Monthly Archives: June 2017

Making the world safe for coachspeak, one step at a time

I know you’ll be as relieved as I am to learn that another trite marketing expression is being preserved for the greater benefit of mankind.

Since the beginning of his tenure at South Carolina, head football coach Will Muschamp has used the phrase “Spurs Up” to signal new prospect commitments or as a general rallying cry for the fan base.

Muschamp has credited his wife, Carol, with thinking of the phrase. Since then, “Spurs Up” has been an integral part of the lexicon for USC fans on social media . Muschamp’s Gamecock Club speaking engagements were branded as the “Spurs Up Tour” and the football staff’s most significant recruiting events are labeled as “Spurs Up Day”.

Now, the university will look to protect the brand further with a trademark of the phrase. USC first filed for a trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2016.

“Once Coach Muschamp started using it in earnest, we wanted to start to protect it,” said Eric Nichols, who is the Senior Associate Athletics Director for Marketing & Branding/CMO at USC.

Man, that’s a relief.  What a load off my mind…



Filed under 'Cock Envy

You gotta spend money for them to make money.

Now there’s a shock:  tailgating at Alabama is turning into a pricey affair.

Meticulously arranged in perfect rows of plastic canopies, the Quad on Alabama’s campus becomes its own temporary city on football Saturdays in the fall.

Unlike the densely-packed hodgepodge tapestry of the Grove at Ole Miss, this is the model of uniformity as required by the University of Alabama.

It’s also a big business — for both the school and the private company that choreographs the whole thing every week.

These prime tailgating spots aren’t first come, first served like elsewhere in the football mad SEC. Schools like Alabama bid out the rights to this select real estate between the Denny Chimes and Gorgas Library.

The Tailgate Guys, an Auburn-based company that’s expanded to a dozen schools, now has the contract. It bought Tuscaloosa’s Game Day Tents after last season and got the exclusive rights to Alabama’s Quad and Presidential Park, a small plot behind fraternity houses a block from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

With it, prices have changed for the 2017 season.

Gone are the basic packages that fans like Billy Stewart’s group used for years. Instead, the high-end offerings with taller price tags replaced the $1,000 season-long package Stewart shared with friends. He estimated a comparable setup with as many as nine tents would cost somewhere approaching $30,000 for the 2017 season.

Whoa.  This sounds like a familiar complaint.

“They’ve just gotten to the point where everything is about money and they’re squeezing,” said Stewart, a Chattanooga resident and Alabama alumnus. “They’ve already squeezed all the rank and file.”

Tailgate Guys president Parker Duffey said this was a move they all but had to make.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said, “but at the same time, it definitely is in the best interest for the system out there.”

If by “system”, he means his company and the school, he’s got that right.

The business model for this evolving industry isn’t as simple as rolling out the tents and setting up tables.

“A significant percentage that goes back to the school,” Duffey said. “It’s definitely a good thing for the school. They earn some healthy revenue on that.”

A look at the contract the tent company has with the University of Alabama offers some insight into how this business works — and perhaps why $1,000 tents for seven home games might not help the bottom line for UA or the Tailgate Guys.

After amendments were made for 2017, the Tailgate Guys pay a total of $76,000 per game for the right to sell the packages. That adds up to $532,000 a season to break even just on the land.

The university also gets 30 percent of the Tailgate Guys sales over $1 million for the spots on the Quad and nearby Presidential Park. That percentage Alabama receives doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent before the 2016 season. The per-game rate also went up $10,000.

Jeez.  The only thing that’s honestly surprising about any of this is that Butts-Mehre hasn’t monetized the primo tailgating experience in Athens yet.  To me, that seems like a lot of money to leave off the table simply because Michael Adams hated tailgaters, but what do I know?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Out and about again

I am heading out of town this morning and won’t be back until Sunday afternoon, so you can expect posting will be as sporadic as it usually is under those circumstances.

Keep it cool in the meantime, folks.


Filed under GTP Stuff

Gotta take the good with the bad.

The NCAA appears to have embraced the approach of dealing with coaches on rule changes by lumping proposals they like with proposals they don’t, but requiring an up-or-down vote on the whole enchilada.  That’s what happened with the last batch of recruiting proposals, and it appears to be what’s in store for some changes to the transfer rules.

