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Mailbag 8/31

Do you think ESPN’s money troubles will result in fewer bowl games?

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

jabsterjacket: Are we going to have a face-to-face meetup at a game this season? It’s been a few years since we’ve done that.

Jack: We’ve had some discussion about that in the staff Slack...we’ll keep y’all posted.

Jake: That would be neat, and I would be there so long as it is at a game I am also at!

Ben: The last time we had an official FTRS tailgate (to my knowledge) was the 2014 ACC Championship Game, and that was organized entirely by the commentariat, but as Jack said, we’ve had some discussions, but I would also encourage you to talk about it in the gamethread that posted earlier today. Share where y’all are tailgating and get to know each other.

tlbriley: Do you think ESPN’s money troubles will result in fewer bowl games?

Logan: I think Bowl games not drawing a crowd and viewership, combined with the playoff expansion, will lead to less bowl games. I’m not sure ESPN’s money problems will have a direct impact on the bowl games, but it may lead to bowls being broadcast by other TV providers. If ESPN drops those games and other providers are unwilling to pick up coverage of the bowl games it will be difficult for the bowls to retain sponsorships, so in that sense there could be fewer bowl games if ESPN does not cover them.

Jeff: I think we see the networks and conferences have overextended themselves in the next 5-7 years. Disney is actively trying to sell off some of the underperforming media outlets and ABC is one of them. That would be a huge blow to airing games. I am not so sure the super conferences of the next decade are going to get the money they are used to getting. The bowls will be one of the first things cut and a new remodeled playoff for these new oversized conferences will be the outlet to do it.

Ben: I could see ESPN dropping some of the lower-level bowls if they aren’t actually drawing money, but it’s going to be a hard sell to get the teams okay with that.

TkTheGoat: Is the Atlanta sports curse over, still going on, or did it end when Braves won the series in ‘21?

Jack: It ended in 2018 when Atlanta United won the MLS Cup in front of 72k people, then the U.S. Open Cup, and then the Campeones Cup all within a year.

Logan: I’m going to ignore college sports for this one since schools like GT and Georgia State may not have full backing from all of Atlanta. The only real pro team still struggling to find footing is the Falcons. Braves are a perennial contender. Atlanta United has struggled of late but as Jack noted their Cup wins are recent enough that I think they still hang in peoples minds. The Hawks are going to consistently make the playoffs, which is about all you can ask for from an NBA team without pulling together a super team with 3 or more stars. The Falcons are the only team that isn’t great, but their division means they could still potentially make the playoffs. I guess it depends on how you define a curse, but I think all Atlanta teams are giving people a good reason to be happy and cheer for them.

Jeff: The curse in general should be over. The Falcons have the ability to get back to the Super Bowl and win in the coming years. The Hawks are the one true team I can’t see competing for a long while. The NBA is just built for a handful of teams to own the league. I get UGA isn’t in Atlanta but they make up the lion's share of the viewership and had some spectacular flops that live up to the Atlanta curse. Their curse has certainly ended.

Ben: As has already been said, it ended when Atlanta United won a title.

Bill Brockman: I read that KSU is going the FBS route. This means they go from a small but real chance of being national champions in FCS to never having any realistic chance; probably of even being in a playoff. Why? Does it mean enough additional revenue to cover the increased cost plus some left over for their other athletic programs?

Logan: I think money is always going to be the biggest factor for these types of decisions. I think KSU does want a chance to contend at the next level in football and while they may never win a national championship they could still build their way to winning their conference or playing in a bowl game. KSU also wants more potential TV coverage and wants to become viewed as a major college sports program in Georgia. But yeah, it’s mostly about the money.

Ben: Money. Even though they don’t have a realistic shot at winning a national title, there’s so much more money at the FBS level because of TV deals. They will have the opportunity to be broadcast nationally, which they never would at the FCS level except in the postseason.

Jake: The “front porch” publicity earned from FBS football is likely also a contributing factor, in addition to money. A lot of these moves can also have roots in exposure for the school and recruiting students more generally.

Jeff: In today’s landscape most of the FBS has zero chance of making a playoff. So it is about money and relevance. If college football does break into another format of divisions the FCS may get regulated off TV altogether.

BillOBrienEnthusiast: How suppressed are your emotions for the season? 2-10 or worse: Killing small animals at night. 3-9: Voice cracking, visibly shaking. 4-8: Eyes welling up. 5-7: It’s fine. 6-6: Eyes narrowed because slightly enraged GT could have been better. 7-5: Humble-bragging. 8-4 or better: Everyone hates you.

Logan: I’m not exactly sure how to answer the question. I will say I went to the UNC game last year and I tried hard not to cheer because I was afraid if I did God would punish me for getting too excited, meanwhile my wife who didn’t even go to Georgia Tech is the loudest cheerer in our section for GT sitting next to me. I guess that’s how I feel now, I know we can win but I’m trying to suppress my expectations because I’m afraid if I get too excited I might be punished by the cosmic powers that be somehow.

Ben: If Tech performs poorly this season, I’m not going to put a lot of stock in it. Although I think Tech is capable of going to a bowl game this season, I also understand that it’s the first year in a new system, so there’s a very real chance of some growing pains, so generally, I’ll be pretty reserved unless Tech just wildly exceeds expectations.

Jeff: I’m expecting a .500 season at least. Brent Key wouldn’t give a win total at media days when asked, but he made sure to point out that an even record isn’t going to be acceptable. As for how I react? Let’s just say I was not given the day off tonight and my management may regret it when I bring the game up on my phone and people will be able to hear me through my coworkers phones.

Jake: Let’s go with humble bragging for now. I think tonight would tell us a lot.

jabsterjacket: How many bowls are being subsidized by ESPN beyond buying the broadcast rights?

Logan: I believe we had to remove some text from this question because jabsterjacket provided a detailed analysis of his thinking in the questions post, Apologies for cutting that. Honestly I’m not familiar enough with the economics behind the bowls to give an accurate response. I will say I think a lot of these bowl games are only retaining sponsorships because people know ESPN will be broadcasting them, if ESPN loses interest you may see more bowls drop out of existence.

Jeff: Do not quote me on the exact number but there are around 15-20 that ESPN owns outright and can decide the matchups within them. I believe The Athletic did a bowl prediction and tried to explain the convoluted mess it has become.

jabsterjacket: Not so much a question, something I saw:

Here is the money line:

Brett McMurphy, the college football insider for the Action Network, added that one reason that the ACC is considering all three schools is that ESPN’s media rights deal with the ACC allows ESPN to renegotiate if the conference drops below 15 members and that with the potential departures of Florida State, Clemson, and possibly others, the ACC is considering power five schools now as opposed to group of five schools later to maintain required membership numbers.

So, ESPN could say that losing any ACC school (the 15 includes ND, despite Rudy being offsides) represents a material change in the agreement, unless schools are added first.

Not sure how the Mouse would be “happy” with replacing, say, FSU or Clemson with Cal or Stanford.

I guess the GOR would stay intact (that’s between the schools and the ACC), although if payoffs dropped because of an ESPN renegotiation I can’t see how a school wouldn’t be able to renegotiate the GOR deal with the ACC.

(this comment got plenty of attention on our mailbag post, check that post for some additional discussion)

Logan: I think that is an accurate assessment of the state of the ACC right now. If the ACC is to avoid going the way of the PAC-12 they need to add additional members because they know they have teams waiting to leave the conference. All the contract talk with Disney gets complicated as you look more into it, but the short version is the ACC is trying its best to make sure it is either able to renegotiate the current TV contract or will be able to retain reasonable TV revenue from Disney should schools leave the conference, The vote to add SMU, Cal, and Stanford passed this morning so I actually had to rewrite some of my thoughts, I still think teams like Clemson, FSU, and UNC will be looking to leave the ACC as soon as they can, but now that SMU, Cal, and Stanford have been added this will give the ACC added stability regardless of what the Tiger, Noles, and Heels decide to do.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Besides GTFB, CFB and PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE; what are you most looking forward to during the upcoming “Most Wonderful Time of the Year-Autumn”?

I’m hoping for a Barves World Series, looking forward to the Ryder Cup in about a month, and COOLER WEATHER.

Logan: Really looking forward to the cooler weather. The fall holidays are some of my favorites. Big fan of Oktoberfest beers. Also, you’re right a Braves World Series would be nice.

