All of the SEC’s bowl agreements are up after the upcoming football season, so proceeding with future deals will be on the agenda this week in Destin, Fla. In addition to having a berth in a BCS bowl, the league has tie-ins with the Capital One, Outback, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, Liberty, Music City, Independence and Papajohns.com bowls.
The league did not have enough bowl-eligible teams last season, leaving the Independence and Papajohns.com scrambling.
“You never know who wants to come in and bid in the mix,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. “We’re happy with our bowl lineup, but you never know what’s out there.”
1966: Tennessee produces its first 8 1/2-by-11-inch football media guide.
1986: The NCAA prohibits the use of color in guides, with the exception of front and back covers.
1999: Tennessee celebrates its ’98 title with 18 additional pages, making its guide an even 300.
2004: Tennessee’s guide peaks at 372 pages, trailing only Georgia (420) and LSU (380) within the SEC.
2005: In an effort to eliminate recruiting advantages, the NCAA caps all media guides at 208 pages.
2009: Multiple conferences debate whether to continue printing guides or put them online.
Perry Parris is a devout University of Tennessee football fan and can prove it with his waist-high collection of Volunteers media guides.
The 42-year-old Ooltewah resident has every one dating back to 1968, when coach Doug Dickey shared the cover with an action photo from the ’67 win over Georgia Tech. New coach Lane Kiffin and junior safety Eric Berry are expected to be on this year’s front, but media guides in their slick and shiny form could be on the verge of extinction because of the Internet and economic conditions.
“You kind of figure that’s coming sooner or later,” Parris said. “When we played at Cal a couple of years ago, I got their media guide online and printed it all out. It was pretty cumbersome, but I got it.”
The future of college media guides, which have doubled as recruiting tools in recent years, was discussed Tuesday as the Southeastern Conference’s spring meetings opened in Destin, Fla.
At the Atlantic Coast Conference meetings earlier this month, the league announced it will stop printing media guides, providing them instead on the conference Web site or on memory sticks with loaded PDF files. The Southern Conference announced in February it was eliminating its printing of media guides as well as its football and basketball media days events as part of cost-containment measures.
The Pac-10 took the most drastic action recently, proposing that schools no longer be allowed to print media guides in any sport.
“People who have been in this business or see the media guide as an important tool will fight for it,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. “The younger people, those who think that the Web is it, will tell you that this is where we need to go. There is going to be a divide, no doubt.”
SEC athletic directors proposed Tuesday to continue printing media guides but not make them available to recruits, thus eliminating the need for a recruiting section. If the proposal passes Friday, Bloom said it could be reviewed by the NCAA next January.
In an effort to prevent an excess of recruiting fluff, the NCAA in 2005 passed legislation that no guide in any sport could exceed 208 pages. Missouri’s 2004 football guide was a 614-page behemoth, and it included a 26-page section breaking down player equipment.
“Perhaps the media guide will get back to its intended purpose and result back to a records book,” said Tennessee associate athletic director Bud Ford, whose 208-page guide last year had 48 pages for recruiting.
Ford has overseen every Vols preseason annual since 1966 and is sure to fight the elimination of printed guides.
Tennessee printed 30,500 football guides last year at a cost of $89,000. More than half of those were given to media, recruits and donors, but the athletic department did sell more than $40,000 worth to the general public.
“If you have an $83 million program, which Tennessee has, are you sure you don’t want to be able to hand somebody a printed piece about it of some kind?” Ford said. “The donor base wants some kind of Tennessee publication in their hands, and the lettermen like to show people when they played.”
Jay Blackman, the sports information director at UT-Chattanooga, said 850 football media guides and 700 each for men’s and women’s basketball were printed last year and will be printed again in upcoming months. UTC produces 300-400 guides for most of its other sports.
Blackman came to UTC in December after seven years at New Mexico, a school that no longer will produce media guides in their glossy form. New Mexico sports information director Greg Remington will bring just 500 abridged, spiral-bound versions to the Mountain West Conference’s football media days at Las Vegas in July.
When asked if Lobos fans had called to complain, Remington said, “I don’t know if they’re aware of it yet.”
Remington considers himself “old school” on the media guide debate but has been told by coaches in several sports that what he puts online is more important from a recruiting standpoint.
Ford believes the market for printed guides will always exist.
“I realize there is money to be saved, but in reality, you’re still reading the newspaper when you go to the bathroom,” he said. “You don’t take a zip drive. I think people physically want an item in their hands, in their library or at their desk that they can quickly grab if they need to answer a question.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...