This weekend, our Red Raiders will don Southwest Conference era uniforms and square off with the Rice Owls in the old Municipal Coliseum. While some fans will feel warm with nostalgia, I’ll admit the pomp and circumstance feels a bit strange. As a university, we’re shelling out serious money to promote a relatively pointless occasion. It’s Rice, after all…
Before I get crucified for this article, let’s take a step back real fast. The throwback football uniforms are the most dapper looking jerseys we wear. Also, the 1920s era baseball uniforms look phenomenal. I’m not taking away from the uniforms worn. I’m more criticizing the promotion of a meaningless game.
Pause again, because I know it’s coming.
“But if we weren’t doing some form of a gimmick - why would you spend your Saturday evening watching/attending a game against Rice?”
Great question that I thought of myself as well! You’re probably right, the stands will likely get another few thousand people than they’d get already. But, all things considered, the opponent is so terrible that you have to wonder why they didn’t consider making the opponent someone of relevance. Say - Baylor, Arkansas, or even SMU. The opportunity cost of blowing an intriguing promotion on a team like Rice feels like this investment won’t have the ROI that we’re all hoping.
We’ve entered an era where people love to brand particular games - blackouts, Star Wars night, 70s theme, etc. But, I know for a fact that a diehard Star Wars fan isn’t attending the Tech game that evening because someone there will have a light saber out. So in that same vein, does playing in a rundown arena do much for you? I’d bet it doesn’t.
The most popular of gimmick/promotions that our beloved University commits itself to is “The Blackout Game”. Of course, as we all know - THE blackout against UT from 2008 was the iconic game in the history of the University. Which, by definition, was also a gimmick/promotion to get fans to wear and conform. Which is why I can’t completely discount the idea altogether.
But, organically, does playing Rice in basketball create any additional excitement? Probably not. This almost feels like a lose-lose proposition. Should we blow out Rice, and have 7,000 people at the game, we will likely never remember what happened. The only way this game is memorable is if we somehow lose the game. Whereas, if this game is against Texas - there’s little doubt that the atmosphere would be electric and only amplified by the promotion.
I credit the university for thinking outside of the box, and to the marketing team for coming up with a concept that had a ton of potential to be great. Unfortunately, I think the delivery will be all wrong and we’ll ask ourselves what could have been. Nevertheless, I still don’t get the point of the promotions, but that’s likely never to change.
Wreck ‘Em per the usual.