Monday, June 30, 2008

Not Piling On

You notice the failings or silliness of your close neighbors more than that bunch down to the street. Given the proximity of the University of Maryland their silliness is not any worse than other major program just easier to see. That explained, Coach Friedgen et al. have a promotional tool called Terrapins Rising which is moving into its second season as chronicle of the team.

A couple of observations about the recent Baltimore Sun article:

The school says it has resisted the impulse to delete scenes such as one last year in which coach Ralph Friedgen chastised a complaining player by snapping: "This is football, son. Not soccer." Edgy stuff? Play fill in the blank with the new offend no one perspective on the world, “This is football, son. Not ______________.” What if coach had said field hockey? Yes, this would have moved into the realm of sexism and the scene would have deleted.

The show cost $50,000 which is underwritten by Under Armour and is widely shown on regional sports channels (you have to fill the time up with something) and is seen as a recruiting promotional tool by the program. Viewing is restricted to those 25-30 recruits, devout fans, and those that have already mastered the secrets of real estate riches sporting rock hard abs.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Complexity Headache

View from the GP endzone seats.

This is not meant to pick on the University of Maryland but recently arrived mailing brought up some questions. First the price for tickets varies by the opponent with a range from $38 to $50 but the least expensive season package coming in a $27 with the even cheaper family 4-Pak at $21 per game. While it is normal to have tiered seating for the Terripan Club donation seats, the option for the non-Terripan Club seats have more options than a Chinese menu:

General Public (GP) $285
GP Discounted $189
Red Zone $189
Faculty/Staff $228
Recent Graduates $228
Youth $185
Youth Discounted $123
Family 4-Pak $588

The GP ticket (purple) is in the endzone which is great when the play is on your end but terrible when at the other goaline or better the front of the third deck. For less you can sit in the GP Discount area (light tan), hopefully a few rows back of the GP folks in the upper deck rather than having front row 50 yard line in the old part of the stadium which is too low for a good view. Lastly if you are willing to risk a noise bleed you can do so in cushioned comfort in the chairback clad Redzone.

If people really wanted the seats the price could be much easier. Order yours here.

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Nugget of Information

The least popular person in the room can often be the one that points out those nasty little truths that the rest would rather ignore. The group would rather be happy and not have the problem of facing some of the problems that lay ahead one of the areas of college sports where reality will throw an ice cold bucket of water on the recent party is in travel expenses. As University of Wyoming AD points out:

“Our travel expenses, we think, will go up at least 20 percent this year,” Burman said. “That’s kind of a guestimate, because we don’t know what bus travel is going to cost,...

One trip the Cowboys will not be making is for their game against Texas but given some of the distances that MWC and WAC teams need to travel the cost increase in travel costs could hit these two hardest. Unlike the Orange that signed a one and one with Wyoming and then cancel the return trip.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

How much do you miss college football?

Words do not do this justice.

Wait Time

The big news, the Big Ten Network and Comcast, is not news anymore. The rush judgment was the Promised Land has arrived with sunshine, puppy dogs, and butterflies in Big Ten land. At the risk of over using the sausage metaphor it fits this in at least two ways:

1. Like a congressional conference committee negotiation can call for ugly compromises making the cut of ground meat product stuffed into the casing more acceptable than the banter at bargaining table.
2. BTN was hoping to take the scraps from the carcass and selling them at a premium price.

Those looking at the details of the Comcast/BTN agreement have seen that both can claim “victory” but most importantly save face.

As for the so called “free preview”“ for the rest of Pennsylvania and the other six Midwest states, keep in mind that once the preview ends, Comcast can move the BTN to a digital tier, which it undoubtedly intends to do.

…about 68 percent of Comcast's national subscribers already have opted for the digital tier. That number jumps to about 80 percent within the eight Big Ten states.

The most obvious landing spot in spring 2009 would be Comcast's sports tier. But a cable representative who asked not to be identified said that would not happen under the agreement. In Pennsylvania, "that means a digital channel tier, not [Comcast's] Sports Entertainment Package," the representative said.

The Big Ten should be happy with their 80% and the Comcast has a tool to have consumers upgrade to the next level. All three sides lost in this contest in the piddling match. If there is a party that miscalculated it must be the Big Ten Network that overvalued their product as a “must have”. Had the strategy been better thought out they might have come in with an initial low price to gain wide distribution and then overtime worked up in that cable carriage rate pecking order. BTN's our way or nothing was the line in the sand that acted as a significant barrier to progress in this conflict. Negotiations of any kind make little or no progress when one side puts absolutes in the way. Perhaps this deal could have been in place last August had BTN been willing to take 80% of a big pie.

One final observation about this issue—Did you notice how the political grandstanding end after the football season?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eagle Eyed Ad

Will posting a 30 second Boston College foorball video help sell tickets?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Tickets Tips

WWhile not 100% about college football the secondary market for tickets is followed by this blog and therefore 10 Things Your Ticket Broker Won't Tell You gives some insight into the life of a ticket.

10. "Street scalpers might be your last hope."
Ticket-starved New York Giants fans who made the trek to Arizona to watch their team play in the Super Bowl this past February had the chance to get a big discount on tickets, if they were willing to wait until the day of the game. Faced with the possibility of getting nothing for their tickets, street scalpers were selling seats that had started off at $2,600 for $1,000. "It's open trading on game day," says Happel. "Your best bet is to go an hour before the game and take your chances. You can typically get tickets for face value or less."

From personal experience the scalper is looking to buy low from you and the find a chump. And from personal experience they get somewhat aggravate by the idea that you and the seller cut him out of the process. These guys aren't purely amatautres as if you talk to them they hit a couple of college games and then work the pro games on Sunday.

Have you ever had the nerve to wait them out?


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mike Tranghese and Mr. Slate

For the late baby boomers many of life's lessons were learned from watching reruns of the Flintstones. One in particular comes to mind when considering the recently announced retirement of Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. Most of the early reaction was positive, with a few critical voices, giving Mike credit or blame for the building and saving the conference. Most pundits/bloggers have the same view of Mike Tranghese in the same naïve way Fred viewed his boss Mr. Slate. Fred had the idea that the boss had total control so to teach him a lesson Gazoo has Fred become boss for the day. After learning the pressures of dealing with the board of director and only getting a carrot to eat, Fred willingly returns to his job in the quarry.

Mike Tranghese (MT) is at the same time powerful and weak as while he is the face of the conference he has a group of college presidents with competing goals and has grown that complexity to 16 points of view. Was it Mike fault that Donna Shalala pledged allegiance to the Big East and then canoodled with John Swofford looking for a better deal (Ms. Shalala in turn was feeling the pressure from her bosses)? In fact, this blog may have been wrong in characterizing MT as being asleep at the helm. The cause might have been that collective stupidity or more politely short sightedness of the members and the problems posed by the hybrid nature of the Big East.

Equally MT had little to do with the redemption of the league with the 2006 Sugar Bowl win by West Virginia over Georgia. That said, MT kept the league together long enough for the football fortunes of the Big East to turn the corner and save the highly prized BCS slot. For good of bad the hard work in any business is usually done behind the scenes and with just a little thought and consideration we must grant MT his due in being the master juggler of college sports.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big 12 Game of the Week 2008

Big 12 Football Stadiums - 3D Map Tour

Game of the week rules: looking for the most intriguing (not always the most important) game, home conference games only, every team must appear at least once.

Saturday, August 30
Wake Forest at Baylor --Three games in one weekend. Wake Forest is looking for consistency that will translate into national respect. A BCS win, even against Baylor would be could be another step on the road to national notability and a lose against the Bears would be two steps backward.

Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver) A rivalry game to begin the season. As Martha Stewert would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Illinois vs. Missouri (St. Louis) The most important of the three games with the two upstarts of their respective conferences facing off at a neutral venue.

Saturday, September 6
Cincinnati at Oklahoma --The Bearcats are no longer a push over. If the Sooners are looking for the BSC Championship invitation, they need to take this game seriously.

Saturday, September 13
Iowa State at Iowa—With all the problem at IU, State has a good chance of narrowing the 36-19 series.,0,866139.story

Thursday, September 18
West Virginia at Colorado—Will the Mountaineers be slowed down by the Buffs or the Rockies?

Saturday, September 20
Miami at Texas A&M—Can this game be as intriguing in 2008 as is was years ago when it was planned.
Massachusetts at Texas Tech—UMass has hopefully locked in the airfare for this trip. Texas Tech could not find a closer cupcake?

Saturday, September 27
Virginia Tech at Nebraska-- The Hokies are expected to win this game but it will give Husker fans a measuring stick of how far the need to progress

***The TCU game has some potential but the rest are for true fans only.
TCU at Oklahoma
Troy at Oklahoma State
Army at Texas A&M
UL Lafayette at Kansas State

Saturday, October 4
Missouri at Nebraska--Again Husker fans are looking for hope in saying, "Wait 'til next year."

Saturday, October 11
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)--Classic match up for dominance in the south.

Saturday, October 18
Missouri at Texas--The Longhorns are looking a couple of real tests here.

Saturday, October 25
Oklahoma State at Texas--Possible key game for the Longhorns. If they are winning this could be a trap game while some key losses will have this game acting as a character test.

Saturday, November 1
Kansas State at Kansas--It is a cliche but rivlary games are just more fun.

Saturday, November 8
Oklahoma at Texas A&M--Will the 12th man be a factor against the Sooners?

Saturday, November 15 Texas A&M at Baylor; Oklahoma State at Colorado; Missouri at Iowa State; Texas at Kansas; Nebraska at Kansas State--Nothing jumps out here in May.

Saturday, November 22
Iowa State at Kansas State--Late in the season these teams may be fighting for their 6th win.

Friday, November 28
Texas A&M at Texas--Does Texas have a bullseye on their uniform?

Saturday, November 29
Kansas vs. Missouri (Kansas City)--One city in two states

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Learn From Others

The new money for college football and college sports will be the biggest factor in shaping the future. As this blog says right up front, “Follow the money”. Right now with the Big Ten already with their own network and the SEC looking into the possibility of taking the plunge wring more out of your total portfolio looks like the major driving force for the future. That said, there are several factors that need to be looked at before assuming that having your own network is the new gold mine.

FCC tackles NFL Network on new rules—the fate of the money making sports channel may be decided in a Washington DC office where the channels and the carriers are lock horns on where you get placed on the dial. Anyone wanting to step into this business needs the think long and hard about the fact that the powerful uber-sports brand called the National Football League has not found the going easy in getting themselves on the basic/extended tier and are grouped with the Fox Soccer channel in the sports tier ghetto. The NFL has invested heavily here by holding back games that would only be seen on the NFL Channel (and the problem caused with the Patriots v. Giants game late in 2007) but even the lure of the occasional regular season game has not delivered the gold. How the FCC handles this question will have a significant bearing on the future these new sports channels.

Often, you can get yourself into trouble by getting into a business that is not your core competency. The Big Ten knows little about broadcasting or cable yet are up to there eyeballs in trying to sell their channel. Both the Big Ten and NFL have such confidence in the strength of their brands that they cannot fathom the reasons for lack of quick success. Fox News, started slowly and cheaply, only looking for big bucks (about $1 per subscriber according to the Wall Street Journal) after they had established a an audience.

While the SEC considers an entry into the cable content business they should carefully consider two points:

1. Are we in the college sports business or a media company?
2. Is our brand more powerful than the NFL?

If they are honest the only conclusion should be to make a deal with CBS to keep their exclusive network position with CBS College Sports as the overflow for the lesser football games and use the SEC olympic sports as the major filler for this channel. The SEC gets a check while CBS can push distribution of their channel. CBS College Sports becomes an ad hoc SEC channel. CBS is a media company with expertise in distributing content while the SEC can put their energy into creating content.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Big Ten 2008 Game of the Week

Game of the week rules: looking for the most intriguing (not always the most important) game, home conference games only, every team must appear at least once.

Saturday, August 30
Utah at Michigan
Is Michigan ready to play under the new coach? Will the smell of blood be too much of a distraction to the Utes?
Syracuse at Northwestern
6-6 can get you to a bowl game. Both these times need this game to see the post season.

Saturday, September 6
FIU at Iowa
How much have the off season problems hurt the Hawkeyes? If FIU wins can this be their claim to fame?

Saturday, September 13
Ohio State at USC
This needs no explanation. The only question what does the loser do?

Iowa State at Iowa
Classic rivalry game and while Buckeyes v. Trojans may be the main course do not overlook the appetizer.

Saturday, September 20
Notre Dame at Michigan State
Mark Dantonio’s chance to impress the alumni at home.

Saturday, September 27
Illinois at Penn State
The Illini go on the road to visit Joe Pa. An early season game that is critical for success of Zook and a possible BSC bid for the second straight year.

Saturday, October 4
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Big Ten preseason #2 has preseason #1. Will OSU being looking at a path to the MNC game or being looking for Roses.

Saturday, October 11
Iowa at Indiana
The Hoosiers are not looking for Roses but a bowl game will require a win here.

Saturday, October 18
Purdue at Northwestern
The BTN game of the week! Will anyone outside the devout fans for each of these teams do more than read the score at the bottom of the screen? Will the viewer remember the score three minutes later?

Saturday, October 25
Illinois at Wisconsin
Michigan State at Michigan

Saturday, November 1
Central Michigan at Indiana
The MAC has had teams that flirted with establishing themselves as true contenders but these the status was short lived. Indiana is not top BCS team by any measure a MAC school needs to take it where they can get it.

Saturday, November 8
Western Michigan vs. Illinois (in Detroit)
The Broncos are not the Chippewa’s but the over/under on the attendance is an interesting bet for the neutral site game.

Saturday, November 15
Ohio State at Illinois
Upset special. The only question is who will be the favorite.

Saturday, November 22
Michigan at Ohio State
Can the Wolverines make this game interesting?
Cal Poly at Wisconsin
Cupcakes in November?

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