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Post A solution in search of a problem

Tuesday September 16, 2008

We want to increase Georgia’s national exposure. What Georgia fan could disagree with that goal for the program? We want Bulldog football to be popular, ubiquitous, and successful like Coca-Cola, Google, Toyota, or any other respected and well-known brand. It’s a business, Georgia football is a brand, and Damon Evans, like any good manager, wants to grow that brand.

My only question – and it’s one that I’ve asked since we first learned about this road trip to Arizona – is this: is Georgia’s national exposure really a problem that needs attention?

  • Recruiting: Georgia has had a recruiting class among the national top 10 (according to Rivals.com) for several years running. They have the advantage of being the flagship public school in a talent-rich state. Additionally, they have landed elite national prospects from as far away as Texas and New Jersey without playing in or near those states.
  • Popularity: Georgia is among the 10 top-selling institutions represented by CLC. Georgia merchandise is in demand. Season ticket interest is through the roof.
  • Reach: Thanks to the SEC’s popularity, over half of Georgia’s games this year will be on major national networks. Others will be on regional networks but available in homes and sports bars elsewhere through ESPN’s GamePlan. This isn’t 1940 or even 1985 when watching a team in person might be your only opportunity to get a look at them. It’s possible that interested persons in Gov. Sarah Palin’s town of Wasilla, Alaska, were able to pick up last Saturday’s game against South Carolina on rabbit ears via KTVA-TV in Anchorage.
  • Finance: Georgia’s financial success is well-documented and a credit to the management of Damon Evans and his predecessor. No issues here.
  • Reputation: If Georgia gets knocked for being a "regional program", it doesn’t show up in the polls. Silly issues like Knowshon’s hurdle aside, it’s hard to argue that Georgia gets slighted.

What am I missing here? I’m not impressed with the cliches – "in order to be the best you’ve got to beat the best." It’s not about ducking quality competition, but there are very real consequences to the team when you drop a trip to Tempe in the middle of the SEC schedule.

If Evans and Richt really see a perception and image problem with the Georgia brand, how about a national title or two first?

2 Responses to 'A solution in search of a problem'

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  • “If Evans and Richt really see a perception and image problem with the Georgia brand, how about a national title or two first?”

    I think that’s a chicken-or-egg proposition. Look at what’s happened in the rankings since the season began: We’ve won three games and have dropped two spots, to make way for two national brands, USC and OU. At this point, we’re officially out of the title discussion until one of those two loses.

    Now, how much of that is due to the brand recognition of USC/OU vs. Georgia’s perceived underperformance vs. GSU and Carolina depends on what you think would happen if USC or OU started their first three games the way we did. Personally, I think if either of those two teams started in the top 2 and went 3-0, they’d still be in the top 2, unless they dithered around with an obvious weakling, like Ohio State did with Ohio.

    We don’t get that latitude from the pollsters and I think branding has a lot to do with it.

  • “At this point, we’re officially out of the title discussion until one of those two loses.” — I don’t think this is true. If we won and dropped, I think those two could too. Granted, I have no evidence of this, but there’s no contrary evidence either.

    Here’s the thing: USC killed a BCS conference opponent (UVa) then did the same to a top-five, perennial title contender. I don’t see how USC at #1 can be argued, especially if you realize that preseason polls are and should be meaningless.

    OU at 2 I’m less certain about, but objectively speaking, Georgia has beaten, barely, exactly one BCS conference team, one that just lost to Vandy. All the resumes are short right now, but if one were voting purely on games played, not hype, where would we be? Not #3, I’m sure.

    So if OU and USC both win out, where do we fall? USC’s national brand will carry them, I agree, but that’s more of a function of being a top-3 caliber team for the last 7 years and being in a major market. But if it comes down to us and OU for #2, I think more immediate factors like schedule and, yes, even style points will matter.

    We want LSU, Bama, and (ugh) even Florida to win as many games as possible that aren’t against us. We need Mizzou, Texas, et al., to suck it hard out of conference. That, more than “brand”, will impact the polls.