Category Archives: College Football

I wanna rock and roll all night, and college football every day.

Just fucking shoot me. Right now.

College football attendance is at its lowest point in 22 years, and a 34-year-old Virginia Tech administrator has an idea how to goose it.

KISS.

Yes, KISS, the face-painted classic rock band that is on yet another farewell tour fronted by 69-year-old lead singer Gene Simmons.

Brad Wurthman went to his first KISS show at age 11. He was hooked by the music, the pyrotechnics, and — lately as VT’s senior associate athletic director for external relations — the entire presentation.

“I joke with people, ‘This is how I got into the marketing side,'” Wurthman said. “I wasn’t an athlete. For me, at least, the fundamental [way] how you run an event is the way KISS runs a show.”

Wurthman went to describe the anticipation built by the band’s introduction hype video on the jumbotron — KISS walking from dressing room to stage — and the same old songs that are the foundation of classic rock radio.

Yeah, they rock the house. They could also lead a morning athletic department staff meeting.

“It is,” Wurthman concluded, “quintessential sports marketing.”

That’s not even the saddest thing about Dennis Dodd’s article.  Sadder is that there isn’t a single mention, even a half-hearted one, about upgrading scheduling to attract and retain fans.

The saddest thing of all, though, is the air of resignation.

“The reality is that the national attendance numbers are going to continue to go down,” Bulls AD Mike Kelly said, “mainly due to the comparative social and leisure experiences that can now be had outside the football stadium even if those experiences still center around the game itself.”

The issue doesn’t end with students.

“We’re competing more than ever before against the television product we helped create,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “There’s no line at the restroom, the beer is always cold [at home]. You don’t have to invest 8 hours going to the stadium. There’s no parking fees. You don’t have to pay seat license, and on your 70-inch TV it’s a pretty good viewing experience.”

That’s the sound of a man who knows Mickey’s footing the bills now.  And that’s why this is the future of live attendance:

Another is stadium renovation. There is a push to build smaller stadiums in order to create a premium — higher demand — ticket.

That explains USC, which fell off in attendance by more than 17,000 in 2018. The school is in the middle of a renovation that drops capacity from 93,000 to 77,500.

It’s easier to be fan friendly when there are less fans to be friendly with.

Here’s your clueless epitaph, college football game day experience.

“When you look at the work we put in, it’s remarkable to me how slow our industry is to put change on the overall game day experience,” Martin said.

The work they put in… jeebus.

“[Professional sports] just had the changeover sooner than we did,” Wurthman said. “We lost sight of the fact it’s supposed to be a sense of camaraderie. Saturdays are supposed to be an escape.”

One of Wurthman’s great regrets is that his 17-month-old son won’t get to experience how it all started for him.

KISS — it’s hard to rock n’ roll all night, never mind party every day — has a retirement looming.

“As a band, they had it figured out,” he said. “It wasn’t about selling records. It was after the show they sold records [because of the audience experience].

“We try to sell records first.”

Like I said, just shoot me now.

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Filed under College Football

The world they’ve made for themselves.

I was watching ESPN’s Larry Munson tribute this morning…

… and it suddenly dawned on me:  would any player these days fully comprehend the excitement behind Munson’s iconic “Oh, look at the Sugar falling out of the sky!” call?  Quaint at best, depressing at worst, we’ve certainly come a long way to the current state of affairs.

Thanks again, college football.

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Filed under College Football

Let ‘er rip.

I was prepared to roll my eyes over Tom Fornelli’s piece in which he argues that he wants to ditch the pass interference rules entirely, but found myself reluctantly considering this bit:

You see it in every game. A receiver beats his man off the line of scrimmage. They’re 15 yards downfield now, and the safety isn’t coming to help. The corner is toast, and he knows it. So does the receiver. By now, the quarterback has figured it out as well, and he’s about to unleash a pass that should result in a touchdown.

But then something happens. It might be the result of a weak arm or the quarterback’s lack of confidence in his ability to make the throw. Maybe the QB is scared of overthrowing his target and being the guy who blew what should have been six points. Or perhaps he’s been coached to do it.

Whatever the case — possibly a combination of it all — the QB lets it rip, but it’s not a great throw. It is not a throw that will allow the receiver to run under the ball, gaining further separation, pull the ball in and cruise toward the end zone. The throw is short. Now, instead of running full speed, the receiver has to slow down. In some instances, he has to stop entirely and maybe even turn around completely and come back to the ball…

Let’s keep pass interference, but stop rewarding quarterbacks for making bad throws. Underthrowing your receiver downfield is becoming one of the most efficient ways to pick up a first down, and it needs to stop. I’m calling on the NCAA to implement changes to the pass interference rule. If the targeted receiver slows down or is forced to come back toward the ball due to a bad throw, any contact between the receiver and the defender should be seen as incidental and ignored.

I get his drift there and I can think of plenty of occasions when that’s been the case and it’s pissed me off to watch.  That being said, I can also think of plenty of occasions I’ve seen where that scenario was a result of a skilled quarterback deliberately making that throw to draw the penalty.  By definition, that would be a good throw, wouldn’t it?

Asking a ref to divine intent in order to determine whether a penalty is due is asking too much, even for college football, so I don’t see how Fornelli’s proposal stands a chance.  What do you guys think?

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Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Nice stadium you built there. Shame if nothing happened to it.

Amidst another sad tale of a public stadium failing to fill all the grandiose promises of economic fulfillment comes perhaps the greatest epitaph you’ll ever see.

“People drive into the stadium, they tailgate and they drive out. The fastest way they can get in and the fastest way they can get out. Even our package stores haven’t seen an influx of economic benefit.”  [Emphasis added.]

When you can’t even do it for the liquor stores, you know you’ve got a real lemon on your hands.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Last Chance U on its last chance?

If college football is seen as the NFL’s feeder system, what does that make junior college football for college programs?

The Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC combine to sign nearly 80% of junior college players who join Power 5 teams. No conference is as reliant on jucos as the Big 12, whose 10 teams signed 203 juco players in the last five years compared to the 65 signed by the 14 teams in the ACC.

The linked article reminds us that Georgia alone signed four juco kids in its last class.

So, it’s probably not good for college programs if jucos are facing tough times.  Start with what drives almost every conversation about college athletics these days — money.

Figures range widely from state to state and school to school, but most within the junior college ranks believe every football program at this level loses money—some significantly. Take, for example, Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. The school spent $666,806 in 2016–17 on football, including more than $400,000 in salaries and scholarships. It made $17,436 in football ticket sales.

Scott Cathcart, the ranking junior college athletic director in the CCCAA, oversees athletics at Palomar College just north of San Diego. His annual athletics operations budget of $310,000 is so low that his 22 sports teams must fundraise about $200,000 each year. “We know we’re going to run out of money March 1, the fiscal year,” says Cathcart, who previously worked as an administrator at Temple. “It’s nothing like Division I. We’re not intended to make money. We’re intended to be educators.”

Juco football programs’ supporters would counter that even four-year college programs lose money—according to NCAA data, 46% of FBS teams finished in the red in 2016. There are other points to be made in their favor. Many states fund junior colleges based on their enrollment numbers, and football teams normally bring in north of 100 students, many of whom aren’t on any athletic aid. California’s football programs do not offer athletic scholarships, while about 60% of NJCAA football programs offer at least partial athletic scholarships, Parker says.

All seven juco programs in Arizona have been shut down due to funding.

Then there’s this recent development:  “The big thing that’s killing us is this dang transfer portal,” Minnick says. Using the NCAA portal, many transferring players who traditionally would have dropped to the junior college level for a year are remaining in Division I now that schools no longer can control or limit their options.”

Add in that NCAA academic requirements for junior college players transferring to Division I schools (2.5 GPA) are more rigid than for those entering from high school (2.0), and you’ve got jucos being squeezed in every direction.

There’s a need for juco players (just ask Les Miles), but not so much of one that D1 schools are going to provide financial support (duh).  Can jucos scramble well enough to save themselves and remain relevant?

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Filed under College Football

“Figures often beguile me…”

Maybe I’m in the minority on this, but I like this take on “who you gonna believe, the stats or your lying eyes?”

The work that guys like Brian and Bill Connelly do may not be definitive — not that either of them have come anywhere near making a claim like that — but it is often illuminating and so is the process they go through to fine tune their formulas.  Which is a big part of the reason I’ll keep citing them here at the blog.

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Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

Thursday morning buffet

Dig in, peeps.

  • Bud Elliott writes about when coaches know to give up on continuing to recruit a kid.
  • Boom’s cannon misfires.
  • “… I’ve never represented the University of Nebraska as legal counsel, and I’ve never held myself out as doing so.”
  • The rhythm of Signing Day.
  • David Hale argues offseason momentum isn’t really a thing.
  • Patrick Garbin takes a look back at Georgia recruiting, pre-Kirby.  His piece reaffirms two longstanding impressions I have:  Dooley was mailing it in his last two or three seasons and Donnan had the players to win a lot more than he did.
  • “This is why offensive lineman shouldn’t be allowed to play high school basketball.”

31 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, College Football, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics