I wonder how many times we’re going to hear a variation on this theme over the next three seasons.
Daily Archives: February 5, 2018
Savor these times, friends.
JC Shurburtt, the former national scouting director at 247Sports, said it’s still not impossible for Alabama to pull a signing day straight and steal another No. 1 spot. It’s just a real longshot at this point.
“Where I would caution people, is don’t think this is a down year for Alabama,” Shurburtt said. “This is a situation where Georgia is getting their share of guys because of their success and it’s always been that way in the state of Georgia. Georgia is the preferred team for a lot of these guys who grow up over there. And you can’t take advantage of them under-achieving with them playing for the national championship and Kirby Smart and his staff do an excellent job.”
The Kirby Smart factor is hard to ignore in this whole dynamic.
One of Alabama’s best recruiters in his eight seasons as defensive coordinator, Smart was a big reason the Tide did so well just east of the state line. Back in 2012, Alabama signed eight from Georgia. Since Smart took over in Athens, Alabama hasn’t signed more than one per class from Georgia. The Tide’s lone commitment for this class, Quay Walker, is now classified as a “soft commit” with Tennessee and Georgia gaining ground in the fight to flip the four-star linebacker.
Smart is the X-factor in it all.
“It hurts. It definitely hurts,” said Farrell of Rivals. “They’ve done a good job at Georgia in recent years. When you look at Kirby Smart being able to win head-to-head battles for guys that Alabama covets. Being able to flip guys that Alabama had committed. It’s not often that happens to Alabama at all.”
Savor, but don’t gloat. After all, while it may be a long shot, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to wake up Thursday morning and find that Nick Saban had somehow convinced the top eight recruits out there to come to Tuscaloosa.
But definitely savor.
I’ve chosen to revisit the subject of the season ticket price hike, for a couple of reasons. One, since my initial posts on the matter, I’ve received a number of emails from folks expressing anger with the way the athletic department implemented the increase, and, even more interesting, a number of those emails were from fans who simply copied me with the emails they’d sent Greg McGarity on the topic.
Two, I’m not sure I’ve emphasized sufficiently that my problem lies not with the amount of the raise, or even that the school raised prices at all, as it is the steady stream of misrepresentations Butts-Mehre has made in the process of garnering more funds from the fan base as its excitement over the football program’s progress grew.
The worst of that was, as I’ve posted before, the cynical bait-and-switch tactic used by the athletic department to entice fans motivated to buy SECCG tickets to increase their 2017 contributions. This offer was made despite that most would be misled by its terms, such that the additional contributions would be insufficient to meet a stated target — what was a cutoff in the minds of potential contributors was merely a proposed target by the athletic office — and, to make matters worse, any such contributions paid would be dead money, unable to be applied towards any 2018 targets.
The current version of that misdirection is the sales job McGarity would have us accept that for all these years, we season ticket purchasers have gotten a relative bargain on our loyalties, compared with what other SEC fan bases were paying for the same privilege. Bill King has a typical example here:
UGA athletic officials also were at pains to point out that the football program’s average ticket price of $50 last year ranked 12th out of 14 schools in the SEC. The new average price ($66.42) will put UGA fifth in the league, behind LSU ($70.83), Texas A&M ($70), Auburn ($67.85) and Alabama ($66.57).
They have a valid point about Georgia historically ranking in the bottom third of the conference in ticket prices…
See? You shouldn’t be angry about the price increase. You should feel guilty about how little you’ve paid for years! The best defense is a good offense, and all that.
The only problem is that it’s sheer fiction.
I don’t want you to take my word for that, either. It’s at this point in the post that I’d like to introduce you to StatDawg82. She’s a Dawg boasting two degrees from UGA (BS Statistics – UGA 2005; MS Statistics – UGA 2007) with, as you can see, a background in statistics. Like me, the “you fans don’t realize you’ve never had it so good” shtick didn’t sit particularly well with her. Unlike me, though, she decided to research the matter thoroughly.
