Oh, sure, college football might have expanded a little here and there -- it only wishes it could still buckle its belt through the same hole it did 20 years ago, right? Just like all of us, heh heh heh -- but at its heart it's still the same innocent amateur-athletics campus diversion it's always been, right? It's not at all a billion-dollar money train in which multinational corporations are so ingrained and invested so deeply they feel comfortable asking a prominent coach to ensure his 9-year-old son wears the proper brand of sweatshirt when in front of any television cameras, no sir.
Actually: scratch that last part. Per this Friday report from the Wall Street Journal, at least one corporation does feel comfortable making such a request. An email sent last November from a Nike "assistant director for football sports marketing" to Florida State -- and obtained by the Journal -- includes a request that Jimbo Fisher's son Ethan wear a different sweatshirt than the Under Armour shirt he was pictured in following the Seminoles' victory over Miami.
Nike has a $4.2 million licensing and apparel agreement with Florida State.
"Hey guys great win and game! Appreciate everything you all do for us! Keep it rolling," Nike's Mark Dupes wrote in the email, one sent just hours after Fisher and his son were shown celebrating postgame, per the Journal. "Hey got a text from the USA Director of Sports Marketing last night telling me of how good things look w FSU and our players and sideline staff, exposure for the Brand was exceptional.
"Then 5 min later I rec a new message…Said ABC cameras were on Jimbo and his Son ad end of the game…His son was Wearing Under Armour FSU sweatshirt! Ouch. Can we please ask Jimbo to eliminate that from the son's wardrobe in the future! Let me know if I can help w anything. Thx guys. MD"
Neither Nike nor Florida State said the email should be taken seriously, with FSU associate athletics director Monk Bonasorte telling the Journal it was "more just a joke to us" and that he did not pass on the request to Fisher. Nike said in a statement its agreement with the Seminoles "does not extend to their family members."
All the same, the Journal says that Ethan -- who suffers from Fanconi anemia, a rare and serious blood disorder -- was wearing Nike apparel at later Florida State games. Neither Fisher nor Dupes provided comment.
You decide, dear readers: after reading the email again -- with its focus on "exposure for the brand," its reference to the displeasure of a higher-up within the company, and its "Ouch" -- does it come across as a joke to you?