If I were the FAU AD: Toga parties at football games and a new baseball stadium
Last week's firing of FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos prompted me to start thinking about what I would do if I were somehow selected to be the Owls' new athletic director.
Some of the answers came pretty easily – including, “They would never select you to be the new AD.” The next person for the job will have to raise money, sell more high-end sponsorships and move the Owls to a conference that isn't left behind by football realignment. Otherwise, the firing would be meaningless.
President Saunders and the search committee are going to have to find a person who is able to successfully perform all of those tasks. Let's give them the unearned benefit of the doubt and assume they find an athletic director who can accomplishes those missions.
What then? What should be done when the money starts rolling in? What little things can be done to improve FAU athletic events or get the programs noticed? Here are six ideas, some of which could potentially be implemented even before the new AD is selected.
Improve the baseball stadium: At OwlAccess.com we harp on this issue frequently, but that's because we are at the ballpark frequently. At one point in time I enjoyed watching my little brother's youth league baseball team play tournaments there. That was 20 years ago – and it's still the home of a Division I team. FIU and UCF have built new stadiums in recent years, and both are planning upgrades. It's a wonder FAU coach John McCormack can recruit anyone to play at this facility.
Hire a minor league baseball marketing person: No matter how good of a fundraiser the new AD is, it will still take some time to bring in all the dough that's needed. That's why one of the first hires should be someone who knows how to market without having a budget to work with. A marketing manager from a minor league team would be willing (and excited) to invite people to wear togas to a football game to see if they could break the record for the world's largest toga party. They might, as the St. Paul Saints did last week, play off current events by announcing they were going to continue to put a bounty on big hits at baseball games. Little – somewhat stupid – ideas would get the community talking about FAU sports. The first call could be to the Fort Myers Miracle, who are owned by the Goldklang Group, of which master marketer Mike Veeck owns a stake.
Turn down the volume: The old regime seemed to operate under the assumption that volume equals excitement. At FAU basketball games, volume simply meant more noise. Since upgrading to a sound system that can handle more power is probably too big an expense, turning down the volume will remove some of the distortion, allowing fans to actually hear what is being said into the microphones.
Take the PA announcers to a game: Every announcement at an FAU basketball or baseball game feels forced. It's as though the PA announcer is on a mission to be as important as the game itself. Take them to a Cardinals baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium and let them listen to how self-proclaimed “semi-professional public address announcer” John Frost lets the information take center stage at a somewhat whimsical pace. Go to a University of Miami game and listen to the way Jay Rokeach presents a game. There is a style, but it's not overbearing. At FAU, talking over the action and intentionally mispronouncing names provides, what exactly?
Get more cameras for football: That video board is great, but it would be even better if it could replay tight shots of important plays. To do that, they need more cameras. Too often this past year, I looked at a replay to see if a player was down before he fumbled or whether a player definitively crossed the goal line only to see that the best available angle was actually worse than my original look. Rent high quality cameras if needed. Give the people in the stands what they expect to see.
Let the band play the National Anthem: I'm tired of people making a spectacle of themselves while trying to sing the anthem. Remember that guy who brought his guitar to the basketball game and proceeded to mess up the music and the words, essentially embarrassing the entire country? No one comes to a game to hear a National Anthem singer. Most people simply want the song to end as quickly as possible. The FAU band knows the notes. They practice. Let them play.
Fire that yelling guy: Or shoot him. I really don't care which. I don't know his name, and I I don't want to know his name, but who is that guy who shows up on the video board at football games yelling at fans to go do this or go do that? Who wants to go anywhere to be yelled at? The only way I would keep this guy would be if I were allowed to sell raw eggs to anyone near him that could then be launched in his direction as soon as he opens his mouth. That would make some money – but it could make a mess all over those togas.
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