Posted: 11:02 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

What do t-shirt sales say about Georgia Tech? 

By Ken Sugiura

These don't quite sell like hotcakes.

These don’t quite sell like hotcakes.

 

How strong is the Georgia Tech brand, as judged by sales of t-shirts, magnets and other college insignia-festooned merchandise?

It looks like No. 50, according to the Collegiate Licensing Company, an Atlanta-based company that licenses merchandise for colleges, bowl games and conferences, among other things. Earlier this month, the CLC released its annual rankings of top-selling schools based on royalties reported by colleges that the company represents. The rankings covered Aug. 2013-July 2014.

The unsurprising top 10:

1.      Texas

2.      Alabama

3.      Michigan

4.      Georgia

5.      Notre Dame

6.      Florida

7.      LSU

8.      Florida State

9.      Texas A&M

10.  North Carolina

The schools in Tech’s neighborhood:

46. Cincinnati

47. Connecticut

48. BYU

49. Colorado

50. Georgia Tech

51. Pittsburgh

52. East Carolina

53. Rutgers

54. Montana

55. Boston College

I’m not terribly surprised, and I don’t think of this as any sort of indictment, just an interesting metric. Tech doesn’t have a large alumni base compared with most of the schools ahead of it on the list and the performance of the football and  basketball teams in recent years has neither driven fans to scoop up jerseys nor caused any great swelling of the fan base.

Interestingly, the rankings seem fairly static. Last year, Tech was 51st. Eight of the 10 schools within five spots of Tech this year were also within the same range last year – TCU (46), Cincinnati (48), BYU (49), Colorado (50), Pittsburgh (52), East Carolina (54), Montana (55).

The two schools that moved up were Virginia and Connecticut, which won the ACC and the national championship, respectively, which undoubtedly drove sales. Montana’s ranking is interesting, to say the least. No FCS school has a higher ranking, and it’s ahead of Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Central Florida. Grizzlies pride runs deep, evidently. (One note: Not every NCAA school is licensed by the CLC. Ohio State, Miami and N.C. State are among schools that do their licensing elsewhere.)

On-field performance is unquestionably a factor. In the 2009-10 rankings, which included Tech’s ACC championship season, the school was 41st. Since then, Tech has been 46th (11-12), 46th (12-13) and then 50th. Florida State jumped from 21st to 8th with its BCS championship season. Auburn, the BCS runner-up, moved from 18th to 11th.

In the same way, one could surmise Tech’s recent slip from 46 to 51 and 50 represents an understandable lag in enthusiasm. I’m guessing Music City Bowl t-shirts were not a hot Christmas gift this year.

Alumni base clearly plays a role. Illinois, for instance, is No. 32 despite two bowl trips in the past six years (although the Illini basketball team has reached the NCAA tournament three times in the past six seasons).

Illinois has 425,000 living alumni. As of June 2013, Tech had 126,652. For what it’s worth, BYU had 402,871 as of fall 2013. Duke actually also has more than Tech (153,984 in 2013). Duke was No. 30, up four after winning the Coastal Division.

It is hard not to notice that the top 10 looks a little bit like the actual poll rankings, as well as those for attendance and recruiting. Teasing out the causality of one upon the other is a bit tricky, but it would seem to be a cycle of Team A wins, Team A’s popularity grows, young fans become prospects and choose Team A, Team A wins. Paul Johnson, who takes a dim view of recruiting rankings, might add two additional segments of the cycle: Team A’s fans buy recruiting service subscriptions, Team A’s recruits get ranked higher.

The obvious takeaways: a) Tech needs to win more; b) alumni need to start buying more t-shirts and living longer.

84 comments
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

Equally surprising, Georgia wins the national championship in August (at least in the minds of their fans), but loses it in September.  Same ole same ole there.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Surprising, 

Rated 50th in Swag sales ,rated 75th in pre-season football polls.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

I'll keep it real simple so that dwaggies can understand:


Georgia Tech is a highly respected academic school that has a football and basketball team.


UGA is a football factory and party school. Period.


Any more questions?

ronaldtallon
ronaldtallon

I am old enough to remember when Georgia tech had a lot of fans in state who did not attend tech. This was because tech had a long string of being a top ten program, year after year. Since George oLeary left tech, the guys in charge there have left the football program go down the tubes. I am a tech grad and I certainly am not energized either. A lot has to change before tech apparel starts selling again.

Bronte
Bronte

why pay some obscene price to buy a low quality t shirt with the name of a college on the front??? hello???

