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Secretary of Education wants to disrupt March Madness

Posted by ZA on March 17, 2011

United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, voiced his opinion that teams should be barred from March Madness if they do not have at least half of their basketball players on track to graduate.  While that opinion is certainly a controversial one, since it could dramatically alter the NCAA Tournament that many of us love.  I agree with Mr. Duncan’s opinion, we should put more of an emphasis on academics for these kids who play sports in college.

Now I’m going to contradict my previous opinion, because my heart agrees with Mr. Duncan but my brain doesn’t.  College athletics is big business in which “money talks”; many of these athletes are in school to matriculate to professional sports.  While many won’t make it to the NBA (or NFL), that is still their goal.  They are presented with a good opportunity to get a free education, but they are also asked to maintain rigorous schedules to participate in their college sport.  The schools use these sports to gain more visibility and promote their brands, so their focus is typically on winning championships.  They all place importance on academics, but I feel that sometimes gets pushed aside when the big money and championships are at stake.

I don’t think preventing schools from participating in March Madness, based on academics, is really a genuine action.  I think there is much college athletics can do to put more emphasis on academics, but doing so may greatly change the landscape of college sports.  I think a better start would be to focus more on cleaning up some of the cheating that goes on in college sports.  At same time start to put into place realistic academic entrance requirements, so kids do have a chance to play college sports and get the academic assistance they need from outset.

Here is the USA Today article that expresses Arne Duncan’s opinion.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in College Basketball, College Sports | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Which college sold the most football tickets in 2010?

Posted by ZA on September 7, 2010

Season ticket sales are one of the biggest revenue drivers for the athletic departments at universities.  Locking fans into that season ticket commitment guarantees that revenue for the coming season.  In a touch economy, which schools had the most success in selling season tickets in 2010?  Below are the top 10 schools with biggest increase in season ticket sales for 2010 over 2009.  The data was compiled in an informal survey by the Birmingham News.

Top 10 biggest % increase in college football season tickets sold (2010):
1. Houston (+ 70%)
2. Marshall (+ 45%)
3. Louisville (+ 31%)
4. Toledo (+ 23%)
5. Texas Tech (+ 20%)
6. Oregon State (+ 18%)
7. Air Force (+ 12%)
8. Alabama (+ 11%)
8. Arizona (+ 11%)
8. Indiana (+ 11%)
8. Washington (+ 11%)

Top 5 biggest % drops in season ticket sales (in 2010 from 2009):

1. UTEP (- 23%)
2. New Mexico (- 20%)
3. Navy (- 19%)
4. Washington State (- 13%)
5. Cal, Hawaii & Kansas (- 11%)

Posted in College Football, College Sports, Tickets | Leave a Comment »

College athletics bigger than ever

Posted by ZA on September 2, 2010

Good article by the New York Times that talks about the big time money that is now a part of college athletics.  They got it right that there are few programs actually making money, but I thought they might have talked about some of the notable programs that have gone into debt in an effort to compete.  Texas A&M has one of the most successful athletic departments in the country, but that didn’t prevent them from needing to take a $16 million dollar loan from the schools general operating funds.  These days schools are forced to spend to keep pace, even if they are losing money.  Those that don’t will fall further behind and in the long-term they cannot afford to do that.

A common characteristic among the richest programs in college sports is they are all have successful football programs.  Texas, Florida and Ohio State are not just the richest athletic departments, they are 3 of the top schools in college football over the past decade.  Here’s a recent list of the richest athletic departments in college sports.

Posted in College Basketball, College Football, College Sports | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

John Wall signs $25 million deal with Reebok

Posted by ZA on June 10, 2010

John Wall, the University of Kentucky standout, who is likely to be the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft has signed an endorsement deal with Reebok.  The endorsement deal is reported to be a 5-year deal worth approximately $25 million dollars ($5 mil per year).  The deal reported includes two signature shoes that will be designed by Reebok for the young basketball star.

This deal by Reebok is a huge step up from what recent draft picks have received from shoe endorsement deals.  It signals that Reebok plans to make John Wall the centerpiece of their basketball marketing efforts.  In 2009, the top NBA Draft pick, Blake Griffin signed a reported $400,000 per year annual deal with Nike.  In 2008, Chicago Bulls top pick Derrick Rose signed with Adidas (who owns Reebok) for an undisclosed sum that was likely in the $1+ million per season range.  Which means the last deal for a top pick that was on par with Wall’s deal was the $8+ million per year deal that 2008 #2 pick Kevin Durant signed with Nike.

