Today, I communicated with two friends in the business, former CFL and NFL scout Ken Moll and former Medal of Honor Bowl Asst. Director of Personnel Austin Atkinson. Both of them are working on the start-up Tropic Bowl, which is set for next month in Miami.
Austin and Ken independently indicated to me that they expect at least half of all NFL teams to send representatives. When you run a game like this, it’s all about scouting presence. There are numerous games held that NFL teams completely ignore, so this is a major victory for Michael Quartey, the man behind the game whom we’ve talked to many times in this space.
It’s still about three weeks until the game, and there is plenty of work to do before kickoff, so it’s premature to call the game a smashing success, Still, it’s definitely on the right track. Here are a few reasons the Tropic Bowl should not have succeeded.
- Promotion of the game has been almost strictly via word of mouth, with no fancy media campaign on a major network.
- The workouts and the game itself will not be broadcast on TV, though that’s becoming more and more popular with the “Big Three” all-star games.
- The game’s arrival came a week after another game, the College Gridiron Showcase, had already been recruiting for a week after its own late announcement.
- Players don’t get the usual trappings of an all-star game, i.e., paid travel and hotel stay. The players headed to Miami will bet on themselves by spending their own money to get a chance to be seen by scouts.
- There aren’t any big stars slated to play, and none are expected to play. Most of the players will be solid, salt-of-the-earth types that may make a camp, but have a long way to go before becoming big-time NFL prospects.
On the other hand, here’s why the game looks like it’s well on the way to success.
- The game is positioned in a place where scouts are likely to be anyway — in South Florida the weekend when scouts will be arriving anyway in Tampa for the Shrine Game.
- Michael has been careful to surround himself with good people that have real credibility, like Austin and Ken.
- Michael isn’t foolish enough to take on expenses he knows he can’t handle, like travel and lodging, just to impress a few people. He’s willing to risk being dismissed as a hack in order to be sensible and smart about the business he’s running.
- By running other games like the FCS/National Bowl, Michael has learned through trial and error what it takes to run these games, and how to be smart about costs and personnel.
- Michael is willing to take a big chance to make things happen.
Granted, for the millions of people who care only about which player their favorite team will draft in the first round, the idea of a game like the Tropic Bowl is pretty far down the list. But for people who want to find a way into the football business, i.e., the readers of this blog, I think Michael provides a blueprint on how to slowly build a league presence and earn clout.