Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.
Today is December 1st. Many Americans have already finished all of their holiday shopping, taking advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.
But if you're anything like me, you aren't one of those people. Black Friday is a College Football day, or perhaps a Sleeping Off a 4,500 Calorie Dinner day, not a shopping day that required stuff like advanced planning or leaving the house. If you've had your head buried in college football, or Fall athletics season, or school over these past few months, you might only now be coming up for air. I get it.
I'm about Service Journalism here at Extra Points, so let me try to help. If you have a college sports degenerate that you need to shop for, or if you are a college sports degenerate struggling to figure out things to ask for, maybe this list might help.
Lots of publishers do these lists, and load it up with affiliate marketing links, or perhaps charge brands to get mentioned in their gift guide. That's probably a good publishing strategy! I didn't do that. Except for the various obvious paragraph at the end, nobody is paying me to mention anything that I plug on this guide. If you want to buy ads, I'd love to sell you one (I'm at email@example.com)...but this particular newsletter isn't an ad.
Everybody loves college pennants, right? Here's where I get mine
I have a pretty big college pennant collection, which you could see behind me if you've ever watched a Going For Two or any of my videos on Collegiate Sports Connect. I pick one up whenever I travel to a new campus from the university bookstore. Sometimes readers or administrators mail them to me. But a lot of them...those small, 1950s'era pennants? I bought most of those myself.
(this isn't close to all of them)
I check Ebay every once in a while, but for my money, the place where I've found the best selection and price is over on Etsy. Specifically, via a user named TheOldTimeJunkShop.
Again, not a paid promotion, but I think I've bought at least ten from these guys. They ship quickly and professionally, have a nice selection, and have a lot of pennants for under twenty bucks. Pretty good!
If you're into the vintage aesthetic but pennants aren't your thing, there are also canvass prints!
I have a few other college sports related office decorations, occupying the limited wall space that hasn't been claimed by pennants. One of my favorites is this canvas print of an old timey ticket for a 1937 game between Duquesne and Carnegie Tech. The location is just listed as THE STADIUM, which I think is perfect. More schools should do that.
The print came from Vintage Brand. In addition to bowl game, rivalry and college sport-specific merch, they also have vintage prints and merch for professional sports as well. Vintage Brand is not a sponsor of Extra Points, but I really do think they make cool stuff at an affordable price.
What about gifts for the Sports #Gamer?
Sadly, EA Sports College Football isn't coming out next year, and copies of NCAA 14 that still work are going to be pretty expensive. But that doesn't mean you can't give the gift of college football video games.
If you're somebody around my age, you probably played college football video games well before NCAA 14. My first video game system was the Sega Genesis, which gave us classics like Bill Walsh College Football, or the precursor to the modern EA Sports franchise, College Football USA 1996.
You might remember the Bill Walsh game as the last major title without any licenses. So if you wanted to play Ohio State against Texas A&M, you'd see this:
College Football USA had the licenses. But just as a reminder for how dang long ago that was, here's a screenshot:
NLU hanged their name to the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1999. The University of Pacific doesn't even have a football team anymore.
The gameplay is dated, sure, but the games are still fun. You can play Sega games for free on browser-based emulators all over the internet, and while not, uh, strictly legal, one can emulate classic games on a Raspberry Pi and play them on your TV. But an actual used PS1 or Sega Genesis isn't that expensive, and the cartridges for these old sports games are generally very cheap. Plenty of classic games are pretty expensive, but you can grab early college football games for under ten bucks.
Maybe that'll help tide you over until 2024.
What about books? That's a very broad category. Let me offer a few suggestions for a few specific types of reader:
For the reader who wants a college sports book that isn't really just about college sports:
I dearly love It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium. There's plenty of college football talk in the book, of course, but it's really an essay about the intimacy and belonging that comes from being a part of something like LSU football, and the void in your hear once it's over. It is a story about mortality, growing up, and more. It made me cry, and books generally don't do that for me, especially books that are allegedly about football.
