Snipes: A Complete Breakdown of FC Cincinnati's MLS branding: Unanswered Questions, and What Comes Next.

November 12th, 2018 – Over the Rhine, Cincinnati, OH.

In a jam-packed Woodward Theater, the brass of FC Cincinnati presented the inaugural MLS campaign rebrand to the public on the very stage where Cincinnati came together in an attempt to woo MLS Commissioner,  Don Garber at a town hall almost a year ago at the peak of the #MLS2Cincy campaign.

 

#MLS2Cincy has thankfully been retired, however in true 2018 fashion - there’s a new hashtag that the group gathered for today. #IgniteUnite was started by the club to, well...ignite and unite FC Cincinnati fans over the long awaited crest and branding assets for the inaugural MLS season.

 

Play by play voices, Tom Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey opened up the presentation for FCC President & General Manager Jeff Berding who gave a nice pump up speech and introduced the reveal video.

Jamey Wagner and Ryan Brazelton from the designing firm, Interbrand were on hand to talk through the design.

 

Head coach Alan Koch and Majority Owner & CEO Carl Lidner III were also on hand to share some words with the supporters.

 

The surprise was softened more than a little bit, because like any good top-secret file – it was leaked this past Friday afternoon and the citizens of Cincinnati quickly and collectively put their happy hour drinks down, squinted at the blurry image, and began making their judgment.

 

The initial leak appears to be a piece of merchandise, which would be easily dismissible if it wasn’t linked to the official MLS store. Overall, this poor crest has taken an absolute beating from many on FCC reddit, Facebook, and Twitter –  and much to the chagrin of these folks, today’s presentation has confirmed that this is indeed the crest of our initial MLS campaign, and the foreseeable future.

 

On the surface – it really doesn’t appear to be a gigantic change from the current logo, more of a re-imagination when you see them side by side.

Logos.jpg

Since day one there have been several fan made ideas swirling around the internet and there is a common theme that collectively – FC Cincinnati fans desired something incorporating elements of the city’s flag. This idea may still be alive in future kit designs though.

 I do not own or claim these images.

I do not own or claim these images.

Of course in 2018 you’ll quickly find that you cannot please everyone. Visually, it appears to be more of an update than a rebrand, and the changes made to the crest are not as thoughtless as you may believe at first glance. The presentation outlined the rationale behind the design, and the key points are actually quite compelling.

Here’s some of the key items pointed out by Wagner and Brazelton:

 I do claim this sloppy image that I threw together asap after the presentation.

I do claim this sloppy image that I threw together asap after the presentation.

 

 

What remains unclear:

 

If “FC” will now stand for Fussball Club, as originally thought. This is opposing the current “Futbol” Club branding – This is something we should all get behind. Cincinnati has a rich German heritage. Nowhere else in the United States is there a city that celebrates Oktoberfest, goetta, or beer quite like us.

It’s perfectly apt for the club to be operating under the Fussball moniker because Cincinnati is likely the only city where it wouldn’t be a complete gimmick, and now if anyone else takes it - we’ll have a very natural rival.

By the way. Fussball is correct, Fußall is outdated per the German Orthography Reform of 1996. Look at the German National team’s logo. Stop with the ß.

 

What comes next:

 

Mercy Health will be the kit sponsor.

This was announced almost to the date last year. It was subtle, in that FCC was not locked in as a MLS team quite yet. Mercy, Ohio’s largest health system preemptively called dibs on the kit, and per the press release – financials will not be made available but also quoted on the same release, this deal is “on-par with Atlanta United’s deal with American Family Insurance” and conveniently enough, the financial terms of that deal are also private - but speculated to be in the $3-4 Million range annually, and this in the upper echelon of kit sponsorship investments across the league.  

 

Soccer is a fitness sport, and it makes all the sense in the world that Mercy would be all over this deal.

 

While some were hoping for something a little more near and dear to the Queen City specifically like Proctor and Gamble, Fifth Third Bank, one of our breweries, or perhaps even a Lidner family owned business like Great American or United Dairy Farmers – it’s likely that Mercy is in this partnership for the long run. The health system has also slapped their assets on FCC’s training facility that will be located in nearby suburb Milford, OH.

 

On trend with the rest of the world, MLS is being reported to be open up the option for teams to have sleeve sponsors in 2019 – so perhaps there’s hope that we’ll see a Rhinegiest skull logo somewhere on the kit.

 

Sleeve sponsors are projected to bring in an additional $500,000 USD, annually. In MLS - this would be a couple of replacement level players’ salary.

 

However - alcohol and health do not harmonize and this is all speculation.

 

Adidas is going to be the kit manufacturer of the MLS for at least the next six years after inking a massive $700 million extension last year. The color palettes for most teams are modern and trendy, but the overall look of the MLS is uniformed across the league. Not too much room for creative license, so expect our kits to be in the same template used by every team in the league.

