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Volume 20 No. 42


Every section of Clemson’s national championship mark has meaning.

The stripes at the top came from the crown of Clemson’s helmet. The tapered border at the shoulder is shaped after the pedestal that holds Howard’s Rock. It goes on and on through the logo, which now adorns every piece of Clemson championship gear.

Those subtleties might not mean much to anyone outside of Tiger Nation, but they’re exactly why the school wanted someone within its ranks to design the mark that will forever commemorate Clemson’s CFP title last month.
“Let’s use our own people,” Tim Match, Clemson’s associate athletic director for external affairs, said when it came time to select a designer.

So back in November when the school started planning for a championship mark, Match went to Jeff Kallin, an associate director in communications and Clemson’s lead graphic designer, and told him to begin working on some designs. Kallin is a Clemson graduate who went to work in the athletic communications office at his alma mater and became one of the critical pieces of the Tigers’ acclaimed social media team.

But Kallin’s story goes much deeper than the orange blood running through his veins. He’s completely self-taught as a designer. He never took a design class in college and it wasn’t until the last few years that the 31-year-old could have imagined making Clemson history.

“I had no formal training at all, just a lot of trial and error,” said Kallin, who was the equipment manager for ex-coach Oliver Purnell’s Clemson basketball teams when he was a student. “Once I knew I wanted to work in communications, I watched a lot of tutorials on design and taught myself.”

Kallin, whose undergraduate degree came in parks, recreation and tourism management with an emphasis on sport management, can find his design work throughout the athletic department and on Clemson’s social media channels. He became so well-regarded that the school asked him to teach a class on digital media design in the college of business.

The two palm trees represent the Tigers’ two national championships, both won in Florida — Miami after the 1981 season and Tampa this past season.

It was mid-November when Kallin took the directive from Match and started thinking about a championship mark. He already had a lot on his mind. Weeks earlier, he and his wife had their first baby.

Kallin began by studying championship gear from previous seasons, looking at college teams as well as NFL and NBA teams that had won titles. He also searched for distinctive images, like Clemson’s helmet. Unlike most schools that wear multiple helmets of varying colors, Clemson has just one helmet. The orange, purple and white stripes are uniquely Clemson.

Over the next month, Kallin created more than 40 designs using Adobe Illustrator, a graphic design software. Each of them went through a review process that included the highest level of senior officials in the athletic department, including AD Dan Radakovich.

Jeff Kallin (right) works with Clemson students in a graphic design workshop.
Photo by: Enter Name Here

They whittled it to five, then two and by mid-December, down to one, which was submitted to Collegiate Licensing Co., the school’s licensing agent. CLC asks for three to four weeks of lead time for special marks like this.

There were three different color variations of the last logo before the group made a final choice.

The one thing the logo didn’t have was an image of iconic Howard’s Rock, the football team’s good luck charm that each player rubs before running down the hill and onto the field. There just wasn’t a fit for it, although the pedestal is represented.

“I wanted to make sure the mark would be deeply personal for Clemson fans who would understand its meaning,” Kallin said. “I wanted it to be special to them.”

The words “National Champions” are printed in what the school calls its distinctive paw hammer font, a proprietary font created for the athletic department in 2013 during a rebranding initiative.

While Kallin worked on a new mark, Match informed CLC that the school would create its own championship mark. Sometimes schools use the designers at CLC, and sometimes they use an outside design and branding firm. CLC officials made it clear that they welcome their client schools to submit their own work.

“It’s not entirely unique for a school to do its own mark,” said Cory Moss, managing director for CLC, a WME-IMG company. CLC began working with schools to create unique national championship logos in 1998 when Tennessee’s football team won it all.

“The most important thing about a championship mark is to make sure it’s something the institution, the licensees, the sponsors, the marketing teams can all get behind and have one brand,” Moss said. “Clemson made sure everybody was in the loop and the mark has become a theme for every extension of the university.”

The previous season, when Clemson lost in the championship game to Alabama, the Tigers commissioned CLC’s designers to create a national championship mark, one that obviously never made it to the printer. It looked fine, officials said, but some thought it felt like a template. There was nothing about it that uniquely reflected Clemson.

“When you keep everything internal, you have more control over fonts and colors,” Kallin said.

The new mark mostly appears on clothing items for now, but in the future it could be used on any type of gear, ranging from cups to parking passes and tickets. The mark also serves as the avatar for the Clemson football Twitter account @ClemsonFB.

Kallin went with a shield design just for that purpose, to make it as flexible and easy to use as possible.

“We have a different story here and we want to tell it,” Match said when explaining why they wanted to keep the design in-house. “It felt like the right thing to do to have a Clemson graduate, someone out of our shop, create the graphic.”

