We’re starting to wind down rivalry week, but if precedent means anything things will get fired up around here as Adam Jacobi of BlackHeartGoldPants generously steps up to the plate to shoot it straight through the 2011 Iowa filter. But first, yesterday was some pretty momentous news in Big Ten history. Brace for impact Northwestern fans. Starting in 2017 we will be going to a 9-game conference schedule and we drew the short straw and will be on the road for five of those games. The flip side is that 2018 will be the single most exciting home slate in modern NU history and likely the most expensive. An 8-game HOME schedule is a distinct possibility. Think about that. And oh yeah, it will be a big time schedule. The five Big Ten opponents remain to be seen and we also have a home date with Notre Dame and another one set with Duke with one more non-conference game to fill. This is going to be insane. Think about the revenue that year. It will be DOUBLE what it is in 2011 since those games will be sellouts (OK, Duke is a stretch) if we keep trending the way we’re going as opposed to six home games this year with Eastern Illinois and Rice on the slate. I keep mentioning to Jim Phillips that we should be having an expand-a-stadium concept as the ND and Nebraska games (if schedule holds we’d have them at home that year) could easily draw 75,000, granted, that would open up the door for too many opposing fans. Here is the key excerpt from Scott Chipman’s official release from Big Ten worldwide headquarters.
“Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division. The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.” – Excerpt from Big Ten press release on nine game schedule, August 4, 2011.
OK, positive signs. It looks like we have a couple of options for boat number four. One option would be a superfast boat that would leave later and get there at about the same time. It would hold up to perhaps 200 people which now affects us having to expand the Sailgate tailgate. It’s getting close, I promise. The revised target sale date is Wednesday, August 10. Thanks for your patience! We’ll have all of your questions answered that day. By now most of you know that Sailgate is a roundtrip boat excursion to and from the 9/17 at West Point that departs from Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers. Each ticket gets you roundtrip boat transportation, a kickass tailgate and a game ticket. We sold out three boats of 150 people in a combined time of less than 24 hours. We’ve been scurrying to secure the fourth boat and while we have substantative leads we don’t have a signed contract so it is still up in the air, but looking positive. So, stay tuned to LTP for more news and I promise as soon as we have a concrete update/solution/resolution it will be posted here. In the meantime, any of you alums with access to 150-person boat that the cost comes out to be $60-ish per person for the boat up and back, please raise your hand. IF YOU WANT TO BE ON THE WAITLIST PLEASE EMAIL ME at firstname.lastname@example.org AND TELL ME HOW MANY TICKETS YOU WANT TO PURCHASE (packages will be in the $130-$140 per ticket range). PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION! The waitlist gives you preferential treatment in line, BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO PURCHASE THE TICKET ON LTP WHEN WE LAUNCH SALES. We’re going to be a little more generous and keep the sales window open – as long as you purchase the tickets, we will be cross-referencing the waitlist and give you priority based on the order you were in the waitlist. We’re also looking to expand the tailgate bigtime as we have a lot of requests for tailgate only. Stay tuned for that as well.
Rivalry Week – BlackHeartGoldPants Returns To LTP
LTP: As you know I’ve spent every day of the entire off-season obsessing about nothing else other than beating Iowa in your home opener. But seriously, after 21 straight wins leading up to NU’s football Anno Domino of 1995, we all know the ‘Cats have enjoyed success vs Iowa (10-5). The recent trend of winning six of the last seven hardly makes it a rivalry in the “you can’t force a rivalry” unwritten rivalry handbook. With Nebraska an obvious border war and Minnesota and
Wisconsin already in the cue as traditional rivals, plus the Cyclones on the docket every year. Rank the rivalry pecking order for Iowa in 2011.
BHGP: Nebraska. They’re the red-headed stepchildren of the conference, they’re the most geographically sensible of any of Iowa’s interstate rivalries, and most of all, they don’t already have a bigger rival on their schedule. There are a lot of teams that hate Iowa (and I like that!), but few that hate Iowa _more than anybody else they play this year. It’s ISU, Northwestern (right? am I right about this? ed note: yes, you are), and now Nebraska.
2. Minnesota. It’s one thing when just Northwestern beats Iowa, but juuuuuuust Minnesota? Horrifying. We need to get the pig back.
3. Iowa State. It was bad, bad, bad when ISU was beating superior Iowa teams on a semi-regular basis (sound familiar?). But now that the balance of the universe is restored and Iowa’s back to whipping Cyclone ass up and down the field, it’s really hard to hate them. In fact, I’d have them below Northwestern if it weren’t for the fact that the ISU fans in my extended family just told me that they’ll be cheering for Nebraska over Iowa, and Nebraska damn near killed the Big 12. That’s some DEEP-rooted hate.
4. Northwestern. I’m sure you guys will activate your go-go-gadget-persecution-complex over this horrible slight, but the fact is that Iowa’s fans and Northwestern’s fans don’t really have much of a battleground except for Chicago, and let’s face it, neither of us have much of a claim on Chicago (despite jNWU’s best efforts).