Fanatics:

The MLS store is powered by Fanatics, who are quickly becoming the only name in online sports retail. This can be good or bad news depending on what you make of the Fanatics branded originals that the NHL has approved for official use.

In an effort to remain objective, this is all I’ll say about that.

 

Prices:

High, for jerseys at least. When perusing the MLS store you’ll see that across the league, price points are the same for all clubs. It doesn’t take too much deep thought to assume that there won’t be a whole lot of on sale or clearance merchandise for FCC since everything will be brand spanking new and they clearanced out nearly all of their USL era gear last week.

Part of my gripe with Fanatics is the NFL price point for merchandise that has a MLS demand.

 

Pre sale, tax, and shipping costs:

Authentic jerseys are being sold for $149.99

Replica jerseys are at $119.99

Youth replica jerseys, $94.99

Shirts range from $19.99 - $69.99 and there are many quality options.

Hats - $19.99-$39.99

 

In conclusion:

 

This is obviously a special day for the club. It is almost a miracle that we are here talking about this exact thing at this exact moment for a team that did not exist four years ago. Enjoy the moment, it isn’t possible to imagine that you’ll ever see a major league team develop in this city again in your lifetime - and you certainly will never see the Reds or Bengals be this accessible to you as a fan, ever.

I hope you’re #ignited and united, this is going to be fun.


Les Miles Reportedly Turned Down Low Offer From Golden Gophers

PJ Fleck may be rowing his $18.5mm boat across Lake Superior to Minnesota, but it was almost a pontoon from the bayou that delivered the Golden Gophers their new coach.

 While it may be common knowledge that former LSU coach Les Miles interviewed for the Minnesota gig, sources are telling us that the Golden Gophers made an extremely innovative and bold push to hire him.  A rumored candidate for nearly every coaching job in the country, it would make sense that Miles’ name would come up when Minnesota jettisoned Tracy Claeys, but many wondered if Miles could humble himself to a program that by all accounts is a number of steps down from his previous jobs ar LSU and Oklahoma State.

 Reportedly, Minnesota offered a contract paying Miles a mere $600,000 a year (on top of his hefty buyout from LSU) to coach, anticipating him leaving for a bigger job within one to three years.   They planned on using the money saved by low-balling him to assemble an all-star staff around him, with the end goal being to promote from within when Miles skipped town. Suffice to say, Miles was not enthused in the slightest.

 Miles has been constant in expressing his interest of immediately returning to the sidelines, but it’s unknown if that goal will materialize itself for him.  His name has come up for pretty much every job on the market, but he has yet to receive an offer to his liking. Miles said:

"Here's the interesting thing: The experience that you've had in 17 years of head-coaching experience, you can't put in a two-hour interview and it's impossible to try. So what you do is you do the best you can to display these great number of experiences that you've had, and then you want to see how they respond. It's important that it's a great fit. And if they don't want an experienced coach and a guy that's been through really a number of situations, I understand. I really do, and I’m for them.”

As for Minnesota and Fleck, it’s hard to imagine a better match.  The Gophers were in desperate need of a fun, charismatic, all around good dude to pick up the program amidst the sexual assault scandal that made headlines late last year. Fleck, who became somewhat of a folk hero after leading Western Michigan to an undefeated season and Cotton Bowl birth, is the perfect fit to usher in a new era of Golden Gophers football.  He immediately injects the program with an enthusiasm that hasn’t been seen for years in Dinkytown. That being said, Western Michigan stills owns the trademark to Fleck’s “Row The Boat” so he’ll have to add coining a new slogan to his to-do list in Minneapolis.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. 

 

 

Samet: Carmen Ohio After A Devastating Loss, a Eulogy

Well, here we are. Ohio State got handed a thorough beatdown by Clemson which doubled as the first ever shutout sustained by an Urban Meyer led squadron.  It wasn't pretty. Honestly, it was fucking horrifying to watch. Every gremlin that's crept around the Buckeyes all season was creeping louder than ever, announcing their presence on the biggest stage. Yet again, JT Barrett was completely flummoxed.  Yet again, the Buckeyes skill position players failed to make an impact. Yet again, we left a game with a plethora of questions.  Tonight, though, these questions take on a whole new sense of urgency.

The issue with Barrett is a complex one.  JT performed with moxy as he always does. His leadership is not something that will ever come close to being an issue- as a military kid, he was raised to be the leader that he is. It's unfortunate that leadership cannot manifest itself in a downfield passing game.

