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.