Western Athletic Conference
One of my past clients was the Western Athletic Conference. While Boise State had regularly broken through the Bowl Championship Association’s major-conference barriers in recent years to land one berth in a BCS bowl, the odds had been steep for the WAC—or any other small conference—to earn a berth in a top-tier bowl each season.
WAC Commissioner Karl Benson recognized a rare opportunity when another member school, the University of Hawaii, had a chance for an undefeated season in 2007. The school and conference payout share of Hawaii or Boise State in a BCS bowl would represent a sizeable financial windfall for the WAC. With that in mind, Benson hired me as an outside consultant to help raise the profile of both schools through national media coverage. While the final BCS rankings are heavily weighted by computerized analysis, one component in that determination were the two “human” polls by college coaches and sports media. The strategy was for my outside promotion to have an impact on their voting, thus influencing the final BCS computer rankings.
On a weekly basis during the football season, I pitched stories to journalists in major media markets, particularly focusing on national college football writers. In addition, I booked Commissioner Benson on several sports talk radio stations across the U.S. The subject matter centered on the BCS bowl selection process and whether it was fair to smaller conferences, and also the success that Boise State had had in previous major bowls. In addition, the unbeaten Hawaii Rainbows were an exciting, new team on the horizon. The wide-open offense of Coach June Jones and record-setting passing performances by Colt Brennan became newsworthy storylines for national media, yet Benson knew that he took a chance that the story would be overlooked unless he enlisted outside publicity help.
It worked, as Hawaii earned an invitation to the Sugar Bowl.