Brand equity

Several of you have made the argument that any value built up in a college player’s likeness comes strictly as a result of the name on the front of the jersey – the school – rather than the name on the back.  I’m curious how you would respond to this argument:

None of you are going to regularly watch and support your school if they consistently suck.  Period.  You are, however, going to regularly watch your squads when they’re good.  Players drive on-field/court performance.  That’s why schools recruit top-tier athletes with such vigor.  Therefore, it IS at least as much about the kids on the field as it is about the name on the front of the jersey.

That’s a little overstated, as there is always a part of the fan base that will show up no matter how poor the product on the field may be.  But it’s hard to dispute the rest there.

The problem I see with taking an absolutist tack is that logic suggests otherwise, which makes it easy to knock down.  It also means that if you lose, you don’t have much of a fallback position.  Admitting that both sides have skin in the game, but that pay for play isn’t an acceptable course of action for some other reason or reasons may be harder to refute.  It also leaves you in a position where it’s easier to manufacture a compromise if events require some give and take.


UPDATE:  It’s all about the front of the jersey, right?


Filed under It's Just Bidness

65 responses to “Brand equity

  1. Scorpio Jones, III

    MORE will show up after they discover Herschel, and the winning that goes with Herschel, but the base was there afore him.

    I doubt any player, until he or she becomes a former player, and probably some time has passed, understands the mentality of the core fan base.

    I suspect the players who come in with some, no matter vague, understanding of the heart of the base wind up closer to the heart of the base fan.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Maybe what I am saying is that we love the great players who wear our colors, but we love the colors first. We are always glad when a Charlie, or a Flat-foot Frankie or a Frantic Fran or a Herschel WEARS the colors, but our love for the colors remains and continues.

      Herschel, or Charlie are shining moments in the pantheon, but not the pantheon.

      • We love winning. And it takes special players to win in the SEC.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Said another way, if there had been no Charlie, no Flat-foot Frankie, no Frantic Fran and no Herschel, and had UGA been what UK is instead, I doubt that as many would “love the colors first” or even love them at all–at least for an awful lot of folks who presently consider themselves fans of UGA football.

        • We still sold 80K+ tickets per week when Ray Goff was the head coach. That’s because people love Georgia. Once a player goes to the pros, typically, the brand goes with him with very few exceptions. I love the Georgia Bulldogs regardless of who wears the 85 jerseys representing those on scholarship.

          • And that’s great. But I can point you in the direction of many other programs where that’s not the case. Like Georgia basketball.😉

            • Scorpio Jones, III

              Georgia basketball?? Who knew🙂

            • That’s very true, but Georgia basketball doesn’t need to compete for titles to sell out a 10K seat arena. Play well enough year in and year out to be one of 35 teams to get an at-large bid and people will come.🙂

              My point is that I personally am only invested in the brand equity of the name on the back of the jersey for the 4 years the player is on the sideline. The front of the jersey is what matters to me.

              • No, I get that. But there are plenty of others who sees things differently from you.

                • I understand that. Who decides how much Gurley gets from his #3 jersey sales if his name isn’t on it? I see the argument in theory, but I don’t see how this gets implemented in practice. Paying players in this way really does create a 2-tiered system where only 1 or 2 players get compensated in this way every year.

                  • You set a formula and sign a contract. Happens every day in the real world.

                    If the market says only one or two players deserve compensation, I’m okay with that. That’s part of the real world, too.

                    • Cosmic Dawg

                      This is it exactly. Rather than guess at the value of a player, or pay them from school money, just let them trade on whatever fame they create. That is also an incentive to play hard and may even teach them some easy lessons about contracts and selling rights before they learn harder lessonafter college. Gurley lets UGA put his picture in promotional material for free but licenses his name to UGA merchandisers for a fee. UGA let’s Gurley use the G in pics he autographs. What is the big damned deal? They are stil amateur athletes but pro personalities. And the market sorts out who should be paid, and any of them can get a little PT job as a pro waiter or pro car detailer if they want it.

