Podcast Companion – “You’re The Guy Who Wrote the Letter”

CU at the Game Podcast, Episode 1: “The First Days of the Karl Dorrell Era at CU”, can be found here. The Companion to the Podcast, “CU Coaching Changeovers” with links to stories on the firings and hirings of CU football coaches over the past 40 years, can be found here.

Nebraska being Nebraska 

In my interview with Rick George, we discussed a hypothetical in which Nebraska (naturally) sought to take advantage of the Name, Image and Likeness legislation which is likely to become part of the collegiate landscape in the next year (Rick being a member of the NCAA working group studying the issue).

My example went to a Nebraska recruit showing up at his dorm room for his first day as an early enrollee in Lincoln, finding a note on his door, instructing him to head down to a local hardware store. There he finds a long line of Nebraska fans, all willing to shell out $10 for a poster of the new recruits; $10 more for an autograph, and $10 more for a photo.

While you’ll want to listen to the podcast for Rick’s response, it should come as no surprise that Nebraska is already trying to get ahead of the NIL process in its vain attempt to regain national prominence …

From KLIN.com (March 10th) … Husker football fans have scoffed at the idea of “winning the offseason” after three consecutive missed bowl seasons. Today, all Husker fans should agree that the entire athletic department just notched a win, no matter the season.

Nebraska Athletics announced a partnership with athlete marketing platform Opendorse to help student-athletes build their individual brands. This first of its kind program will provide all 650-plus Husker athletes professional sports level solutions to social media, right at a time when the Name, Image, and Likeness debate is heading towards more opportunities.

“Nebraska has always been a leader in college athletics,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said in a release. “With that spirit in mind we are excited to partner with Opendorse. This agreement will provide all of our student-athletes the education and assessment tools they need to navigate the complexities of social media and maximize their brand in the digital world.

Continue reading story here

… to go with … 

From the Lincoln Star-Journal (from February 25th) … Legislation giving college athletes in Nebraska the chance to endorse brands or products, promote sponsored content on social media or get paid for private lessons or to host camps advanced from first-round debate Tuesday.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt’s Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act (LB962), which would allow athletes to make money on their name, image or likeness, won early-round approval on a 36-4 vote.

Hunt’s bill, he said, would give those athletes, particularly from poor families, a chance to set themselves up for the future.

“This is a recruitment tool,” he said. “If other schools allowed their athletes to do this, and UNL does not, then the players are not going to come here. They will go to school where they can receive some compensation for the misuse or use of their name.”

Continue reading story here

Now, the State of Colorado is also on board with the Name, Image and Likeness legislation (and Rick George spoke in favor of this bill) …

From USA Today (March 20th) … Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday signed a bill designed to help college athletes in the state profit off their names, images and likenesses.

The law is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2023, putting it on the same schedule as a law that California approved last fall. The Florida legislature last week sent a name, image and likeness bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had announced his support for such a measure. 

The bill passed the state House of Representatives just over two weeks ago by a 55-9 margin. It was approved Feb. 12 by a unanimous vote in the state Senate, where it originated.

… The NCAA has asked for help from Congress as it faces the possibility of state-by-state action, and the association announced this week that its governing boards remain scheduled to receive recommendations concerning national rules changes at meetings in late April.

Read full story here

But I haven’t seen anything along the lines of what the University of Nebraska is doing with its “athlete marketing platform Opendorse to help student-athletes build their individual brands”.

Nebraska being Nebraska …

Dear Mr. George

In the podcast, I detail my first encounter with Rick George as CU’s athletic director, back on his fourth day on the job in August, 2013.

What prompted the contact was an open letter I wrote to Rick as a disgruntled CU fan. The entire letter – which I had mailed to Rick George – was posted on the website. “Dear Mr. George“, as it turned out, had legs …

Here is the opening …

Dear Mr. George,

First and foremost, welcome back to Boulder and the Buff Nation! Your last stint with the University of Colorado, 1987-91, was one of the most successful periods in the program’s history. Let’s hope that you are able to pilot the school to similar heights as CU’s sixth full-time athletic director.

