A Letter To Mike Schulze, Outback Bowl Director Of Communications

Lee W.Correspondent IApril 2, 2010

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:  The line of scrimmage is seen as the Iowa Hawkeyes attempt a field goal against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Dear Outback Bowl,

The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic is called the "Daytona 500" of College Football. It is a Chick-Fil-A Bowl event. In 2009, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and ABC worked together to invite the No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 7 Virginia Tech Hokies to the event on September 5th, 2009. Over 75,000 fans packed the Georgia Dome in what was one of the most entertaining college football games of the whole year.

Each respective ACC and SEC school earned millions in revenue. In 2008, the Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers earned over $2 Million in revenue. Alabama, Virginia Tech, and Clemson each sold over 31,200 tickets to fans and alumni. The SEC-ACC clash in the Southern Fried capital is one of the hottest tickets in the south.

Using Atlanta as an example, doesn't this give you an idea? The idea is to bring two highly ranked college football teams from the SEC and Big 10 to Tampa Bay.

The next catch is the fans. This is were you get the cabbage, Outback Bowl.

Beach Day, the Outback Bowl Parade, and the beautiful sandy shores and pure blue water. Thrills at Busch Gardens. In Florida...

And don't let me forget my say in this. I went to that 2009 Outback Bowl. My beloved team, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, with a record of 7-5, got crushed by the Iowa Hawkeyes 31-10 on this typical New Year's Day game.

But that was an awesome experience. I got the tickets and the t-shirt for Christmas that year. I was bouncing off the walls!

I went with my friend and we had the greatest time. We saw other Gamecock crazies on the long drive to Tampa.

We were swimming in clear blue water in December. Riding roller coasters and seeing thrills at Busch Gardens. The game setting was amazing. The cool wind blew on my back.

I felt somewhat proud for the struggling Gamecocks in making the New Year's Day bowl game.

So in conclusion, I think that the Outback Bowl, ESPN, and the city of Tampa should launch an event similar to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff classic.


Lee W.


Letter Back:

After a few days, I got an e-mail back from Outback Bowl Director of Communications, Mike Schulze. Here is what he said. I noted that he took a good, long time writing his letter in response and gave good justification on his answer. I learned a lot.

Sounds good on paper, but getting high profile teams to move their games off campus is difficult for starters.  Also, geography plays largely into this as Atlanta is uniquely situated within an easy to reasonable drive for fans from the SEC and ACC [teams] that [have] been in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game.  Atlanta is also a larger market and flooded with fans of every team from those conferences.  A game like that also isn't a Bowl Week trip for fans, but an in-and-out or one-night stay trip, again, making proximity very important.  Being on a peninsula for most teams and their fans, it's at least an 8-12 hour trip.  Not good for a short turnaround trip in the fall.

Lee, it's a nice idea, but the realities of pulling it off from a business side are unfortunately much more difficult.  Hope you return the next time SC makes it to our bowl.

Thanks for thinking of us and the kind words.

Mike Schulze
Director of Communications & Sponsorships
Outback Bowl
4211 W. Boyscout Blvd., Ste. 560
Tampa, FL 33607
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