In a shocking upset, Rutgers did not make this year’s College Football Playoff.
That means the Orange Bowl, Cotton, and national title game in Santa Clara projected to be dangerously short of anything related to Rutgers. A football nation cried out for a solution.
Thankfully, the Rutgers athletic department found a way to make sure that we wouldn’t forget that Rutgers football is a thing while watching Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Clemson.
They decided to put billboards in Dallas, Miami, and Santa Clara.
Check this out. Driving by @dallascowboys stadium and came across this @RFootball billboard. Pretty cool seeing one of my clients all the way down here in Texas. #TheBirthplace #SportsBiz pic.twitter.com/NAOUZEjZfb— Draper Media (@drapermedia) December 6, 2018
Why? Is it because Rutgers wants to recruit in those areas? Apparently, not exactly.
According to this interview with NJ.com, the school added the billboards to make a “brand statement” ahead of next year’s 150th anniversary of the first “college football game” (c’mon, you can call that game a lot of things, but it wasn’t really football) with Princeton.
The school knows what you’re about to tweet, apparently. From the interview:
“The way we’re going to measure it is did we get any media attention out of it? If we do, we’re aware that some of it might come with a little tone of snark,” Rutgers assistant athletic director of marketing Robert Roselli told NJ Advance Media. “But at the end of the day, if they’re talking about Rutgers football, it’s a win for us.”
“We wanted to generate conversation...those are outlets and channels that wouldn’t be talking about Rutgers football at this time of year without something like this.”
So now, we have an article written about a media interview with a football program doing a stunt to try and get national media members to talk about them.
Okay, since they asked, we can talk about Rutgers football here for a second.
We could mention that the 2018 season was historically awful, even in the context of historically awful Rutgers football. We could talk about how they finished 116th in S&P+ this season, behind Coastal Carolina, UMass, and South Alabama. We could talk about how they produced one of the worst passing box scores EVER. We could talk about how the team inspired us to produce this headline. We could talk about how their 2019 recruiting class is currently 12th in the Big Ten, dead last in per-prospect ranking. We could talk about the fact that despite being in a major conference, 149 years later, Rutgers is actually worse at football than Princeton. We could talk about getting destroyed by Kansas.
I’m all for being creative with branding. I did just write about a Chicago suburb sponsoring a bowl game in the Bahamas, after all, and heaven knows Rutgers needs to be creative, because the conventional isn’t working out for them.
If Rutgers threw up random billboards in important recruiting territories, hey, maybe that isn’t the worst idea in the world, but this wasn’t about that. Again, from the interview:
“We know we’re not promoting Rutgers football to residents of Dallas or Miami or Santa Clara. We’re trying to put something in front of the eyes of the national college football media and where they’ll be.”
There’s nothing really good the national college football media can say about Rutgers football right now, if they’re being honest, beyond “Rutgers played an important football-like game against Princeton 149 years ago,” so I’m not sure if trying to force more of that conversation is a wise decision.
But hey, kudos on finding a unique way to get Rutgers and the College Football Playoff in the same story!