Monday, July 13, 2009


Football recruits, look up


After a job well done for the Kansas University athletic department, for whom he served as associate athletics director for marketing and revenue development, Andrew Steinberg is leaving to take a big job with the Kansas City Wizards, a Major League Soccer club.

Steinberg’s sense of humor will be missed and his are big shoes to fill, which is why I feel compelled to step up and help his as-yet chosen successor get off to a head start by supplying him or her with a way to market the football team, which ultimately could help recruiting.

As for the revenue development portion of the job, well, I’ve always been better at spending than earning, so we’ll stick with marketing. Now, more than ever, would be a perfect time for Kansas to stick its chest out and do a little bragging on its football team in a couple of big stages in key locations.

Drum roll, please. Thank you, studio musician.

The idea: Pay for a giant billboard in the Dallas Metroplex area picturing three Kansas football players, wearing football jerseys but no helmet, under the heading, “Texas Men Play Kansas Football.” No names, just numbers and faces, better to spark conversation in the Metroplex about the billboard, about Kansas football, about the players.

Many Texans would be able to identify one of the players as bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Reesing. Fewer could name wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, fewer still center Jeremiah Hatch. The longer the billboard stays up to slap motorists in the face on a daily basis, the more the masses will learn the names of the players. Some of the motorists will grow up to become hot Div. I football prospects and might consider KU, thanks to the billboard they remembered seeing.

Those familiar with the stories of Reesing, Briscoe and Hatch, a senior, junior and sophomore, know they have more in common than Texas roots. All made significant contributions as freshmen, Hatch as a redshirt freshman. Briscoe and Hatch started. As Mark Mangino and staff slowly, steadily upgrade recruiting, the allure of having an opportunity to play instead of sit is starting to motivate top recruits to bypass Big 12 South schools in order to sign on with Kansas.

Just as important to growing the football program as enticing talent from the Metroplex is building a wall around the state of Kansas to keep recruits from heading to Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri.

Another giant billboard drawing the attention of motorists in Wichita could help that cause. Kerry Meier, Darrell Stuckey and Jake Sharp under the heading “Kansas Men Play Kansas Football” certainly would generate quite a buzz.

Strategically placed billboards cost money, big money. Well, if the athletic department insists on moving the Missouri game to Arrowhead to earn money, big money, why not pour some of that profit back into marketing the football program?

Now’s the time to do it because Mangino’s team has no shortage of star power. Wise decisions made in recruiting combined with a talented coaching staff that knows how to develop bodies and technique means the Jayhawks are on the brink of what should be a remarkably entertaining, successful season, even against a brutal schedule.


Swamphawk 13 years, 1 month ago

Great thinking Tom! What could it hurt?

5DecadeHawk 13 years, 1 month ago

Tommy Boy Keegan again shows his stupidity.

An "Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Revenue Development" is all about collecting donations, and selling tickets.

Exactly how many people live in Texas will be purchasing season tickets to KU football games Tommy Boy??????

A billboard isn't exactly the smartest investment of money to attract recruits either. Sure an "Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Revenue Development" would welcome quality recruits. Everyone in the althletic department wants to see KU get the best recruits possible, but where is the best place to invest money to upgrade KU's recruiting, even upgrade KU's Texas recruiting? I'm 100% positive that same money could be far more effective in other ways.

KU would be far better served to upgrade its abilities to scout high school talent, so that we are in position to focus our attention on the specific recruits that fit Mangino's system.

A billboard in Texas like Tommy Boy suggests would get scoffed at and laughed at more than attract attention of the top Texas recruits.

The best way for KU to get into the top recruit's homes on recruiting trips is to find them, and start a relationship with their family EARLY. We also need to have the best coaches available, the best facilities, and a consistent winning record.

We are getting there.

Let's let our abilities on the field sell Texas recruits on Kansas, not some stupid billboard that would be more of a joke than a useful marketing tool.

If Tommy Boy wants to help KU's marketing... he could do far better by simply resigning from his position on the LJW and allow someone with a brain to take over the sports department at the LJW.

rhino11 13 years, 1 month ago

Corporate branding is also part of marketing num nuts, the thought is valid..not all marketing is about selling tickets.

