Category Archives: College Football

It’s not easy always being right.

One thing you gotta love about college football — where else can the media grumble about players sitting out meaningless bowl games to protect their pro futures and turn right around and give Saban grief for not taking Tua out in the second quarter of a conference game?

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Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

The biggest impact the early signing period has had on college football is…

… this, and it’s not even close.

You can’t afford to hang on to a lame dog like you used to.  The recruiting time frame is too compressed for that now.

In other words, Morris won’t be the last one to go before season’s end.

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UPDATE:  In chart form.

24 Comments

Filed under College Football, Recruiting

Natty or nothing

This is what things have come to in college football:

In 2018, Ohio State’s football team went 13–1. Its only loss came in a fluke night game on the road against Purdue, which played out of its mind in front of a young fan suffering from cancer. The Buckeyes recovered by scoring 62 points in an upset demolition of their biggest rival, then won the Big Ten, then won the Rose Bowl.

Ramzy Nasrallah, a Columbus native and Ohio State fan who co-founded the blog Eleven Warriors, recently told me that this sequence of events was “disappointing”—a “lackluster, lost season” in which the team’s coaches “screwed themselves.” The tweet he has pinned to the top of his account is from October 2018 and describes that month’s version of the Buckeyes as “the stupidest team I’ve ever seen in my life.”

To understand why he felt this way is to understand that the United States’ most proudly regional sport has become nationalized by ESPN and the College Football Playoff. [Emphasis added.] As a consequence, this is at once the best time ever to be a fan of college football as a sport and the worst time ever to be a fan of almost every major college football team.

That is my problem with the sport in a nutshell.  The morons who think they are geniuses running college football, with plenty of encouragement from Mickey, have convinced themselves that the sport’s future lies in swapping its regional appeal to diehards for that of a more homogeneous, less passionate national one.  And this is exactly what’s it’s about now:

The sport’s most important media outlet is ESPN, whose dominance in the TV, talking head, and online journalism realms has expanded as local papers have withered and died. The network has mostly unchecked power to set college football’s narratives via its studio shows and in-house opinionists. What ESPN naturally considers the defining achievement of a season, now, is earning one of the four spots in the ESPN-broadcasted playoff. One of the top stories on ESPN’s college football page when I was writing this story was about how Georgia and Oregon’s big weekend wins raised the possibility of getting “a second chance” at a “first playoff impression.” ESPN, more than anyone or anything else, is the entity creating those impressions, as major sports media becomes increasingly dominated by takes—provocative, declarative statements of opinion whose effectiveness and virality derive from their capacity to enrage.

College football is not better off for it.

… and when your team does lose, you can ruin your week by reading dozens of articles and Twitter arguments about why and how it did so, then be reminded of your newfound irrelevance by TV production teams whose concerns begin and end with the national race. As Banner Society’s Ryan Nanni told me, “It’s strange, but somehow expanding the playoff slightly has made everyone more worked up. … Everyone just sort of accepted that you could have a solid season and not make the [two-team] BCS title game. We all hated it, but now there’s juuuust enough access that if you’re not one of those four and you theoretically could have been, you fucked up.”

I made the mistake of thinking that expanding the playoff field from the old BCS format of two to the CFP version of four would have little effect on the sport.  The reality is that it’s had an enormous one already, in that it’s helped accelerate the change away from regional focus.  The BCS, by working to have number one and number two face off for all the marbles, had a simple goal of making sure there was a clear number one at the end of every season.  (That’s not the same thing as saying it succeeded in that every season, but it had lots more hits than misses in that regard.)

The CFP, by broadening the field, has morphed the discussion into a more general debate on several fronts — best versus more deserving, relative conference strengths, the value of conference championships, etc.  And, as noted, it’s had the inevitable effect of diminishing the role of the regular season — if you doubt that, maybe you can explain to me why the Big 12 took it upon itself to tack on a conference championship game for a league that has its members play a round robin regular season schedule.

All that, plus the outsized role it’s given ESPN in shaping public perception of the sport.

The damage is done; the horse is out of the barn.  I can’t even say I’m angry about it.  Looking back now, given the money driving college athletics, honestly, I’m a little surprised they held off as long as they did with the CFP.  But they’ve gone down the rabbit hole now and there’s no turning back.  I’m sure that pleases many of you, but I’ll bet in a few years even those of you enthusiastic about postseason expansion will concede that it’s a shame college football lost a little of what made it unique.

52 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

“When it comes to finances, athletic departments need butts in seats…”

If you’re a Georgia fan who attends home games, you’d think this was obvious, but what do we know?

Regardless, attendance is the largest revenue source athletic departments control in the short and medium term.

But fans are simply not showing up like they used to, and most stadiums are too large for the practical reality of modern attendance trends…

In our opinion, three major factors are most responsible for the decline:

* Time – Competition for leisure time.

* Cost – The rising cost to attend.

* Benefit – The gameday experience and value proposition hasn’t kept up with the competition.

This guy has actual data to back his opinion up, too.

* In our Fan Experience study, data showed college football fans’ satisfaction correlated most closely with atmosphere (81%), followed by fan focus (64%), players (60%), and other entertainment (57%).

* Additionally, 77% of fans stated that ticket costs were the most important upfront, but 77% of the variability in overall satisfaction was actually attributed to atmosphere.

* Similar conflicts exist such as the scoreboard, replays and food and beverage, which are self-reported as a very low priority but, in reality, are at the top of the list in correlation with fan experience satisfaction.

His solutions?  Obvious #1:

* Attempt to create a frictionless experience from the moment someone leaves their home until they return.

This driveway-to-driveway experience includes efforts to reduce traffic, transit, parking and unnecessary lines.

These issues are near the top of the list from our research on the real reasons people attend less.

At a minimum, the sports industry should outperform municipalities – like airports – that offer conveniences such as curbside bag check, mobile boarding passes, TSA pre-check, Clear and premium security lanes and beyond.

Turning to the home front, it’s true that UGA can’t control that entirely, but it sure could do a better job of coordinating with the ACCPD to manage traffic flow before and after games, as well as create a smoother flow on campus, both with regard to parking and stadium entry.  (And if there’s any governmental pushback on helpful suggestions, a timely reminder about what a home game does for the local economy would seem appropriate.)

Obvious #2:

*** Devote resources to the cause.

With far less tickets to sell than a university, professional sports teams have roughly seven times more people in ticket sales and service.

There is a level of service that’s expected for someone’s entertainment dollar and disposable income, and universities are behind the curve.

They need to invest in people and training to fill up their buildings.

The Pac-12 created a specific department focused on fan data to help its member schools learn more about ticket-buying trends and share best practices.

For those that enjoy the traditional collegiate environment but want the atmosphere of a sold-out stadium and competitive teams, something must give.

The sights, sounds and even distractions of the pro sports experience are directly correlated with attracting new fans and filling seats.

Leveling the playing field with the home viewing experience, timely video board replays, mobile phone connectivity, better food and beverage experience — those are just a few examples of possible in-stadium improvements.

Facilitating great tailgating encourages people to come early and stay late to avoid or minimize the traffic, while at the same time lowering fans’ sensitivity to wins and losses.

We’ve discussed this previously.  There’s even a local source for much of this, the Masters, which has made an art out of flooding the sporting experience with trained folks to support the fans at the event.

As far as facilitating great tailgating, that’s been a self-inflicted wound — or, perhaps more accurately, a Michael Adams-inflicted wound — that the school has done little to heal.  But it’s certainly needed.

The problem we face is that while B-M is willing to devote plenty of lip service to the concept of fan friendly, in reality it feels little pressure to translate that into action because we’re buying season tickets anyway.  One day, though, this mantra is going to matter, even in Athens:

In summary, give fans more value for their entertainment dollar. The competition for time and money won’t slow down.

The concern I have is that by the time the school wakes up to this, it will be hard to adjust, first, because it never conceived such a day would arrive and second, because it won’t really have a plan to survive the new reality.  The lazy thing to do at that point will be to chase the easy money, which comes from two sources, big contributors and television, even harder than it does now, rest of the fan base be damned.

Which is why I’m skeptical his conclusion would do anything other than fall on deaf ears.

Fans should reach out to their favorite school and share solutions and ideas rather than complaints.

Let schools and athletic departments know what would get you back to a game, regardless of cost.

If you’re one of those who’ve already given up attending Georgia games, what would it take to get you back to one, regardless of cost?  Tell us in the comments.

56 Comments

Filed under College Football, Georgia Football

Bowl eligibility über alles

Shameful.

And their ADs probably wonder why fans aren’t flocking to watch every week.  Go figure.

20 Comments

Filed under College Football

The Mount Rushmore of coaching salaries

Screenshot_2019-10-22 Home Twitter

I wonder how many of these guys will still be at the same job five years from now.

By the way, out of 130 coaches, the lowest ranked SEC coach is still in the top 50 nationally.  Now, we just need a ranking of coaches’ agents.

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UPDATE:  More fun details here.

► The average total pay for the 122 FBS coaches for whom USA TODAY Sports could obtain compensation figures is $2.67 million, up 9% compared to last season. The increase is the largest in four years.

► For the first time, there is a league in which all of the coaches are making at least $3 million. It’s the 14-school Southeastern Conference, in which the average total pay is $4.95 million.

► Thirty-three coaches would be owed eight-figure buyouts if they were fired without cause on Dec. 1, with 13 of those buyouts exceeding $20 million. (Some buyout clauses contain offset and mitigation language that could decrease the amount paid to the coach if he secures another job.)

Your typical college AD would get fleeced at a neighborhood poker game.

39 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Three strikes?

Well now, this is interesting.

The number of enforced targeting penalties is down 32% in the Football Bowl Subdivision compared with the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, the NCAA said Wednesday.

Targeting, the act of striking a defenseless opponent above the shoulders or using the crown of the helmet to contact an opponent, has been one of the college game’s biggest player-safety concerns for a decade.

There have been 132 targeting penalties called in the FBS. Of those, 83 were enforced and 49 were overturned on video review. There were 171 targeting penalties called at this point in 2018. Of those, 122 were enforced and 49 were overturned.

“It is hard to know how precisely to attribute the decline, but it is a significant drop,” national coordinator of football officials Rogers Redding said. Redding pointed to three possible factors: players using better tackling technique, the removal of “stands as called on the field” as a review option and the threat of a one-game suspension for three targeting fouls in the same season.

Overall, calls are down by 39, yet overturned calls haven’t dropped at all?  Sounds to me like there might be a fourth factor in play — officials may be more reluctant to drop a flag.  Whether that’s out of fear of being wrong, or simply from exercising better judgment is an interesting question that Redding elides.

10 Comments

Filed under College Football