NCAA branding

Yet another unsolicited blog from the maverick J.R. Ewing. I look at the NCAA and see a serious marketing/branding issue. I think they recently hired a PR guy...they should have just hired me, all solutions to their problems will be revealed.

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But back to the task at hand. The NCAA is missing the boat on a lot of things, not having a playoff is probably one, but there are two much more obvious ways I shall outline.

1) Bowl Game names

So it occurs to me as I watch the New Mexico Bowl and the St. Petersburg Bowl. Who is naming these things? I understand how sponsorships drive the bowl revenue, and that in tight times, cities are stepping up as primary sponsors (as the primary beneficiary of the tourism revenue). But they can still do better. Below, I outline "broken" bowl names, and what they should be according to J.R.

New Mexico Bowl - Sponsored by the state I assume. I'll be honest, there isn't that much positive association with New Mexico in terms of marketability. How to fix? I look no further than the ads on the field "Land on Enchantment". Why not the "Enchantment Bowl"? Or "Land of Enchantment Bowl". Kill two birds with one stone, analysts give you the slogan every time they analyze, and when people make the connection, they think "New Mexico, Land of Enchantment". Not "my goodness, that bowl couldn't even come up with something interesting about their state"

St. Petersburg Bowl - Sponsored by the city I assume. Same as above. I don't know that much about St. Pete, but perhaps a "Florida Gulf Coast Bowl" or "Gulf Beach Bowl" of "Prawn Bowl" would give the audience a bit more than just "St. Pete". I vacation annually in Florida on the Gulf Side, their missing an opportunity here.

Without expanding so much, same thing for the following bowls (with better names):

New Orleans Bowl - Bourbon Bowl, Jazz Bowl, Louis Armstrong Bowl. When you see those things, you automatically think of N'awlins, but instead we get the generic.

Las Vegas Bowl - Casino Bowl, Desert Oasis Bowl, Gambler Bowl. A bit more tricky here, with the NCAA wanting to distance itself from gambling, but hey, they put the bowl here!

Hawaii Bowl - Aloha Bowl. Period. Hawaii = Aloha State, it used to be that, name it that!

Texas Bowl - Oil Bowl, Energy Bowl, Derrick Dandy, Bluebonnet Bowl, Lone Star Bowl. I like Derrick Dandy, if you're willing to ditch the need for "Bowl" in the name of the game.

Chick-Fil-a Bowl - This one just has to be the Peach Bowl. At least put the name back b/w Chick-Fila and Bowl. Come on...Atlanta = Peaches!

International Bowl - Maple Leaf Bowl, Canada Bowl, etc. International might as well be Mexico, Japan, or London.

And finally, the worst of the lot "BCS Championship Game". First of all, BCS has an extremely negative connotation. There is no real "Bowl" tie in, it's not the BCS Bowl, or BCS Champ Bowl. It's the BCS Championship game. This is extremely similar to the "AFC-NFC Championship Game" of 1967 and 1968, if all the football watching public hated the AFC and NFC and had a negative image of it. The genius of naming the Super Bowl has reached so far, the ads can't even reference it (but rather have to say "big game sale").

Several solutions.

Coaches Bowl - It is the Coaches Poll that votes for it.
Collegiate Bowl - Smack a bit of academia
Title Bowl - The winner does get at least one title.
Trophy Bowl - The winner does get the hardware.

or name it after a great coach:

Bryant Bowl
Bowden Bowl
Stagg Bowl

Hails out to the following bowls, for keeping the name representative of the area:
Music City, Independence, Holiday, Sun, Gator, Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Liberty, Alamo, Fiesta, Orange. Some of them kept by rule (i.e. BCS Bowls can't take a title sponsor). But Alamo and Holiday, I know what those bowls are and where they are.

The tough "in-between" are the sponsor bowls. Pizza joints, Brakes establishments, nut producers, sporting goods outlets, credit cards, and banks all have their hands in some of them. Most don't have too many regional ties, but I would submit the following:
Little Caesars = Motor City Bowl
Meineke Car Care = Carolina Pine Bowl
Emerald = Fog Bowl
Eagle Bank = Capital Bowl (or Presidents Bowl)
Champs Sports = Tangerine Bowl
Humanitarian = Potato Bowl
Armed Forces = Cowtown Bowl
Insight = Copper Bowl
Outback = Hall of Fame Bowl
Capital One = Grapefruit Bowl
Papajohns = Iron Bowl
GMAC = Mardi Gras Bowl

2) That was just my first suggestion, the next is in the conference names. Just saying "Big" isn't enough. Give me a regional area and you've got something. First of all the good:

Atlantic Coast Conference
Southeast Conference
Pacific 10 Conference
Mountain West Conference
Western Athletic Conference
Sun Belt Conference
Midwest Athletic Conference

I can pretty much tell you where those are, without even knowing if they are powerful or not. But the following have issues:

Big Ten
Big Twelve
Big East

The Big 10 has 11 and is going for 12. The Big 12 is perhaps the most thoughtless name after being given an opportunity to name themselves ever. I propose the following for each:

Big Ten: Great Lakes Conference, Midwest Conference.
Big Twelve: Great Plains Conference, Breadbasket Conference, Middle America Conference, Southwest Conference
Big East: Eastern Conference, Eastern Athletic Association, Great Eastern Conference.

Alas, we will carry on with very generic conference names and crappy bowl names. Especially the ones named for cities or states, throw your slogan in there, nobody cares about the states of New Mexico, Texas, or Hawaii, but it should be Enchantment, Lone Star, and Aloha.


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