Tressel Takes a Slap on The Wrist


Every year in sports we hear of some sort of crime or violation. Within College sports is where we see the more punishable acts as these punishments usually lead to life altering results instead of a modest fines.

Tressel answering questions at his initial Press Conference

This year’s crime spotlight was on THE Ohio State University and their star players selling their personal items. Over time the focus left star players including star Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and focused on Head Coach Jim Tressel. It was said he knew about the entire situation and even received e-mails about the situation. All else aside the biggest thing is that Tressel lied about this when being questioned by the NCAA. Lying to the NCAA…. Where have we heard this before? Dez Bryant, lied to the NCAA and lost his promising senior season. Chris Webber the top recruit for the University of Michigan lied to the NCAA about taking money  from an outside booster and is not allowed to return to the University of Michigan campus until 2013 .

Dez Bryant had his promising college career cut short after not releasing information about interacting with Deion Sanders

In addition to this the two “Final Four” banners he helped earn have been taken down from Crisler Arena. Both of these examples are student-athletes, not coaches. It is my understanding, or at least my belief, that Coaches, specifically Head Coaches should be held to a higher standard than the athletes they recruit, coach, or other wise teach. Shouldn’t every coach who is guilty lying to the NCAA be punished at least to the extent players in the past have? In the two examples I gave in Dez Bryant and Chris Webber, both players were punished to very harshly.

Dez Bryant was Oklahoma St leading Wide Receiver as well as a Heisman Candidate. He was forced to leave for the NFL early instead of potentially leading his team to a great season and potentially a Heismn trophy. Chris Webber and the legendary “Fab Five” weere and still are trend setters in the game of basketball, let alone their talent on the court. Yet, when you walk into Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus you don’t see the two banners from their two Final Four appearances, one being the heart breaking lost to North Carolina.

The Fab Five is one of the most well known starting five in the history of College Basketball. Yet, the University of Michigan has vacated all wins and other achievements accomplished by this team. Including the back to back Final Four appearances.

Tressel is guilty of the same crime, but will only miss five games, not even practices. One could make the argument that missing a game is not very relevant. Tressel will be at practice preparing his team all week and will only be missed when the team calls plays. Which I’m certain Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman can handle for five games. In addition to this the only threatening opponents in their first five games is Nebraska, Miami (Fl), and Michigan St possibly. One should ask the question how much of an impact will this have on the Ohio State football teams current season and future seasons? Oklahoma St season was definitely altered when they lost their star Wide Receiver.  The University of Michigan lost their Head Coach in Steve Fisher, which as  result harms recruiting. Can anyone honestly say that losing Tressel for five games will harm the Buckeyes current season let alone future seasons? I think not!

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CBA Negotiations Conveniently Starting Right Before the Super Bowl?

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

For nearly one year now every professional football fan has held their breath thinking of the possibility of not having a 2011 NFL Season. Within the last few months I know I’ve personally been concerned as every website, blog, interview and hobo on the street has said there has been very little progress, if any,on the situation. If you let executives tell it we were months away from watching the weather and local news on Sunday afternoons instead of our favorite team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Fortunately within the last few weeks progress seems to be made. Yesterday it was announced that the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Executive Director of the NFL Players Union DeMaurice Smith will meet to discuss the CBA.

DeMaurice Smith Head of the NFL Players Union

It was also announced that this will be the first of several meetings over the next few weeks. Some of the key issues to be discussed would be the extension of the regular season from 16 to 18 games, rookie wages, and player retirement support. For  many this was a sigh of relief. As I’m sure after the Super Bowl with no season to look forward to many fans were beginning to look for other outlets to fill the huge whole the NFL could have potentially left. Now that CBA talk has been planned to begin the fans of the other 30 NFL teams can begin to look forward to their off-season. This potentially coming months after the Super Bowl, how convenient , right? After hearing this and thinking about it I believe it’s to convenient. “But why would they do that?” You may ask. Well personally I believe it was to keep rating consistent with the past years. Rating scores for the 2010 Super Bowl Top Five commercials were lower than 2009, in turn were lower than the 2008 ratings. As a result prices for the 30 second spots during the Super Bowl have declined over the years.  In 2010 30 second ads were selling for $2.5 Million to$2.8 Million, compared to an average $3 Million in the 2009 Super Bowl. While still very expensive, this is not a trend the NFL would like to tolerate. CBS believes under hard economic times companies are only looking to advertise during the Super Bowl if they plan to introduce a new brand or maybe a new company.

