April 8, 2011
Seminoles.com recently asked for fans of the Florida State Seminoles on facebook to submit questions for Director of Athletics Randy Spetman. Spetman is back to provide his insights from inside the Moore Athletics Center.
Frank Hydrick (Facebook):
Several years ago we came to the spring football game and there were home games for baseball, softball and soccer. Is there a reason why there are not other home sporting events the weekend of the spring football game?
Spetman: There are two primary factors that determine whether we have baseball on the weekend of the spring game and naturally they have to do with each sport.
On the baseball end, none of the ACC schools make their own baseball schedules. All the schedules for ACC games are determined at the conference level and then each school can fill in their non-conference dates. So, the ACC’s 2012 baseball schedule is already being planned right now.
Football, on the other hand, directly controls when they play their spring game and we want to make sure we maintain maximum flexibility on that. For instance there have been seasons when we had a number of key players with offseason injuries so coaches wanted to delay the start – and consequently the spring game – as long as possible. There will be times when we have good luck on injuries and may want an early start to spring. There are years when coaches want spring break to come at the beginning of spring practice, the middle, the end or don’t even want the break to interfere at all with the spring drills.
Given the fact that we don’t want to set the date of the spring game too early, we can’t expect the baseball team to play on the road throughout late April and May in hopes of matching the dates. In fact, it would be impossible to schedule that way.
In addition, the dates available for spring football all limited by the NCAA and commitments by the coaching staff, including the annual spring booster tour, factor in as well.
As you might suspect, six of 12 ACC teams are playing baseball at home on the weekend of their spring game and the same with the SEC just to pick another conference that our emailers seem interested in. Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and FSU will not play baseball at home on the spring game weekend. In the SEC, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and South Carolina did not match spring games with home baseball.
The final consideration is that the grandstand’s at Dick Howser are sold out before the season starts and after the student allotment has been fulfilled, we generally have fewer than 1,500 tickets for sale for any home baseball game.
Maureen Greenfield Pichard (Facebook):
Who will be at the spring game?
Spetman: We have over 50 players returning for the halftime festivities that include a flag football game again this year. We also are happy that a number of our former players currently playing in the NFL will be on hand although they won’t participate in the game.
Our marketing and promotions office has gone all out to bring in what we hope will be the biggest crowd ever. The Block Party on Friday night in downtown Tallahassee will feature three stages and six different bands headlined by country and western star, and FSU alum, Jake Owen. We will have fireworks that night since it will still be daylight when the spring game is over
Our folks would be upset if I didn’t mention that the parking lots will open at 9 a.m. and it is first come, first served so if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to park right up front you can find out.
The gates open at 9:00 a.m. and the game starts at 4:00 so we hope you will be there.
David Calhoun (Facebook):
I know it’s good to have warm-up games at the beginning of the year for our football team, but why do we schedule lower division teams (Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, Jacksonville State) instead of getting D-I opponents? Doesn’t that make our schedule weaker and hurt our national rankings?
Spetman: It is notable that the subject of who we schedule for football non-conference opponents drew questions in favor of both sides on the website and Twitter. One person wrote in to question why we would schedule “lower division teams like Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, etc” and another questioned why in the world we continue to schedule teams like “Oklahoma with Florida, Miami and the rest of the ACC already on the schedule.”
The reality is that the formula for the BCS national title game has changed to the point that strength of schedule is a weaker component than it was originally. I was reminded that FSU reached the national title game against Oklahoma (ironically) in 2000 by a narrow margin and the difference was the Seminoles’ stronger strength of schedule.
There are programs that are able to sell out their season tickets and have capacity crowds no matter the opponent. For a lot of reasons not the least of which is geographical, we are clearly just not at that point.
We must strike a balance of maintaining a schedule that our ticket buyers will find attractive enough to support, while not overloading the non-conference portion of the football schedule.
Erik Belknap (Facebook):
What is the current statis of the indoor training facility?
Spetman: Fans who want to know why they have seen photos or read stories about the football team practicing on the intramural fields this spring should read the story on Seminoles.com under the football heading titled What’s Going On?. It explains in detail what we are doing to the fields right now. And part of what we are working on involves the indoor practice facility.
As for the status of the facility, we are still in the fund raising process. We have not raised the money to begin phase 2 of the project.
Many fans may not know why an indoor facility is more important than it has been in the past and it has to do with the more sophisticated weather information we are getting. Weather radar is monitored for all our practices and competitions now and safety requirements demand that once the threat of lightning enters a certain radius from our event, we must clear the fields and take cover for a minimum of 30 minutes.
In the old days, a coach and trainer would practice up until they “saw” lightning and then duck under cover long enough for the cloud to pass and then everyone would hurry back out. Now, we clear the fields, courts, pools, courses, tracks, etc. for at least a half hour.
We all know how frequent threatening weather occurs in the spring and August so we are always in danger of losing lots of practice time.
Larry Knowles (Facebook):
Why do we have to play back-to back and even back home games, don’t you think it’s tough on an out of town alumni to get there?
Spetman: Each ACC schools submits who they are playing to the conference office and the ACC staff works with the television networks to develop the entire conference schedule. Now, many of the non-conference games do have competition dates agreed to in the contract, but those can and often do get changed.
Compiling the overall matrix of the ACC football schedule each year is a daunting task and obviously no school gets to play every game where they want. In a perfect world, we would prefer never to play back-to-back at home and would balance the games out evenly, including playing opponents that might be less challenging in front of the stronger teams. Of course, that’s exactly what the other 11 schools are trying to do as well.
I should point out that the impetus for creating the smaller “Fan Packs” of football tickets is to make it easier on our many out-of-town fans. As long as we are not sold out of season tickets, we plan to offer a three-game pack that will include a home game in each month geared towards the long distance fan.
John Asmar (Facebook):
Why do students have to be relegated to the end zone or other areas when they are going to be the future financial contributers to the boosters. Seems to me that in order to build your alumni base is to make sure that those individuals that participate in student organizations get premium seating at a discount.
Spetman: We have made a number of changes to the student experience at home events over the years and they have taken advantage of many of them and some have not worked.
You should be aware that as part of their registration and tuition, FSU students get in free to all home athletic events. They redeem a ticket on-line for football and men’s basketball games and are only turned away if the student allotment has already been filled.
In men’s basketball for instance, we tried to increase the atmosphere for students by literally lining the west side of the court with what we called the “The ‘Nole Zone.” Some students took advantage of being able to have the best location in the house, but too often they showed up in small numbers.
We changed the process for the student seating at football games last year switching the entire student section to general admission seating rather than reserved seats. This has been successful in that we have had early arriving, more enthusiastic and better attended games.
Our marketing and promotions office is constantly working on increasing student attendance as we believe this not only creates the best atmosphere for our teams, but represents our future supporters.
We had several twitter followers (Seminole_com) that asked if Florida State was adding a new sport this fall.
Spetman: We are indeed adding sand volleyball which will begin playing in the spring of 2012.
The sport is played outdoors on a sand court. Each school will compete with five doubles team at a time and the winner will be whichever schools wins at least three of the doubles matches.
Many schools are adding this sport in the next few years as it allows opportunities for more student-athletes and coaches. We have not determined where we will locate the five sand courts needed to field the program, but are working hard to finalize the location.
The sport will support 12-15 student-athletes and two coaches and will bring us to a total of 20 intercollegiate sports. It will be particularly beneficial in terms of helping us keep our male/female ratio in balance.