5. Purdue. I mean #1! Purdue is #1! They’re OUR MOST HATED RIVAL. Jim Delany told us so. LTP: Uh, hey there bud. the Big Ten has told us Purdue is our rival! No fair!!!!
LTP: Let’s face it, you’ve got us right where you want us. We might actually be favored heading in to a game against Iowa (ed note: Iowa was 30th and NU 31st in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll released yesterday), which, by both teams’ historical track records means you have the upper hand. Both teams DLs are beyond question marks, but your offense seems to be in OK shape assuming Vandenberg steps in and utilizes his significant game experience to get to better than serviceable status. Are you expecting significant drop-off on either side of the ball this year or
is Marcus Coker simply THAT good he can carry this team?
BHGP: I’m expecting the dropoff more than other experts are, so I might be full of crap. I’m totally unsold on the interior of Iowa’s offensive line thus far, James Vandenberg needs to make it happen on the field before I start believing in him as an eight-or-more-wins-a-year QB, and the DL is a major problem area. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Iowa win as few as five games, but Phil Steele and Football Outsiders both have Iowa around 8-4 or so.
You’re right though, Marcus Coker is going to be hugely important, and if he starts trucking fools like what he did to Missouri in the Insight Bowl (that’s what Iowa’s bowl was, right? I should really look that up. Eh.), then Iowa’s going to have a very big year on the ground. McCall’s the #2 and he’s got some major potential, but if he’s seeing starter minutes by the jNWU game, something has gone terribly wrong. Luckily that never happens to Iowa tailbacks, right? Right? …uh-oh.
I think Dr. Saturday’s right, this game is a tossup, and I’m just glad it’s in Iowa City. I’ll also say that even though I think Iowa’s probably going to be favored by a few points (and is probably going to beat jNWU), I won’t feel safe until the Hawkeyes lead by more possessions than there are seconds on the clock.
LTP: In reading up on the Hawkeyes one consistent trend is the question marks among back-ups at the key skill position slots. Are you worried about this, or are you relying on the Ferentz magic regenerator to simply do what he does every year and manage to simply throw out deep depth chart players (ie. see RB peformance) in to action who instantly produce?
BHGP: Well, Ferentz doesn’t actually do that, but I’m sure he appreciates the compliment. QB depth isn’t going to be an issue unless JVB sucks, and Ricky Stanzi is pretty adamant that that’s not the case. RB depth isn’t where anyone wants it to be, especially with Rodney Coe off at juco, but like I said before, Coker-McCall is going to be fine as long as it holds up. TE is strong to quite strong. At WR, at the very least, there’s enough bodies there that a decent #3 and #4 ought to emerge, and once you’ve got your top 4, you’ve got about 90-95% of your production by WRs accounted for.
I always associate “skill position” with offense, by the way, but if you’re also referring to defense, yes, the secondary depth is a cause for concern. Safety is so bleak in the post-Sash-Greenwood era that Micah Hyde, who’s easily a starter at CB this year alongside Shaun Prater, got moved to FS. There’s a lot of potential for freshmen to play here, but we won’t know how likely that is until camp starts.
LTP: What’s the pervasive buzz in Hawkeye land about expectations for this team?
BHGP: It’s all over the place right now. Lots of optimism from some folks, lots of pessimism from others (me!). What has helped ease the worry is the undeniable fact that Iowa’s teams always seem to overproduce when there’s low expectations, and this team certainly isn’t going to be in any preseason Top 10 lists. So in a sense, we’ve got ’em right where we want ’em. At the same time, I always think that’s sort of a cognitive dissonance, and that there are major problems facing this team that will probably cost it a few victories against quality opponents.
LTP: Norm Parker is back and presumably healthy for the full season. Where does this defense rate in terms of challenges for the venerable DC?
BHGP: No. You cannot presume that a diabetic man with 1.5 legs will be healthy 4 months from now. You can’t. But he’s cleared to coach all the same, so here we are anyway. That aside, Norm’s always been happy when his linebackers are good, and this is a solid (if unorthodox) group of starters. They’re a lot smaller this year than in years past–averaging only about 225 across the board–but they’ve got the speed to take away the corners on the outside, and if their coverage skills have progressed to the point that guys like Angerer’s and Edds’ did in ’08 and ’09, Iowa’s pass defense should be just fine. The run defense between the tackles is going to be a concern until it isn’t, if that makes any sense. They need to step up and show they can stuff somebody, and that’s not a given (yet).
LTP: Thoughts on Iowa’s division both short term and long term? Likes, dislikes?
BHGP: Love it. Only wish Wisconsin was involved instead of Michigan State. Seriously, if Iowa had a division with Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Michigan, I could die happy right then and there. The name, however, might need a little bit of work. Don’t know if you’ve heard about the division names.
LTP: Oh, once or twice. Who is the one player NU fans don’t know well yet that we should be losing sleep over soon?