Jake: Atlanta has some great options for biking, and with less heat, it will be easier to enjoy those. When adding some stops at local coffeeshops, stores, restaurants, and other establishments, as well as just seeing some interesting neighborhoods, it makes for a great way to spend a day.

Ben: I’m just looking forward to it not being a million degrees outside.

Jeff: Both of my girls will be in school by next week. It is both a sad dad time and a what do I do with myself now that I have a few hours of free time.

Submitted via email: How do you expect Buster Faulkner to call the game (or at least start out the game) for Haynes King to maximize the abilities that got him the starting role over Zach Pyron?

Ben: I expect Tech to be pretty conservative out of the gate. Tech historically has a strong running game and with a bunch of new guys at receiver, I expect Faulkner to be a little slow in opening things up.

Jeff: I am going to go opposite of Ben. King has a big arm and if they have developed him in camp he has some weapons to gash them early. It would certainly get Louisville on their heels as they try to sort out their side too.

Logan: I think Ben’s answer is the right one, probably plenty of slant, curl, and screen routes. That said, I hope Jeff is right. Why not come out throwing deep? Let’s challenge these guys with what King does best and let him throw downfield.

Submitted via email: Why is GT referred to as “The Flats”?

Ben: I actually have no idea. I’ll defer to resident FTRS historian Jake Grant on this one.

Jake: That I can help with. In the pre-Atlanta days, the area where the city is now located were a bed of rolling hills, essentially the last foothills of the southern leg of the Appalachians, pockmarked by valleys and streams. One such creek ran northwards from the Centennial Olympic Park to what is now Tanyard Creek, which is north of Atlantic Station and has a nice park and path, which is slated to be incorporated into the Beltline as the northern keystone of the loop. That creek, long since diverted into a culvert, ran straight through the middle of a valley that is now Bobby Dodd Stadium and onward more or less parallel to today’s Fowler Street. At the time the school was founded, this valley was deep enough that North Avenue spanned the area from Luckie Street to Midtown on a long viaduct. Tech Tower and the Old Shop were built on the west side of this valley, and the school buildings clustered on what became known as the Hill, particularly after the valley was developed into the stadium, which received the complementary name the Flats, signifying the flat bottom of the valley. It is said that for a long time, there were manholes in Grant Field that ran down towards that water main/culvert after the development of the stadium. Even as Tech aims to daylight more water runoff, particularly via the Eco Commons project, the nickname persists today, even though the creek does not.

Submitted via email: Hey guys,

Hope you are doing well. It’s finally time for Toe to Meet Leather. I’m excited to see another college football season. I have some high hopes going into game one, and while I’m not entirely convinced GT has turned the corner I am certainly more optimistic than I was while CGC was at the helm.

Question for this week, do you prefer watching a football game live or on tv. Not the most interesting question but I’m curious what y’all think are the positives and negatives from watching a game on tv versus in person. Let me know what y’all think, take it easy, and Go Jackets!

Roboute Guilliman

Logan: I personally like going to games live, but I have to be careful about which ones I pick nowadays because of how expensive things are. We’re not Alabama, I don’t think every game is going to be competitive, so I don’t want to spend $200+ to watch us most likely lose to uga. But I love the atmosphere on campus, pretty much every campus I’ve been to has a great gameday atmosphere, I love the fans and the chants and the cheers, I love the people you meet... I just generally love being there in person for a game. I think the real upsides for watching on TV are that if things go south you can always turn off the tv or watch another game, you don’t have to deal with game day traffic, and you don’t have to buy food or tickets. I would recommend going to live games if you can afford it and if you think your team has a chance to win.

Ben: There is definitely a certain flare about attending games in person, and even in a loss (as long as it’s still a good game), I would probably prefer to be there. I also love to watch games on TV. I can get up and use my own bathroom, get my own beer, and sit in a comfortable seat in the air conditioning. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to watch games!

Jake: Live games are vastly preferable in my opinion. I enjoy the community and the sense of occasion.

Jeff: I don’t get to make it to games as much as I like so I definitely enjoy attending live games. Except for noon kickoffs in early September when Atlanta is the same temperature as the surface of Mercury.