What she found moved her to email the athletic director. With her permission, what follows is the text of what she sent him.
As a Double Dawg from the University of Georgia Statistics department, I am upset not only by the sudden huge increase in football ticket prices, but moreover for the gross misrepresentation of information. The numbers presented in the charts about ticket prices for peer schools are misleading.
Over the last three days, since Tuesday’s announcement, I looked at each school’s website, and contacted many of their ticket offices to collect data. The biggest concern with the numbers you presented is that you excluded the per-seat donation. As this is a requirement to obtain tickets, it is only fair to include this in the actual price of the tickets.
This analysis looks at the least expensive way to obtain season tickets, as this is what I personally purchase. The following chart shows the cheapest option to purchase season tickets at each school. I used 2017 data, to stay comparable to your chart. You will notice that Georgia comes in at the very TOP of the list. The very most expensive ticket in the ENTIRE Southeastern Conference. And this is before the price increase you announced on Tuesday. After contacting ticket offices this week, most SEC schools are not increasing their prices next year.
The required minimum donation and increased price will put us at $105.71 per ticket, when the next highest price (including minimum donation) is $82.14 per ticket. The average per-ticket price (of the minimum price available) for all of the other SEC schools is $54.42. Your new pricing has the lowest price available for Georgia tickets at almost double the average!
You will also note that we have the very highest minimum donation in the SEC. Florida is the next highest, and at $150, our minimum requirement is nearly double that amount!
School Minimum ticket price Minimum donation Per ticket price with donation UGA reported per ticket price Georgia $300.00 $275.00 $95.83 $50.00 Auburn $475.00 $100.00 $82.14 $67.86 Florida $380.00 $150.00 $75.71 $54.29 Texas A&M $490.00 $30.00 $74.29 $70.00 Alabama $445.00 $60.00 $72.14 $63.57 South Carolina $415.00 $87.50 $71.79 $52.14 Ole Miss $400.00 $50.00 $64.29 $57.14 Tennessee $420.00 $0.00 $60.00 $60.00 LSU $360.00 $0.00 $60.00 $70.83 Arkansas $250.00 $0.00 $41.67 $60.00 Kentucky $240.00 $0.00 $34.29 $44.29 Mississippi St $200.00 $0.00 $28.57 $53.57 Missouri $150.00 $0.00 $21.43 $54.14 Vanderbilt $148.00 $0.00 $21.14 $42.86
Your second chart that shows ticket prices from Peer Institutions from around the nation is equally misleading. Other than Notre Dame (which has superior facilities and an excellent customer service mindset, as well as wealthier graduates), Georgia is again atop the list in both per-ticket price and also minimum donation.
School Minimum ticket price Minimum donation Per ticket price with donation UGA reported per ticket price Notre Dame $400.00 $750.00 $164.29 $57.14 Georgia $300.00 $275.00 $95.83 $50.00 Oklahoma $455.00 $100.00 $92.50 $65.00 Michigan $430.00 $78.00 $84.67 $71.67 Clemson $385.00 $100.00 $69.29 $55.00 Virginia Tech $350.00 $0.00 $58.33 $58.33 Florida St $295.00 $35.00 $55.00 $42.14 Penn State $385.00 $0.00 $55.00 $60.00 TCU $300.00 $0.00 $50.00 $50.00 Michigan St $343.00 $0.00 $49.00 $49.00 Louisville $210.00 $0.00 $35.00 $59.00 Texas $199.00 $0.00 $33.17 $59.17
I know that it takes money to run a great organization. But it’s not fair to create a system that leaves out loyal fans who are not super-rich. Raising prices is one thing. But your minimum is too high. Raise the prices on the better seats. Raise the donation for the better seats. Raise the prices for new ticket purchasers. But, like Georgia’s peer institutions have all done, leave a way for the “regular people” to get in the door. You’re pushing us out, and I’m disheartened, to say the least. I have been a season ticket holder since I graduated in 2007, and have not missed a home game since I started school at UGA in 2001. I fear the day is coming when I will have to make the financially responsible decision to no longer experience something I so very much enjoy.