For the reader who wants perhaps the most Extra Points book possible
I'm much more of a college football fan than I am a college basketball fan. But I really loved reading John Gasaway's Miracles On The Hardwood, which tells the history of big-time Catholic School college basketball. Folks who love advanced stats will love that perspective that Gasaway brings, but it's also full of great context around not just elite college basketball, but the formation of the modern NCAA, how Catholic education changed over the years, and more. Plus, there's lots of Al Mcguire quotes in it, so what's not to like? If you're interested in how institutional choices and the academic side of campus can shape the athletic department, you'll enjoy the book.
For the reader that wants something a little bit more academic:
There are a handful of books that I keep in my office, because I reach for them as reference, or just to get my brain jump-started, several times a year. The one I've been re-read the most this year is Ronald A.Smith's Play-by-Play: Radio, Television, and Big-Time College Sport.
Is this a beach read? Eh, probably not. But I haven't read a book that's as comprehensive a history on how major media, from the earliest radio broadcasts to something approaching what we have today, has shaped all of college athletics. From the basics of early TV deals, to finances behind the first radio contracts, to the massive administrative and legal battles that set up the modern NCAA, this book has helped me understand the pre-cableTV era better than any other book I've read. I'm sure my D1.classroom readers are familiar with the book, but if not, I highly, highly recommend it.
Okay, let me quickly pivot to the obvious plug for our favorite commercial partner, Homefield Apparel
I'm wearing a Homefield Apparel shirt right now (surfing Tulane Green Wave), and if I'm not on the road, that's probably what I'm wearing at work or around the house. Homefield is the longtime title sponsor of our podcast, but they've been supporting my work, and the work of my dear friends, way back in my SB Nation days.
Homefield makes exceptionally comfortable clothes, from t-shirts to hoodies to sweatpants, with unique, vintage college sports logos. They make handsome Extra Points shirts, along with clothes for programs like Montana State, Colorado School of Mines...even Nebraska!
If you haven't bought anything there before, you can use promocode EXTRAPOINTS to save 15% at checkout. They're good shirts, made by my good friends, under a good brand. I think you'd like 'em.
Also, you could, of course, give the gift of stuff I've written
Back in 2017, I wrote a book, called What If: A Closer Look At College Football's Great Questions. It has a few more typos than I would have liked, and maybe some of the jokes are a little dated, but most of it still holds up, I'd say. I did a lot of research into failed conference realignment experiments, like the Airplane Conference or the Metro SuperConference. There are chapters about Michigan's departure from the Big Ten, whether Tulane could have become a powerhouse had they stayed in the SEC, and a world where Penn joins the Big Ten but Penn State does not.
Folks who purchase a super subscription to Extra Points can request a free copy, but you can also grab one on Amazon still.
I promise I am working my way through Book Number Two, but it was probably a little ambitious to think that I could fly through that draft during football season.
There's also the gift of Extra Points?
I've had a few people reach out and ask me how they can give Extra Points as a gift this year. Sadly, because Ghost doesn't like making things easy, there isn't a simple way to do this with our current software.
So tell you what. If you'd like to give an Extra Points gift subscription, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with Gift Subscription in the subject line. I can accept payment via PayPal or Venmo, and then just give premium permissions to whatever email address you'd like. I'm sorry that's an extra step....hopefully next year, that won't be an issue.
Subscription revenue is how we make most of our money. It pays for trips, like my trip to Connecticut today to do campus visits and tours, or like my trip to Montana State a few weeks ago. It pays for our software, our web hosting, and other tools.
The full Extra Points experience is $8/mo, or $75 a year:
I'll share my first dispatch from my trip to CT on Friday AM. We've got a few more big travel updates to share, a few more #scoops, and then our end of the year reports and plans for 2023.
Enjoy the holidays, and I'll see you in your inbox soon.
If you have ideas for future Extra Points newsletters or #tips you want to share, our new tips line is email@example.com. To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm also @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.