The Betty White Snickers commercial ranked 2nd in the 2010 Super Bowl Commercial Ratings, but barely made the Top 10 compared to the 2009 commercial ratings and even lower for the 2008 ratings

So I believe the NFL intentionally postponed the negotiation of the CBA to attract more viewers to the Super Bowl as many would believe it could potentially be the last NFL game for over a year. Within these viewers would be directors of advertising and marketing of successful company’s. They would believe just like the average viewer that this would potentially be the last NFL game for sometime and jump at the opportunity. As a result competition and prices for the ad spots would increase. “But wouldn’t this cost the NFL for delaying the negotiation?” Doing this will cost the NFL nothing with the current CBA expiring on March 3rd. For the average NFL fan what I believe is the CBA is closer along then many believe. I believe in the next month we will see progress start to roll. At the end of the day, no one wants to be out of the job come March and at home mowing the lawn on Sunday afternoon.

Pro Bowl Weekend Great for Media and Viewers Attention

January 28, 2011 1 comment

The NFL Pro Bowl will be hosted the week before the Super Bowl to increase viewers.

This year the NFL continued its rearrangement of the NFL post-season games. This year the NFL Pro-Bowl will be held on January 30th, one week before the NFL Super Bowl. This was experiment to increase media attention and television viewers. It was thought to believe the Pro Bowl would be a great way to ease into the Super Bowl while increasing the number of viewers. I believe this experiment will see results, but I do not believe it will see significant results. The NFL is going from a two-week break until the Super Bowl to the Pro-Bowl being hosted, but is this the right way to approach this problem?

The NBA All-Star Weekend is held every February with several events over the three days.

Every American professional sport league host some sort of All-Star game. The NBA has All-Star Weekend, the NHL has their All-Star game, and the MLB has an All-Star Weekend. All of these All-Star events are very successful, in the way that many people look forward to them. So the question is what is the difference between these All-Star events and the NFL Pro-Bowl? One, outside of the NFL all other professional events are held during their regular season.

The MLB All-Star Weekend includes several events outside the game itself

The NBA will be hosting their All-Star Weekend the weekend of February 18th-20th, the NHL All-Star game is Friday January 28th. Fans get to take a break from cheering on their favorite team to the post season to watch some of the best athletes in their respected sport compete with and against each other. Second, and more importantly I believe the reason the NFL doesn’t have the same success as other american sports is because of the several other events other sport leagues host. MLB, NHL and NBA host All-Star Weekends, not just games.

The NBA Dunk Contest is key event during the NBA All-Star Weekend

In addition to games each league host some sort of competitive  skill competition, all but the NFL. All other leagues host weekend long events with several forms of entertainment.  To increase the success of the NFL Pro-Bowl, the NFL must offer more forms of entertainment.

Just like other leagues, the NFL could host a skills competition. There could be three competition, Arm’s competitions to see which Quarterback could throw the furthest and most accurate,

A obstacle course could be a great competition for skilled players

a Obstacle course for where backs could compete to see who was the most agile, and a Hands Competition where receivers could see who had the best hands. There is currently a similar event hosted for professional bound college football players. The college event has been successful and only proves that a professional event could be just as successful. This event could be hosted on the day before the Pro-Bowl to provide a post-season event filled weekend. Fans are always interested in who has the best skills in any sport. By providing more events during the All-Star weekend the NFL could increase ratings and media attention. If the NFL took this route they would need to keep the Pro-Bowl Weekend before the Super Bowl. Doing this would not take away from the Super Bowl, nor would the Pro Bowl risk losing viewers. For the NFL it is simple, to get more viewers, you must offer more to them.

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Michigan’s Brady Brings “Hope”

January 20, 2011 1 comment

After a lengthy, difficult, coaching search, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon finally announced the 19th Head Coach of the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke. While Hoke was not the first choice of coach, in fact he wasn’t even the second, he is very fitting for the position.

