Everyone who’s interested in East Tennessee State University’s resurrected football program already knows that coach Carl Torbush will direct the team with help from former players and assistant coaches Teddy Gaines and Billy Taylor.
They know that the team is expected to play its first game in the fall of 2015 in a stadium that will, university leaders hope, be built on campus at one of two projected locations.
But ETSU athletics officials hope it’s what people don’t know, and the university’s careful and gradual release of that information over the next year-and-a-half, that will keep the community’s interest in the Bucs at a low boil until the first big game.
“Obviously, with the start of a college football program, there’s a lot of news and a lot of excitement,” ETSU’s Associate Athletic Director for Communications Mike White said Tuesday. “There are a lot of things left to announce that fans will get excited about, and we want people to keep talking and stay excited right up until the first game in 2015.”
Next week, at a Nov. 14 press conference, the college’s athletics department will make what Athletics Director Richard Sander coyly billed earlier this week as a “huge football announcement” without giving away any specific details.
White said the pomp and circumstance will likely accompany many of the school’s football announcements in the coming years.
“We’ve got so much more to go, and we’ve done a lot of studying other universities that have started football programs and how they generate excitement,” White said. “Different schools take different time. We’re doing it in two years, but others have taken three, four or five years, and we’ve looked at the ways they keep people excited and new information coming all the time.”
With so many specifics yet to be set for Bucs football, there should be plenty of major announcements left to tempt would-be fans, and some minor ones as well.
There still isn’t a definitive location for the 10,000-seat football stadium — although it’s been narrowed down to two on-campus locations — and even when the spot is set, there will be a multimillion dollar fundraising drive to build it.
Then there are helmet and uniform designs, game schedules, the first recruiting class, more coaching staff and many more announcements to come.
On Tuesday, ETSU announced a new contract with Nike to provide its sports teams’ official apparel, which was expanded to include the football team. Nike will also provide the officially licensed fan gear for all of the college’s sports teams.
The key to making the football team successful, White said, is capturing and keeping public interest.
“We hope the fans are paying attention and are excited about all these prospects,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of announcements coming over the next several months.”