Editor’s Note: This is the first of a new regular feature on Midwest Sports Fans called “The Anchor’s Desk,” which features KNDU-TV (TriCities and Yakima,WA) Sports Director Scott Reister. Scott is a native of Texas whose love for sports spans the nation. He will be a great addition to our writing team, and I think you will enjoy his unique perspective.
by Scott Reister
RICHLAND, Wash. – Three years ago, I packed up the family and moved from Texas to the state of Washington, taking with me all the burnt orange sweatshirts, t-shirts, fleeces, hats, and footballs I owned. Would I be an outsider in a strange new world of Huskies and Cougars? Hardly.
It felt like I never left the Forty Acres.
Texas apparel was everywhere. At the mall. At Wal-Mart. On men, women, and children. On my baby (I dressed her as a UT cheerleader for the OU game). These days, wherever you are, University of Texas gear seems more popular than the local college.
Iâ€™ve been told a store in Colorado (home of the Big 12-rival Buffaloes) had Texas jerseys on display in the front windows, while the Colorado jerseys were hanging on the back wall.
Turns out that â€œHook â€˜Emâ€ has evolved in to an 800-pound gorilla. What gives?
Well, the first (and most obvious) reason is their recent success in just about every major sport.
â€œWhen you have athletic success, it provides you with a great opportunity to capitalize on the excitement around that success,â€ said Craig Westemeier, Assistant Athletics Director for Trademark Licensing. â€œWeâ€™ve been fortunate to maintain that.â€
Iâ€™ll say. In the 2004-2005 school year, the year before Texas beat USC for the championship, the university pulled in $4 million in royalties.
After Vince Youngâ€™s heroics, that number increased to $8.2 million dollars, a whopping 103% increase. That year, Texas became the top-selling institution among colleges represented by the Collegiate Licensing Company. The Horns have been tops on the list ever since with $7.5 million in â€˜06-â€™07, and $8 million in â€˜07-â€˜08. Notre Dame, the highest-ranked Midwest school, ranked 5th. (For the complete list click here.)
â€œThat year was a springboard into the national spotlight,â€ said Westemeier of the championship year. â€œIt allowed people to see us and say â€˜Wow, I like that.â€™â€
Since then, itâ€™s been the perfect convergence of favorable factors.
â€œWe have a large state, a large student population, one of the largest alumni bases (450,000 living alumni), a great logo with the Longhorn, athletic success, and academic success,â€ said Westemeier.
Forget Mack Brown — even pop culture has spurred the Horns’ rise to apparel dominance.
â€œA few years ago burnt orange became a hot fashion color,â€ said Westemeier. â€œWe saw it happen around â€˜04-â€˜05. Burnt orange and purple were the new colors. For a few years it was light blue and that really helped out North Carolina.â€
Recession? Not here. UT is hopeful its brand will continue to sell.
â€œThe college product is hot right now. Most schools are seeing growth. People will still spend just for their affinity to the schools.â€
And each time you swipe, the rich get richer.
Factor in the hats, luggage, pool cues, and baby gear (I have plenty), it adds up fast. The $8 million Texas raked in last year goes back into the athletic department, with a percentage going to the academic side.
When youâ€™re hot, youâ€™re hot. And right now, UT is the â€œitâ€ thing to wear. So while it may pain my Aggie brother, all those burnt orange shirts are here to stayâ€¦at least until A&Mâ€™s maroon becomes the next fall color.
Scott Reister is a featured contributor to Midwest Sports Fans, as well as Dallas Sports Fans.
He is a Sports Anchor for the NBC affiliate in the Tri-Cities and Spokane, WA. To learn more about Scott, visit the Scott Reister bio page on Midwest Sports Fans or check out the Local Sports page on KNDU.com.
To contact Scott: [email protected]