It's called "Let's Be Mad Again." The "Mad" is a reference to March Madness, not to being angry or insane.
The University of Iowa athletic department took out a full-page ad in the Gazette and elsewhere Friday. That's a commitment. (And as a Gazette Communications employee, I thank the department and encourage it to take out similar ads from now until eternity.)
The ad features a large photo of new Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery. To his left are some words that are trying to persuade people that happy days for Hawkeye basketball will soon be here again. Passages:
"Together, we can put the University of Iowa back in its rightful position among the nation's very best men's college basketball programs. We have been there before and we will be there again."
"And, of course, when that has been accomplished, we will be participating in the NCAA tournament."
"We will be participating in March Madness."
"We will be "MAD" again."
It's marketing. It's the UI actually marketing men's basketball. It has something to sell once again, which is hope. So it's selling it. And it should be.
The department has assembled this Web site called letsbemadagain.com.
I might have suggested a different name, since there's enough "mad" in the world. But that's quibbling. These sorts of efforts often seem contrived, but that doesn't matter. The most important thing is that an effort is being made, and an attempt to seize a moment in time is in progress.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and it appears the necessity of turning people back toward Hawkeye basketball is producting some invention in the athletic department. My biggest complaint about the last decade of the men's basketball program hasn't been the product on the court (though the last few years weren't too good.) Rather, it's been that the attitude seemed to be to put "Game Tonight" on the marquee and wait for the fans to show up.
That's a wild exaggeration and thus unfair, but that's often how it felt, and perception is reality. So this apparent turnaround should be praised.
In addition, McCaffery has been doing all the promotion he can this week, going from one radio station to another, doing interviews with print/online people (including this one Thursday in Indianapolis with Gazetteonline's Scott Dochterman), and basically serving as a one-man P.R. machine.That's smart. Don't have people waiting until November to feel like they know their coach. Connect to the fans early and often. Keep putting a message out that you're going to be a player. You never know when the right recruit (or parent of a recruit) is listening.