Invest in your facilities...using James Franklin's secret weapon
Nearly every university in the country is seeking to increase revenue. The vast majority of revenue on any college campus comes from enrollment. Thus, easiest way to increase revenue is to attract more students. Unfortunately, that's easier said then done.
Most teenagers' first opportunity to see a campus comes either in person or on television (or even on the internet these days) in connection with a live sporting event; more often than not a football game. In more ways than one, college football is a huge driver for enrollment and few understand that better than university presidents and athletic directors.
Over the past 5 years (and we suspect this trend will continue) we have seen a massive investment in upgrading athletic facilities as colleges and universities have recognized there importance in generating long-term revenue growth for the university as a whole. We see quotes nearly every week from a university president crediting success in athletics with being a major driver university enrollment (and revenue) as a whole.
Around the country colleges and universities are investing hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading their facilities to appeal to prospective students and the smart ones are highlighting what differentiates themselves from the competition (and make no mistake, universities are competing for all students, not just student athletes).
Last month we toured nine of the Pac-12 universities and got an inside look at each university's facilities. The amount of investment ongoing out there is truly remarkable. Without exception, each of the nine programs we visited were either in the middle of a major construction project or were in the planning phases of one...and the three that we didn't make it to are all doing the same. Truly the Pac-12 is building for the future; much like many universities in the SEC have done over the last decade.
The new on campus facility that USC is finishing up (completion is on target for late July) is truly going to be one of the nicest in the country. Although they are still putting the finishing touches on the facility; the walk through we did, combined with the renderings and the videos we saw of the finished product blew us away. There are creative ideas that USC is implementing that we haven't seen anywhere else in the country. We asked USC senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson how they came up with the creative vision for the new facility and he told us that he and athletic director Pat Haden had toured a large number of other facilities in the country and had met with a number of firms about working on the project. In the end, USC hired a company out of Nashville, Advent, to serve as "lead environmental graphics designer" for the project.
We were already familiar with Advent as we had seen their work on Auburn's indoor facility, in Vanderbilt's new locker room and at Mississippi State; but we didn't realize they worked all over the country.
Jackson told us, "Advent's creativity and energy for the project was evident from the start. They have a passion for story-telling and will insure that the walk-path for USC student-athletes, recruits and donors is unlike anything in the country. We wanted our displays to be cutting-edge and impacting while also capturing our unparalleled history and success across all 21 of our sports. While the project is still ongoing I'm very confident Advent is going to deliver on all fronts."
Recently we spoke with John Roberson, CEO of Advent, about their business and we came away very impressed. Advent works with colleges and universities across the country on programs in athletics and in academics. Roberson, in fact, had just attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new student center at Texas A&M. We asked Roberson how the company has been so successful in what is truly a competitive design market and what we heard made so much sense...Roberson told us that their staff spends nearly all of their time on campuses across the country listening to what their clients want and then bringing their ideas to life, "We help our clients differentiate themselves." Roberson says that in order to be successful their designs have to appeal to prospective students; while at the same time evoke a sense of pride and enthusiasm from employees, administration, donors and alumni.
At FootballScoop we like to inform coaches and administrators across the country about great companies. While doing our research for this article we reached out to Mississippi State's athletic director Scott Stricklin and Vanderbilt's head football coach James Franklin for their perspective on working with Advent. Pretty good feedback...
We spoke with Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin about their experiences working with Advent and Stricklin was quick to rave about them, referring to them as, "Mississippi State's creative / graphics firm of choice". Stricklin added that the Advent staff "Truly goes out of their way to fully understand what we're trying to do." Stricklin added that they are currently working on another project for State as we speak.
Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin told us, "Ever since I was hired at Vanderbilt, Advent has been by our side helping us tell our story, infusing our vision throughout our facilities and bringing it/them to life. Advent listens, interprets and responds to our ideas extremely well. Advent realizes the emotional impact design can have on our entire program. Great facilities, coupled with outstanding environmental graphics, sends an important message to all of our fans, current student-athletes, staff members and recruits that they matter. I wish Advent only worked for us…they could be our secret weapon!"
Below are some pictures of some of the work that Advent has done for their clients. Visit Advent's website to learn more about projects they have completed, or to simply be inspired.
Once USC's facility is open we'll bring you pictures from there as well; trust us, the place is impressive.
We recently spent half a day with UCLA football and the other half at USC's offices. Eye-opening to say the least.
When you enter UCLA's coaches offices most of the initial visuals you see focus on UCLA beating USC. Honestly, over at SC, you virtually don't see any mention of UCLA (most of the focus is on their 11 National Championships); but lurking somewhere; perhaps in a closet [not much space in the current offices], perhaps just in Lane's mind, someone seems to constantly be thinking of ways to out-recruit the boys across town.
The latest dig surfaced today when Scott Enyeart who covers USC football tweeted, "USC lists its game @UCLA as a "home game" on its schedule." Just another day in L.A.
Willie Fritz jumps out of an airplane
That's the short version of Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz jumping out of an airplane!
