Time To Start Bundling
Can you hear that drumbeat? It’s starting to get a little louder. Yes, the Carmody “question” will begin to surface here as NU’s season is two weeks away from ending when the ‘Cats, at best, will make it to the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament IF they are lucky enough to pull a #10 over #6 upset on March 14 at 5:30 pm ct. This, despite last night’s close-but-no-cigar repeat of a repeat of a repeat of a repeat in our scintillating, yet deflating predictable script with Ohio State basketball. Barring the biggest four day miracle in college basketball history, the ‘Cats will end the season under .500 and the debate over Bill Carmody’s future will be at its peak. I’ll be weighing in with my two cents at that time, but articles like this one by the Chicago Tribune’s (and WSCR) Dan McNeil are already surfacing.
McNeil’s call for change by Jim Phillips comes with two themes that are all too familiar. First, the bar set by Pat Fitzgerald is the smoking gun argument for why McNeil believes allowing NU hoops to be a perennial cellar dwellar is no longer acceptable. No more excuses and he scoffs at the hint football players are smarter than basketball players, in general. We’ve all seen and heard those arguments before. “If football can do it…” The second one, though, is one that is likely to sting more when the execs in Evanston read the Tribune today. It’s about being relevant. McNeil acknowledges this concept right near the start of his piece:
“Northwestern basketball isn’t a subject many people are willing to engage. Hell, I’m reluctant to write or talk about it for fear of losing my audience.” – Dan McNeil, Chicago Tribune March 1, 2013
Right there. Ouch. McNeil goes on to talk about the fact you can’t go anywhere around Chicago without seeing the brand promise of “Chicago’s Big Ten Team”, including signs for basketball. The marketing position rings hollow when media folks are scared to even bring up the topic for fear of losing their audience. With so much buzz about the Wildcat football team, this disparity in just about everything between the two programs may end up being Carmody’s end of the line.
Several weeks ago, a debate on the comments section opined for Jim Phillips to really lay out the basketball vision for the fans. Despite what you may or may not think about whether or not you are “owed” that by Northwestern Athletics, the larger point is that with football, the mission and vision are clear because Fitz talks about it to the media. Daily. The vision this year in football is Big Ten Championship or bust. Anything less than making it to Indianapolis is going to be seen as a disappointment by the coaching staff and team. What would’ve seemed like hollow hot air a year ago, has a 10-win season and nearly all the key pieces back as the wind behind this momentum. With basketball it is a perennial “wait til next year” when we MIGHT get the chance to potentially get in to an NCAA Tournament (spoiler alert: my postseason posts on this subject will not be predicting March Madness for the ‘Cats in 2014). McNeil echoed this want for at least an understanding of the future path for basketball when he stated:
“I want to hear Phillips outline a mission statement that holds the Northwestern basketball program to the same standards as Pat Fitzgerald’s football team. There is no acceptable excuse for disparity between the two sports”
It will be very curious to see how the media approaches this story in the coming weeks. That is, if they don’t fear losing their audience by even engaging in the conversation at all. Now, back to football.
BUNDLE BABY BUNDLE
Starting next week, you will see some of the website enhancements going in to effect. We’ll be starting with the minor ones, before reshaping the home page layout. One of these items will be a call-to-action button linking you directly to purchasing football season tickets. Based on the unsolicited emails I’ve already received, we’re going to go for another 200 NEW season ticket holder campaign. A common thread from those of you who have already purchased new season tickets and let me know about it, is the bundling practice you’re invoking.
A handful of you have purchased two additional tickets in advance of knowing you’ll be able to work the summer cookout circuit and convince friends to sample the NU football product, especially this year. With Ohio State and Michigan anchoring a stellar home slate that also includes Michigan State, Big East champ Syracuse and Minnesota among others, 2013, to me, has the potential to be 1996-ish in terms of getting us to our goal of sold out games with mostly purple for the entire 2014 season. I’m going to have lunch with Mike Polisky soon and talk to him about this recent surge of success and also mention the fact that it is important for ticket account execs to be able to really work with buyers to try and get these add on seats directly next to/around the existing season ticket holder. Personally, my section (shout out to 131!), will be growing from 6 to 13 this year, just based on my ability to pull this off. So, get ready for shoutouts and a season ticket scoreboard and think about the bundling opportunity. Yes, it is an investment to purchase a pair of extra tickets without knowing they’re accounted for, yet, by fans willing to cover your costs, but have some faith in your friendships…and the fact the ‘Cats will entertain.
Love The Links
A couple of noteworthy links to share with you on this first day of March. SippinOnPurple articulated my sentiments with this post on why NU is the most boring team to blog about. Said another way, we have little drama, and that is a good thing, unless of course you are responsible for churning out content on a daily basis! They also unearthed a great stat – Northwestern is now one of two programs in the entire country to have zero coaching changes in the past three seasons (I’m assuming this includes THIS season, since I believe the Dennis Springer for Kevin Johns trade was prior to the 2011 season).
I love reading negative press about our competition’s hires. Well, as the assistant coaching carousel continues in the B1G this offseason, Michael Bird of SBNation rips Michigan State’s hiriing of offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. Bollman was the offensive architect of Ohio State’s Tresselball, which I was always amazed by. Ohio State would be up 30 on us and fans would be ripping him for the boring play-calling. Anyways, Bird makes the case that THIS hire exemplifies why the B1G is struggling as he takes it to the larger point of the lack of real innovators in coordinators is leading to a less-than-sexy style of play for potential recruits. Northwestern gets the noted exception in the piece.
Your Site, Your Content
We asked, you delivered and now we respond. We recently hoisted up a poll to give you the opportunity to help drive content in the coming weeks. Here is how you responded:
What Would You Like To See In Next Few Weeks?
- Mostly football w/little bit of basketball (39%, 178 Votes)
- Keep the current 50/50ish mix (32%, 146 Votes)
- Football only! (25%, 112 Votes)
- Let’s solely focus on basketball as it is a critical time in NU hoops history (4%, 19 Votes)
Total Voters: 455
Wow. Nearly two-thirds of the 455 respondents called for either football only (25%) of mostly football with a little bit of basketball (39%). Message heard. You’ll note the mix of content between now and the end of the basketball season will indeed reflect this want. Be forewarned, though, once the basketball season ends, we’ll be going heavy on NU hoops during March Madness as the future of one of our two key programs will be in full blown Carmody mode.