Some colleges beat the drums loudly for outstanding players
During the college football season there are two kinds of drumbeaters, those in the band and those in publicity jobs. Members of the latter species have become increasingly ambitious and imaginative in promoting players for special recognition - at least at certain schools.
Two years ago, the University of Pittsburgh campaigned hard for Hugh Green as a Heisman Trophy candidate, sending out four-color posters of the Panther lineman to 2,500 members of the press. No purely defensive player has ever won the award, but Green came close, finishing second to South Carolina running back George Rogers.
Last year, the University of Richmond pushed Barry Redden for the same award on T-shirts mailed to selected writers. Though Redden didn't win, the Redden-for-Heisman campaign made people take notice and perhaps helped the Spider halfback land in the Blue-Gray all-star game.
Clemson, last year's consensus No. 1 team, has moved into the forefront of player promotional efforts. A year ago the school trumpeted receiver Perry Tuttle's accomplishments on a mock record jacket. For an encore, the sports information office has come up with more clever ideas this season.
The one for quarterback Homer Jordan plays on a sandwich theme because of his love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A bread-shaped card, to be wrapped in plastic, then placed in a brown bag, will open to a picture of Homer in the kitchen. His statistics will appear under the heading, ''Some food for thought. . .'' Safety Terry Kinard is being promoted as Clemson's Special K on a mock cereal box, and defensive tackle Dan Benish is being billed as the strong, silent type in a piece designed to create the mood of a sophisticated Madison Avenue ad.
The guiding force behind these lavish projects is Kim Kelly, an assistant sports information director who came to Clemson from Notre Dame. She and two colleagues map out the promotional strategy in the summer, picking no more than three players for special attention.
''We consider that a manageable number,'' she says. ''If you talk to the coaches, you might come away with 12 names, but you don't want to water down anyone's chances for recognition.''
Last year, when the Tigers had two consensus All-Americas (linebacker Jeff Davis and Kinard), Clemson's All-America promotional budget was $4,000, not including mailing costs. It should be close to that this year.
''Inflation hasn't hit the budget, because the printer gets such a kick out of doing these jobs that he purposely underbids the competition,'' Kelly explains.
The special promotions, she believes, have helped players that might otherwise go overlooked. ''Of course, the team's record hasn't hurt, either,'' she adds. Clemson's perfect season, in fact, was the key factor in Kinard's All-America selection last year. His honors came without any promotional campaigns, which are generally reserved for seniors.
Sophomore William Perry, a 310-pound middle guard nicknamed ''The Refrigerator,'' could follow in Kinard's footsteps. The sports information office isn't campaigning for him, either, but people tend to look for him anyhow , as ABC did in Clemson's nationally televised loss to Georgia two weeks ago.
Some schools don't go in for lavish promos, preferring to rely strictly on the more normal avenues - releases, press guides, and film clips - to get out the word.
Penn State takes this approach. ''We think of ourselves as a service bureau for the media,'' says sports information director Dave Baker.''We help keep players visible by responding to media requests for information, but we don't go in for posters and marketing campaigns. I'm not so sure people aren't turned off by slick brochures.
''Of course, we enjoy some built-in advantages that others don't have,'' he adds. ''We play an intersectional schedule, receive frequent TV exposure, and usually wind up in the Top 10.'' Penn State also has a respected head coach in Joe Paterno, who is sparing enough with his praise to make writers listen when he singles out a player.
Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz on placekickers: ''There can't be anything easier. After calisthenics the majority of their hard work is over.