 

Brady Hoke during his introductory Press Conference

 

His resume includes a 12-1 season with Ball State, back to back winning seasons with San Diego State, and he was on the Michigan staff under Loyd Carr for several years. In addition taking several coaching staff along with him, Hoke announced he would be adding Greg Mattison, former Defensive Coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens to his staff. Between Hoke

Mattison during a Ravens practice with All-Pro Ray Lewis

and Mattison, Michigan has gone from three recruits within the top ESPN Top 250, to having an additional six interested in Michigan which is pretty good since they Hoke has barely been on campus and Mattison probably hasn’t packed his bags out of Baltimore yet. It seems things are looking up for the old Maize and Blue, but I’m still concerned for the Wolverines immediate future. While the coaching staff is talented, I believe there is something to say about the transition of a higher level of competition for Brady Hoke and the transition back to college football for Greg Mattison, while both have been successful in Ann Arbor in previous season things have changed, Michigan has changed.

 

Hoke has commented on how excited he is to work with Denard Robinson

 

A Denard Robinson would never play Quarterback under Loyd Carr, a Wolverine Defense has never given up this many points to any opponent. Hoke turned two programs around in Ball State and San Diego St, but he also started 4-8 in his initial season with both programs. I experienced the no bowl game season at Michigan in 2008 and it was not pleasant. Hoke will have to hit the ground running, to do this he will have to figure a way to run this offense with Robinson at control, while Mattison will have to find a way to build a top defense with mediocre talent. Personally I have all the faith a guy could have for a new coach, but my worry comes in  with the high expectations of the Michigan community, let alone their need for instant gratification. Michigan fans want Wins and they want them NOW! Hoke won’t have time to figure out how to work the offense and defense.  While the community will give him more of a benefit of the doubt being as he has been on the coaching staff before, they will still not tolerate not participating in  post-season game. Hoke has his work cut out for him, but in my opinion he is more than capable of building a great Michigan team. The only question is will the Michigan community continue to support him when and if his initial seasons ends in November.

Will Hewlett Packard’s San Francisco 49ers Sponsorship Achieve a ROI?


In July of 2010 Hewlett-Packard announced it would become a new sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers. Starting at the beginning of the 2010 season Hewlett-Packard was the “Presenting Sponsor” of the franchise including such things as the 49ers Training Camp. While any sponsorship relevant to sport more than likely results in a financial return, will HP products be of any interest to San Francisco fans?  HP senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Michael Mendenhall, said, “HP is synonymous with innovation. Pairing our brand with the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL, creates a dynamic combination that can bring together fans of both organizations.”

HP the Presenting Sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers

It seems they are hoping to pair the strong history and success of the San Francisco 49ers to HP products, which, in theory, is not a bad idea. Unfortunately we are in the era of the “Fair Weather Fan”, the fan who only supports to team that is successful. I have personally seen this being a Detroit Lions fan. I was fortunate enough to be a fan while the great Barry Sanders was still playing. While the Lions never made it to the Super Bowl, they did make post-season several times in 1990s. Unfortunately, the Lions have not seen much success since (excluding the last few weeks), caping it off by becoming the first franchise to go 0 -16. As a result all my family and friends who loved watching the Detroit Lions growing up, refuse to consider themselves a “Lions Fan”. In fact, referring to someone as a Lions fan is only step above an insult. I mention this because in the late 80s and early 90s the San Francisco 49ers were questionably the best team in the league with their only competition coming from the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately since those glory days the 49ers have not had much success. This year they cannot seem to find a consistent starting QB and they recently just fired their head coach.

Hewlett Packard visible during a Post-Game Interview with Mike Singletary

Sadly, I’m sure HP did not expect this San Francisco team that entered the season with such high expectations to go experience so many set backs.So although the 49ers have historically been a successful team, to the young market that HP appeals to, they are just another team that hasn’t had much success. I mention the “market that HP appeals to” because HP considers themselves one and the same with innovation. Being a company that prides itself on innovation, on introducing the latest and most technological products you must know that the older generation of people will not relate to you or your products. Many of us cannot get our parents to text us, let alone use touch screen desktops and web-printers. So going back to my original question, will HP receive a Return on Investment with their sponsorship of the San Francisco 49ers? Given the argument above, I believe not. With the team struggling on all levels this season, I believe it is safe to say the strong fan base of the 49ers is looking pretty weak. In addition to this the 49ers with their lack of success in more than the past decade, have not grab the attention of any new fans.

