January 4, 2007 in Business

College football fans are gearing up

The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News Press The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Ohio State fans shop for items at the Shottenstein Center gift shop in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State and Florida, which play in the BCS National Championship game on Monday, have had banner seasons in merchandise sales.
(Full-size photo)

University of Florida and Ohio State University logos seem to be slapped on everything except bazookas these days. Check out the schools’ merchandising Web sites with just days to go before the Gators and Buckeyes meet Monday in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Glendale, Ariz.

Go to hangonsloopy.com for all your Ohio State football needs and wishes. Want a BCS Santa hat? It’s selling for $19.95. Want dueling team steins? Only $24.95.

How about for the Gator on your shopping list? Check out gatorzone.teamfanshop.com. Worried about rain in the Arizona desert at game time? A Florida short-sleeve poncho is selling for $44.95.

Got some down time and a pool table? A Gators billiards ball set is available for $179.95.

Is your dog also a Gator? A royal blue dog football jersey (No. 1, by the way) is available for $19.95.

Both schools are big players in sports merchandising sales. Florida is represented by the Collegiate Licensing Company, which is associated with about 180 universities.

The Gators ranked fifth this fall on the company’s list of top-selling institutions, behind Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia and Michigan. The company represents about 75 percent of the Division I football teams, according to spokesman Derek Hughes. But not Ohio State.

What about Ohio State?

“No doubt in my mind that Ohio State would rank in the top 10,” Hughes said.

The sales of Santa hats and dog jerseys add up to lots of money. Defending national champion Texas picked up $8.2 million in merchandise royalties in the last year, according to a recent report by The Associated Press. Ohio State gathered more than $5 million in royalties, the report said.

Ron Jacobs is on the front lines of the sports merchandise business. He’s the district manager for Team Choice, which sells jerseys, T-shirts, ballcaps and all sorts of goodies. The company’s Edison Mall store in Fort Myers, Fla., has a rack of Gators and Buckeyes T-shirts and jerseys right in the middle of it.

One T-shirt has this message: “It’s Great to be a Gator in Glendale.”

“A week ago, each team had its own rack,” Jacobs said. Now he’s down to one rack of Gators and Buckeyes merchandise.

Jacobs believes sales of the two teams’ merchandise are roughly equal. He said that Ohio State merchandise always sells well, particularly for a school located so far away.

“It’s probably the No. 1 of any of the non-Florida schools,” Jacobs said. “It’s No. 1, I think. I can’t give you exact figures. There’s a huge alumni base of Ohio State fans.”

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