It’s a living.

Interesting thread on Twitter yesterday that started with this news…

… continued with this observation…

… and climaxed with this breathless reaction.

First off, it’s always sad these days to see announcements of mass layoffs in the media industry, both from a personal perspective and from what it means as a consumer.  I’m in my twelfth year of blogging (I know) and if there’s one thing that experience has illuminated for me, it’s that college football beat writers are, without exception, an underappreciated lot.  I don’t see how I could do what I do here at the blog without being able to rely upon their insight and effort.  I hope that’s something I never have to contemplate.

That being said, it’s hard to see what’s so offensive about Staples’ observation.  I’ve certainly done my fair share of wading through what SEC Country and Land of 10 have produced, even linked to them occasionally, and while I’ve found a respectable amount of original product there, there’s also been plenty of “according to” material generated at those sites.  Not that there’s anything wrong with aggregating information (as long as credit is properly given, of course), but I can aggregate as well as the next guy; Twitter, CSS feeds and news services like Topix make that easy, once you know what you’re doing.

And if you’re making that part of your business plan as one way to generate steady quantity for the readership you want to reach, the risk you run is that it’s hard to monetize that over time.  If I’m going to pay for online media, or visit regularly to generate ad revenue, there had better be plenty — hell, almost an exclusive amount — of original content and/or presentation.  I expect insight and information for my hard earned coin and my attention.  Passing on what a beat writer in a small college town writes about the local program provides neither, especially if I can go to the source for free.

As Andy noted, that’s not on the journalists.  It’s on the editors and publishers who devised the business plans that forced the journalists down that path.  Ignoring what your potential customers value is something you do at your peril, as Cox Media and its soon to be former employees have learned.  Pointing out that sad reality is hardly reprehensible.  Ignoring the lesson, though, is another story.


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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

“There’s apparently a lot of money to be made.”

Honestly, just shoot me.  Now.

The overarching question to Wednesday’s esports panel hosted by the Big 12 is one that one day could potentially result in millions of dollars for athletic programs.

During the 90-minute discussion including Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and knowledgeable people on the fast-growing industry, the panel wondered if a university’s esports program made sense to be governed by the NCAA. Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who sat two seats to Bowlsby’s right inside a ballroom at The Statler hotel in Dallas, didn’t think so.

And while Bowlsby believes esports do not align with traditional athletics, he’s aware of a potential payoff. For schools who are always looking to find ways to increase revenue, the topic is certainly worth exploring as esports continue to gain steam.

The last paragraph is college athletics these days.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Musical palate cleanser, Skydog’n edition

If you don’t own Duane Allman — an anthology, you should, if only for this:

The instrumental break at the five-minute mark is just the set-up for what’s to come three minutes later.  Which is friggin’ otherworldly.  As far as I’m concerned, the last three minutes of that song could go on forever.

In other words, if you haven’t, go buy the album already.


Filed under Uncategorized

In APR-land, children do it for you.

What a country!

The recent classroom performance of Arizona State athletes will look good for the university — and even better for athletics director Ray Anderson. He will get nearly $350,000 in bonuses based on how well Sun Devils teams did in the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate figures it released Wednesday…

Among those also getting APR bonuses are:

North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams: $75,000 for a perfect 1000 APR that comes in the aftermath of an academic scandal at the university that included allegations of improprieties by men’s basketball players but resulted in no NCAA sanctions.

Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari: $50,000 that is only bonus he can received under the terms of his contract.

Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl: $150,000.

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn: $75,000.

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson: $100,000.

Florida State AD Stan Wilcox: $17,000 — a total based on him getting $1,000 for each team that had an APR above 950. 17 of FSU’s 18 teams were at 964 or greater. The football team was at 941.

Last fall, Louisville’s athletics department confirmed that football coach Bobby Petrino would be getting the $500,000 bonus called for under his contract if his team’s APR is at least 935 (the final figure, announced Wednesday, was 977). Petrino’s APR bonus, if he achieves it, increases the bonus he gets if the Cardinals go on to play in a bowl game.

If there was ever a time for a Steve Spurrier quip about Auburn academics, this would be it.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., It's Just Bidness

David Pollack’s rules for success

Evidently, making it on ESPN is easier than we might think.

Pollack was hurt playing linebacker in his second season in the NFL, suffering a career-ending neck injury. It wasn’t until months later that he realized he had what it took, he thought, to be a college football analyst.

“While I was injured and recovering,” he said, “I would sit at home and watch ESPN and think to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I’m loud and I’m opinionated, that’s what they want, right?”

Since taking his job with ESPN, Pollack has worked hard to avoid being “a homer,” as he called it, for his former university. In his time as an analyst, Pollack has often picked against his old school in an effort to be honest in his analysis.

“I hear about (picking against Georgia) everywhere I go,” Pollack said. “But I remember when I was injured and studying broadcasting stuff, I vividly remember watching (former Notre Dame head coach) Lou Holtz on TV. I watched him pick Notre Dame every single time. I said, when I started my career on television, that I would never be a homer.