              • Connor

                To the extent we follow professional sports, isn’t it the same? I root for the Saints, not Drew Brees, but they’re still paying him $100 Million. He must be worth something.

          • Yes, but the school is selling #11 jerseys because Aaron Murray wears it, not Connor Norman. They sold #24 when Knowshon wore it, but don’t know that I don’t even know who has it on. They sell #3 jerseys next year, thanks Gurley, but weren’t moving any of them a few years back when Bryan Evans had that number on his back.

            • I wonder how much of our apparel sales is jerseys? I can honestly say that in my case, no specific player affects my apparel purchase decisions, because I don’t wear jerseys or anything that would be tied to a player. I have polo shirts, hats, flip flops, stadium seats, car flags, car magnets, etc that I have bought that are all UGA branded, but nothing with a number on it. Of course if I had a son (I have daughters, and they don’t care much about any individual player), I’d probably end up buying him jerseys, but again in my case it would be a small % of what I spend on UGA apparel. I do agree that specific players would have some level of impact based on jersey sales, I’m just curious how much of an impact, or how many fans are like me and don’t buy anything with player numbers.

              • Whatever the number is from jersey sales, it’s more than players get from the school, which is kind of the point.

                • Understood, but my point is that I don’t think the number in actuality is anywhere near the number people think it is. People just see the big numbers that schools make in apparel sales and automatically jump to the conclusion that a lot of that is player-driven, primarily jerseys. I think if we saw the numbers broken out, jersey sales would be a lot smaller percentage than people think, most of it is general UGA-branded items.

                  But to your point, regardless of the size of pie slice, I’m not fundamentally opposed to players getting a cut of it. I’d hate to be the guy that had to figure out what % of their cut is though.

                  (on a somewhat related note, the stuff with video games, I do fully support the notion that that is VERY player driven. But I think general apparel items are probably much more brand driven).

            • That’s true. I just think the number is the university’s intellectual property and the school can do with it what they want.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Of course we love winning, but, unfortunately for me, I can remember when a Zippy Morocco long punt return was the highlight of the season.

          The stadium (then) was still mostly full and everybody hated Tech.

          We love Georgia, we HOPE to win.

  2. SCDawg

    Why am I a Georgia fan? It is not just because I grew up there or went to school there, although that is a part of it. It really started with one of my earliest childhood memories: watching number 34 jump over the pile for a TD.

  3. Always Someone Else's Fault

    1) I think the push for reform in college athletics comes from a good place.
    2) I think the resistance to that reform comes from some pretty obnoxious people, which results in a potent combination of self-righteous anger and scorn on the part of advocates.
    3) And that combination results in a lot of overreach on the part of reform advocates.

    Johnny M without TAMU is a tree falling in a forest. TAMU without Manziel is still TAMU. Manziel without a couple of first round picks on the O-line and one catching passes is at best a late round project. TAMU without Manziel and 3 other first round picks cycles through coaches and buy-outs.

    It’s way more complicated than people want to admit, but I’ve never been on-board with the idea that we watch because of great players. I’ve watched way too many who weren’t great over the years to give that notion a second thought.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      “TAMU without Manziel is still TAMU.” Yeah, TAMU without Manziel is 5-7, too.

    • ESPN sold us Manziel based on 1 play in Tuscaloosa 2 years ago. Without that play, he’s not in New York and doesn’t win the Heisman.

      Regarding the core of your comment, Emmert, Delany, $live and the rest of them are obnoxious. The reformers seem reasonable until they equate college sports to slavery and plantations. For the fans of college sports, we enjoy it until the system collapses.

  4. “None of you are going to regularly watch and support your school if they consistently suck. Period.”

    FWIW, South Carolina was still selling out home games when they were going 0-11. That wouldn’t happen at every school, but it speaks volumes as to the value brought by the name on the front of the jersey.

