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Maryland's 2010 PR campaign underway

Maryland is wasting no time in its attempt to generate some buzz heading into the 2010 football season. The concern, as I have reported 67 times, is season ticket sales, which have declined the past five years. The 2009 season ticket sales projection was missed by $600,000 and school officials are bracing for projected losses anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million in 2010. The following message was sent out in an e-mail from the Terrapin Club to all of its members this afternoon:

Dear Maryland Football Supporter,

Now that the 2009 season is complete, I wanted to take a few moments to
thank you for your support of our football team this year. And I wanted to
tell you that no one associated with our football program is satisfied with
our record this season. As Head Coach, I take responsibility for our
performance this year and I can assure you that we will be better next
year.

Here’s why:

We have an exciting and mobile young quarterback in Jamarr Robinson. His
performances against Virginia Tech (129 yards rushing), Florida State (213
yards passing) and Boston College (115 yards passing playing less than half
the game) showed everyone that he brings an exciting dimension to our
offense. James Franklin and I are going to work on offensive schemes to
feature Jamarr’s unique skills. We also have two very good redshirt
freshmen quarterbacks in C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien – so we are stacked
in this crucial position.

We have all of our running backs returning. A healthy Da’Rel Scott, Davin
Meggett, Caleb Porzel and Gary Douglas return to give us the strongest
backfield we’ve had in years.

All of our wide receivers are back, including All-ACC performer Torrey
Smith, Adrian Cannon, Ronnie Tyler and Kevin Dorsey. You saw the arm
strength of Jamarr – next season it’s going to be exciting to watch him get
the ball downfield to these talented and speedy wideouts.

Our offensive line is back, with the exception of one. A young squad in
2009, our linemen are a year older, a year wiser and will play like
veterans next year, opening up holes for our backs and giving our
quarterbacks time to look downfield. Their development is crucial and I
will be working closely with the Offensive Line Coach Tom Bratton on this
in the off-season.
On the defensive side, we will return 8 of our top 10 leading tacklers.
Our linebackers will be a particularly strong unit, with Alex Wujciak and
Adrian Moten anchoring a squad that made great strides under first-year
Defensive Coordinator Don Brown.

In all we have 28 players back next year who started during their careers.
On our offensive two-deep, we have 18 of 22 players back. On defense, it’s
15 of 22 players back. That kind of game experience is going to pay off
for us next season.

Spearheaded by Dave Sollazzo and James Franklin, our recruiting efforts
have led to a 2010 class ranked 26th by national recruiting experts. The
class includes four 4-star prospects who can have an immediate impact on
our team.

Our 2010 schedule includes a season opener against the Navy Midshipmen at
M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Those of you who were there in 2005
remember what an outstanding game that was (we eventually prevailed 23-20
in a nailbiter), and I expect this one to be another tough match against
our intra-state rival. It will be a terrific start to the season.
When our full 2010 schedule is officially announced in January, we will be
asking you to continue your support of Maryland Football by renewing your
season tickets. I understand that some of you may look at this year’s
record and think hard about that decision. But I ask that you remember the
2009 team not solely for our record, but also for the heart with which they
played. This team never quit, not once, not on any play. These are
student-athletes of character…and we should all be proud that they are
called Terrapins. Now is the time for all Terp fans to unite and support
the team.
I am so proud to have been a part of this team, perhaps more than any team
in my 40 years of coaching. I would like to personally ask that you
continue your support of the Terps by renewing your season tickets. Come
back to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium next year. Watch our young team
grow and improve. With your help, we can do special things next year.
And my staff and I start that work today.
For those of you who wrote, emailed and called with encouragement over the
trying 2009 season, I thank you. I am humbled by your continued loyalty
and support of Maryland Football. We’ve done some great things together
here in Maryland during my first nine years, featuring six bowl appearances
including the Orange Bowl, Gator Bowl and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Returning
the program to that level of competition, along with Top 25 finishes
remains our top priority.
I am a proud Terp and I consider it an honor to coach here at the
University of Maryland and I thank Debbie Yow and Dr. Dan Mote for their
continued support. I hope that you look forward with me, our players and
our coaching staff to the 2010 season.
Fear The Turtle!

