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San Diego Sportscene / Dave Distel

SDSU: The School of Hard Knocks

January 22, 1986|DAVE DISTEL

Everyone has experienced the bewilderment of hearing a knock on the front door when no one is expected. Since no one is expecting anyone, no one wants to answer. People move faster to pick up $250 dinner tabs.

Who could possibly be at the door? And what are they selling?

Will it be scouts selling cookies?

Or religious zealots selling salvation?

Or students selling candy bars?

Or hopeful summer campers selling magazine subscriptions?

Or maybe the proverbial encyclopedia salesman?

It could be any of the above, or more. It is amazing what can be procured from the comfort of the front stoop. Just answer the door and write the check.

A new dimension in salesmanship is being brought to us by the folks at San Diego State University. This is not a course offering from the School of Business, but rather hands-on salesmanship.

This is the new scheme for selling season football tickets as introduced by Dr. Fred Miller, the new director of athletics.

Miller has turned the coaching staff into what might be called an Athletic Amway. Anyone who coaches at SDSU will be required to put together a 10-person sales force determined to sell 1,000 season tickets to Aztec football games. That's 1,000 tickets per coach.

No one is exempt. Golf coaches will sell football tickets, and so will coaches from volleyball, baseball, tennis, track, soccer, basketball, softball and even football. Presumably, those who coach debate and dramatics are excluded.

As I understand it, these coaches have been told that their funding is hereby frozen. Their sports will get what they have gotten in the past, and not a penny more. Zilch.

However, these programs are not without potential for tremendous expansion. All these coaches have to do is get out and sell those football tickets. Sell, baby, sell.

When a coach's sales team--each coach will now have an athletic team and a sales team--peddles $100 worth of tickets, $25 will go to his (or her) program. For example, if the golf coach sells $1,000 worth of football tickets, 25%--or $250--goes to the golf program.

This, if I understand correctly, is known to economists, psychologists, motivational consultants and snakeoil salesmen as incentive.

I expect that we will soon see Denny Stolz behind a card table in Fashion Valley, Smokey Gaines under an umbrella at La Jolla Cove, Jim Dietz wearing a sandwich board in Horton Plaza, Carol Plunkett tending a booth at Morley Field and Earnest Riggins at the information counter at Lindbergh Field. I am sure these folks, and their colleagues, will be pounding pavement as fervently as the most fervent politicians.

SDSU coaches will be like department store Santas. They will be everywhere.

Soon, they will surely be knocking on front doors. Just when you hear the knock and expect someone pushing brushes or vacuum cleaners, there will stand a person wearing a red and black warmup suit and a whistle.

"Hello there, neighbor," he (or she) will say. "I am a coach at San Diego State and I need your help."

This might be a bit baffling. You wonder if you will be called upon to design a play for third-and-long or recruit the kid three streets down and around the corner or maybe help fix a flat tire.

"Sure," you respond. "What can I do for you?"

Coach: "Buy season tickets to watch our football team."

You: "What is this? Kind of a Club Med-type deal? What do you offer solitude?"

Coach: "We're going to wear black uniforms, play at night and throw the football."

You: "That's an old product. I've bought that before, and not been satisfied."

Coach (quieted): "Let me explain this to you another way. I'm really not doing this for football. I'm doing this for my team."

You: "What? How?"

Coach: "My program gets 25% of whatever I sell in football season tickets. And my program is impoverished. Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated."

You: "When you put it that way, I understand. What can I possibly do? What are your needs?

Coach: "We're really short on facilities. If you could possibly buy $600,000 worth of football tickets, we could build a coach's office and maybe a meeting room for our 25%."

You: "Whoa! Do I look like I own a chain of hamburger joints? You get that office built and I'll go in on the closet door. What other help do you need?"

Coach: "I'll give you some options. You can get me some secretarial help if you buy $24,000 worth of tickets--or maybe an answering machine if you can afford $400. We could use a computer for recruiting and scouting, if you've got $16,000 for tickets. Otherwise, $40 worth of tickets will get us some legal pads. You can help us pay officials for $1,200 worth of tickets, or kick in $12,000 and we'll have enough to pay them off."

You: "What about the athletes themselves? None of this sounds very exciting."

Coach: "We can use our 25% to help with things like scholarships and recruiting. If you want to buy maybe $5,000 worth of tickets, I'll get enough money to make a recruiting trip to New York."

You: "Listen, I'd really like to help. I'll take one season ticket."

Coach (disappointed): "One? That's fine. I really appreciate your help. Watch us in a year or two. If we have any athletes from Bonsall, you paid for the recruiting trip."

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