The reason for my writing concerns the “front porch” of the University, the football program. It is not my intention to diminish the accomplishments nor the needs of the other programs under your tutelage. However, as all things good for the other programs (read: $$$) stem from the success of the Buffs in the fall, football must be your top priority (Just one side note:  Feel free to tape a Post-It, “Whatever Tad wants, Tad gets”, to a corner on your desk).

When you first came to the CU campus in 1987, the worst stretch in team history was a still healing wound. Prior to the down years between 1979 and 1984, Colorado had never before gone six straight seasons without a winning record, and that six year drought included two 1-10 seasons. Still, the ship had been righted by the time you arrived, with two bowl appearances and an epic win over Nebraska laying the groundwork for a national championship.

The landscape of college football is also much different than it was in 1987. In the 70’s and 80’s, the Big Eight was often referred to as the “Big Two and the Little Six”. Oklahoma and Nebraska dominated the conference, and it wasn’t really all that difficult for Colorado to rise up the ranks among the Little Six. In terms of facilities, fan support, and history, CU was on par with, or superior to, the Kansas schools, Iowa State, Missouri, and Oklahoma State (pre- T. Boone Pickens).

The situation now, however, is much worse than it was in 1987. The school record for consecutive losing seasons has been re-established at seven straight, with the Buffs very likely to extend that run to eight this fall. In almost every recordable category, CU is coming off of the worst season in school history. Fan support, while still hanging in there (an average home attendance last season of 45,372, despite an 0-6 home record), is starting to wane.

There is also rampant frustration in the Buff Nation, and it centers upon a commitment to the program from the CU administration, which goes hand-in-hand with the lack of progress in fundraising and facilities’ improvements … 

I went on to list six “suggested marching orders” …

... 1) Go public with your intentions. The “silent phase” of fundraising has got to come to an end, and it has to come to an end now. You were quoted as saying that the goal of raising $50 million by December was “doable”. Rather than push goals back again and again, how’s about saying it’s going to happen, and then making it happen? How’s about telling us where we are at, and how far we have to go? Seventy percent of something is better than 100% of nothing. Give us some reason to believe that Colorado is not being left behind in the current arms race.

2) Be bold. Dream big, and then make it happen. Want to ensure your legacy at Colorado? Be the architect of the revival. This doesn’t have to be a 20-year plan. This can happen in less than five years. Buff fans gave CSU fans grief over the $246 million stadium plan, but at the end of the day it was jealousy – we were wishing we had an athletic department willing to dream that big.

I’m reminded of the opening speech in the movie Patton, where George C. Scott, positioned before a huge American flag, gives a speech to unseen troops. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if the following quote was put on a plaque and placed in your conference room: “I don’t want to get any messages saying that ‘we are holding our position.’ We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass. We’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose!”

3) Involve the little guy. Assuming no one from the Phil Knight or T. Boone Pickens families is going to adopt CU as their new favorite team, you can’t rely on huge donations alone to make things happen. Sure, if you want to announce the Buffs will be playing in Folsom Field at Coors Stadium (in exchange for $100 million or so), be my guest. Short of that, you are going to need us little guys, and for the past two years, we have been ignored. Even if we want to donate, we can’t (go to your own cubuffs.com website, click on “Buff Club” and “Initiatives” … all you get is a “Coming Soon!” message. Sorry, but that is just pathetic). I ran a poll at the CU at the Game website this spring, asking readers what they might be willing to donate to a facilities fundraiser. The poll was up for only 24 hours, but there were over $58,000.00 in pledges. Now, I will be the first to admit that votes in a poll don’t actually constitute pledges, much less actual checks, but the dollars are out there … and my school isn’t even asking for them.

There are bricks underneath the Ralphie statute outside of Folsom. My name is on one of those bricks. I don’t remember what the funds were being raised for that earned me my brick, or how much I was asked to donate … but I do remember – and appreciate – that brick. Give CU fans a goal to reach, plans for an actual structure/facility to look at, and some small token of appreciation. You’ll be pleased with the response.

You can read the full letter here


One Reply to “Podcast Companion – Rick George Interview”

  1. I bought my brick a few years ago and I find out I have you to thank for it. Thank you! It was totally cheap to get something like that and I always enjoy walking by and spotting it. I was considering buying another this year and upgrading to one of the bigger bricks…..

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