The orange semi-circle with 2016 in it is supposed to look like a rising sun, indicative of a Clemson football program on the rise. The bottom of the mark is intended to be an inverted pyramid, which has meaning because the players sign a block after each win and the block is added to a pyramid. If the Tigers complete the pyramid, they will have won the national championship.

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

When University of Florida fans refer to “The Swamp,” they’re usually talking about the Gators’ football field.

But last week, thanks to a new court projection video, Florida turned the basketball playing surface inside Exactech Arena into a swamp. With four Christie Roadster projectors displaying a video on the court during pregame against Kentucky, animated gators came to life, fire sizzled across the court and championship banners unfurled from sideline to sideline.

“We knew the crowd reaction would be good, but it was better than we ever imagined,” said Alicia Longworth, Florida’s assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions. “It was so loud in there.”

The court projection video lasted just 65 seconds prior to player introductions, but the energy inside the arena never dissipated in the Gators’ punishing 88-66 win over their SEC rival.

The projection video shows the Gators’
national championship banners on the court.

Longworth had seen court projections at NHL and NBA games before, so she knew the effect it had on pumping up the crowd, while also entertaining fans. She had wanted to try something like that at a Florida game for the past three seasons, but it’s not cheap. Finding the money was an obstacle.

It costs $25,000 to rent and mount the projectors and another $10,000 in fees for the creative work on the video. Longworth said it would cost $250,000 to $300,000 to buy the projectors and have them installed, which is the long-term goal.

“This is going to be the next big thing,” she said. “You know how, 10 to 15 years ago, people were just starting to put in video boards. Well, 15 years from now, everybody’s going to have these projectors.”

Longworth secured the funding for the Kentucky game through a grant from the school. Florida a few years ago established an innovation committee as a way to spark creative thinking. The committee sets aside money each year to fund the best ideas, and Longworth’s marketing and promotions team won it last year.

Through a referral, Longworth found a company in Orlando called ON Services, which primarily creates projection videos for trade shows but is trying to get more into sports. Longworth worked with ON Service’s creative director, David Coalter, and the director of new business development, Lee Torregrossa, since last fall to be ready for the Kentucky game.

In the week leading up to the game, several campus and athletic events occupied the arena, compressing the amount of time ON Services had to install the projectors (four primary and four backups) and prepare the video. It wasn’t until the day before the Kentucky game that a staff of 10 Florida employees saw the video projected onto the court for the first time.

Within 24 hours after the game, Longworth had heard from a half-dozen of her peers at other schools. By the next day, she had taken close to 20 calls from other collegiate marketers.

Florida’s social media team, meanwhile, flooded its social channels with video of the court projection. Less than 48 hours after the game, the video had 600,000 views on Facebook and 1,500 retweets on Twitter.

“We’re all trying to provide a unique setting for our teams, our fans and our students,” Longworth said. “Especially with the element of surprise … nobody knew it was coming.”

Florida has no immediate plans to do it again because of the cost, though the arrangement with ON Services allows the school to own the video and re-use it. The Gators’ long-range thinking is to buy projectors that could be used for all events in the arena, not just basketball.

“If we find the money to do it again, we’d love to,” Longworth said.

Sidearm Sports, the Learfield-owned digital outlet that provides websites and mobile apps to more than 180 Division I athletic departments, has reached a mulityear agreement with Minneapolis-based technology company Bleachr to expand its in-stadium mobile offerings.

Sidearm Sports will integrate Bleachr’s location-based mobile technology, including geofenced social media and messaging, in-seat food ordering and fan loyalty programs, into its official team apps that previously have been more focused on content. The goal is to provide a more full-featured wireless experience and eliminate the need for multiple apps to serve a fan on game day.

“There’s a lot of fragmentation out in the market, and we’re trying to solve a problem for colleges,” said Jeff Rubin, Sidearm Sports president and chief executive. “When you have a separate team app, and then food apps, social media apps, loyalty apps and so forth, it gets very cluttered very quickly. But we’ve looked to create something that together really gets at fan engagement in a single product.”

Bleachr’s tech includes in-seat food and merchandise ordering.
The partnership represents the first entry into the college market for Bleachr, whose clients have included several independent minor league baseball teams, including the highly successful St. Paul Saints.

“Together with Sidearm, we will reach the mobile-first generation and provide fans with features that enrich the game-day experience,” said Rich Kinzler, Bleachr managing director of business development. “Teams have a new direct connection to fans that provides the opportunity for big, real-time data and fan analytics.”

Financial terms of the Sidearm Sports-Bleachr partnership were not disclosed but the pact is based on revenue sharing in which Sidearm Sports’ portion will be at its largest at the outset of the deal and then decrease over time. The deal does not involve any transfer of equity.

The first college scheduled to use the combined Sidearm Sports-Bleachr partnership will be Syracuse University, located in Sidearm Sports’ home market.