Full version with explanation is below. Enjoy!
NCAA closes case on South Carolina (minor penalties)
The NCAA has wrapped up their investigation into allegations surrounding the South Carolina athletics program, and cited the Gamecocks for failing to monitor the athletics program.
In short, South Carolina will be on probation for three years, lose 3 scholarships per year for two years, will pay an $18,500 fine and will limit the number of official visits this year to 30.
Case closed, move on.
Mazzone: "It's kind of like a Clint Eastwood movie"
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone compared their offensive progression in the spring to the Clint Eastwood movie "The good, the bad, and the ugly".
Mazzone explained that offense has shown glimpses of each in their first spring under the new system. He added that he has been pleased with the pace that they've learned and the effort all spring.
The offense has had to claw for yards against the defense all spring, and Mazzone commended the defense on their progress. "Sometimes your the dog, and sometimes the dog gets you".
More from Mazzone in the clip below.
The O-Line is headed to Ethiopia
Eleven Duke offensive lineman and assistant strength coach Marcus Johnson are planning a team building trip to Ethiopia to drill a fresh water well and help build some cohesiveness within their unit.
Last season, the offensive line finished in the middle of the pack nationally in sacks allowed (#43 - 1.58 sacks per game), and provided the time necessary to finish 28th in the country in passing offense (272 yards per game).
Guard Dave Harding got the ball rolling with an idea a few years ago and recently they were able to secure a total of $45,000 from private donors within the University to make the trip a reality. While on the trip, the team will also visit an orphanage and hold a sports camp for kids in the area.
"The coaches always say, 'Go through camp...and everybody, you bleed together,' and it just builds camaraderie. I think people are going to be challenged, mostly mentally and spiritually with what they're seeing. To be able to talk that through with each other and experience that together is something that no other college offensive line or football team will be able to experience or has experienced in a long time." Harding said.
The logistics of the actual project are what's really interesting. While one group actually physically pounds the pipe into the ground, the others will anchor a rope attached to a pulley system to help make it a little easier...regardless, it's going to be no walk in the park.
"Offensive linemen, I call them brothers. To see how your brothers bond with you in a different situation, you get to see what guys are really like. Can you really trust them? Are they accountable? I think it'll teach not only them, but myself as well, just what to expect from a guy, if things do get tough over there." assistant strength coach Marcus Johnson explained.
Head coach David Cutcliffe is also huge supporter of the trip. "The best part of it is, it makes them aware of a responsibility that we all have to help others around the world, not just at home. It should be a big eye-opening experience for all of those young men."
Weis talks discipline
Last season, Kansas ranked near the bottom in the nation in almost every major defensive category. Charlie Weis has been determined to change that, starting with changing the team's outlook with discipline.
The Jayhawks finished last in the FBS in total defense and scoring defense, giving up over 518 yards per game and 44 ppg (both 120th nationally), and ranked near the bottom in rushing defense (#117 - 239 ypg), and pass efficiency defense (#118 - 165).
Weis' approach since his hire in December has been that you get one chance to set things right, and that's what he aims to do before loosening up at all.
“I think you only get one opportunity to set it right. You only get one chance and you do not get a do-over. It is a common philosophy with coaches that it is always easier to loosen up on a team after it has been rigid than it is to tighten up on a team after it’s been lose.”
On the same note, Weis is hoping to see the guys have some fun in front of the fans during their spring game tomorrow.
“I would just like to see us go out there defensively and run and tackle and have some fun. I would like to see us sling it around a bit on offense and have some success, especially with the front line guys to see how there continuity is playing with each other. I would like to be able to run the ball in the red zone when people are stacking it up on the goal line and daring you to run it.”
Davie: "I got a call from Houston Nutt"
Bob Davie wrapped up spring practices with a press conference yesterday and talked about everything from their focus of a staff moving forward in the off season, to a phone call he got from Houston Nutt.
The focus for the Lobo players and the staff moving forward from spring ball are focusing on finishing strong academically, players taking care of their business off the field, and continuing to develop physically through the summer months. Davie explained that much of January was spent just getting the team up to speed regarding their condition so that they could eventually practice effectively.
Davie also said that he got a phone call from Houston Nutt asking him how he was doing and if he was liking things so far. Davie responded by saying "You know I've had the chance to do a lot of great things over the past ten years, but nothing compares to what we have a chance to do now. It's more fun, more rewarding than I've done the past ten years." He added that Nutt understood that, as only coaches coach really could.
The spring has allowed Davie to bring in numerous coaching colleagues to visit campus including Lou Holtz, and Barry Alvarez (Nutt and his wife were heading into town when he called last night to stay at a resort). Davie explained that it simply took a look out his office window for each of them to comment on what a "heck of a place" The University of New Mexico is. That kind of reinforcement is why Davie believes that they can bring major college football to Albuquerque.
You can tell that meant a lot to Davie, considering it comes from two guys that are not only friends, but also have over 360 combined wins as head coaches.
Plenty more from Davie below.