BHGP: This is a tough call because most of the guys with the hype on Iowa’s team are a year away from the presumable breakthrough; I could name four guys that have had some buzz, and they’re all second-string on the depth chart right now. The only one that’s ready to bust out right now is Marcus Coker, and you’ve apparently heard of him already.
So I’ll say Mike Daniels, who was a “fifth starter” of sorts on last year’s line but played his way into the actual starting lineup. Daniels is 6’1″, 280 (which causes serious leverage problems for tall guards), and mean. as. hell. He’s going to go from the 4th or 5th best D-lineman to the best on the team, and he’s got the nastiest attitude of anyone on the starting unit. He had 5 TFLs for loss and looked totally unblockable against Ball State, but faded late in the year. Look for him to shore up his consistency and start making real noise by the middle of October.
LTP: Rapid fire round. Least favorite all-time Wildcat?
BHGP: Least favorite is Darnell Autry. He totally ruined a November Saturday for me back in 1996.
BHGP: Favorite is Adrian Autry, because he missed a football game for… god, what was it, an internship with a vacuum company? What the hell was that? I’m not making that up, am I?
LTP: You’ve got me scrambling to remember. And I thought I was well versed in Mr. “no relation”. I’ll leave that one for our readers to sort out as I have zero recollection of that. Thanks for playing Adam and we look forward to seeing you back at our home away from home under the lights.
LTP PURPLE PLEDGE CHALLENGE
A shout out to Zach C. for moving in to second place on the soon to be published leaderboard for the August challenge. He converted four new season ticket holders and upgraded himself to a season ticket package. Four will count to the contest, while five will count to the overall total. Once we get the final orders in today, we’ll be able to publish the LTP Purple Pledge Challenge leaderboard which will be up this weekend.
This is is a daily update on the LTP Purple Pledge Challenge for NEW season tickets in conjunction with Northwestern. LTP has told NU we can deliver 500 NEW season ticket holders by 8/31/11 as part of the new Northwestern season ticket referral program. The challenge is pretty simple. Get new season ticket holders to sign up (season tickets start as low as $116 for end zone or $100 for young alums and go up to $200 for sideline sections) and have them give your account executive’s name. Or, if you want, call your new season ticket holder and give him/her your season-ticket-holder to be’s information so it can be tracked. We as a community will be sharing a fantastic prize to celebrate our accomplishment (TBD soon) and you’ll be able to get individual prizes as well based on how many tickets you’ve referred. For a full list of complete details and tips on how to convert friends, please click here. Also, remember you can DONATE your season ticket or purchase one, give it to LTP and I’ll ensure it gets put to use by PURPLE people. If you’d like to donate a season ticket to NU, simply click here. If you want me to be your referral contact me at email@example.com Remember the ticket office # is 888-GO-Purple (888-467-8775). Including our year-to-date LTP Purple Pledge (prior to 8/1) we have 95 NEW season tickets and need 405 more in the next 26 days! Let’s get over the 125 mark this week.
Speaking of Ticket Sales
Thanks to Scott Sloane for forwarding this in-depth feature on outsourcing ticket sales for college athletics. The group Aspire is making a name for itself by working on an upfront several hundred thousand dollar setup fee and then bringing a barrage of professional sales folks to work within college offices to drive ticket sales with huge commission upside. Northwestern made the decision to get the same professional approach but bring it under the roof and have it as part of the headcount so the commission dollars stay within the program. It is an interesting case study to monitor, but the bigger trend in the article is of bigger note to me. Northwestern is increasing season ticket sales at near alltime high percentages (1996 was quite the year to beat!) while schools like Tennessee are seeing 5-figure decreases in their sales. Granted, the Volunteer season ticket base is 33% more than what Ryan Field holds, but you get the point. Major market, crappy economy and the needle is moving the right direction in ticket sales. Notre Dame has gone to discretionary pricing (which NU does as well) and there are going to be even more challenges if the stock market continues to plummet. The fight for discretional dollars in this economy is as fierce as ever. Now if we could just hang a 9-spot in the “w” column, we’d be getting to near every game sellout for 2012, don’t you think?
Purple Mafia Kudos
A quick shoutout to PMPer Darren Rovell for one of the more innovative ways to see a bucket list item happen. The CNBC Sports business reporter is a social media maven and put it out there that he wanted to sing the national anthem at an MLB game. A host of teams flooded Rovell with incredible propositions including tutoring from the Four Tops, but Rovell went to the least nationally respected MLB brand (perhaps b/c of his NU underdog love?), the Tampa Bay Rays. They won the “contest” by putting together a fully intergrated social media experience around Rovell’s appearance and that struck a chord. You talk about putting yourself out there, give it up for Rovell to have the cajones to sing both the Canadian national anthem AND the Star Spangled Banner on television in front of a live audience. Here is the recap from MLB including video of Rovell’s singing.
Oh by the way the ACC preseason offensive player of the year and defensive player of the year are BOTH from BC. They’re not on the radar in rankings, but the early line came out and they are favored by 7 over Northwestern. Got ’em right where we want ’em. Now only if we can get them in the Top 25 in three weeks with zero games.