Interesting thought Tom, I'd like to see more excitment for KU football around the Wichita area.

5DecadeHawk 13 years, 1 month ago

There is only one way to gain positive corporate branding for Football in the State of Texas, NoNutz.

Defeat the Longhorns about 5 times in a row. That's all the branding KU needs.

I still say corporate branding marketing someplace where they are not going to be buying season tickets isn't the smartest use of marketing funds.

jimbo4584 13 years, 1 month ago

How about playing more non conference away games in Texas at places like (SMU or TCU) to gain more exposure? KU played at SMU in 2000. We also have a strong alumni base in the DFW area and its easy to travel to.

KGphoto 13 years, 1 month ago

Septuagenarian makes a dull point. Billboards are done. Nobody looks up from their phone/life support systems anymore. Especially not recruits. That's why the coaches are smarter than Tom. They're onto what works. Just ask Kelvin Sampson. You think he would've risked it twice if he could've just painted a billboard? Hell no. Of course, he got busted. But show me a program that ever landed a recruit who cited a billboard as their reason for signing. It probably hasn't happened since Larry Bird signed with the Sycamores.

I don't know what it's gonna take. But I'm sure Coach Mangino knows better than me, and better than Tom. And to septo's point, the backlash could be crippling. You need to be bigger than a billboard if you're going to shed the perception of Kansas as a billboard state.

Give those Wichita natives something to be proud of for sure. Make them WANT to stay. Show them we aren't just about billboards, because that's all they ever see and that's all people ever see of them. And they're embarrassed by it. To make them want to stay, you have to have airtime. And, to septo's point, you need to establish a winning tradition first. Coach is doing that.

hailtoku 13 years, 1 month ago

I think our new facilities and newly found success will have more impact on recruits than a bill board.

Farley worthless, bush league idea.

This is more of a blog than a credible article.

Jaminrawk 13 years ago

I kind of agree with the majority of the posters on this thread. Billboards are the dinosaur of advertising. Sure, they may be a little effective, but anyone who takes a journalism/marketing class knows that it takes quite a few exposures to an ad to effectively place it into a target's top-of-the-mind conscience. I don;t know if it would be worth the kind of bucks Jerry Jones will surely be asking for in his new billion-dollar stadium to try something like this. I think most people look at billboards for local attractions and restaurants. Kids in highschool getting ready to play D-1 sports KNOW who is out there. It's up to the coaching staffs to pitch them. Results on the field are what naturally sway a recruit. I don't think billboards are going to have a very great effect.

Rick Arnoldy 13 years ago

Just how well do you think Missouri or K-State putting up bill boards in Lawrence would be received? Nothing like putting up locker room billboard material, Keegs.

KUAlum2000 13 years ago

There is a K-State billboard just east of Lawrence on I-70. Two, in fact, before you get to KC. One has a picture of Bill Snyder and it says "the Hall of Fame can wait". I just was back that way from AZ this past week and saw them.

I also happened to see some KU billboards out by the Manhattan exit on I-70 as well.

jayhawkboogeyman 13 years ago

It really is time for the season to start so we have something worth everyone's time to read and write about.

Robert Brock 13 years ago

I liked the ideas Keegan threw out there, though as infeasible as they may be. We already know KU has an abundance of football players from Texas and a decent recruiting pipeline to that area. But, KU is still getting a lot of the leftovers in Texas after UT, OU, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, USC, Florida and even Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech and others clean house. The goal has to be to occasionally win those battles for the elite 3 or 4 star players. I wonder if something as simple as stories in the DMN and other publications, detailing Reesing and Briscoe's journeys and backgrounds would generate more interest in KU. Texas kids are aware of KU's football program with so many athletes playing for or considering KU and the growing number of games on national TV now, but how much do they really know being 500+ miles away?

prairie_dog 13 years ago

This is a no-brainer. When will this be done?

suttonku 13 years ago

KU just landed another Texas RB today from Irving...4.5 40 250 pound bench max...kid looks can check him out on the rivals team site

DallasHawk 13 years ago

Nice idea Tom, but coming from a person that lives in Dallas... I don't believe it would get the right message across. We already pull in some class recruits from this hot bed. If you really want to impress more kids from more areas in Texas, the formula is simple... Continue to upgrade and stay current on the facilities and lets walk into Lubbock on Halloween and stomp tech and stay competitive with UT in Nov. That is how you grab attention and radio time in the metroplex. That and continue to beat a&m, baylor and ok st.

