Meat in the Seats: Promoting Kansas football

First in a series of commentaries on Kansas Football entitled "Jim and the Fat Man."

With the end of another Kansas Football season just around the corner – and not a moment too soon – I'm doing my best to look forward to the game this Saturday against Okie State. And I am. Seriously.

When I was a kid, the last game of the year meant KU-Mizzou. That was always a great way to end the season. Even when both teams were lousy (which was more often than not), there was a good crowd. The whole Good versus Evil thing always played well.

Since the creation of the Big 12 the end of the season has meant, well, the end of the season. Unfortunately, this game falls right in line with that time-honored tradition. Filled with all the excitement of a possible three-win season, and playing against yet another Big 12 team that seems to have a two-year head start on being competitive in the conference, I'm convinced something needs to happen if there's going to be crowd that can't fit in The Field House.

But I'll be there - rain or shine, good football or bad. For me, nothing can compete with a fall afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Some of my Kansas State buddies have encouraged me to try a root canal and see how it compares, but I'm serious: I love watching KU football.

The hardcore KU football fan is hard to find though, a lot like Dick Cheney's charm school teacher and people who feel sorry for Steve Spurrier. So, in order to keep Saturday's attendance from looking like a K-State crowd, circa Ellis Rainsberger, KU Football needs a hook.

I've come up with a few promotions designed to put meat in the seats. They're a little unorthodox – we're not talking big foam fingers or t-shirts with catchy slogans here – but I think these ideas are money.

  • Put more students in the seats and take some pressure off our depleted group of quarterbacks at the same time. Get ready for the University's first "Quarterback for a Quarter" promotion! All students who enter the stadium will be entered into a drawing. Before the game, four names will be drawn and those lucky winners will suit up for the ‘Hawks. Each will play one quarter at the QB position. Afterward, any contestants still capable of chewing and keeping down solid food will get a free personal pan pizza from longtime corporate sponsor Pizza Hut.

  • Remember the old-fashioned campus prank of cramming students into a phone booth? At the first-ever Man-Jean-O Saturday, KU's organized living groups will give it the old college try, competing to see how many of their members can fit themselves in a pair of Coach Mangino's dungarees. This event will be sponsored by Kansas City-based Lee Jeans, and winners will each receive a one-year supply of chalupas from Taco Bell. Of course, winners will be required to climb through the drive-thru window to claim their prize.

  • It's Fear Factor meets Kansas Football. Six lucky drawing winners will have the opportunity to compete at halftime in a unique test of athleticism, guts and mental capacity. Six purses will be placed on bus benches across campus, and each purse will contain a credit card stolen from an absent-minded beauty pageant participant. When a horn sounds, all six will leave the stadium to in search of one of the purses. Once this is accomplished, each will rush to an off-campus apartment and use the stolen card to order bad pizza. After eating the pizza, contestants must remain in the apartment despite the urge to leave in order to avoid getting caught. Leaving the apartment will result in disqualification. The winner will be the contestant who first appears in Douglas County Court and is made fun of by Jim Rome. First prize is $50,000, which will be given to them in a lovely leather briefcase by KU football legend John Hadl. However, there are no losers here. All runners-up will receive a brightly colored orange jumpsuit from the Douglas County Department of Corrections and 150 hours of community service.
The Fat Man has begun the long-term project of turning chicken droppings into chicken dumplings, and I'm impressed. This is not your father's KU Football coach. Unfortunately, most Kansas Football fans don't care enough to show up to see a two-win football team try to pick up what could be a momentum-building victory. That's why promotional ideas like these are a must this Saturday. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and a good crowd and a solid performance by the team could send at least a few of us home wondering when spring ball starts.

Plus I look like a million bucks in blaze orange.


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