Head Coach Ralph Friedgen

By Eric Prisbell  |  December 2, 2009; 12:54 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Comments

The Maryland Marketing Team will need to come up with good incentive for season ticket renewals. Lower the cost of a season ticket plan vs. gate price, free food, discounts for renewals by a certain date...something. Next season will be hard to sell anyway - no home games against VaTech, WVU or UVa (teams that bring their own crowd), and the Navy game may not be part of the "season package" - much like BB&T for Basketball that needs to be purchased separately. Its going to be an uphill battle on ticket sales until the on-field product shows improvement.

Posted by: TerpGrad | December 2, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The message wouldn't change my committment to season tickets, but I certainly don't think it will make much difference to those who are not sure about renewing tickets for next season. I think the one thing that has hurt the athletic department as a whole in this economy is the fact that season tickets are no longer seen as the luxury that they were 5 years ago. Even basketball season tickets can be had right now despite a very strong team.

The biggest problem right now is the cost of season tickets. Season ticket holders are only given a slight discount off the face value of their tickets while the athletic department runs sales and partial plans at severely discounted prices when they see that the stadium is nowhere close to sold out. It was fine to charge near face value for season tickets when they had demand to sell the entire stadium out, but when they knew they were going to have difficulty getting more than 30,000 season committments, they should have made one of the seven home games free. I don't blame them for wanting to sell out the stadium and offering single game tickets at a discount, but those discounts should NOT exceed the discounts that season ticket holders get. The same goes for basketball, where a season ticket costs over $600 and half of the games are likely to be blowouts, yet they are offering 3-game plans now that include tickets to Duke or UNC and another ACC opponent at a discount. It's disloyal to the season ticket holders to do that, and while I would renew my season tickets anyway as my way of supporting the athletic department, it's a bit frustrating when I paid $35+ per game for my seat to watch the Terps, while the guy 2 rows down paid $20 to just watch that one game.

If Maryland wants to sell more season tickets, they will need to come down on the price or come up with a better incentive than "a chance at winning a $50 Terp Store gift card" and a special gift from Under Armour, which ended up being a poster ad (not even a schedule or team photo). The season tickets should also include tickets to the Navy game, not just an "opportunity to purchase tickets" like they did the last time the two squared off in Baltimore.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 2, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'll support the team if Debbie Yow is fired and the school hires a real AD.

Posted by: DaveLopan | December 2, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like some type of forced statement that Friedgen was required to make in order to keep his job.

If everything's so great how come the team only won two games?

Politically correct statements and couched arguments won't excite fan interest...wins will.

Posted by: imterpsfan2 | December 2, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

For season ticket holders, they need to offer some incentive, a lower price than others..What's my advantage of being a season ticket holder, when someone can just buy an indv. ticket at half the price.
I would enhance Byrd for the common fan.. How about placing speakers on the concourse with the radio broadcast of the game, so you don't miss any action.. At least I didn't ask for any tv's..

Posted by: frostanna | December 2, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

However, when compared to the fleecing that $nyder does to skins fans, it is not that horrible a deal. The economics work such that one (on a limited budget) would be better off throwing money at MD football rather than Pro football AND would not deal with the traffic issues at Fedex. And as Russ points out, the 3 game plans for bball are a serious bargain.

That said, I will continue to support MD, but maintain my personal boycott of all new Redskins paraphenelia and game tickets while Vinnie is in charge. Man, my old #44 jersey is getting ragged.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 2, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Terps football aren't the only college or pro athletic competition in town, and with declining sales, it's time to step up and be competitive in what you offer - in the product on the field, in the game experience, and (the quickest fix) in price!

