Thursday, December 06, 2007

What's real and what's spin in ESPN's Peach article

Many of you have sent the ESPN article on the Peach Bowl's selection. It is an interesting look at how the teams are selected. However, some of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are some sad truths about BC in here but you also have to realize that in exchange for the access the Chick-fil-A Bowl granted the writer, they used the article as an outlet for their spin too. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl wants it to appear that they struggle over the teams. The reality is they want the best event possible. The game is secondary.

Here are some key quotes:
It was another bad weekend for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Nerves seem to be on edge and not just because the committee's food -- Chick-fil-A nuggets, what else? -- has yet to arrive.

"Too many teams lost, we canceled the food," Robinson joked.

Last week's preferred flavor -- Alabama vs. Clemson -- won't happen. Boston College beat the Tigers 20-17 at Death Valley to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Eagles have now beaten Virginia Tech and Clemson, two of the more attractive teams for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Worse, the Crimson Tide lost to Louisiana-Monroe 21-14 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., dropping their record to 6-5 overall.

My take: even when things were going good, they were thinking of other teams.

"We haven't made a decision," Stokan said. "I can't remember it ever being like this. You've got so many situations where it's going down to the last game."

Boston College and Virginia Tech will play in the ACC championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., the following Saturday. If the Eagles win, the Hokies will return to Atlanta for the second season in a row. If the Hokies win, things get more complicated. Stokan has had positive discussions with Boston College athletics director Gene DeFilippo, but Chick-fil-A Bowl officials remain concerned about the Eagles' traveling fan base.

Stokan changes his weekend plans to attend both the ACC and SEC championship game. He wants to see how many Boston College fans make the trip to Jacksonville.

"I'm going to watch them play and see how they do," Stokan said. "I'm going to see what the injuries are. I want to talk to people and see if I can get a feel for how many people they'd bring to Atlanta. We do know we'll take Virginia Tech if they lose."

Before the meeting is adjourned, the committee gives Stokan authority to ultimately decide which teams will be invited to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

The guy left the game while the score was tied. He wasn't concerned about how we played. He was concerned about ticket sales. This is how our poor showing in Jacksonville is going to stay with us for a long time.

The ACC choice still hasn't officially been made. Since the Chick-fil-A Bowl selected Miami in consecutive years in 2004 and 2005, Stokan feels he can't afford to select a school that might not sell its required ticket allotment of 17,500. The Hurricanes sold fewer than 10,000 tickets in each of those years, making the Chick-fil-A Bowl a soft ticket. After discussing the situation with Robinson and Chuck Fruit, the Chick-fil-A Bowl's chairman of the board, he decides to select Clemson over Boston College.

What they fail to mention is that those Miami games sold out. BC would have sold out, especially with Auburn there. But it is more than selling out. They want fans to show up and spend. They want it to be a destination. And they want a sure thing. A game between BC and Auburn probably would have sold out. A game between Clemson and Auburn did sell out.

In the end, Stokan's decision proved to be the right one for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Clemson sold its allotment of 17,500 tickets in less than 24 hours. Auburn's pool of 15,700 tickets was gone by Tuesday morning.

I don't think we were ever as wanted as the article portrays. Stokan needs to give lip service to the process and merit. But if we want to be part of this process we need to change our behavior. We need to start traveling.


BCDoubleEagle said...

I have to hand it to the Chicken Nugget Bowl. They have done a fastastic job of manufacturing hype around their bowl. Between Leeman Bennett's blog, their official Youtube videos, and this article, they have really succeeded in making their bowl appear to be a marquee event that everyone should desperately want to be a part of. Brilliant marketing.

MadJay said...

I think the ChickFilA Bowl does an excellent job of marketing as well. I also think that if BC had turned out for the ACCCG, then the Eagles would have been invited to the ChickFilA Bowl.

It was a hell of a good game and BC is obviously a fantastic team but until the Eagles travel better, they will be destined for worse bowls than the product on the field would otherwise justify.

MadJay (from TechSuperFans)

X said...

I don't know if you would have this, Brian, or if BC does, but is there a breakdown of how many alumni live in particular regions of America?

It seems that in the past, BC was heavy in the Northeast, and though it's expanded well since then, I have this potential misconception that BC grads still stay up there. It also seems that the majority of BC fans have some sort of tie to the school, and so if a more widespread fan support isn't located in the Northeast, it isn't necessarily located in heavy dosages anywhere else.

Some sort of map with numbers/percentages would be fantastic.

chicagofire1871 said...

I went to a lunch with Gene when he was out in Palo Alto in October and he commented that Fr. Leahy had asked him to schedule the USC and Northwestern games to cater to our large fanbases in California and Chicagoland.

No numbers, but that's from the boss himself.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Sebastian -

Here is the data you're looking for:

X said...

Beautiful, thanks BCDoubleEagle. That's exactly what I was looking for!