Marketing A Bad Team

September 24, 2010 1 comment

As a Michigan resident and Lions fan I’ve had the pleasure of having many of the Lions games “Blackout”. For a while when I said I was “watching the game” that meant I was sitting at my computer waiting for updates on ESPN’s Gamecast. I can still remember sitting at my computer during the 2009 season and seeing that the Lions were within the five yard line with seconds to go against the Cleveland Browns. I waited for 25 minutes before the final score came up. So how does a team avoid getting blackout? Well sell out, but that’s of course easier said then done. Winning teams fight to keep their tickets online, while losing teams fight to get people in the stadium. So how do you go about marketing a losing team to get people in the stadium? Make the customers’ experience, affordable, unique and memorable. As a intern for the University of Michigan Sport Marketing department I have the pleasure of doing a lot of marketing for the Big House. Even when the team was losing we still managed to get over a 100,000 fans in the stadium. Of course this has little to do with the marketing, but more on the tradition of the Big House. Being at a Michigan game, regardless of how the team is doing, is an experience like no other. Aside from the football, I also get to participate in the marketing for some of the lesser known sports such as Field Hockey, Gymnastics, and Track & Field. Increasing attendance at these sporting events is a little more difficult as you can imagine. People are less interested in these sports and naturally less likely to come. To give students and fans incentives to come we offer giveaways, food, and other prizes for people to come. For many games or events here at Michigan the students are given free pizza or hot dogs.

Ford Field during a good game

The Detroit Lions offered good deals on their concessions such as free refills on soda and popcorn at their home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. You want to attract fans to the games with the free food and prizes, but you want them to stay for the experience they had. You want to them to think of the sporting event when they are deciding how to entertain themselves or friends and family. You can’t continue to give free food for every event, but you can provide a great experience for them. The Lions are lucky in the since that they finally seem to have a team being put together. After a very successful draft and busy off-season the Lions have a building defense and a young offense with high potential. The new team facing the “Worst Team In The League” title is the St Louis Rams. The Rams are out to an expected 0-2 . St Louis is slightly different from Detroit in the sense that one decade ago St Louis was a threat. Detroit has not had an amazing team, a team worth watching, since the 1950s when they had one of the best secondaries in the league. St Louis made the right move and drafted QB Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft. Now the Rams only need a couple of rebuilding years to strengthen their team. They need to make sure they hold the fan base by keeping the atmosphere of the games high, because god knows it won’t be the success of their team that keeps them coming back.

Teams that are going through struggling years need to keep the atmosphere of their games high. Fans incentives for coming to games is to see their team win. When the team struggles to get those necessary wins it is up to the franchise marketing department and provide the atmosphere  to give fans incentives to buy tickets and come to the games. Most fans (excluding the life long die-hard fans) will use the excuse “I’m not going to pay to see my team get killed. I will be a fan from my own home and keep my money in my pocket until they prove to me they can win games again.” Providing that atmosphere will get fans to the games.

