Go Big And Go Home
Thu, 02/28/2013 - 17:12 — Michael Smoose
In the world of college athletics it’s not every day you get to be on the ground floor of something with the potential to be great. Sure you may add a new wrinkle or pull off something amazing like Maryland’s flash mob, but that’s part of an overall marketing strategy that’s evolved over the years.
That’s not the case at Armstrong Atlantic State University. The majority of you haven’t heard of Armstrong, except Trip, but we’re a small Division II school in Savannah, Ga. The school is relatively young, primarily commuter school with zero athletic traditions and no marketing department until I started it last year. We’ve got great teams – of Armstrong’s 11 sports, seven won conference titles last year – it’s just a matter of getting the word out and creating a great experience.
So my dream for 2013 is to lay the groundwork for what I believe can be a great college athletics atmosphere. It’s a double-edged sword as on one hand I’m in a unique position with a blank canvas to take in any direction. There’s no “that’s what we’ve always done.” I’m also in charge of selling corporate partnerships so I’m my own rights holder. The left hand knows what the right one’s doing, unless I fall asleep in some funky position and cut off circulation. On the other hand, we don’t have a core student group to tell the freshmen, this is important, this matters.
My first unique experience was bringing to life our first physical mascot. It was great helping develop the look of the costume then oversee the execution of the unveiling and naming contest. Captain George Armstrong - named for the man who donated the building to start the school (Side trivia note, if you’re read or seen “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, the building where the lawyer’s office is at was the first campus building) has been tremendously well received and become a big part of all events on campus, not just athletics.
I came back from my first NACMA Convention this summer – the majority of my experience is in sports information with some game ops and business office thrown in for good measure – with almost too many good ideas. As a one-man marketing department with little resources I have to be selective and find ways to scale down the great ideas I read about or see at Florida State, South Carolina or Iowa State. I’ve made some headway by meeting with and trying to empower some fraternities and student organizations as brand ambassadors.
My focus has been to get organized and have a plan I can hand off to the next person, because while I’m excited about my dream, it’s in direct conflict with my goal for 2013. My wife was a coach at another institution in Savannah and last year they discontinued her program. If you’re married to a coach you know you always run the risk of having to uproot your life at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, she found a new job at Cornell University, but we’re going on 11 months of living apart. The silver lining is that without my family here I might as well put in 12-16 hour days to get this thing going.
In 2013 I dream of one day needing to take the tarps off the top section of Alumni Arena but my goal for 2013 is to stop sleeping on an air mattress.