This week we are back at home, looking forward to seeing LSU host Alabama – on my couch, nice and cozy. It was a great time at Notre Dame last week, but it was cold. I am a little behind on my reviews, but here are my thoughts for last week:
I saw Ga Southern take 2OTs to beat South Alabama earlier this year. There is no way I can fathom how they beat App State – and it kept me from a perfect week. Maybe I should have noticed that they only lost to undefeated Minnesota by three points.
After Nebraska’s loss to Purdue, they have to win two out of three against Wisconsin, Maryland, and Iowa. I don’t see that happening. The season highlight for the Huskers? Game Day coming before the Ohio State slaughter.
Florida losing to Georgia ends their season. The remainder of their schedule, Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Florida State, gives them nothing to bolster their reputation.
Really thought Kansas would give K-State more trouble. Apparently not.
Did Clemson play this week? Oh yeah, they played Wofford – cupcake city. But, next few games could be trouble. NC State, Wake Forest, South Carolina
Memphis and SMU represented the AAC well on national TV.
Mac Brown has another rough weekend as UNC loses to Virginia by seven.
Oregon rolls against USC, but their remaining schedule won’t help much. Even with SEC (Bama and LSU) and Big Ten (PSU and Ohio State) eliminating two of the top four, I think they are going to need help to get into the FBS playoff.
Escapes: Baylor by over WVU by three, ND over VT by one, Cincinnati over East Carolina by three.
It was a good week for my picks. If not for the aforementioned App State lost, I would have gone a perfect four and oh. Alas I will have to settle for three and one. VT gave an inspired performance against ND, only to come up one point short but more than close enough given the 17 points they were getting. Georgia won outright and Bowling Green easily covered to give me a nice weekend. This week I like Boston College to easily handle a dying FSU and Iowa to keep it within 9.5 points against Wisconsin. Baylor should beat TCU by more than two. Lastly, I like LSU even if the game is in Tuscaloosa.
Thoughts on this week’s game:
What has happened to Army since they lost to Michigan 24 -21? They are now three and six with losses to Georgia State and San Jose State. Ouch. At least UMass is coming to town this weekend. That ought to be a win. Imagine if Michigan had lost to Army. I don’t think you’d see two Big 10 teams in the top four FBS rankings.
Ugh: South Alabama (1-7) vs Texas State (2-6) – I may have seen the best performance of South Alabama this year when they lost to Georgia Southern in OT.
Answer Games: Kansas State (6-2) at Texas (5-3) and Wake Forest (7-1) at Virginia Tech (5-3). See if the Power Cats and Demon Deacons are for real
I can’t believe Illinois is 5-4. Lovie Smith has righted the ship and that is saying something after they nearly lost to UConn. They should beat MSU.
Ole Miss has New Mexico State (0-8) this week. I bet they wished that was every weekend.
For some reason, I can see App State having a bounce back game against South Carolina
San Jose State versus Hawaii will probably be a good game. Too bad nobody will stay up to see it.
Not surprisingly, blogging about college football stadiums isn’t my day job. I work at a large, global firm providing in-house consulting to various businesses. Most of my experience is financial and managerial, but I did put in a couple of years in the field on the sales side. I have also had plenty of opportunities to sit on the other side of the table as the customer. Given that and the eighty plus games under my belt, I have a pretty good handle on what makes for effective customer entertaining on autumn Saturdays. As the college football season approaches, it may appear to be a great opportunity to host a client or potential customer at a game. However, before you do, consider the following:
Know your audience. Hard to believe, but not everyone enjoys football. If your guests are international, I’d make sure they are genuinely interested. Foreigners often find the game confusing and live games, especially with TV timeouts, can seem interminable to the uninterested. I also wouldn’t classify by gender either. I know plenty of men who could care less about football and a bunch of women, well a bunch of women from SEC schools that is, that love college football.
Know the objective. Tailgating and college football games are best for low key, informal interactions. Most tailgating environments don’t involve sitting around a table even if they are provided. There’s unlikely to be a deal brokered in a crowded tent or standing around in the parking lot. Even during the game, the venue’s probably going to be too crowded for any substantive discussion. Unless, of course, you are at a dog of a game, which will probably leave your customer wondering why you dragged him/her to Florida International in the first place. (ok, that’s a cheap shot – the Panthers appear to be much improved from when I last visited them). But you get the point; this is relationship building not negotiations.
