Social media’s unquestioned stars of the past few days are Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury and ABC quasi-reality-game-show hybrid The Bachelorette. College football Twitter was abuzz Saturday about the former’s Instagram photos, taken at the Preakness.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) May 17, 2014
Attention turned to the latter Monday when the show debuted what I believe is its 77th season.
How the two forces of Kliff Kingsbury and The Bachelor franchise have yet to combine is one of those great mysteries, on par with how A.J. McCarron finished second in Heisman balloting.
ABC casting directors deserve applause for their overtures to a demographic other than its target audience. This season is, to my knowledge, the third prominently featuring someone from the college football world. The most obvious example is the above photographed Jesse Palmer, a former Florida Gators quarterback and current ESPN color commentator (and according to at least one UF fan, “a dreamboat”):
This season’s guest college football guest star is Josh Murray, brother of former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s brother. Murray’s inclusion may be an appeal to the Bulldogs fanbase the franchise may have lost by casting a rival Gator.
Two years ago, the franchise starred former Kansas State linebacker Sean Lowe.
The show missed a real opportunity with the former K-State linebacker by presumably not arranging a meeting between the
aspiring celebrities contestants vying for Lowe’s affection and Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder, but that’s neither here nor there.
Point is, there’s a strong bond between college football and The Bachelor franchise. That bond extends to Kingsbury, as evidenced by his photo with Palmer. And Kingsbury brings the kind of crossover appeal a producer would die for.
Kingsbury’s notoriety as a Ryan Gosling stand-in has extended well beyond football fans. The former Texas Tech quarterback-turned-Red Raiders head coach was the answer to a Jeopardy! question comparing the two in February.
Kingsbury’s movie-star looks are sure to appeal to some demographics. Add a weekly whiteboard breakdown of his take on the spread offense, and ABC reaches another demographic. Make this part of the show’s elimination process: the contestant who masters the nuances of the air raid gets the rose.
While Kingsbury may seemingly lose invaluable recruiting time by spending his offseason jetting to exotic locations and courting 20 women, the opposite is true. Every week is essentially a recruiting pitch, an infomercial for Texas Tech football that reaches a nationwide audience. That audience includes prospects (and their mothers).
Throw in a cameo from former Texas A&M pupil Johnny Manziel, and ABC just might have the most highly rated program in its history.