Oregon, Nike, and the Sporting Apparel Revolution

by Allen Kellogg
Eugene, OR

Nike dominates college football like no other brand. Eighteen of the last 20 schools to win a National Championship wore Nike made uniforms, cleats, and apparel. Addias has one natty, Tennessee in 1998. Under Armor also has one, Auburn in 2010. Currently 71 out of 128 FBS team wear Nike. When looking at the P5 level, the ratio is even higher: 46 schools out of 66 power programs wear Nike.

However, Nike University, better known as the University of Oregon, has failed to win a championship in college football. The Ducks have been one of the most popular teams in the last 20 years and they make no effort to hide their Nike connections.

“It’s all about the croots,” Oregon head coach, Willie Taggart said. “Croots are just like fish. For some reason, they are attracted to bright, gaudy colors and crazy designs. Testing Nike prototypes has its advantages and disadvantages, but most of the time the news gear is phenomenal. However not all of it is good. Last year the team tried out a new ultra-lightweight cleat made of recycled paper. It does not work.”

Oregon went 4-8 last year.

Former Nike CEO, Phil Knight, ran track at Oregon in the late 1950’s. He went on to found Nike in 1964. Since then Nike has come to dominate the world of athletic apparel. The company is headquartered in Oregon and works with the University of Oregon to develop its products. With the backing of Nike, Oregon has been able to throw out hundreds of uniform combinations of the years. The Ducks almost never wear the same jersey’s twice. Knight has donated nearly half a billion dollars to the Oregon athletic department and yet despite all the resources and perks the Ducks have failed to win a single National Championship in football.

The team came close in 2010 falling just short of Cam Newton and Auburn in the national championship. In the first College football Playoff Oregon defeated previous year’s champion Florida State, but fell to Ohio State and their 3rd string QB in the game that actually mattered. Phil Knight has learned the hard way that you cannot buy a championship in amateur sports, there are just too many variables.

This leads us to a very important question, what happens to all the Oregon national championship apparel and old uniforms?

We did some investigating and discovered that all of the apparel not to be sold to the general public is shipped back to the factory where it is made and sold to the factory workers. Prices vary, but game worn jerseys are the most popular and generally cost about $12 USD or roughly two weeks pay.

“The jersey very nice,” an anonymous female worker at Nike’s Pou Chen factory in Taiwan said. “The material thin to keep us cool, but is also strong. Helps to soften the beatings.” This worker said after a while she will try and sell the jerseys online. Doing this can bring in up to $80 USD or enough money to feed her 7 children for 5 months. “When I sell Jersey buyer thinks the sweat is from Marcus Mariota or TJ Ward, but it actually is mine.”

Nike’s corporate office said the 18 national championships in 20 years is evidence their gear is the top of the line, but Oregon’s lack of success shows the importance of proper testing before a new product is launched. When pressed about the conditions their labor force is exposed to, Nike said no other sporting good manufacturer offers game worn apparel to their employees.

“We tell our workers the same thing every day, A Nike spokesman said. “Just do it.”

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United Airlines Forcibly Removing USC Season Ticket Holders From LA Coliseum

By Matt Coffelt
Los Angeles, CA

Another bout of public relations trouble struck United Airlines after they shouldered blame for the displacement of thousands of USC season ticket holders. Fans woke up to an email at 3 a.m. informing them their season tickets were gone and no refund would be issued. Some fans had been season ticket holders for over 20 years. Several USC fans turned to social media to vent their frustration, but no one cared.

Sports Business Daily reported Thursday that United Airlines has purchased the naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A USC spokesperson said the school hopes to offset some of the projected $270M in renovation costs with this partnership. This makes the airline the single largest contributor to the project and responsible for forcing 9,000 midfield season ticket holders out of their seats to make way for a new, first class luxury seating tower.

“It was horrifying to watch,” an unaffected season ticket holder said. “Those people had just paid for their seats and came in with the expectation of being able to use them. Being manhandled like that was a blatant over application of force. I could understand the use of force if the guy was a fan of the other LA school, but we are Southern Cal. We deserve better than this.”

When asked why the individual didn’t step in to help, the season ticket holder mumbled something about diffusion of responsibility and social contracts while walking away.

One of the affected season ticket holders, who wished to remain anonymous, said he couldn’t believe United had double booked their seats and simply gave it to the person who had paid more.

