Smart delivered Monday night to about 290 fans in Columbus was just a small part of his evening there. Before that, he and Crean signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans who stood in line for that opportunity. After their speeches, Crean and Smart were jettisoned across town in Columbus to the Chattahoochee River Club, where they attended a dinner with – well, let’s just say – a very, very special group of donors.

I know the haves and the have-nots are an old story when it comes to college football.  I just never expected that to work its way so deeply into how Georgia markets its fan base.  It’s nice to feel so wanted.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Name that caption, dawgs and cats living together

Find this mildly disconcerting?

Yeah, well.  Express yourself in the comments.

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Filed under Name That Caption

“When you look on a map I guess it matters where they come from…”

From the GTP Lexicon:

  • Dooley-hour (n.) – a unit of distance, measured by how far a member of the University of Tennessee’s coaching staff can travel in a car in one hour.
  • Dooleyland (n.) – an area mapped and claimed by the noted cartographer and football head coach Derek Dooley.  Also known as the State of New Tennessee (n.), it consists of a circle having a radius of three Dooley-hours, centered on its capital, Knoxville.  It is not to be confused with a larger region, Aaron Douglas’ Home (n.), with which it overlaps and shares certain defining characteristics.

It seems Jeremy Pruitt’s been taking some geography lessons from SOD.

With the Big Orange Caravan stopping in Atlanta tonight it was inevitable that much of the talk would center around recruiting. Not just how crucial this area specifically is to Tennessee’s football fortunes, but the state of Georgia as a whole.

Having made coaching stops at Alabama, Georgia and Florida State in his career, no one has to prep Jeremy Pruitt on how much talent exists in the Peach State on an annual basis, nor how that talent has impacted the fortunes of Tennessee football over the years.

“I think it’s a good advantage for the University of Tennessee with the proximity. You take out Georgia and Georgia Tech and probably Clemson and Auburn and we’re as close anybody else is and there’s more players than all those guys can take,” Pruitt said of how Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia figure into his recruiting strategy.

Hey, if he wants Kirby’s leftovers, I’m cool with that.  Of course, if this take is accurate, it’s still likely to be a step up for the Vols roster.

One coach who faced Tennessee during Butch Jones’ time as the Volunteers’ football coach thinks Jones did a “complete horse (bleep) job.”

The comment was revealed in the annual Southeastern Conference football preview magazine produced by Lindy’s that hit newsstands Tuesday.

The shortcomings that derailed Jones’ tenure as Tennessee’s football coach have been well-documented and dissected, but the remarks from the anonymous coach published in the magazine are particularly scathing toward Jones, who is now an intern at Alabama.

The anonymous coach was also harsh on Tennessee’s roster.

” And I don’t think they have very good players,” the anonymous coach said, according to Lindy’s. “Tennessee is supposed to have talent. I think South Carolina has better talent than Tennessee, and that should never happen.”

Jones was fired last November after Tennessee lost at Missouri and fell to 4-6. The Volunteers finished the year 4-8 for the first eight-loss season in program history, despite having done well in recruiting rankings during Jones’ tenure.

“To say Tennessee has had top 15 classes under Butch Jones, that’s fake news,” the anonymous opposing coach told Lindy’s. “I think it was a combination of the classes being overrated and the coaches not developing the talent.”

Ummm… wasn’t Pruitt an opposing coach during Jones’ time at UT?  Just sayin’…

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Recruiting

Today, in Econ 101

I’m not trolling here; this is a serious question for those of you who think that college athletics are a glorified internship for players like Sony Michel, who don’t merit cashing in on their name because their value at that level is solely derived from the institution which jersey they wear.

Michel’s been out of school for less than half a year.  He hasn’t played a down in the NFL yet.  As such, isn’t it logical to argue that most, if not all, of his economic value is derived from his time spent at Georgia?  And if so, shouldn’t some of that Old Spice endorsement money be sent back to Athens?

Point here being that almost nothing has changed between January 1 and today, other than the threat of ineligibility being lifted.  His name has value all along that time line, so what benefit is there to him waiting to cash in?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA