Clash ads may give students the wrong idea

This season, the Falcon football team will play 12 games. Twelve games that will decide whether BG has what it takes to return to the top of the Mid-American Conference. Twelve games to get back to a bowl game. Twelve games to prove to themselves and fans that the sweat, blood and sacrifice from the previous year will not be in vain.

The BG football team will play twelve games this year, but still, I keep hearing of only one – the “Clash in Cleveland.”

It’s hard to fault the ambition of the project – bringing a Big Ten team away from its homely confines to play a MAC opponent. Still, this takes money, and money takes high ticket sales. How does an athletic department in this type of market achieve high ticket sales? Advertise.

If you’ve been anywhere in BG this past year, odds are there was an advertisement for the “Clash in Cleveland” somewhere nearby. A banner in downtown BG. T-shirts at the book store. A billboard on I-75. Television and radio commercials. Internet pop-ups.

Even my planner came with a nice little “Clash in Cleveland” sticker attached firmly to the front.

Quite simply, they’re everywhere, and when you take a moment to think, it doesn’t take long to figure out why.

Football games are not free, and MAC teams know this better than most. In non-conference play, big time teams want to do two things: fill up their stadium and earn wins. By inviting teams from lesser conferences (such as the MAC) to their stadium, teams from power conferences more often than not get both of what they wanted. This result, like so many other things in this game, comes with a price tag.

On Sept. 28, Buffalo is going to play Boston College on the road. Not because they feel as though they can win, but because they’re getting paid to be there – about $600,000 to be exact. Not bad for a days work as a punching bag.

Now consider what Bowling Green is trying to do, which is get a big time team in Wisconsin, to play on the road, against a small time conference. Now we’re talking some serious money here. Price tag? I asked and wasn’t given an answer, but to be honest, I’m not sure I even want to know.

So now it’s fairly easy to see the reason behind an aggressive marketing campaign – earn back the money paid. In my mind though, this comes at a heavy price.

Which brings me back to my original point, which is that the campus is left overly saturated in “Clash in Cleveland” hoopla, while the remainder of the schedule goes unnoticed. My fear is that the school is inadvertently building fans up toward one game and only one game. One game in a season of 12.

Although we are at home, the team is not exactly favorites. BG will start a quarterback who, although talented, has never played in an NCAA game, and will debut against one of the best defenses he may ever face. The team may also be missing their best wide receiver option, Corey Partridge, who will be a game-time decision.

All-in-all, the Falcons are favored to lose by about 10 points.

All I ask is that fans don’t pin their hopes on one game, simply because the school made an ambitious decision and was forced to market it until students began seeing the “Clash in Cleveland” signs around campus in their sleep.

We’ve got a solid team this year, and I’d hate to see fans turn away from the team because we lost “the big one.”

If we win, I’ll be ecstatic. If we lose, there are still 11 more games to prove why we’ve been the best team in the MAC over the last four years.