Star Power – Why the Jags Small-School Focus is Hurting the Team
By Luke Sims
As was pointed out by one of our commenters, Nickel and Dime in this article, the Jags focus too much on small school talent. While his main point was that the risk of picking small school players is too great, I have another point to make.
By focusing so much energy and time on drafting small-school players, the Jags miss out on star power that can motivate the fan base and sell tickets.
Owner Shahid Khan wants to get rid of the tarps at Everbank Field. He is desperate enough to attempt hiring Tim Tebow to do it.
But there’s an easier (and less costly) solution: focus on grabbing stars in college.
As has been pointed out by many writers on Black and Teal, the Jags don’t go after big name prospects often. Blaine Gabbert out of Mizzou is about as big as they come for the Jags. Sure he had a good go of it in college, but even he wasn’t the true “star” the Jags really needed. Nabbing a franchise quarterback is a good way to sell tickets solely because the fans want a new quarterback, but unless he’s the next sure thing out of USC he isn’t going to be bringing in new fans.
I’m not saying the Jags should focus on players like Jamarcus Russell who are complete aberrations, but rather focus on some Big-Ten and Big-12 type players that guarantee people are interested in the Jaguars for who they’re bringing into the team.
Sure, QB Ricky Stanzi (whom I loved before the 2011 draft) isn’t selling a ton of Chiefs jerseys, but I guarantee the Chiefs gained a lot of fans in the Iowa region for grabbing their wining quarterback. And some of those fans may just travel a few states south for a game every once in a while.
Similarly, players like C Peter Konz from Wisconsin and TE Coby Fleener from Stanford have big spotlights on them from their home states. The Jags may not steal a ton of Wisconsin fans with the Packers being the best aerial show outside of the Red Bull runs, but some people may go “Konz was pretty damn good, I wonder how he’s doing down in Jacksonville…” and flip the channel or pop in for a game on vacation (seriously, it gets cold in that upper Midwest) down in Florida.
I’m not saying Quinton Coples is the answer just because he’s a popular player. I’m not saying every Tim Tebow that’s available should be drafted. But maybe, just maybe the Jags should focus on bringing in some more talent from big name schools. Schools whose players are practically celebrities. As much as I love OG/T Charles Burton from my alma mater, he won’t be selling tickets for the Jags.
If the Jaguars are serious about running the team more like a successful franchise, that means they need to start focusing on ways to bring the eyes of the nation to Jacksonville. A good way to do that is winning. But an easier way is to take the players who already have eyes on them and bring them to Jacksonville.
I’m telling you, the fans will follow.
– Luke N. Sims