The deal that Durant signed with Nike in ’08 was much larger than the deal that #1 pick Greg Oden received from Nike.  Nike has made Durant one of their top endorsement stars over the past few years, which is a pattern that Reebok is sure to repeat with John Wall.  Reebok’s other top NBA endorsement stars include Allen Iverson, Yao Ming & others.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, College Basketball, Endorsement Deals, NBA, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

2011 NCAA Tournament will show all games live

Posted by ZA on April 23, 2010

Every March Madness fan hates when the game they are watching gets switched to some other game that they care nothing about.  It often seems as if the producers at CBS were throwing us around from game to game just to play God with our emotions.  Well no more, because starting in 2011 every college basketball fan will be able to watch all NCAA Tournament games live on basic cable.

The $10.8 billion extension that the NCAA and CBS just reached for broadcast & internet rights also included Turner Broadcasting System.  CBS and Turner’s joint bid will let them air games from all four regions of the tournament on four separate channels.  Starting with the 2011 NCAA Tournament you can tune into CBS, TBS, TNT or TruTV to watch games.  Which means that every game will be shown live and available to all college hoops fans with basic cable.  This was a great move by the NCAA and television execs, one that makes me very happy as a fan.

Posted in CBS, College Basketball, College Sports, Sports Television, TV Rights Deals | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BrandDunk in Final Four sponsorship article

Posted by ZA on February 21, 2010

Media Life Magazine ran an interesting article, by Diego Vasquez, on the cost and value of sponsorships at the NCAA Final Four.  The article focuses on the value that can be derived by “out of home” sponsorships at events like the Final Four.  And if you read down to the bottom, you’ll see a quote I contributed to the article.

“Certainly you’re getting your brand in front of a strong target market. In addition to the fans, there are also a lot of corporate types — a lot of influential people will be there. So if you’re setting up something like a fan experience outside of the arena, you’ll get great traction locally and get exposure among corporations entertaining clients, as well as the fans.” Zach Anderson, a marketer who runs the blog BrandDunk

Posted in College Basketball, College Sports, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Texas beats Alabama in BCS Championship

Posted by ZA on December 13, 2009

The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to beat the Texas Longhorns when the two teams meet in Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game.  Not only has Vegas made Bama the early favorite, but I’ve seen a lot of sports writers favoring the Tide over the Horns.  I think they are wrong, I think that Texas is going to beat Alabama in the National Championship Game.  Before I get into the reasons I think that Texas wins, I should disclose that I am biased towards the Longhorns.  I’ve been a UT fan all my life and attended the University of Texas.  That said I think the following is a compelling argument why Texas will win the game, but I welcome any rebuttal if you disagree with my opinion.

Why Texas beats Alabama in 2010 BCS Championship Game?
* Texas’ offense has the edge because they have the better and more experienced quarterback.  Colt McCoy is a senior QB that has started all 4 years for the Horns.  During that time McCoy won more football games than any other quarterback in the history of college football (Division I record 45 wins).  Colt has always won all three of the bowl games that he’s played in; he led a dramatic comeback a year ago against Ohio State to win the Fiesta Bowl.  McCoy has started over 50 college games and won 45 of them, by comparison Alabama QB Greg McElroy just took over as starter this season.  McElroy has done an amazing job leading Bama to a 13-0 record as starting QB, but this will be his first bowl game as starter.  The experience between the two is miles apart, which gives a big edge to Texas.  Even if you put experience aside, Colt is still the better quarterback because he wins both throwing and running the football.  Alabama has a much better running game and offensive line, but Texas has the clear advantage in the passing game.  A better, more experienced quarterback will make the difference in this game.

* Texas will at least match the results of Alabama on the defensive side of the ball.  The two defenses are very similar in the rankings, both ranking in the top 10 in Total Defense and Scoring Defense.  Texas defense has an edge that they’ve played against five team’s who ranked in the top 20 in passing offense, while Bama only played one offense ranked in the top 20 in passing.  Alabama evens that out against the run where they’ve played four schools with run offense is ranked in the top 20; Texas played none.  The comparison of the two defenses could go back and forth all day, but the end result is that both defenses are excellent.  Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are two of the best in the game, so I expect both teams to play well on that side of the ball.  I call it a push on defense.