    I have definitely argued in favor of the value of the name on the front a number of times, but it’s typically in response to statements like the above that attribute 100% of the value to the players. I fully agree that the truth lies somewhere in the middle (both the school and the player bring value), and the hard part is determining where.

    • I see your 0-11 South Carolina and raise you present-day Tennessee.😉

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I’ll see that and raise you present-day GTU.🙂

      • Well, you’re raising me with a team whose average attendance numbers over the last 5 years are higher than ours. 🙂

        I understand they aren’t filling their stadium, but they’re pulling enough that they would fill Sanford.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Give ’em a couple more 5-7 seasons and we’ll see how many “fans” UT brings in then, Rev. In the meantime, look at what happened to Tech. In the 50s and 60s (and before), even into the 70s, Tech sold out all the time. Now they can’t fill their stadium with a $5 dollar per ticket offer including a hot dog and a coke. Why? Because they suck and have sucked for 20+ years. So much for fan loyalty. I remember that weird year–1990–when Tech won the MNC. They had plenty of fan support then, also when O’Leary was HC there. It all disappeared when they began to suck. Good players cure what’s wrong with fan support.

          • It’s certainly not an airtight case in either direction. Some school names carry way more brand equity than others. Even if UT goes 5-7 the next 2 years, I bet their attendance numbers would stay in the high 80’s. To us in the SEC that doesn’t necessarily sound like that much but I would be willing to bet that at 88,000 per game, they would still be in the top 15% of attendance nationally. And that would be for a program that would be on a really impressive streak of suckitude. That would actually be very impressive from an attendance standpoint and again speak to the value of the name on the front of the jersey. I mean their attendance numbers over the last 5 years are probably still in top 10% of attendance nationally, and they haven’t won more than 7 games during that time. Again, when put in perspective, their attendance numbers are actually impressive, when compared to the results on the field.

            Now I agree that if they go 5-7 for 20 years, the numbers are going to continue to decline. And again I’m not saying that players bring no value to the equation. I’m just of the opinion that the schools bring way more value to the equation than a lot of folks give them credit for, and that if players did get some percentage of whatever revenues, the percentage they should get would probably be smaller in my eyes than the eyes of others. But I’m not opposed to them receiving some slice of the pie.

    • That overused line needs to be backed up by support. SC may have sold out that year, but how many SEC schools aren’t “selling out”. And those Gamecocks came disguised as plenty of empty seats that year, while those who came dressed as themselves often left early and arrived late.

      • All attendance numbers have fluff built into them, we’ve all been to plenty of games at Sanford that were reported as sellouts when there were obvious holes in the stadium.

        But even prior to that 0-11 season, the Brad Scott years, they sucked pretty consistently and still drew consistently large crowds, and that was for a program that to that point had really NEVER had any sort of sustained run of success. I think the merits of it being an argument in favor of the value of the name on the front of the jerseys are legit. I understand if you disagree. We all got opinions. 🙂

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          The South Carolina situation is a bit unique and really not good authority, Rev. There are no major sports teams in South Carolina. The closest would be in Charlotte, NC and could hardly be identified as an in-state source of sports entertainment. In South Carolina you are basically left to chose between South Carolina football and Clemson football. If you went to the University of South Carolina you sure as hell won’t be going to Clemson games. So if you are a USCe alum it’s either go to Columbia on Saturdays in the fall or forget about seeing big-time football in person. I really don’t like Clemson much but since SOS is now the HC in Columbia I really wish Clemson would get back to kicking the Gamecocks’ asses every year.

  5. Cojones

    Do my eyes deceive me?:” ….pay for play isn’t a course of action….” and “…manufacture a compromise….” are statements on this subject that I have missed up to this point when we are discussing paying players. Is this because racking the brain for a just solution can’t be done at this time unless it would impact the game negatively and would create such inequities for players and other sports that we would never dig ourselves out once we embark on a pay for play course ?

    Hallelujah for the anachronists!

  6. charlottedawg

    I’m under no illusions that I cheer for an AJ Green or Aaron Murray because they played for Georgia. However it’s disingenuous to pretend that Georgia did not derive economic value from the feats of these players more than if they had simply put average or mediocre talent on the field, hence why I think players should be paid or at the very least be allowed to profit off their likeness.

    In a previous post, I stated that in a hypothetical world where colleges had to engage in an open and competitive bidding process for the services of athletes in the money sports, what they offer now (scholarship, room and board, and a chance to play in the pros) would be completely insufficient to win an auction. The reason for that is simple: in an open auction process, a college program would be willing to bid up to the marginal value of adding a player like Johnny Manziel which illustrates that the value that a school derives from the services of a star athlete is way, way, more than what they are currently “paying” for said services under the current arrangement.

    • sniffer

      How about this hypothical, Charlotte. Agents are free to sign any high school player at any price. Upon HS graduation, no player can sign with an agent until their college eligibility is up.

      Let the agents take the risk. If they get burnt, who cares? The market would set the price.

      Admittedly, this isn’t fleshed out and it would leave most players without compensation. But it would take the blue chippers out of the danger zone of knuckleheaded behavior just for a few bucks.

  7. 69Dawg

    Why not try to eat the elephant in small bites? First lets get rid of the nit picking rules that are just stupid. If a fan wants to buy an item that a player wants to sell why should the NCAA care. I know that the rich will get richer but they are going to any way. Why can’t a coach or booster give a kid a ride? The NCAA has to be the most chicken-shit organization not associated with a government.

    • +1,000,000 – very well said!

    • Cojones

      It’s sorta like moonshinin’, but the handshake is still in operation. Getting money to deserving kids has become so problematic that alums have to tuck it under their belts for them. Next thing you know we have to give it to their parents and request that it be passed on. That way we all get to be hypocrites equitably.

    • Dog in Fla

      “If a fan wants to buy an item that a player wants to sell why should the NCAA care.”

      Because accumulators (NCAA, universities, colleges, institutes) got to accumulate. Plus this isn’t solely about how much money the accumulators get to keep (all of it) but how much power the accumulators get to wield (all of it) over the sharecroppers. If you give a sharecropper a fish it will make them not like short-hoeing for nothing and pose a clear and present danger to eleventy billion dollar reserve funds of not-for-profit section 501(c)(3) [Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations] entities everywhere.

  8. Go Dawgs!

    My response to his argument is the attendance date for Williams-Brice Stadium up until Lou Holtz got there. They showed up in droves and that program was always horrible.

    I believe players deserve to cash in big time on their names. The number of people who would pay to wear a guy’s high school jersey is a lot smaller than the number of guys who want to wear his Georgia jersey, though. School fandom is a big component. There’s also a group of people out there who buy LeBron jerseys because they like LeBron, regardless of team. So that’s a factor, too.

  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    Some of us 🙂 are missing the point…based on the original post, Rand Getlin has no clue about anything but them what jumped on the wagon when the team was winning.

    To paraphrase what Bill Hartman is reported to have told Vince Dooley when Vince was being courted by Oklahoma….

    We came and cared before Herschel, we will come and care when Herschel is gone…

    Rand Getlin does not get it, The Worldwide Leader of Bullshit does not get it, Johnny Fucking Manziel apparently does not get it….but we do. 🙂

  10. PTC DAWG

    We already have a league that pays football players. Question is, do we want another?

    I do not. If a scholarship and some stipend/pell grant money enough to get by in College, frankly, they are not College material.

  11. DawgPhan

    Obviously the TAMU brand is more valuable today than it was pre-JFF. The increase in TAMU’s brand value far exceeds the cost of having JFF play for them.

    I dont think that jerseys sales amount to a hill of beans except for in the very rare cases of someone like JFF. If Murray got a cut of all 11 jersey sales during his tenure in Athens, the AD might have cut him a $10000 check when he graduated. Lots of people need to get paid on that jersey, CLC, school, nike, retailer, wholesaler, and probably several other beaks that get a taste along the way.

    • Yeah you hit on what I was trying to get at about jersey sales above. For most teams, at any given time, you’d have 1, maybe 2 players with the opportunity to earn any amount of money on jersey sales. In our case the past couple of years, Murray would have made money, and Gurley would have made enough to make real consideration of. Honestly, that’s it. For the entire rest of the team, you’re literally probably talking about a few bucks a year to any of the other players, if that.

      The video game issue is a bigger deal in my mind though. I do think it’s player driven. Granted once you’ve played a few seasons, you’re dealing with all fake players anyway. But when you first fire up that game, you wanna play with the player images that you know.

  12. Greg McGarity

    “None of you are going to regularly watch and support your school if they consistently suck.”

    LOL. Our reserve fund disagrees.

  13. Normaltown Mike

    While it may not bring in the 1%ers from Atlanta, Georgia football will still be well attended by droves of the unwashed kulaks, win lose or draw.

    • Dog in Fla

      And attendance would have been higher except for those who were liquidated for opposing collectivism during dekulakization campaigns

      • Normaltown Mike

        Yes. We have many sabateurs and counterrevolutionaries. They call themselves “Auburn fans”.

        • Dog in Fla

          Well, as I like to tell my relatives about the forward operating base a/k/a the plainest outpost in the middle of nowhere, they are led by a corrupt regime so what else can be expected from them

  14. James

    There’s already a case study in what happens when programs with football followings stop recruiting the top talent, and to see the result, check in on how much Harvard is getting for their most recent TV deal with ABC/ESPN.

    The entire thing inherently requires both winning and some kind of tribalism that “the colors” provide, but it seems incredibly delusional to me that people are arguing that schools don’t need to win to drive the kind of TV and ticket revenue that’s currently funneling into administrative salaries and luxury box construction.

  15. Rhymerdawg

    Well, the argument really is a slippery slope. At what point does the player arguement stop. Because without the players in the 1800’s there would be no UGA athletics. So it is really a question akin to the chicken or the egg dilemma. There is no real way to separate the two because without one you would not have the other. Any real argument would require one to go back to the beginning for each university athletic department and the players that played then to establish some sort of association. Those kids that play now are standing on the players of the past to continually generate the university prestige and why they chose to play for it.

    If this argument would win, then I would love to be a former player and require every new student-athlete to pay me a royalty to play for UGA from their stipend because I would be the player that made UGA what it is and why they want to play for it.

  16. Rocksalt76

    But what if ALL teams basically descended into the same general level of suckitude? I think a good test case is to look at the $$ brought in by NCAA basketball jersey sales/merch. Most high-end basketball players have an option to go pursue big dollars early – thereby seemingly reducing the overall “name on the back” component to jersey sales. Have schools suffered because of this? I think my point is (typing @ work) that there isn’t much drop off in passion/associated brand sales when the high-performing jimmies and joes have better options available.

  17. Macallanlover

    I am for adding reasonable spending money (say $100 week) to scholarship athletes in sports that make a net profit. I do not feel a % of jersey sales is a piece of that. Do we expect the retailers to carry on inventory of all 85 scholarship jerseys to give an equal chance to all players to test their fan appeal? They benefit because the school makes money, which funds their spending stipend. Jerseys are sold because of both the university and the athlete. Did anyone shopping in Athens want to buy a Cam Newton, or Peyton Manning jersey. No because it is much more about the university colors and the school that is providing for him, not just his name/fame. He has zero value without the school in selling a jersey to a UGA fan. The money earned, mostly from other apparel, funds the programs profitability which in turns allows ALL of the TEAM to get the spending money. My opinion anyhow.