Thursday, September 12, 2013

THE BATTLE FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL




            Best thing that happened last Saturday?  Sonny Dykes quote after the game, “That falls directly on me, I did a poor job preparing our team."  

I once shot a commercial with Bear Bryant and he said, “When it’s good, they did it.  When it’s bad, I did it.”  

            Maybe it’s just Southern charm, but it’s wonderful to hear a coach take responsibility.  That sends a great message to all the kids.

            You can’t beat Memorial Stadium on a warm Saturday afternoon—even if you’re playing flag football against Portland State. 

            Normally I would be talking about one fan’s experiences at the PSU game.  But I’m too much of a snot.  I don’t recognize flag football games against (fine academic institutions though they may be) schools like Presbyterian, Eastern Washington, or PSU.  Had I season tickets to ACT, would I purchase them if it included a A Long Day’s Journey into Night performed by Berkeley high?  

            Who wants to give up a regular Saturday afternoon of naked Twister to see us play a team we should defeat ten times out of ten?  It’s not the way we were raised to view athletic competition.  It shows a lack of institutional character—and don’t say everyone does it.  Isn’t Cal supposed to be different?  The fact they almost beat us, has no relevance, either—it just adds to the embarrassment.

              We sit (stand actually, against the wall) high atop section D.  We can see the Golden Gate, (and now that the tree sitters are gone) the Campanile and the broad expanse of the Bay.

            We have a perfect view of the turf and of the Cannon which is getting more use than normal.  Often Great Grand Parents watch with pride as their children, grandchildren and their children take in a Cal game.

Sections CC, D and DD are magical, like so many sections in that stadium.  You have no idea the number of Cal families that have received splinters from those bleachers for generations.  (Note young Mr. Goff grew up attending Cal games and sitting in Section DD.  Now you know where he gets his swagger).  

No one gets it, but that is what’s lost when the TBDer’s schedule Thursday night or Saturday night games.  The Beer pongers may love it (what could be better than meeting co-eds late at night after a tough loss where heavy consoling comes into play)?

But family folk don’t.  And that is the Big Gamble being played in Strawberry Canyon as we speak.

The Pac 12 Newwork wants TV fans so they can charge more for the advertising.  Thursday night ratings may generate revenue, but it decreases family involvement—just look at the empty stadium in the attached picture.  Were fans not being turnd off by the thousands due to the scheduling mish mash, we might have had the traditional 35,000 regulars—plus the ones who come for the excitement of our new Bear Raid.

If we win, the Stadium will always be full and we could play all games on Saturday at 12:30 or 1 or pretty much anytime anywhere—maybe.   If we lose and play all those TBD games, the faithful will fall by the wayside and the stadium-generated revenue will fall significantly.  If we lose but play games at fan friendly times, stadium revenue will be significantly better, especially when we are playing flag football games against teams like Portland State.

            Scheduling is not the athletic department’s fault.  But we should pay close attention to how this plays out in the Bay Area—the land of Oz.

            Larry Scott et all are betting that Pac 12 football is such an exciting product, that if it’s marketed correctly people with no affiliation for Cal will come and pack the joint.  

            We’re not convinced—this is the Bay Area, remember--but we could be wrong.

            But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s what someone wrote me this week (referencing the tradition--busting talk of moving our home Big Game to Great America Amusement Park in Santa Clara (new 49ers stadium):

Your Notes are raising important issues that go much deeper than the venue of the Big Game andwhether Cal should retain baseball, rugby and gymnastics. The issues go to the core of what it means to be a great public university and what will be required of all of us to save it…… without a fundamental re-evaluation of the role of big time athletics in a great public university, I fear that we will be revisiting these issues again and again, but with diminishing success. At what point will the pressure to obtain more revenue to enable Cal to compete with the USC and Oregon overwhelm the opposition of the “traditionalists”? If Cal is willing to entertain the sale of the Big Game at Memorial Stadium for a million dollars of gross revenue, what is next?..... There is mounting evidence that the “business model” of the athletic programs at Cal and many other Division 1 schools (or whatever they are called these days) is not sustainable – either economically or morally. See Taylor Branch, “The Shame of College Sports”, The Atlantic (November 2011) at


… I have wondered how we might generate similar energy among the alumni to fight for the preservation of Cal’s academic traditions and its role in the state…. I wish we could marshal equivalent dedication to the preservation of Cal’s other traditions, including providing a superior public education to any California high school graduate who is able to meet the University’s entrance requirements?

….. decisions to eliminate an exemplary program like rugby speak volumes about the values of the institution. These decisions are symptomatic of a larger disease that is slowly degrading the University and its role in the state.  The challenge to the “traditionalists” among us is whether we are interested in agitating for all aspects of the University as much as we are willing to fight to preserve rugby and the Big Game at Memorial Stadium.

            It’s not just the soul of College Football that is at stake here.  It is the soul of the Greatest University in the World.
            People wonder why some of us get exorcised by “White Helmets and White Pants” for home games; piped in music instead of the band playing; the move away from “Cal” and the emphasis on “Berkeley”; moving Big Game to 49er Stadium; playing Big Game in October; TBD games; cancelling a bonfire rally; turning Memorial Stadium into an armed camp where “Show me your papers” is the overwhelming theme when walking around to visit friends; to say nothing of sock doll classes, “therapy classes; Scrabble classes; last in the Pac 12 accademically; bloated administration; rising tuitions; and this tremendous outreach to out of state and foreign students (at the expense of in state students of local tax payers)—the list goes on.  Each one seems petty—but in toto?

