Going to be lots of disappointed University of Louisville football followers, many of them having waited for months to get their mementoes autographed.
Charlie Strong has declared there will be no autographs allowed on Fan Day next Sunday, citing recent a recent national controversy largely focused on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel who was collecting big bucks for signature. Suggestions that Teddy Bridgewater may have been involved with the same agent were quickly quelled by UofL.
Seems like a bit of an overreaction by Strong, denying fans opportunities for autographs. Every school in the country does it. But he obviously doesn’t want to put his program at risk, recognizing that some individuals in the crowd would inevitably be posting their goods on Ebay seeking the highest dollar.
“I know this will disappoint a lot of our fans, especially the young children who look up to our players, but I strongly feel this is the best decision for our football program,” said Strong, who will instead conduct for fans an open practice on Sunday.
Fan days are great public relations tools, enabling fans of all ages to get close to their heroes, creating face to face interaction and emotional bonding between fans and players in a sport in which the athletes’ faces are largely hidden by helmets. The good will that that personal contact creates is almost irreplaceable.
To be fair, Charlie Strong did hold an autograph session a few weeks following the Sugar Bowl win. The crowd, estimated at 9,500, was so large that lines extended outside the stadium. The coach also allows items to be left for autographs at the football complex during the off season. Doing away with autograph sessions also makes his previously-signed articles that much more valuable. It could be argued therefore that going ahead with the signings would water down the market.
Having a genuine Heisman Trophy candidate in Teddy Bridgewater apparently puts everything in a new perspective for Charlie Strong. He’s not taking his chances with his prized quarterback.