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | December 2, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone anywhere have any info on what the basis for the 2009 season ticket projection factors were? Is $600k short bad, horrible, or not so bad given the economy?

I'm not trying to paint a rosey picture of the team and its performance, but maybe MD drastically underestimated the impact of the economy, and over estimated their standing in the financial priorities of their fans.

Is the Navy game a home or away game? Or is it a home game that we get screwed out of?

I'll re-up my season tickets, but mainly because my Dad and I have had them for a good long while now and they are a pretty ideal spot for us.


Fridge ended with "Fear the Turtle", but that isn't our slogan anymore...

Posted by: ckstevenson | December 2, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

re: ckstevenson -

Terps will be the "home" team for the Navy game, but I think its a "split gate" b/c its at M&T Stadium.

I thought I heard the University wasn't completely dropping "Fear the Turtle" - just adding the new (weird, disliked one) to appease the academia that didn't like Fear the Turtle.

Posted by: TerpGrad | December 2, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Does Debbie "I couldn't care less about revenue sports" Yow realize that the reason for disappointing ticket sales are the fact that the team has not been good in 6 years? Maybe retaining Friedgen and striving for 7-5 in the weak ACC next year isn't exactly a compelling reason to get on board with this program.

Posted by: epdaly | December 2, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, the marketing department must think fans are idiots. Putting something out like this is an act of desperation. I'm a big believer that if you treat people respectfully they'll do the same in return. This letter makes me feel like a an idiot or insert your own word here. Treat us like real people and don't try and cover up things that are obvious.

They should have waited to put the letter out and put in what they plan to change next year. Putting in that we currently have the 26th best class is not that great because half of the top prospects haven't even committed so that number can drop pretty quickly unless we sign some of them which probably won't happen because we already have a full class.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 3, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

they were giving tickets away towards the end of season. better lower season tickets or else I am not renewing my 4 tickets. It just looks like they don't give the season ticket holder a break but the game by game are being given away. No product no money from me unless they lower by 20%. who is the faithful the season or single game fans? It will be a lower atendance if it is not lower.

Posted by: jack51 | December 3, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I personally felt this was a very strong letter from Fridge and think it will be a convincing sell to anyone on the fence about next year's season tickets. 28 guys returning who have started a game?? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that will be tops in the ACC, by a long shot.

As for all the complaints about tickets prices and no discounts, 2 things: First, the school does offer discounts if you purchase the tickets before August. I got my seats last year at a significant discount ($90 per ticket less) because I paid early. Second, on what planet are you people living on where $35 is considered an "expensive" ticket? Have you people ever tried going to a Redskins game prior to this season? Nationals games sitting in the outfield cost about the same price. Wizards games sitting in the upper deck are often even pricier. $35-$45 seats are a bargain for Terps football--and fans should be thanking the school for keeping ticket prices affordable to their fans even after 6 bowl seasons since 2001.

Stop the b*tching and whining just for the sake of complaining. MD ticket prices are perfectly fair and reasonable.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 3, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

barno -

We would expect nothing less from you than to predict that the Terps will be tops in the ACC. As with this season, my prediciton for next year is 14-0 and a NC until proven otherwise. Likely?? no. Likely to be far more competitive? Definitely.

Agree that sports at College Park are the best value in the region...except for kids tickets to the Orioles games using the Chik-Fil-A program. Actually, the only good values are the Terps and the Orioles. No intent to boycott either (I had boycotted the Os for a decade after PA wrote the letter as to why he fired Davey Johnson until my kid started getting into baseball). But I am boycotting the Skins until substantive changes are made. I think that keeping Ralph is the right decision and look forward to seeing him right the ship.

It is sick how many DBs and OLs we have in the pros but now those are the weak points of the team. Any thoughts (beyond recruiting) as to why our DB play has suffered?