Know your budget. At one point in my varied career, I was in sales in Washington, D.C. and had access to the company box for the Nationals, Capitals and Wizards. We had gotten rid of the Redskins box by the time I got there. This was a blessing because Fedex Field is easily one of the worst venues I have ever been to. The traffic alone will crush any and all enthusiasm you might have had to watch a middling NFL franchise with woeful ownership. However, Nats and Caps experiences tended to be very good to great. Wizards’ games were and still appear to be a crap shoot. The point of this digression is that I often used the facilities to entertain customers and have some experience in such matters. Having a loge/box/suite is not cheap but assuming corporate takes care of that issue, there’s still the question of refreshments. Even with a generous budget, it is easy to hit $100/person for food and drink in the box. It’s not that it isn’t plentiful or tasty, but it is still basically dogs, nachos and the like. There’s usually no craft beers or top shelf liquor either.
One of the issues in my mind is that you will likely have a tailgate prior to the game with a full spread. The food in the box then often gets wasted. Catering for the tailgate can often be done at similar prices to a stadium suite and nearly every BCS football program either offers it themselves or through a third party. If you are or know a dedicated alum, you/they may likely already tailgate during the season and have a better set up than what you can get from a third party. This assumes the parking spot is already secured. Alternatively, you can go on aftermarket sites like StubHub and Vividseats and buy your own parking pass. For the Power Five conferences, those are going to run $150 – $300 per space. Smaller conferences can be more problematic as there’s often not a market for the spaces and they may be only available for alums. On the plus side, if you are doing the catering yourself, it becomes much more affordable. I would consider getting some help if you plan on doing it on your own. One should not underestimate the difficulty of manning the grill, keeping the cooler stocked and schmoozing with the guests simultaneously.
Know the venue: Not all college football programs are created alike. Some have great tailgating, but a weak team – hello Ole’ Miss. Others play an exciting brand of football, but the location is in the middle of nowhere – go Red Wolves of Arkansas State. In other instances, the venue is pure football. This is great if your companions love sitting crammed on the bleachers and enjoy non-stop noise, but not so much if they don’t.
Know your associates / staff: Any time you mix colleagues and alcohol, there’s a risk something can go wrong. Add in passions of dedicated alums / ardent fans and boorish or downright bad behavior can rear its ugly head. The last thing you need is your Miami Hurricane Sales manager screaming at a potential new client who happens to be a Golden Domer. At least, you can presumably limit the likelihood of that occurring. What you can’t control is the eighteen year old freshman who has just finished his first Jaeger bomb and is suddenly learning that what goes down often comes up. Some folks don’t react to well to getting vomit on their shoes and/or clothes. Or, it could be that your rather genteel work colleague is easily offended by those of a more “free-wheeling” personality/wardrobe.
Know what can go wrong: I have already covered some of the issues but there are other things to consider. These are outdoor events. I am a hard core fan but even when I am wearing the right all-weather gear, I don’t really enjoy a game in a driving rainstorm. Additionally, you can’t control the traffic or other spectators. Perhaps, you encounter the leather-lunged fan who decides to pick a fight with someone in your party because he is wearing ‘Bama crimson instead of LSU purple. Finally, there’s no guarantee the game is going to be a good one. If you need proof of a sure thing gone bad, see my review of Clemson.
What about Covid?: I think we are all pretty well versed in Covid-19 protocols at this point, but make sure you review the team’s website where I am sure that any and all procedures and limitations will be listed. I was already in the habit of having hand sanitizers at my tailgates because good hygiene can be hard to find in a college parking lot. If you haven’t packed it in the past, it is obviously a must now. You may want to throw in some antiseptic wipes and spare masks just in case.
The intent here is not to discourage you from entertaining business clients at college football games. On the contrary, it can be a great experience, often times at a reasonable cost. However, as with all things, the key is to assess the risks and plan accordingly. Who knows, there’s always the chance the weather’s perfect, the venue is sublime and Navy upsets Notre Dame at South Bend. Cheer on my friends.