Georgia is not in the bottom 3rd of ticket prices, as you claim. You owe it to the Georgia faithful to be honest and transparent with them about the true price of tickets.
To his credit, McGarity responded. I won’t post his reply, since I don’t have his permission to do so. but you should know he didn’t quibble with her base data. As for the rest of his response, I’ll leave it to you to fill in the gaps based on StatDawg82’s follow-up to him.
You were inconsistent in which ticket price you chose to present for each school. You say that you chose the lowest ticket price.
– For Missouri and Kentucky, you did not use the lowest ticket price.
– For LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State you actually used the highest available ticket price. Not the lowest.
– For South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the values you chose are not listed as an option for 2017 prices.
School UGA Reported Season Ticket Price Actual Minimum Season Ticket Price Missouri $379 $150 Kentucky $310 $240 LSU $425 $360 Arkansas $360 $250 Mississippi St $375 $200 South Carolina $365 $415 Vanderbilt $300 $148
Also, the SEC chart says that Mississippi State and Kentucky had 6 home games when they actually had 7, though the per-ticket price is correct using 7 games.
The peer chart states that Oklahoma and Florida State had 7 home games, when they actually had 6. This makes the per-ticket calculation in the chart incorrect.
It’s embarrassing that you published inaccurate, misleading information while trying to justify your ticket price increase. As you know, most people will just believe what they see in a chart.
While it would be time consuming to conduct a full seat-by-seat analysis across 14 SEC stadiums, it could certainly be done. Since you are not conducting that study at this time, the easiest way that I can compare across the board is to look at the cheapest way to get into each stadium. In 2017, it was not possible to purchase Georgia tickets at $50 each. It is a dishonest representation to pretend that they could be purchased for that amount. You should make a public correction so that your supporters have the real numbers. It is the only honorable thing to do.
It’s hard to say if the misinformation we’ve received is the result of sloppiness, ignorance or a deliberate fudging of the facts. What’s not hard to say is that Butts-Mehre didn’t much care either way about accuracy. Which really translates into not caring about being straight with the bulk of the fan base.
That’s what chaps my derrière here. Had they merely come out with some variation of “we’re doing this because we can” as justification, I’d have grumbled some, but in the end, recognized it’s a sign of the times we live in, stroked the check to ‘da Man and moved on. Instead, we’re fed this “it’s not us, it’s you” garbage. McGarity can’t bring himself to own fully what he’s doing here. (Not that accountability has ever been Butts-Mehre’s strong suit.) This isn’t how an athletic administration should treat a devoted fan base.
I want to share a couple of final notes on this with you. StatDawg82, to her credit, stands by her research, and, as such, is willing to make herself available during the day to answer questions any of you may have about how she compiled her information. Please keep any comments or questions you may have for her on point. To the extent any of you see this as an opportunity to take advantage of her good nature, rest assured I won’t let that go very far.
Second, and back to the fan base for a moment, make sure you take note of an observation Bill King made in that linked post. It may be more depressing that what I’ve already posted here.
As part of making a case for the price hikes, a fact sheet put together by UGA notes that secondary market data shows that demand for Georgia football tickets far exceeds the face value of the ticket. Last season, the average price on StubHub was $113.43 per game.
The athletic association also hinted it could have been worse: “Many schools charge a premium for higher-demand seats above the base season-ticket price, which is not being recommended at this time.”
Yeah, at this time.
They’re just getting started. This is our future. It’s a real shame that they can’t spend half the effort and energy they’re using to find new ways to wring an extra dollar out of us to make the game day experience better for us slobs. But it’s not a surprise.
… then Pete Fiutak’s overview piece about Georgia’s 2018 class will send tingles up and down your leg.
As heartbreaking as the loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship might have been, there was a bright side. With the talent Kirby Smart has been amassing with his recruiting classes, that seemed like the first of many regular trips to the CFP.
And then he comes up with something like this.
If it isn’t the best recruiting class in the country, it doesn’t matter – it’s more than close enough to be absolutely amazing.
If you need to be off by yourself for a little while, I understand.
Bill Connelly posted his five-year S&P+ rankings the other day. Georgia is 15th, which, in the context of the 2017 season, tells you a little about the program’s direction leading up to that, but the real story is the division’s as a whole. Here’s where each school ranks overall, along with how much that ranking changed from the five-year run of 2012-6:
- Georgia: 15th; -0.2
- Florida: 28th; -4.9
- Missouri: 32nd; -0.2
- Tennessee; 34th; -2.8
- South Carolina: 50th; -2.7
- Kentucky: 78th; 0.0
- Vanderbilt: 84th; -0.9
One more added bit for context you should factor in is that Virginia was at the break-even point for S&P+, which ranked it 69th. That means that every SEC East team either lost ground in S&P+, was already in negative territory, or, in the case of Vanderbilt, both. Yikes, that’s bad.
There are three teams in the division — Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina — that finished in Bill’s list of the top ten programs losing the most ground. If Georgia had plateaued, what does that say about the rest of the division? Moreover, Smart got a one year’s head start on the rest of the bunch. How long will it take them to arrest the slide and turn things in the other direction?
Reader and occasional commenter RaleighwoodDawg sends along one of those “it’s what’s on the front of the jersey that matters” stories.
UNC has had a long working relationship with Nike and is close to completing a new, highly lucrative deal with the sports apparel giant.
The current Nike contract, worth about $36.85 million to the university the past 10 years, is a public record. Financial details of the upcoming extension, likely to be for 10 years and expected to be signed this month, also will be made public.
UNC basketball coach Roy Williams and football coach Larry Fedora have separate, personal service contracts with Nike but are not required to disclose the value of their deals.
Personal service contracts? Um… wait… I thought you said…
UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the coaches’ personal services contracts are allowed by the university.
“The University’s agreement with Nike recognizes that coaches may enter into personal services agreements with Nike,” Cunningham said. “The University has determined that those agreements do not present a conflict of interest.”
Asked if Williams’ lengthy association with Nike – Williams had a Nike deal while coach at Kansas – in any way influenced negotiations for a new apparel contract, Cunningham said, “No, it did not.”
Cunningham said he is “familiar” with the terms of each coach’s personal contract, saying he reviews the agreements but does not retain copies.
Sounds perfectly kosher to me, at least as long as you can ignore that whole conflict of interest thing. Which it appears the AD has no problem doing. For coaches, that is. It would be a complete disaster to let a player sign one of those puppies. College sports must be pure!
One thing to remember this week: the names may be slightly re-ordered from year to year, but in the end, the rich always get richer.
Consider that in the past five recruiting classes (2013-17, using the 247Sports Composite rankings):
• Four schools have ranked in the top 10 in each year: Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ohio State.
• Three other schools have ranked in the top 10 in four years: Florida state, Georgia and USC.
• In all, just 17 schools have had a top-10 ranking in those five years (the others are Michigan three times; Florida, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas and Texas A&M twice each; and Clemson, Oklahoma and UCLA once each).
• When it comes to a top-20 ranking, the group is even tighter, as 29 schools have been ranked in those five years. But there are few outliers: Of those 29, five (Arizona State, Maryland, Michigan State, Mississippi State and Washington) have been ranked once in that span. Thus, that means that just 24 schools have had multiple top-20 recruiting classes in the past five years. That’s not a wide variety.
• In the current top-20 rankings – and, yes, they will change on NSD – every single school has finished in the top 20 at least once and 19 have finished in the top 20 more than once in the past five years.
Same as it always was.
Sure, it’s noteworthy that Smart has apparently taken Georgia to the next level, particularly because no other school in the division has followed along. But the real message here is that if you haven’t been part of the party before, it’s hard to get an invite today.