I hope it was worth it.
Ohio State and Michigan got about a half-million dollars each for whoring out 100 years of the greatest rivalry in sports. I know it sounds like a nice chunk of change, but what they gave up wasn’t equal in value to what they got back.
They gave up honor, tradition and any last vestiges of the antiquated notion that anything is more important than money in the big business of college sports.
In return, they got a few lousy bucks to pay for some university real estate deals, athletic scholarships and something for the library.
Considering the fact that we’re always told that the OSU athletic department is self-sufficient (i.e. they make enough money to cover their expenses) and has been for seven years now, I’m not sure why there’s such a need for scholarship money.
Just this summer, the athletic department boasted that it was expecting to put about a million dollars into its “rainy day” fund, pushing that account to about $5.5 million. This is not a school that is out of money and about to cut its football program, that needs to do something desperate. Hell, this school isn’t even about to cut it’s women’s pistol team.
As for the other stuff? That’s not the athletic department’s problem. Yes, it’s nice, but you don’t need to sell your soul to make a nice contribution.
Think about it; if you were living comfortably off of your normal work income, would you go stand on a street corner late at night in a short skirt and fishnet stockings just to make sure you could give a little something extra to a charity group? Of course not.
It’s somewhat appalling that neither OSU nor Michigan apparently learned anything from this summer’s ill-fated partnership between movie promoters and Major League Baseball.
You might remember that. They sold ads on the bases, fans revolted and MLB killed the deal. Why, if that earned such a powerful backlash, would this be viewed as a good idea a matter of a few short months later?
Here’s the really ridiculous thing; let’s say OSU and Michigan signed on for twice as much money as they’re getting right now, and each ended up pocketing a million bucks or so over the two-year deal.
If the athletic directors had simply come to the fans before signing their souls away, they could have raised the money with their dignity intact.
All they had to do was ask, “if you had to choose between whoring out the rivalry to some soulless corporation, or paying an extra 10 bucks to get into the OSU-Michigan game every year, which would you pick?”
I guarantee that both schools would have easily sold out their stadiums at that higher price. With 100,000 fans paying an extra 10 bucks to get in… voila. You’ve got one million bucks every year to split between the schools.
In fact, I’d be willing to mail a check for $10 to Andy Geiger right now if he cancelled the deal. I bet thousands of other people would, too.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. In all likelihood, greed is going to win out over tradition, just like it usually does.
OSU and Michigan almost certainly won’t back out of the deal. So what does that leave?
If you don’t think I’ve dedicated myself to personally trying to kill SBC’s business and make them rue the day they signed on for this deal… well… you don’t know me very well.
For example, did you know that in the latest J.D. Power & Associates rankings
, SBC and its affiliates (SBC Yahoo internet providers, Cingular wireless phones) ranked average or below average in every category according to their Ohio customers?
Local service: Check
Long Distance (Bundled): Check
Dial-up Internet: Check
High-Speed Internet: Check
Also, SBC also acquired Ameritech in 1999, meaning these are the same people who were ordered to pay more than five million dollars to Ohio consumers a few years back because of dreadful customer service
This average or below average company just wrote a check to become part of the greatest rivalry in sports. Sure, it probably helps boost their sagging image. But I bet everyone involved was too busy imagining themselves rolling around in all that money to even consider what this does to the image of the game?
This is the company whose CEO could very well end up on television during the game, standing on the sidelines talking about how wonderful his company is and how excited they are "to be a part of this wonderful rivalry."
You’ve seen those dreadful interviews with corporate executives during bowl games, and you know just how ridiculous they are. The guy has nothing to say and just prattles on endlessly like an idiot because he bought his way onto TV.
You’ve probably also seen how sponsors get to paint their logos right on the grass of the field. There was a 10-yard long chip company logo painted on the grass at the Fiesta Bowl during the national championship.
SBC slaps an even bigger logo on the field of another of their properties, the Cotton Bowl.
We’re told that the field won’t be painted, but rest assured, I’ll be watching the stadium webcams very closely the day before the Michigan game. If there’s a company logo painted on the grass, I’m grabbing a couple buckets of green paint and fixing the problem.
Someone’s got to protect the dignity of this series, and its clear that the people in charge will be too busy counting their cash to do so. I’m confident that I’ll get bailed out in time for kickoff.
I don’t know whether the stupid guy on TV is part of the deal, and I know the ugly logo defacing the field supposedly isn’t. Frankly, it’s almost irrelevant, because if it’s not part of this deal it almost certainly will be in the future.
Welcome to the slippery slope of selling out, and after a series of baby steps over the last decade, OSU and Michigan both took a huge leap this week.
This is on par, or perhaps even worse that naming a new arena after a crappy furniture store instead of a legendary basketball coach. Not that anyone would do something as ridiculous as that.
If you’d asked me this time last week whether Ohio Stadium would ever be renamed after a corporation, I would have said no. Now I’m not so sure. If someone wrote a big enough check (eight zeros?), you might get to hear Brent Musberger waxing poetic about Wendy’s Stadium, the big horseshoe on the banks of the Olentangy.
Or if Planters offered up enough cash, would OSU consider putting “Mr. Peanut” stickers on the players’ helmets for big plays?
It sounds ludicrous, but now that the price has been set on something as central to Buckeye football as the Michigan game… can you really say it can’t happen? More importantly, can you believe the folks in charge when they say it won’t happen?
Think about it; one of those "get cash fast" places seems like a perfect fit for the basketball meetings between the two schools.
Maybe Michigan and Michigan State could sell out their game to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters foundation, in honor of the programs’ relative positions in the state.
The people who made this deal sold more than the naming rights to a football game. They sold their pride, their class and the last notion of the purity of college sports.
I hope it was worth it.