Jacketa$$
Jacketa$$

Ill tell you what it says, The North Avenue Trade School sucks.  I think we all knew that.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

I am honestly surprised that BYU isn't higher on this list.  As THE LDS school, they have a nationwide fan base similar to Notre Dames.  I know the LDS denomination is smaller than the Catholic Church, but I still figured BYU would be higher on the list.

GTRay
GTRay

I think that teasing out  whys and wherefores is not easy here.  For example, how do you factor in the relatively large proportion of foreign students that we have (not a knock on them,  I just think that, based on my experiences, they are more likely not to be very interested in our sports and therefore less likely to purchase school tees).  And when you have a school like BYU with triple the number of alumni as Tech ranked only 2 spots above us, and Pitt with more than double the number of our alums coming one spot behind us, we don't look so bad in comparison. 

JM64
JM64

GT boasts about having many millionaire alumni.  Maybe millionaires don't buy as many t-shirts

PigIron
PigIron

The only thing that I find surprising is that Michigan is still in the Top 10. What's up with that?

TedBrackney
TedBrackney

50 is about right. Small school, up and down in athletic relevance (on a down trend right now). If either football or bball put out and maintained a top 10 program for a year or two those sale numbers will spike. Given that, I think GT could probably hit into the 20s.

GT-UT
GT-UT

I've clearly been working too hard...All 12,000 don't graduate every year...so scratch that.

In order to get that number, our graduation rate has to be pretty poor.  Don't know what it is...

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Ga Tech T shirts don't sell because they don't win.  And nobody of importance on The Hill cares, because they think the place is MIT.

BillEidson
BillEidson

Just Proves the Old Saying..."I wear my Tech Shirt because I went there, you wear your UGA shirt because you went to Wal-Mart." 

GT-UT
GT-UT

126K Living GT Alumni cannot be correct.  Thats like 12,000 over 10 years and that puts them around 32-33 years old.  How is that possible? 

5DayHiker
5DayHiker

The Grizzlies give their T-Shirts away; too cold to wear them!!


Jmonty
Jmonty

I get all my GT shirts from Academy Sports.  They carry a nice selection.  Just my 2 cents added

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Prior to the scandal breaking, Penn State (630k living alumni) was top 10 on the CLC list - they are now down to 19.

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

It'd be nice if we could actually stick with one shade of gold.  The one at the top of the page is too bright in my opinion.

juvenal
juvenal

where does the living alum list come from? anyone alive who spent a day at Tech is an alum, 25K going there now....... 

class of '73
class of '73

Blue was one of the original school colors along with old gold and white that were voted on back in the 1890's, but just never used that much.  It is a much better color than Black, as in Red & Black...............we need a dark color for contrast and Navy Blue is Great for that.  I understand that is why we are seeing it a lot more in volleyball, baseball, etc.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

It's like this, You can find a UGA can-opener easier than i can find a GT T-shirt. I can say i buy my share, when i can find it.

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

Where is the Fake A J to explain to us how this is CPJ's fault?


The "cow colleges" appeal to the masses more than an academic institute like Tech.  People on all fours that bark and paint dawgs on their bald head use tee shirts for formal wear.

GTRay
GTRay

@Princess_Leia "dwaggies"  I like it.  Perhaps you meant "dawggies", but I think "dwaggies" is both funny and witty.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@OpenMindedOne an Open and RACISTS Mind we see.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

I thought it was weird Oregon was not on the list.

GTBob
GTBob

@PigIron They have an enormous fan base that supports them whether they win or lose. They also lead college football in attendance every single year.

GTBob
GTBob

@TedBrackney Being in the 20's would put us ahead of schools like Clemson, Kansas, and Oklahoma St. I doubt we could get that high no matter how much we win. We simply don't have the core fan base for it.

1942MNC
1942MNC

@BillEidson  Can't prove it by me, I know many more "Wal-Mart" Tech fans who wear Tech gear than graduates.  I am retired from a company that had many GT grads on staff so I do know a lot of them.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GTRay @Princess_Leia 

Ray, "Dwag" comes from a sign held up in the section next to the Georgia band at the Capital City Bowl two years ago, that was shown on LIVE NATIONAL TV.  The sign read, "GO DWAGS".  You can be assured that none of us who saw it will ever let them live that one down.

GTRay
GTRay

@GeorgeStein I'm sure they're one of those schools that use a different licensing company.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@OpenMindedOne cute. You are talking about the Tech students and alumni from the middle east and oriental countries so yes you are being RACIST you POS Mutt fan.

POAD2014
POAD2014

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt 1-4 GT sis thinks he would like to go to the game. I will talk to her on the phone later. Now we just have to see if he wants to and thinks he can. She said she would come get him if he decides he can't stay the whole time.