Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thoughts on a trip to Norfolk and ODU

I returned the other day from Norfolk, Va., with a group of 49ers officials who were on a football fact-finding trip to Old Dominion, which re-started its own program in 2009.

I'll have an extensive story on the trip in the paper next week, but here are a few thoughts I came away with:

-- If Charlotte can come close to replicating what Old Dominion has, football would be a smashing success. The Monarchs nearly sold out their on-campus (renovated) stadium for a game against lowly Savannah State. The atmosphere around the campus before the game was great -- tailgating, thousands of alumni returning to campus -- on a beautiful Saturday. No other sport can bring school spirit to a campus the way football does.

-- AD Judy Rose was accompanied by several staff members, most of whom are chairs of various football subcommittees (business operations, internal operations, sports medicine, sports information, Athletic Foundation, tickets, marketing, academic affairs, etc.). They all met with their ODU peers.

-- One of those ODU officials -- Bruce Stewart, associate AD for facilities/event management and football -- said there is one key to making the overall program successful: "Our football culture is working because we're winning," said Stewart (the Monarchs were 9-2 last season and are 6-3 so far this season). "I don't know anybody -- donors, alumni, students -- who don't want to be associated with a winner. When that happens, then you get traditions, and more school involvement. People are coming for the experience. If you provide that complete experience, everything else takes care of itself."

-- The Monarchs have already started new traditions -- a "Monarch March" team walk to the stadium on game days, pregame radio show on a campus quad, the marching band playing in a parking lot near the stadium, pep rallies and a "fan zone" that includes live music, food and drink.

-- To the winning point, Stewart, who handles ODU's scheduling, says that scheduling FBS teams for "guarantee" games is foolish for start-up programs. That's Rose's philosophy, too.

-- I talked to several alumni. One of them, from Virginia Beach, is an '87 graduate. He hadn't been back to the ODU campus until football started last season. He feels connected now.

-- ODU's Ballard Stadium was built in 1930 and seats 19,782. It was renovated and new suites and loges were added in one end zone. The Monarchs have sold a whopping 14,000 season tickets.

-- The Charlotte folks learned a lot about tailgating -- where to have it and what is legal (read: alcohol) to serve and where. For instance, Charlotte's campus has plenty of parking near where the stadium will be, but much of it is decked. Can't tailgate in parking decks. So they will be figuring that one out.

  

24 comments:

49RFBN said...

Let's put a rush on the full article and get it in the paper this week. Otherwise great write-up.

GO NINERS!

Anonymous said...

ODU isn't charging $1,000 for an FSL during arguably the worst economic time since the depression.

Football was supposed to be about bringing back alumni and bringing in the general public. The $1,000 price tag has turned away many of both.

I own 3 FSL's, but I'm a diehard

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Charlotte 49er alum, but a Charlotte resident and I think having football team out there will be a great thing for the University and the City. I will go to the games. I am a Panthers PSL owner since the first day you could by them and going to 49er game on Saturday will be great. The Stadium pictures look great, and expect them to have great success. The Mean Green!

Anonymous said...

I am a Panther PSL owner planning on attending UNCC games. If the school can get the loal paper to cover the Niners the same way they over the UNC Tarheels in all sports, they will have an immediately huge following. It used to be terribly frustrating to find out at the end of a season UNCC had been ranked top 25 during that season in basketball.

Anonymous said...

ODU is fine, but I like what Georgia State has done better. They scheduled Alabama (they will certainly get waxed), have been on TV alot, represented very well for a first year program, and are averaging 17,000 a game.

Nobody knows ODU outside of VA and NC, but Georgia State seems to have a higher profile and as much on-field success right out of the gate.

Ryan said...

I knew ODU because of basketball. When was the last time Georgia State did anything? They suck at everything.

At least ODU has always had a solid basketball program to fall back on. Now they have football to make their athletics more well rounded.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the Niners take the Georgia State path regarding scheduling and take on a bigger opponent early.

I would rather play an NC State, Clemson, or Pitt and lose, than play a whole schedule of Gardner-Webb, Old Dominion, and Coastal Carolina, and win.

I know at App St, having a big opponent on the schedule is something to get excited about. Georgia St. seems to have had some success attendance/enthusiasm wise.

Anonymous said...

Terry Holland at ECU has done a magnificent job in eliminating some programs and bringing the women's programs up to national respect. Even during a complete rebuild with no defense they've at least been exciting in football. The stadium is a amazing atmosphere during the fall.

Anonymous said...