What Roethlisberger’s Off the Field “Play” is Costing the Steelers


With Pittsburgh Pro Bowl QB suspended for the first four to six games, the Steelers season should be more of a struggle than expected.  Their chance of making the  post season also seems questionable since the starting QB position is still uncertain.  In Roethlisberger’s absence, Byron Leftwhich made the start in the Pre-Season game against the Lions.  Suffering to Detroit’s new and improved front four, Leftwhich had little time to make plays as he was sacked three times and rushed several more while going 6/10.  Dennis Dixon showed a lot of potential by making plays with is legs and tossing a few solid passes during the game (even if it was against Detroit’s third and fourth string) but he is still far from the caliber of a typical starting QB in the NFL. So, how much is Ben’s off the field “play” costing the Steelers? Well, let’s start with the obvious, wins.
Looking at the first six games for the Steelers: Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers, Ravens, Browns, and Dolphins, it is far from an easy start to the season.  The Titans, Dolphins, Ravens, and Falcons had great seasons in 2009 and are all expected to improve during the 2010 season.  With Chris Johnson expected to have another great rushing season for  the Titans, Brandon Marshall helping Miami be a threat in the air, Aquan Boldin bringing his game to Baltimore, and Matt Ryan and Michal Turner expected to have another successful season in Atlanta, Pittsburgh will have to be nearly at its best to win those games.  Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible when there is an inexperienced quarterback at the helm.  Realistically, Pittsburgh should start 2-4 this season (wins over Cleveland and Tampa bay) and have very little chance of a post season. Big Ben’s return will be at the Superdome, home of the defending World Champion Saints, which isn’t exactly easing him back into the game. Due to a relatively difficult conference schedule after Big Ben’s return, probable wins over Carolina, Buffalo and Cincinnati will only boost the Steelers to an 8-8 finish.
Now, lets look at the Steelers’ season if Roethlisberger was not suspended.  The Steelers would win at least two more games, lifting them to 10-6.  Add a couple of upsets (e.g. Baltimore and Jets) and they are sitting nicely at 12-4.  This would put them in contention with the up-and-coming Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North title.  The difference from being a possible Wild Card contender to an AFC North Title contender goes beyond money, offering the team and players various benefits.  From hosting playoff games and additional merchandising, to overall additional coverage as a preeminent team, the benefits are significant.  Another bonus is mere bragging rights.  Also, simply playing in the game is priceless to a player and the rest of the staff. Although a successful team will actually lose money due to NFL revenue sharing, a successful post-season or Super Bowl victory will attract wealthy investors.
Therefore, it seems that Big Bens absence will cost Pittsburg post season play on top of four regular season games.  Although losses in revenue will get distributed throughout the league by the NFL Revenue sharing, the Steelers cannot evade the loss in apparel sales and fans, which will decrease the team’s overall value.

With Pittsburgh Pro Bowl QB suspended for the first four to six games, the Steelers season should be more of a struggle than expected.  Their chance of making the  post season also seems questionable since the starting QB position is still uncertain.  In Roethlisberger’s absence, Byron Leftwhich made the start in the Pre-Season game against the Lions.  Suffering to Detroit’s new and improved front four, Leftwhich had little time to make plays as he was sacked three times and rushed several more while going 6/10.  Dennis Dixon showed a lot of potential by making plays with is legs and tossing a few solid passes during the game (even if it was against Detroit’s third and fourth string) but he is still far from the caliber of a typical starting QB in the NFL. So, how much is Ben’s off the field “play” costing the Steelers? Well, let’s start with the obvious, wins.Looking at the first six games for the Steelers: Falcons, Titans, Buccaneers, Ravens, Browns, and Dolphins, it is far from an easy start to the season.  The Titans, Dolphins, Ravens, and Falcons had great seasons in 2009 and are all expected to improve during the 2010 season.  With Chris Johnson expected to have another great rushing season for  the Titans, Brandon Marshall helping Miami be a threat in the air, Aquan Boldin bringing his game to Baltimore, and Matt Ryan and Michal Turner expected to have another successful season in Atlanta, Pittsburgh will have to be nearly at its best to win those games.  Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible when there is an inexperienced quarterback at the helm.  Realistically, Pittsburgh should start 2-4 this season (wins over Cleveland and Tampa bay) and have very little chance of a post season. Big Ben’s return will be at the Superdome, home of the defending World Champion Saints, which isn’t exactly easing him back into the game. Due to a relatively difficult conference schedule after Big Ben’s return, probable wins over Carolina, Buffalo and Cincinnati will only boost the Steelers to an 8-8 finish.
Now, lets look at the Steelers’ season if Roethlisberger was not suspended.  The Steelers would win at least two more games, lifting them to 10-6.  Add a couple of upsets (e.g. Baltimore and Jets) and they are sitting nicely at 12-4.  This would put them in contention with the up-and-coming Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North title.  The difference from being a possible Wild Card contender to an AFC North Title contender goes beyond money, offering the team and players various benefits.  From hosting playoff games and additional merchandising, to overall additional coverage as a preeminent team, the benefits are significant.  Another bonus is mere bragging rights.  Also, simply playing in the game is priceless to a player and the rest of the staff. Although a successful team will actually lose money due to NFL revenue sharing, a successful post-season or Super Bowl victory will attract wealthy investors.
Therefore, it seems that Big Bens absence will cost Pittsburg post season play on top of four regular season games.  Although losses in revenue will get distributed throughout the league by the NFL Revenue sharing, the Steelers cannot evade the loss in apparel sales and fans, which will decrease the team’s overall value.