* Texas has the edge in intangibles because they have won more big games than Alabama.  I know SEC purists are howling at that statement, particularly since the Crimson Tide have played in the last two SEC Championship Games.  But Bama only won 1 of those 2 SEC title appearances and last year they laid an egg in their second biggest game of the year (Sugar Bowl against Utah).  Sure Bama won a lot of games in the SEC, but 1-2 in the past 2 seasons in the games that matter most (conference championships & BCS bowl games).  During that same time period Texas has gone 25-1 winning their BCS bowl game last season and the Big 12 Championship this year (2-0 in games that matter most).  Texas only loss in the last two seasons was a last second upset to the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock.  And while the Big 12 was weak this year, last season the Big 12 South was hailed as the best division/conference in college football.  So Texas has played their fair share of quality opponents and 96% of the time the Longhorns have come out on top.  Helping Mack Brown & Texas even further on the intangibles is that they come in to this game as the clear underdog.  The Longhorns will have the chip on their shoulder after being talked down in the media, where many questioned whether Texas was worthy of a spot in this game.  There’s nothing that better motivates a great team than to be doubted; all of that should fire up Texas more to give them an edge on Nick Saban & Alabama.

So Texas wins on offense, has the edge in intangibles, and is even with Bama on defense.  That is why I’m predicting 28-20 win by Texas over Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship Game.

What could happen that would make Alabama the victors:
* The Texas offensive line gets dominated by Bama’s front 7 in a similar fashion to how Nebraska dominated them in the Big 12 Championship Game (odds 1:2).  I think Texas has learned from that experience and will use more misdirection to prevent Bama’s defense from pinning their ears back when they rush Colt.

* Alabama has a huge day through the air and exposes the Texas defense similar to how Texas A&M did in Texas’ last regular season game (odds 1:10).  In Muschamp I trust – so I don’t think it’s likely the UT defense gets torched through the air by McElroy.

* Bama’s Heisman winner, Mark Ingram, and Trent Richardson run wild on the Longhorn defense (odds 1:6).  Again, in Muschamp I trust.  But this is a more likely scenario than the one above it because Bama has a Heisman winner in their backfield and a talented backup to him.  Texas is stout against the run, but showed a few weaknesses in the Aggie game.  So it could happen, but isn’t likely.

Finally after all of the analysis of the two teams there is one more thing that makes me think Texas wins this game.  Call this my the stars are aligned for a Texas victory theory.  This theory is based on a bunch of interesting coincidences between the 2009 Texas team and the 2005 Texas team that won the National Championship.

* Texas beat Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl last year.  Texas beat Michigan in 2005 Rose Bowl, then won National Title following season.  Could the Big 10 victory in a BCS bowl be a sign of things to come?

* Texas QB (McCoy) loses Heisman trophy to Alabama running back (Ingram).  Vince Young lost the Heisman trophy to Reggie Bush, then beat him on the field a month later.

* Texas came into 2006  National Championship game as the big underdog to the dominant team that was led by charismatic coach, Pete Carroll.  Texas is underdog for this game and again playing a coach with a big reputation (Saban).

* Texas won in 2006 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  The 2010 game is being played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Maybe they are just coincidences or maybe they are signs that Texas will win the 2010 National Championship.  Even without them I think the Longhorns will take home the crystal trophy, but they certainly don’t hurt.

Posted in College Football | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

BCS Bowl Selection show this Sunday on Fox

Posted by ZA on December 2, 2009

This Sunday is a huge day for college football fans; that is the day that the 2009-2010 bowl game matchups will be announced.  Fox Sports is airing their BCS Selection Show on Sunday, December 6th at 7pm CST. The 30 minute show will reveal which teams are playing in the five BCS Bowl Games.  It will also list the teams who accepted invitations for the other 33 bowl games.

The 5 BCS Bowl Games (and my prediction):
* Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs Oregon
* Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs TCU
* Orange Bowl – Georgia Tech vs Cincinnati
* Fiesta Bowl – Penn State vs Boise State
* BCS Championship Game – Florida vs Texas

Posted in College Football | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Who are the best announcers in football?

Posted by ZA on November 20, 2009

The Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily have published their list of the top 25 football announcers for 2009.  The list includes football commentators from both college football and the NFL.  Twelve panelists from the SBJ & SBD rated the announcers to produce the rankings.