Works for me.  LOL.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

When Matt Borman speaks…

you know money is involved.

The new west end zone project in Sanford Stadium is not only bringing a new home locker room, recruiting lounge and bigger video board, it’s also allowed Georgia to add more premium seats on the opposite side.

Coming this football season: 12 field-level suites overlooking the east end zone for big Bulldog donors.

“With the number of individuals that have come up and stepped up and supported our department in the past couple of years, a lot of them don’t necessarily have seats commiserate with the support that they’re giving us,” said Matt Borman, executive director of The Georgia Bulldog Club. “This gives the opportunity to put some of those people that have helped us out a bunch in seats that they’re very happy with.”

… More catering will be in there and, like other stadium suites, alcohol can be served.

Getting into a suite, as you might imagine, will cost you: a $40,000 donation counted towards your gift to the Georgia Bulldog Club and an additional $10,000 for tickets and catering.

It’s Butts-Mehre’s laser-like focus on improving the game day experience for literally dozens of fans that gives me such hope for the future.


Filed under Georgia Football

What’s the SEC’s problem with beer?

A few tidbits from this David Ching piece:

  • “Truth be told, most SEC programs already allow alcohol in their stadiums, just not for the common folks in the general seating areas.”
  • “… 50 college football programs – 36 with on-campus stadiums and another 14 that play off campus – sell beer throughout their stadiums. And even the stodgy NCAA recently removed its restrictions on alcohol sales at championship events, following a pilot program that started with stadium-wide sales at the College World Series for baseball and the Women’s College World Series in softball.”
  • “… the SEC remains as the only major conference that refuses to allow its member institutions to formulate their own policies on the matter, and there is some reason to doubt that alcohol sales proponents will be able to muster the necessary majority vote of SEC presidents and chancellors to end the ban.”

David ponders the reasons why.  Bible Belt morality is an obvious guess, but perhaps too facile, as most SEC programs allow for alcohol consumption in the luxury booths.  “Southern politics and reasonable concerns over fan safety”?  Well, let’s not forget we’ve seen more than one state legislature poised to allow guns inside college stadiums, only to be pulled back by SEC displeasure.

Then, there’s this one, which, admittedly, I’ve never thought about.

… there are also economic factors in play.

Some SEC schools are either unwilling or unable to do a cannonball into the booze pool, and that affects their leaders’ opinions on the matter. But for those who are willing, there is often a nifty revenue stream available to tap.

For instance, Texas generated more than $3 million in each of the last two football seasons with alcohol sales, netting $1.3 million of the annual totals after expenses. And that doesn’t even include the approximately $5 million Texas will rake in annually thanks to sponsorships with MillerCoors and Corona.

Ohio State made $1,231,280 in net revenue off alcohol sales last fall, up from $1,166,497 in 2016, its debut season with stadium-wide sales.

The earnings are more modest at smaller programs – Purdue reported $550,000 in gross sales last fall in football and another $241,701 from men’s basketball season, its first school year with stadium-wide sales – but the overriding point is clear: Alcohol can be a big moneymaker, and college athletics programs are rapidly warming to the possibilities.

Profitability may be part of the problem for the SEC’s alcohol-sales proponents, however.

At a school like LSU, where in-state colleges like Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane already sell alcohol at sporting events, the state’s festive culture and warm weather indicate that beer sales would be a massive success. Athletic director Joe Alleva has long been one of the conference’s most vocal proponents of lifting the conference-wide ban on alcohol sales. The school has already experimented with beer gardens at sporting events and sells alcohol at football games in premium areas like its Skyline Club, Stadium Club and suites.

Beer and wine sales figures from the 2016 College World Series showed 430 drinks sold per 1,000 fans, and it would be reasonable to expect LSU to at least match those numbers. Were that to be the case, LSU would have made approximately $3.4 million in alcohol sales in 2017 from football, men’s basketball and baseball games alone (with 1,137,124 in reported attendance and $7 per drink purchase).

But in a conference where member schools share TV and postseason revenue, some within the league might view alcohol sales as a potentially unfair advantage for the big programs who sell. Obviously the schools who shun alcohol sales would receive no additional revenue, and even if the smaller programs made the attempt, they likely would rake in only a fraction of the money.

Take Vanderbilt, for example. The Commodores reported 489,019 in combined attendance between football, men’s basketball and baseball in 2017 – about 50,000 greater than LSU’s baseball attendance alone. Operating by the same sales assumptions as above, Vandy would have generated approximately $1.5 million in sales in 2017 if alcohol had been on its concessions menu. Kentucky would have generated roughly $2.6 million based upon its 856,346 in reported attendance from the three sports.

While it might seem petty to quibble over a couple million bucks when your school boasts a $100 million athletic budget, this is the SEC we’re talking about. A conference opponent potentially gaining any sort of competitive advantage is sure to bring out the claws.  [Emphasis added.]

The SEC, where booze sales just mean more.


Filed under I'll Drink To That, SEC Football