Category Archives: College Football

There are only so many games to go around.

David Wonderlich surveys the field and concludes that we may be on the verge of seeing the guarantees paid for cupcake games stalling, or even coming down.  They’ve got a pretty tall perch to fall from, that’s for sure.

The site broke the news last week that Alabama lined up Fresno for a game in 2017. Bama will pay out $1.4 million for the game, which is about the going rate for MWC teams these days. Alabama payed $1.5 million to Colorado State in 2013, while Auburn’s 2014 and 2015 games against San Jose State cost $1.5 million and $1.6 million, respectively. Other leagues can still cost a lot too. Southern Miss got $1.4 million from Alabama last year, while Florida paid $1 million to ULL and $1.25 million to Bowling Green in 2012. These games are getting expensive.

As he points out, it’s just as easy for a P5 school to beat a FCS opponent as it is a mid-major, and a heckuva lot cheaper.  The problem with that approach these days, as Baylor can attest, is that a school runs the risk of a scheduling downgrade by the selection committee come playoff time.  So that’s helping to drive up the cost of mid-majors’ guarantee fees in the current market.

But as he goes on to note, there are trends going the other way now, as conferences, again with the national playoffs in mind, are beginning to dictate that their member schools play at least one OOC game against a P5 team.  Add to that conferences that are going to nine-game conference schedules and you begin to see how the market is slowly moving from a seller’s one to a buyer’s one.

David writes, “With a noticeable drop in demand, simple economics would predict a fall in prices.”  We all know that college football and simple economics don’t always fit together, but I think there’s something to this.  Especially if you believe, as I do, that two more things will come:  (1) playoff expansion and (2) conference expansion.  The one benefit, if you want to call it that, to diluting the importance of the regular season with an enlarged postseason is that there’s less risk involved in beefing up the schedule.  And when the P5s add their sixteenth members (or the Big 12 matches up with its name), conference schedules will have to grow to accommodate that.

Long term, the math may not be too daunting in terms of how much schools  are willing to shell out for a game.  There’s so much money now, they can afford it.  But it’s the total number of cupcake games they buy that will likely really drop.

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Current Fulmer Cup standings

If you thought LSU leads, that’s because you have a short memory and forgot about Auburn’s April.

Georgia, believe it or not, currently has zero points, which means (1) either Georgia is recruiting higher character kids; (2) Richt has managed to run off every troublemaker in the program; or (3) we’re just waiting for this summer’s shoe to drop.

And, no, those three aren’t mutually exclusive possibilities.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment

“… we don’t want to be standing here 10 to 20 years from now and looking around and wondering where our fans went.”

Hey, everybody! It’s a study!

A comprehensive report, “Student Attendance at Collegiate Sporting Events,” commissioned by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) and the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and released Friday can help schools focus their efforts to engage students.

Let’s see what it says!

Among the key findings:

— Average student affinity was 7.1 out of 10, with 81% of students attending at least one live sporting event.

— Interest in the sport, game time, ticket price, opponent and team record were the most influential in students’ determination whether to attend a sporting event.

— Students indicated their favorite parts of the game-day experience were watching live game action (23%), in-stadium atmosphere (17%) and tailgating (15%). Of overall respondents, 28% chose stadium and concession food as the most enjoyable part of attending home games, with that option ranking first among Power Five and FBS schools.

— Of students who follow the team on Facebook, 72% attended three or more home football games. Of those who didn’t, 44% attended three or more games. Facebook followers of teams were 63% more likely to attend three or more home games than students who didn’t follow the team on Facebook, and that trend held for other social media. Twitter (61%), Snapchat (47%) and Instagram (48%) made students more likely to attend three or more home games.

— Students who said WiFi connectivity was not important in their decision to attend games did so at a higher rate than students who said it was.

— Although 67% of students agreed watching games is “more comfortable at home,” it scored lower than 2.5 on a scale of 5 on how likely it would be to prevent game attendance.

— Personal errands, hanging out with friends and family and using the internet were the biggest competing interests in deciding whether students attended three or more games.

— Nearly a quarter of respondents reported leaving before a game is 75% complete. Potential incentives for them to stay for the entire game included free T-shirts, a sponsored post-game party, loyalty points and concession discounts, in that order. Loyalty points and meet and greets with players yielded the strongest results.

Stadium and concession food more enjoyable than tailgating?  Sounds like Michael Adams’ dream come true.

If I were an AD, those last two points would be my biggest concerns.  When you’re duking it out with taking the dry cleaning in to get ’em in the door and free T-shirts to get ’em to stay all game, you’ve got problems with marketing a compelling product.

Then again, why worry so much?  It’s probably something that can be fixed with better WiFi and a sixteen-team national playoff.

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‘Let’s look at the early signing date in the context of the total environment.’

As we saw yesterday, if the Collegiate Commissioners Association passes the early signing proposal for college football this week, folks like Dennis Dodd will take that as a smack in the face of the SEC.  But what if it doesn’t pass?  Does that make Greg Sankey the most powerful man in college football?

Or would it be an indication of another powerful man’s larger agenda?

Recently, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany suggested that the debate this week over early signing could morph into a larger discussion on recruiting issues.

“The issue of early signing has some momentum,” Delany said at the Big Ten meetings last month, “but I think there also may be some momentum to fold that into a broad discussion on the recruitment issues of camps, issues of oversigning, issues of grayshirting, issues of early enrollment, issues of 7-on-7 and teams traipsing around from campus to campus in the summertime.

“I think maybe a more global view of what’s going on in football off the field may drive people to say, ‘Let’s look at the early signing date in the context of the total environment.'”

Early signing might pass, Delany said. It might fail. It might face a delay, he said, “until we get a good overall view of the recruitment and access and the championship environment.”

As much as you know the SEC coaches would love to see something done on a universal basis to rein in satellite camps, everyone else in college football would love even more for a rule with real teeth to be adopted putting an end to certain forms of roster management aggressively pursued by some of those very same SEC coaches.

If the conferences decide it’s best to engage in some real horse trading on recruiting, expect Nick Saban, among others, to have a conniption fit in response.  SEC Media Days could be more fun than I thought.

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UPDATE:  And there you go.

That didn’t take long.  And now we wait to find out what’s behind the postponement.

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Filed under College Football, Recruiting

“The pros do that.”

Hey, the coaches want this newfangled technological shit and it’s another revenue source for college football, so I’d say we’re looking at a question of when, not if, it’s all embraced on a sideline near you.

“I think the coaches clearly want to investigate using technology to make the game better and I think that a competition committee can look at some of these,” SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said. “Clearly we’re marching toward technology.”

After all, it’s always a plus when college football can be more like the NFL.  Especially the money making part.

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Filed under College Football, Science Marches Onward

The Nostradamus of conference realignment

Who had the foresight to write this five years ago?

A collateral consideration for all of us as national leaders in intercollegiate athletics is the creation of a few “mega-conferences” may result in more governmental, legal and public scrutiny. Pressure to compete may rise with resulting higher salaries and more churning of ADs and coaches. Clear identification of the highest level of intercollegiate athletics reduced to a smaller grouping of (e.g. four 16-member conferences) could cause eventual tax consequences and tremendous pressure to pay those student-athletes responsible in programs driving the most revenue and pressure, and whose coaches and administrators are receiving more and more financial rewards.

The answer may – no, check that – will surprise you.

If the handwriting was on the wall that far back, it really makes the strategy we’ve seen the schools and the NCAA pursue in the interim look that much more futile.  Though not unexpected.

Conference realignment did reset the television rights market, which did make athletic directors and coaches a lot richer. At the same time, seeing people who insisted they weren’t part of a multibillion-dollar business acting exactly like they were part of a multibillion-dollar business turned public sentiment away from the schools and toward the athletes. O’Bannon v. NCAA was already in the pipeline, but these moves helped the plaintiffs’ attorneys to take the tack that would ultimately win them the case. Meanwhile, more lawyers smelled blood—or money, or both—and jumped in with suits of their own. Northwestern football players, aware of their role in the cable television universe, petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for the right to unionize. Under intense pressure, the wealthiest five conferences convinced the other Division I leagues to allow the richest to make rules for themselves so they could pay athletes more. (Leaders also acted as if this was charity and not a response to lawsuits.)

Camel farming is easy.  Managing oil production is a lot trickier.  And so far, these guys aren’t even living up to OPEC standards.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, See You In Court

Happy anniversary, conference realignment.

Had I thought about it, I’d have baked you a cake.

Stat of the day, from Stewart Mandel:

Today, 43 FBS schools — 33.6 percent of the current membership — compete in a different conference than they did five years ago. Along the way, one league (the WAC) died, while another (the former Big East) lost its name (it’s now the American Athletic Conference) and its privileged postseason status. All 10 remaining conferences include at least one team they did not claim in 2010.

But, of course we know today that paying players would lead to real chaos.

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