Top 25 Best Football Annoucers for 2009:
1. Gary Danielson – CBS
2. Cris Collinsworth – NBC
3. Al Michaels – NBC
4. Phil Simms – CBS
5. Kirk Herbstreit – ABC/ESPN
6. Troy Aikman – Fox
7. Ron Franklin – ABC/ESPN
8. Verne Lundquist – CBS
9. Joe Buck – Fox
10. Jim Nantz – CBS
11. Mike Tirico – ESPN
12. Brad Nessler – ABC/ESPN
13. Brent Musburger – ABC/ESPN
14. Jon Gruden – ESPN
15. Daryl Johnston – Fox
16. Ron Jaworski – ESPN
17. Greg Gumbel – CBS
18. Sean McDonough – ABC/ESPN
19. Todd Blackledge – ABC/ESPN
20. Dan Fouts – CBS
21. Bob Papa – NFL Network
22. Mike Patrick – ABC/ESPN
23. Chris Fowler – ESPN
24. Gus Johnson – CBS
25. Dick Enberg – CBS

Here are the guys that are rated too high:
* Buck – He’s in the top 10 based on his baseball rep.  He’s solidly average in football.
* Gruden – It would be “outstanding” if he could expand his vocabulary.
* Gumbel – Living off his brother’s rep.  He’s okay, but not top shelf.
* Fouts – Top 20, really?  Proves no one is watching those AFC West games on CBS.
* Papa – Who gets to see him broadcast?  Time Warner still doesn’t offer NFL Network.
* Enberg – Great career, but listing him is more of a ‘lifetime achievement award’.

Here are the guys that need to be rated higher on the list:
* Franklin – Could easily be the top college football guy on list.
* Musburger – Polarizing figure, but he’s great for the game.  Getting old, but still comedic gold.
* McDonough – Always solid, would be rated higher if he were more of a “name”.
* Johnson – The panelists not only rate him too low they slight him with “Youtube generation” comment.

Here are some key names that did not make the list:
* Erin Andrews – ESPN (Put a lady on the list)
* Bob Davie – ESPN
* Dan Dierdorf – CBS
* Ian Eagle – CBS
* Bob Griese – ESPN
* Kevin Harlan – CBS  (Should make top 25 in future)
* Craig James – ESPN
* Andrea Kremer – NBC
* Jesse Palmer – ESPN (Should be in top 25 in future)
* Tony Siragusa – Fox
* Dick Stockton – Fox

PS – Could some production assistant at ABC/ESPN do Mike Patrick a favor and get him a better photo?

Posted in CBS, College Football, ESPN, Fox, NBC, NFL, Sports Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

9 SEC football coaches make over $2 million a year

Posted by ZA on November 10, 2009

If you aren’t sure which conference is the most aggressive in college football, then this should make it obvious.  There are nine head football coaches in the SEC Conference that have a salary of $2 million dollars or more per year.  Four of those nine are going to make more than $3 million dollars this year.

Highest Paid Head Coaches in SEC (2009)
1. Urban Meyer (Florida) – $4 million
2. Nick Saban (Alabama) – $3.9 million
3. Les Miles (LSU) – $3.75 million
4. Mark Richt (Georgia) – $3 million
5. Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) – $2.8 million
6. Houston Nutt (Ole Miss) – $2.5 million
7. Gene Chizik (Auburn) – $2 million
8. Steve Spurrier (S. Carolina) – $2 million
9. Lane Kiffin (Tennessee) – $2 million
+ Source USA Today

What does that list tell me?  That Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt need to pay their football coaches more money if they want to compete in the SEC.  Kentucky is only paying Rich Brooks $1.6 million and Miss State is paying new coach Dan Mullen over $1.2 million.  Of course Kentucky has an excuse because they just gave John Calipari a $4 million dollar per year salary to coach the Wildcats basketball team.

A few other interesting facts from the USA Today article:

* In 2009 there will be 56 NCAA football coaches making $1 million or more in salary.
* In 2009 there are 9 NCAA football coaches making $3 million or more in salary.
* 47% of NCAA Division 1 head football coaches make more than $1 million per year.
* Average pay for those head coaches is $1.36 million per year.
* That average pay is up almost 30% over the past two years.
* The average 2009 salary of assistant football coaches at Tennessee and Texas are over $325k.

Posted in College Football, Money | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »