Some of you didn’t agree with my snark the other day about Kirby pimping G-Day for his own purposes, and that’s cool. Maybe I’m allowing my unhappiness over Butts-Mehre’s apparent apathy regarding the fan’s game day experience to wash too far ashore.
Then, again, how hard would it be to make an effort to reach out to us, to let us know that our enthusiasm and love for the football program is appreciated and reciprocated?
Ben Kercheval has a post up about ways to improve spring practice, and a couple of his suggestions are on point, although one would be a lot easier to implement than the other.
Here’s the easy one.
Open at least half of the practices to fans: I won’t annoy you with a plea for greater media access; in fact, I’ll do the opposite. Schools are allowed up to 15 practices in spring. Let’s push for greater fan access across the board. Yes, this means everyone. NFL teams do this in varying degrees for training camp for a couple of hours. Let’s have college football teams open up practices more for the public. If you’re an Alabama fan, for example, don’t you want to see five-star early enrollee Dylan Moses, who is absolutely crushing offseason workouts, in the flesh? Have autograph sessions (sorry, compliance) and picture time afterwards. Don’t limit those to the spring game (more on that later). Of course, many coaches will inevitably freak out about losing their veil of secrecy, but they’ll still be able to keep some of what they do behind closed doors. We’re talking about college football, not nuclear codes.
Hells, yeah, I say. In his defense, Smart did allow fans to have a crack at watching a practice last August, so this wouldn’t exactly be groundbreaking. But allowing fans the freedom to choose from a few spring practices to attend, particularly on a weekend, would be a great gesture, as well as helping to build enthusiasm, as Smart himself recognized.
“I’ve always felt like that’s an opportunity to give back to your fan base,” Smart said. “Not only is it exciting for them, but it’s exciting for the players. I think that’s a good way to give back, to give them an opportunity to come out and watch a practice. I don’t think they know exactly what our players go through in practice.”
Nothing’s changed in that regard, has it?
As for the hard one,
Turn spring games into major scrimmage events: Of all the spring practice suggestions floating around, this is the one that has been featured most often. The concept is simple: Instead of the garden variety spring game, two bigger-name programs will scrimmage against one another. And unlike normal, regular-season scheduling, this doesn’t need to be done years in advance. Michigan traveling to Georgia? You’ll take that, right? Harbaugh will; it’s another opportunity to have a presence in SEC country. Put it on a major media rights carrier for the sport *wink wink* and treat it like a preseason game…
Absolutely. Unfortunately, this isn’t something Georgia can pursue unilaterally. But it sure could start publicly lobbying for the opportunity with the SEC and the NCAA. (If they can try it for a uniform drug testing policy, they can certainly pursue it for this. Just sayin’.) Even if they don’t achieve immediate success, at least we’ll know their hearts are in the right place. What’s the hashtag for that?