“Disgustingly unethical behavior,” the affected ticket holder said. “I’m still embarrassed, and slightly covered in bruises, by this whole affair. I’m hiring a lawyer and plan to sue United and my alma mater for at least $12M, which should cover a founder’s box at least [in the new box seating].”

When asked for comment, United representatives said they couldn’t comment specifically as they have yet to complete a three month investigation into the situation, but they insisted that United had done nothing innapropriate and it was their paying customers who were wrong.

“People are focusing on all the wrong things,” United spokesperson, Faye Brooke said. “It’s not about the poor people who lost their season tickets. The real story should be about all the new features in these executive suites. Each suite will have a fully stocked bar, personal chef, and a direct line of communication with Clay Helton’s headset. Our premium fans will now be able to yell obscenities directly into the coaches ear whenever he makes a mistake.”

Other features of the luxury tower include: a hot yoga studio, kale bar, dog grooming center, and a microbrewery. Purchasing one of these suites could set you back a considerable sum, ranging into the millions of dollars on the highest end. There is a $50k fee just to get on the waiting list, and you have to know someone on the list before you can hope to get your own suite. The biggest downside for suite owners is they will also have eight Rams home games included in their USC season ticket package.

USC said it is unfortunate but unavoidable that some fans lost their season tickets, but the school made it very clear to its valued pass holders that single game tickets were still available on StubHub.

Big XII Passes Peacefully After Prolonged Battle With Expansion

By Allen Kellogg

Dallas, Texas

 

The Big 12, formerly one of the premier college athletic conferences, passed away last night while attending a conference meeting in Dallas. The Big 12 was just 23 years old. Friends, family, and A&M fans gathered in Dealey Plaza last night to pay respects and or make snide comments. The beloved conference finally lost a long battle with conference realignment and the stress at the late night meeting caused a fatal collapse. There will be memorial service held at Cowboy Stadium at 5 P.M. on Sunday, May 21. Tickets for the service start at $120 and will be streamed on the Longhorn Network.

The conference¬†was conceived in February of 1994 as a merger between the Big 8 conference and several members of the Southwest Conference. The conference began competition in August 1996. The Big 12 was regarded as one of the strongest athletic conferences in nation until 2010 when an erosion of trust over unequal revenue sharing caused a split between several of the member schools. The University of Texas made a decision to capitalize on the lack of unity and partnered with ESPN to form the Longhorn Network. Dejected that no TV network wanted to pay their school millions of dollars to cover their university’s sports teams, Nebraska left the conference and joined the Big 10. Soon after, Colorado departed from the Big 12 finding refuge in the Pac-10 which expanded to 12 teams.

Bitter from a lack of respect and angered by the futility of their athletic programs, Texas A&M decided to leave the conference to and move over to the SEC where the Aggies could be a perennial 4th place team in the West division. Missouri soon followed. Down to just eight teams the conference added consistent Cinderella, TCU, and the only football program in the Big East, West Virginia. Despite the conferences being a solid number 3 in revenue after the 14 team SEC and Big 10, the focus has been on the Big 12’s pitiful performance in the 2017 NFL draft and the embarrassment of the failed conference realignment of 2016. The Big 12 mulled expansion last summer and interviewed several G5 programs. However, the conference chose not to expand after the Big 12 was paid off by the same media conglomerates who insisted the conference had to expand to survive. The conference chose to remain at 10 members. The 2017 NFL draft was a unmitigated disaster for the conference. The Big 12 only had one player, Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes, go in the 1st round and only had 14 players taken in the NFL draft, fewer than the G5 AAC.

With its future bleak, the Big 12 met in Dallas on Thursday, May 11 to come up with an action plan to pull the conference back from the brink. However, the event became heated when the conference agreed to a name change, but could not reach consensus on what the new name should be. The two names up for debate were Texas, Oklahoma, & Friends or Oklahoma, Texas, & Company. Texas and Oklahoma could not reach a compromise and the shock of this decision caused the conference to collapse. Despite Iowa State providing CPR immediately, the conference did not recover and was pronounced dead at 9:17 P.M.

“It is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of the Big 12,” Oklahoma President David Boren said. “No one wanted this conference to prosper more than myself and I want to apologize to the Big 8 for being unable to save her offspring. I promise that Oklahoma will be just fine. I have met with T. Boone Pickens and as soon as his nine figure check clears we will proud to announce a new Oklahoma only conference with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa, and a few other schools yet to be named as members.”