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Diehard Fan -

oh yeah, that letter is an act of desperation. Of course it is. Selling season tix for a team with a 2-10 record is an uphill battle at best in this economy. I suspect far more communications from them this year than in any previous year. As to the $600k shortfall - that is for one year. I am sure their projections had both increasing attendance AND increased pricing. Thus next year, the deficit will roll even higher.

Pricing could offset the deficit moreso than any other factor. If they assume and are correct that lowering prices will stimulate tix sales then they may get a few more bites. However in this economy, folks aren't spending like they used to so they could get double burned. or they could raise the student activity fee like they do every year....

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 3, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

HGR,

Lowering ticket prices won't happen considering they do lower them for the lesser teams and have a $40 minimum for ACC games. While they didn't have a great season, I don't see them changing the price unless they do what they usually do and that is offer discounts when you order your tickets early.

The best thing for them to do is write a real letter and wait to do it until the new year when you actually can renew your tickets and they offer the deals they can and put some justifications behind what they are going to do, like Fridge's full endorsement to do whatever it takes within the stupid NCAA rules that don;t make sense half the time. A rededication to the team and the school and admitting some self humility and responsibility.

Wouldn't anyone feel better if they got a letter from Fridge stating what they're going to do and the mistakes they made to ensure they won't happen again? The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 3, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

barno -

We would expect nothing less from you than to predict that the Terps will be tops in the ACC. As with this season, my prediciton for next year is 14-0 and a NC until proven otherwise. Likely?? no. Likely to be far more competitive? Definitely.

Posted by: HughGRection | December 3, 2009 2:23 PM

Actually, I didn't say we would be tops in the ACC next yaer. I said that 28 guys who have started a game and are returning would be tops among the ACC by a long shot.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 3, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

If Ralphie is so stoked about the team's outlook for 2010 and wants the season ticket holders to hang-in-there then maybe he outta just put his $2M salary where his mouth is and subsidize our ticket plans? $$ talks BS walks...as he ALWAYS annoyingly says "it is what it is"!!

Posted by: BD-EC | December 3, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

First off, just like Tiger's statement, Ralphie did not write that. It was a crafted PR message.
Friedgen is a terrible coach. He was an offensive genius at GT all those years ago and now we can't even score give me a break!!
I will not be wasting my time, money and aggravation watching a below par team and terrible coaches. The AD had a real chance to make a statement to us alumni, but this is obvious, we don't want to pay out fattie and his flunkies.

Posted by: bmdugan | December 3, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Barno,

Regardless, I am sticking to my prediction until proven otherwise!

Don't know that the problem is Ralph's coaching. Not a lot of coaching mistakes to point at (unlike Zorn). I think a few years ago the problem was that we had a dearth of WRs, so emphasis was placed on getting speedy WRs in - to the point now where we are so loaded at WR, we have converted a few to DBs. We have a lot more experience heading into next year regardless. We need OL and DBs to step up and deliver as they have in the past (even in the subpar years we were strong in those areas). A talented TE would be gravy. Any thoughts on the DL?

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 4, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm not optimistic that the athletic department will do anything more than issue lofty statements to attract the fans. This is the same crew that raised the threshold for Terrapin Club donor levels in 2009 when we were clearly in the midst of a recession...only to now retrench and offer a promotion. They just don't seem to have a focus on marketing to the public the way other schools in our class do.

Posted by: DonRoberto1 | December 4, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Gary, Greivis and company can make a deep run in March so that we have something to cheer about in 2010. This nonsense from Ralph means nothing and excites no one. There are no new ideas here and nothing groundbreaking that is going to get an additional 5 wins next year. And by the way, who does he think he is kidding by stating that the hopes for offensive improvement ride on the shoulders of this "exciting and mobile young QB" who wasn't good enough to crack the lineup until everyone else was either injured or graduated. Come on Ralph. Do the right thing and simply RESIGN.

Posted by: goochlandterp | December 5, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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