Outside of North Carolina and South Carolina, UNCC is just like ODU. It's a school people assume is for people who can't get into UNC or NC State. ODU also has a few other advantages to UNCC. For one, it is in a recruiting hotbed. Charlotte has great players, but the Tidewater area of Virginia is crawling with them. Secondly, after UVa and Virginia Tech, there is no other big programs in the state. Richmond and JMU are 1-AA as well, but attract a different student than ODU. UNCC not only has to compete with UNC and NC State, but Wake, Duke, ECU, App State, and to an extent USC and Clemson for players. I wish the 49ers nothing but luck, but I'm afraid their road won't be quite as easy as it was for ODU or GSU.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:29,

The 49ers will have more competition within the state for recruits, but do not underestimate the talent in the Charlotte metro region. The city consistently has several great high school programs, a couple of which have been ranked very high nationally, and the region does a great job at producing talent as well. I believe we could build a fairly successful FCS program just from kids in western NC and upstate SC who don't quite make the cut with FBS teams. Soon enough these local kids will be able to play in their home city instead of in Boone or Greenville.

Hickory Mike said...

Who will run the athletic program when football begins? Judy Rose? I remember back in the 80s, the school had a higher profile in town. She can't stake claim to improving its image.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:33,

I am not always the biggest supporter of Judy, but in her defence, this isn't the same town it was in the 80s. Big business has brought in a lot of outsiders, and it is tougher selling the program to people who have no roots in the city. Still, there is no excuse for the lack of recognition in our own paper and community support for a school of our size. Removing the UNC from the name of the school would go a long way in establishing our identity.

Anonymous said...

Can't tailgate in a parking deck?? Either that's incorrect of they break the rules in Boone all the time. People tailgate in the parking decks up there all the time

FasList said...

Nice Article. I am an ODU alum in Charlotte and also a season ticket holder for ODU football. UNCC needs to have a program like ODU. It brings the local alum together. It changed Norfolk/Va Beach for the good. If App State can have a top program, then so can UNCC.

I am hopeful of an ODU/UNCC annual game.

Best of luck.

PS - UNCC & ODU will be better and get more press once Curry leaves GS

Handle said...

Georgia State has NOT had more success or enthusiasm for their startup program. They got on the cover of ESPN the Magazine because of their connection to Bill Curry. Their attendance is lower than ODU's. Their record this year will be 6-5 (vs ODU's 9-2 last year) and one of those five losses is to NAIA powerhouse Lambuth. ODU did NOT lose to anything other than FCS schools.

ODU doesn't have to schedule a BCS team specifically becaues their program is better supported financially - they don't need a giant payday to pay the bills. Outside of the Panthers first game they averaged less than 15K fans, and the stadium looked much more empty than that.

I hope Charlotte follows Old Dominion's plan and goes for steady progress rather than blowing up early but struggling to keep up attendance.

Handle said...

Georgia State has NOT had more success or enthusiasm for their startup program. They got on the cover of ESPN the Magazine because of their connection to Bill Curry. Their attendance is lower than ODU's. Their record this year will be 6-5 (vs ODU's 9-2 last year) and one of those five losses is to NAIA powerhouse Lambuth. ODU did NOT lose to anything other than FCS schools.

ODU doesn't have to schedule a BCS team specifically becaues their program is better supported financially - they don't need a giant payday to pay the bills. Outside of the Panthers first game they averaged less than 15K fans, and the stadium looked much more empty than that.

I hope Charlotte follows Old Dominion's plan and goes for steady progress rather than blowing up early but struggling to keep up attendance.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte and North Carolina is absolutely NOT a hotbed for high school football! Sure there are a couple teams in the Charlotte area that do decent (a couple years ago they were good.) But thats because they draw players from all over the city and play weak schedules. The NCHSAAs State championship system is a joke that crowns 8 state champions a year!! NC high school football cant hold a candle to SC because SC doesnt have the practice limitations set in NC. There is a reason NC teams in the ACC absolutely suck and its because the NC high school football system is so weak!

mike said...

Get rid of the UNCC .This is The University of Charlotte. Like Richmond,Cincinati,and other cities who have the university named for the city the people will identify better as opposed to UNCC UNAB AGOB BIAC ETC. UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE 49ers!!!

Anonymous said...

University of Richmond is a private school that was never affiliated with the University of Virginia system. It attracts a much different student than UNCC.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is forgetting the most important part to building a start-up...you have to have a plethera of JUCO academic all-stars, as well as a ton of players who were kicked out of other schools to make sure you have the talent to win. ODU's program is a joke.

Anonymous said...

12:29's post is a joke

Anonymous said...

How dumb of Georgia State University to hire a high profile coach!?!

Maybe U of Charlotte can hire Coach Fox.

mike said...

UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE 49ers

Anonymous said...

So when exactly is "next week" in observer land?