Ryan Wood 13 years ago

Andrew Steinberg is indeed the marketing director, so this idea is right up the alley of him and his staff, 5DecadeHawk. So...Tom is right.

I also like the idea. Those of you who went to the Orange Bowl might have remembered a school doing something similar to this along southbound I-95 in Miami. I want to say it was Rutgers? Anyway, it's a clever idea. It wouldn't sell season tickets but that's not the point. The point is to get the best Texas recruits thinking about KU as an option, and that's worth spending billboard money on for sure.

Nice column Keegan. I think it should seriously be considered.

mikeowens 13 years ago

Definitely a good idea. But don't forget Houston.

meremy 13 years ago

Last year UCLA's football program bought a full page ad in the LA Times calling out USC and the beauty of that marketing was the second hand coverage that came out of it. Sure, some laughed, but that marketing turned into a national story.

I'm not saying that a billboard in Texas' backyard is going to catch the national media, but that kind of thing may catch some local media, and for sure the local rumor mill. And you're wrong if you don't think there is some validity to the message. We HAVE taken some overlooked athletes out of Texas and given them the opportunity to be stars. That message will have traction with some very good football players. I don't think you have to move the needle that far to sway some of these kids.

Jaminrawk 13 years ago

Is KU having a hard time recruiting these areas? Does anyone really think that a billboard is going to sway anyone? Texas is Big XII country, they know about teams in the Big XII and most of those kids have surely been contacted by KU in some way already. KU isn't going to beat Texas for anyone. Let's be honest, the most effective university sports marketing comes with a swoosh on it and KU isn't a Nike school. I understand what Keegan is getting at, but as someone who markets and prospects sales for a living, sometimes "great" ideas aren't as great as you think they are when you step back and look at the big picture.

kansas22 13 years ago

Imagine seeing a billboard in Kansas that read "Kansas Men Play Texas/Missouri/Nebraska Football" ..... That would never work. In fact, it may actually hurt. If I saw a sign like that and had any pride at all in my state I'd say "to hell with that." Not that I even think the sign would have any impact on my decision at all in the first place. Anyways, not a good idea. There are better ways of getting more recruits to recognize Kansas football

ChicagoJHawk 13 years ago

"Just as important to growing the football program as enticing talent from the Metroplex is building a wall around the state of Kansas to keep recruits from heading to Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri."

  • last time I checked K-State is still within the state of Kansas. Am I missing something??

sevenyearhawk 13 years ago

This is quite an interesting idea ...

But given a choice, I'd prefer to see one in Dallas, not Wichita.

Kansas will be playing more games in Texas, they have a home and home series with Rice coming up, after the game at UTEP.

And as someone already said, a victory in Lubbock on Halloween is crucial.

Wished I could be there for it, but one Greyhound bus ride through west Texas is quite enough for me ...

MitchumMan 13 years ago

Here's a marketing idea for ya...

Buy a pop-up icon on or some other website that a lot of recruits are going to go look at. Today is all about the digital age. If you want recruits from everywhere to look at your school why not market your school everywhere? The internet does that. Screw billboards!

jayhawkintx73 13 years ago

MitchumMan, maybe because the Big 12 Championship is in Arlington the next two years. Texas fans for the most part are not disrespectful, but they appreciate the fact that KU has grown in football. Its shaping up really nice for KU this year too. Two big time games and that one big time game at home against OU. And the other at Texas. And the Texas fans think KU just might be good enough to beat them in Austin and they have than marked on their calendar as "AFRAID".

s6u6r6f 13 years ago

Yes, a billboard; now that's forward thinking! We could advertise our course offerings in teletype operation and stereo phonographic machine repair. Quickly, get a stenographer to take a letter, then dash this idea off to the mimeo department for rapid reproduction and distribution to all! I'm informing my friends across the waters via aerograms! And when the recruits come rolling in, get a good phrenologist to determine their readiness to play Big 6 football.

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