College Football is a Brand Business

If you know me, you know that I love (American) football season. I grew up in Philadelphia where I think the hospitals do something to newborns to make them like football. I did my undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech and it just made my fan status rise. There's nothing like jumping up and down to Metallica as your team enters the stadium. But people, it's a business and the 2011 BCS bowl game selections remind us of that more than ever.I've seen the word travesty more than once used to describe what happened last night. Yes, Virginia Tech and Michigan were selected for the BCS bid over higher ranked Kansas State and Boise State. Am I beyond excited. Yep. Did they both deserve it? Maybe, maybe not.

My sister and brother-in-law both went to Michigan. My Dad's from Michigan. I'm surrounded by it. And while I'll never be a fan of the maize and blue, I've been waiting for this match-up forever (mostly to shut up my brother in law, but that's another story).

The deal is, these are two teams with two of the best brands in college football, hands down. Virginia Tech's been in the postseason every year since 1993 and it's stadium was voted by ESPN as the number one scariest place to play. Michigan has the biggest college football stadium in the country which it regularly fills. It's also got the highest winning percentage in college football history.

The bottom line is we're good, and we fill stadiums.

The BCS isn't fair. It's a business. Capitalism people. And whether it's right or wrong, we're fans of this business that's evolved.

You see, brands drive business. And you've got two iconic brands here. Virginia Tech fans and Michigan fans are rabid and have been for a long time. They wear the team colors to the game (not stilettos) and their fans are as loyal and travel wherever the team goes. That loyalty means every Sugar Bowl seat will be filled and merchandise sales will skyrocket. It's also gold for TV and advertisers.

There's also the PR factor. Articles about the "travesty" are dominating my feeds today. But it's press, and promotion, and we're all talking about it.

My Michigan-laden family will argue that Michigan has a better brand, but I can't tell you that. What I can tell you is that I've watched Virginia Tech INTENTLY build its brand since I started there in (ahem) 1993. Its brand is bolstered by a coach who's been almost entirely scandal-free (save one football-track team fight) in his 25 years, fans who are known for being well-behaved at games, and we have the nation's longest winning streak of 10+ win seasons in all of College FBS.

I'll be the first to admit, I hate the BCS. I've always advocated for a playoff. But this is a business. And business likes strong brands. Strong brands mean money.

As I type this, I'm using my Mac. It's not the best computer and has a low market share in business sales, but Apple's won the brand war--and it's not just about sales.

So the Sugar Bowl 2012 may seem bitter to KState and Boise State fans---for that I'm sorry. But the fact is, we're BCS ranked and we have a great brand. And until the system changes, that's the system. And this year, that's a sweet victory for this Hokie.




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