The University of Maine’s football program got a bit more than 15 minutes of fame last week, but it may have failed to milk the “Battle for the Butter” for all it was worth.
Thanks to a somewhat random selection as the “lesser known” college game of the week by producers of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike show, the Black Bears’ home game against Stony Brook University last Saturday took on more importance and generated more interest on a local, regional and even nationwide level.
About 90 minutes of the four-hour, nationally broadcast show was devoted to the game and what kind of catchy nick-name listeners could create for it one day, and a little more than a half-hour was spent talking about the contest the day before the game.
This past Monday, the national spotlight continued to shine on UMaine.
The game was broken down by show contributor Todd McShay in the same manner as many sports shows broke down the clash between USC and Ohio State. That headliner game of the week prompted the moniker “Collision at the Coliseum,” a promotional gimmick show hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic made fun of and used as the impetus to challenge listeners to come up with a catchy name for a much lower profile game.
Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove was a live guest on the show via telephone and talked to the show’s hosts for about five minutes. Cosgrove started strong with a humorous and self-deprecating comment about his status as not only UMaine’s “winningest” football coach, but also its “losingest” coach due to his 16-year tenure.
Things got a bit bogged down after that, however, as Cosgrove quizzed the hosts about why the game was called “Battle for the Butter” and not something else like “Rock Lobster Bowl.” After it was explained the name came from Maine’s status as THE lobster state and the condiment most desired with which to eat lobster, Cosgrove tackled the Maine Tourism Association for a loss by saying he doesn’t eat lobster because he once had a bad experience with it.
Cosgrove managed to regain some lost yardage by offering to arrange for the hosts to get a “six-pack of lobsters” and take his share, but fumbled a golden opportunity to further shine the light of promotion on his program.
For instance, rather than dwell on the name of the game, he could have:
• Mentioned how Maine led all Division I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) schools with seven former players on NFL rosters in 2007.
• Talked about the Bears’ two conference titles and two NCAA playoff appearances in the last seven years.
• Pointed out his program’s production of two Buck Buchanan award finalists, one Walter Payton Award finalist, eight All-Americans, 17 NFL Draft picks or rookie, free-agent signees, 19 first-team all-conference selections, and one conference student-athlete of the year.
• Recalled Maine’s 9-7 upset victory over Southeastern Conference member and Division I foe Mississippi State in 2004.
While UMaine football’s moment in the sun was of immeasurable value, it’s hard not to wonder if an extra chance for it to shine further and help the program grow further in terms of attracting recruits, students, educators and more barely missed the uprights.
Kind of like Maine’s kicking game.