Texas President, Gregory Fenves, said Texas would begin operating as an independent and that the Longhorn Network is expecting to transition into a digital platform in addition to continue using the standard cable model.

Baylor announced that it will be joining the Western Athletic Conference(WAC) in most sports but will become a member of the Sun Belt for football. Baylor officials said that they would require the WAC to change their name to the Western Athletic Conference Organization or (WACO) before joining. School officials said they have no doubt an agreement will be reached between Baylor and the WAC. Other former members of the Big 12 are still scrambling to try and find another conference that will take them.

“I left the meeting for a moment to call the University of Houston and let them know they would be allowed to join the Big 12 starting in 2018,” former Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, said. “I came back to the meeting room, but all the doors were all locked, all the lights were turned off, and all I could hear was Iowa State, Kansas State, and TCU sobbing. I just wish someone had told me the conference was dead.”

AAC Seeks ESPN Deal To Secure Position As Sixth Power Conference

by Allen Kellogg

Providence, Rhode Island
May 7, 2017
The American Athletic conference today attempted to reach an agreement with ESPN that would require the sports network to designate the AAC as a power conference.

College football is currently broken into a strict hierarchy based on financial resources and fan support. The Power Five or P5 consists of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac 12, and the South Eastern Conference. These conferences all have massive media deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars and represent the largest and most popular schools in the nation. The Group of Five, or G5, consists of all the smaller conferences like the AAC, Mountain West or the Sun Belt which are made up of smaller schools. Their media deals are a fraction of those held by the P5 and these schools are often overlooked by the playoff committee, ranking systems, and the bowl committees.

The AAC believe that it should be considered one of the power conference and has used the term Power Six to describe itself. During the bowl season each AAC team wore a P6 decal on their helmets. The AAC went 2-5 in bowl games and received widespread jeers for the decal and the conference performance. Because of this failure and the perceived lack of respect from outside the conference, the AAC has come up with a multifaceted plan to improve the conference perception and become a power conference.

Conference representatives reached out to ESPN and made the struggling network an offer to pay for ESPN to promote the conference as a power conference. The deal has yet to be finalized, but sources indicate that the AAC will be paying up to 120M per year for ESPN to promote them. The current AAC media deal is worth $126M over seven years or about $18M a year. Sources inside the conference head office say ESPN’s current payout to the conference will be considered as part of the new deal reducing the overall payment to ESPN to $102M per year.

Experts are unsure how the conference will be able to pony up that much cash, but conference commissioner, Mike Aresco said the AAC is debating several revenue generating strategies.

“Number one, is we are selling the University of Connecticut to a foreign buyer for roughly $300 million. This will provide the conference with the money we need to proceed with our partnership with ESPN. Liberty University will be taking UConn’s place and has promised to pay us $30 million a year for the next 20 years, Aresco said.

Aresco also said the schools in the AAC are looking at selling the naming rights of the universities and their football teams. For example, Temple University announced they will become Comcast University and their team will be renamed the Blue Rays.

In recent years the AAC has often been the place where P5 schools go to find an new head coach for their team and as a result the AAC struggles to remain consistent when it comes to coaching. For example, three AAC coaches, Tom Herman(Houston), Matt Ruhle(Temple), and Willie Taggart (USF) all left their AAC schools before bowl season started for new jobs in the power five. The conference is debating mandating a posting fee similar to what the Japanese Baseball league has with the MLB. P5 clubs will be required to pay an 8 figure sum to the conference just for the opportunity to try and negotiate with an AAC team’s coach. The money is non-refundable and does not count towards any buyout the coach may have in his contract.

Revenue generation is just one facet of the AAC plan. Filling their stadiums is critical for the national image. Aresco said the conference will take a page out of North Korea’s playbook and hire thousands of actors to play the role of school fans at home games. North Korea was reputed to have hired tens of thousands of Chinese actors to act as their fans during the 2008 World Cup in South Africa because North Korea refused to allow their own citizens to leave the country.

Aresco said all these changes may not improve the product on the field, but what matters is the money generated by the conference.

“The AAC is pioneering new ways for colleges to profit from their student athletes,” Aresco said. “At the end of the day being good at football has nothing to do with being a power conference. Look at the Big 12. Money is power.”