            As one woman (A looker too.  I met her last week decked out in all her blue and gold finery.  Class of 1950 and just the essence of a Cal lover) wrote Chancellor Dirks (she shared it with me): 

            Big Game Traditions when taken as a whole are not frivolous, they are part of the fiber that binds us to our school.

            I fear Cal lovers are breaking into two distinct groups.  Those that accept the world we now live in (it’s all about the dollar and we just have to make the best of it and go along with the pack) and the “Traditionalists” who are trying to maintain some sanity, perspective,  and (yes) tradition which made this University such a classic over the years.

            I sit there atop Section D and see the mini-me-tron play a commercial extolling the virtues of Cal.  But it ends with each student saying, “Berkeley”, “Berkeley”, Berkeley”—driving home the new emphasis away from Cal.

            At the bottom of this I’m printing Dan Moguloff’s letter saying why he believes I was in error in stating that the trend was away from Cal to Berkeley.  He makes his case, saying,  in Athletics, “Cal” will still stay supreme.  However, if that were truly the case, why would they run a commercial during a football game emphasizing “Berkeley?”  Or run a commercial on TV during our games saying “What do you see?  U.C. Berkeley.”  (BTW they stole that from Leslie Lafayette who came up with On a Clear Day UCLA back in the early 60’s—Herb Caen even used it—but I digress).  

Read it carefully.  Especially the reference to stake holders—apparently they are not the citizens of the State who know us as Cal.  You decide.

Go Bears—er Berkeley,

Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
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BELOW IS DAN MOGOLOFF’S LETTER EXPLAING WHAT HE TOLD THE FOLKS AT THE LAIF OF THE BEAR REGARDING BRANDING
Dear Mr. Warren,
I don't believe we have ever met, and therefore I have no idea if you attended my talk at the Lair this summer or based your description of my presentation on a second-hand report. Either way the statement you made on your blog is completely inconsistent with what I said, what we are doing and the goals we have in terms of "branding" at the university.
We conducted extensive research before beginning the branding process, talking with or surveying thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni…and a few things were absolutely clear: We have a split brand and even though that might not be consistent with best practices, that's the way it is and that's the way its going to stay. The survey responses and focus groups made it crystal clear that "Cal" is the equivalent of our secret handshake, a name that resonates deeply with the community and captures an essential and indivisible part of the university's essence. At the same time, the data were also crystal clear on the following:

  • When listing their alma mater on resumes students and alumni almost never use "Cal", only "Berkeley".
  • When speaking with people external to campus, particularly those who don't live in California, as in abroad or in other parts of the U.S., Berkeley is how they refer to the campus.
  • They want to have "University of California, Berkeley" on their diplomas.

Why is the above important? Because as industry professionals know and understand, a company or institution does not define it's brand, its stake-holders do. Otherwise you wind up with something that does not resonate, will not be perceived as authentic and will cause harm with the very people you care most about.
I talked about all of the above in depth at the Lair.
So, what are we doing? We are, together with Athletics and units across the campus, working on generating a modicum of consistency regarding how the university is referred to. In our research we also discovered that in the academic context---web sites, brochures, videos, etc----we were all over the map: "UC Berkeley", "University of California, Berkeley", "UC Berkeley", "Cal Berkeley", "University of California", and so on. So, after determining that the vast majority of our stakeholders prefer plain and simple "Berkeley" in the academic context, that's the moniker we want everyone to use in contexts that haven't traditionally been "Cal" country…and we are most definitely not looking to remove "Cal" form contexts where it has traditionally been used: Athletics,alumni communications and a whole slew of other areas. (Diplomas and official documents will still, however, carry our full, formal name.)

I could go in to details about the benefits we're already accruing from this effort and the communication goals that inform the process, but for the moment I just want to correct the record. I would be happy to answer any/all questions you may have and would be delighted to connect you with any number of people who were in the audience during my talk at the Lair who can validate what Im telling you. I regret that you or your sources so completely misunderstood the presentation.
I would also hope that you will see fit to correct the record on your blog so that people dont get needlessly dialed-up about something that is not happening, is not being contemplated and would be completely contrary to our goals and interests.
Sincerely,
Dan Mogulof

           





2 comments:

jhubbard said...

528Mogoloof piece:
He's so politically correct. Branding is the 21st century's version of selling cold remedies and snake oil from the tailgate of an old buckboard. All the folk are doing it and are making a lot of money selling the snake oil. Even here in little old Incline Village.

Just Wed I listened to a very trite, stale "marketing plan" for our little village. Forget the fact that most of us would prefer the quiet of all the yuppies staying in Californicated.

Back before Tedford got our hopes up I had a plan for us and the trees to buy a used jet, coordinate schedules and play schools with real student athletes and similar academics (the jet was because most of those schools are on the east coast - not LA or Corvallis). Then we found game (for a while).

I agree, pursuit of the almighty dollar corupts - absolutely

Ed Bustamante said...

It's Cal. It's Cal to the people that "already" care. Our "target" audience already call it Cal.
The point is that we, Cal, should not care, that much, about what people "abroad" think, or, those, not associated with The University.
Mr. Mogoloof is already losing paying customers!
Those of us that go to games if we are 3-9, or 9-3.

Customers buy "Bud", not Anheuser-Busch Inbev. To simplistic?