The Division I Council Transfer Working Group will ask the membership for feedback on several potential concepts designed to create the best outcomes for both student-athletes and schools involved in the transfer process.

The group set its plan during its June 25-26 meeting in Indianapolis.

The working group focused on concepts in these general areas:

  • Permission to contact, including the tie with a college athlete’s athletics scholarship.
  • Postgraduate eligibility.
  • Ethical recruiting.
  • Uniformity of rules/academic impact of transfer.

What’s likely to get hackles up fast and hard is the consideration by the working group to decouple financial aid from permission to contact.

One of the ideas posed is to modify permission to contact rules. Currently, Division I college athletes who wish to transfer to another school must first receive permission from their current school to talk with other schools about opportunities for transferring. If the school denies permission, the student-athlete can’t receive athletics aid after transferring.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

Yeah, that’s gonna go over well in certain quarters.

But along with that comes some direction for uniformity across the conferences with regard to transfer rules and some greater stiffening of graduate transfer rules, which seems likely to slow that trend down some.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing under consideration is this:

The working group expressed concern regarding unethical behaviors related to coaches recruiting student-athletes currently playing at other four-year schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

The group also is placing a priority on developing additional education for coaches, spearheaded by coaches associations, on rules in the transfer space.

Anti-poaching rules?  If you want to cut down on the free agency aspect of transferring, it makes more sense to crack down on the coaches (remember Mark Fox’ crack about recruiting while going through the post-game hand shake?) than student-athletes.  Still, if this winds up with real teeth, I’ll be a little surprised.

I can’t wait to hear the hypocrisy coming, though.

Comments Off on Gotta take the good with the bad.

Filed under The NCAA

“We don’t need them anymore.”

Ah, tradition.  Does anything more really need to be said about the last round of SEC conference expansion than, “Life goes on, though, and new rivalries are established”?

Well, maybe this:  “Neither has built a rivalry on the level of the one it lost…”

These people suck.


Filed under SEC Football

“Todd Grantham loves being the underdog.”


He made national news as Georgia’s defense coordinator in 2010 by flashing the “choke” sign to Florida punter/makeshift kicker Chas Henry before Henry nailed a 37-yard field goal to win in overtime.

Grantham laughs off that incident — and quickly points out that he won his next three against the Gators…

“He” won ’em, eh?

Aaron Murray should have sued Grantham for non-support during the 2013 season.


Filed under Georgia Football

Triumph of the booboisie

Lord knows, Stewart Mandel has made for a convenient foil on more than one occasion here at the blog, but the idea that ninety-second clips of Skip Bayless pontificating on any subject have more perceived value to Fox Sports than Bruce Feldman’s college football insight is nauseating.

This is what I was getting at in yesterday’s post about ESPN’s business model.  Those of you who insist on getting wrapped up in the bullshit about Mickey embracing liberal politics are missing the real point.  Irritating blather has value to these people.  It’s not about left or right; it’s about providing a platform for pundits to say something outrageous enough to make the average viewer want to pay attention.

Live sports may be what drives the train for most of us, but apparently there’s marginal value in insulting the intelligence of some part of the viewership.  While that may be profoundly depressing to those of us who are rational beings, you can’t argue with the reality that these are the bets these media giants are making.  After all, we live in a world where they keep spinning off “Housewives of XXX” like there’s no tomorrow, because there’s a reliably profitable viewership out there.  Why should we think the sports world — professional wrestling, anyone? — is immune to that?

I’m not trying to argue that to some extent the media hasn’t brought this on itself.  I mocked this development at the time, but since then it’s taken on a certain canary in the coal mine aspect that now seems as inevitable as it is sad.

Make no mistake, though.  The public is complicit, too.  Fox and ESPN are giving us what they are convinced we want, or at least enough of us want, such that it makes it worth their while to debase their product.  I’d like to believe they’ve lost their way, but the saddest point of all is that I can’t help but concede the merit of their cynicism.

Enjoy what’s left of actual sports journalism.  It’s hard to see a robust future for it.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, Media Punditry/Foibles