It is obvious that Barrett has every tool in the book needed to be an elite college quarterback. The sun sets on the 2016 Buckeye Football season with JT having annihilated every record in the book.  The guy's got talent. The issue the Buckeyes have run into time and time again this season is the issue of putting players and schemes around him to capitalize on his massive talent.  Ohio State's offense has been an enigma and then some since former offensive coordinator and quarterback guru Tom Herman left Ohio for his own program at Houston, and later Texas.  With him apparently left any semblance of offensive gameplanning.  Against Clemson, the Buckeyes were held to a paltry 215 total offensive yards with a meager 127 through the air.  With the voracious Tigers defense clamped down on all-world athlete Curtis Samuel, the Buckeyes were forced to attempt to get the ball into the hands of the sub-par receiving corp behind him. The hero of the Buckeyes' earth shaking win against Oklahoma, Noah Brown, was held to two receptions. Corey Brown snagged two as well. KJ Hill, one. It wasn't pretty.  Going into this offseason, the Buckeyes have to take a long hard look at offensive co-coordinators Ed Warinner and Tim Beck, and ask themselves the difficult question of whether or not they are suitable fits with the program.

Urban Meyer has carved out a legendary career for himself as one of the leaders of the pack of the spread offensive system.  Gamebreakers like Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow, Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller, and JT Barrett have put many trophies on Meyer's mantle. With the absurdly excellent recruiting classes that Meyer reels in time after time, it's a bit of a shock to me that this year's Buckeye team underperformed to the extent that they did at skill positions.  In this fan's opinion, most of that has to due with the offensive staff and the lack of development seen on the field. The Buckeyes need to bring in skilled coaches who can build players up, helping them mature into the caliber of player that their four and five recruiting stars signify.  With tonight's news that the San Francisco 49ers have decided to move on from former Oregon mastermind Chip Kelly as their head coach, I think the solution to the problem is obvious. Pay. Chip. Kelly. Meyer has filled and refilled his coaching staffs with truly elite minds. I touched on Herman earlier, but the list continues for miles with other solid coaches such as Greg Schiano (current co-defensive coordinator, former NFL head coach), Chris Ash (current Rutgers head coach), and Luke Fickell (current Cincinnati head coach) by. Christ, when Fickell took the job at UC, he was immediately replaced by Billy Davis who has THREE NFL defensive coordinator jobs on his resume. Urban can get anyone he wants.  He needs to want someone with Chip Kelly's expertise. Imagine JT Barrett and Curtis Samuel running Kelly's wide open spread assault.  I can hear the Heisman talk already.

Another issue the Buckeyes unfortunately faced this season was their place kicking game. The normally steady Tyler Durbin completely imploded against Michigan and Clemson, paying homage to former Buckeye legend Mike Nugent's Bengals tenure by missing every damn attempt for the most part. Meyer and his recruiting staff need to place an emphasis on secial teams this offseason, and make a move on a blue chip kicking prospect.

Last but not least, I have loads of worries about the defense heading into 2017. The Silver Bullets were once again the backbone of the Buckeyes, making play after play. They are the sole reason why the Buckeyes fought their way into the playoffs.  The unit looks to move into 2017 retaining some of their core- Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa are a terror to quarterbacks from their spots on the defensive line, while Jerome Baker and Chris Worley will likely return to anchor the linebacking unit.  That being said, one has to wonder how the Buckeyes will deal with losing yet another sterling draft class of defensive players.  Malik Hooker, by far the best player on the 2016 Buckeyes, will more than likely enter the draft and be one of the first 15 players taken. Star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, he of 15 tackles and a sack against Clemson, played out of his mind and will likely forgo his last season of eligibility to be taken in the first two rounds of the Draft. The only constants of the last decade of Buckeye football are kicking That School Up North's ass and losing dozens of players to the NFL.  This will continue again, but I worry about how they can possibly bring in players who can make one iota of the impact these studs made in 2016.

All this aside, Buckeye Nation has reasons to be optimistic about the 2017 team.  Any team quarterbacked by JT Barrett stands a chance.  Curtis Samuel would have been a Heisman finalist if not for inept playcalling and gameplanning in the last month of the season. The Buckeyes return 2016 Big Ten Freshman Of The Year Mike Weber at runningback, and while he completely shit the bed against Clemson, he has all the tools of an elite runningback.  The defense will compete despite losing another boatload of talent.  It’s just time to ask some tough questions. Knowing Urban Meyer, I have no doubt these questions will be asked. It’s just hard to know if enough can be done to realistically put a playoff team on the field next season.

We Buckeye fans have every reason to be upset today.  Be sad that a promising season ended short.  Be angry that the offensive gameplan was another shitshow.  But we are Buckeyes, damn it. Let’s sing Carmen Ohio and move on.

 

 

Samet: Yet Another Cincinnati Bengals D-Day

Well, here we are again.  I feel like this ledge on the cusp of a Bengals implosion is familiar territory for me now. It’s strangely comforting, knowing that despite all the upheaval our country is facing right now, that the Bengals are still good for a weekly dose of mediocre football and comedy.

The same cast of characters is responsible for this new season of Bengals football on Comedy Central.  The star of the show is, of course, head coach Marvin Lewis and his complete inability to manage a game clock and the emotions of his players.  Since 2003, Lewis has parlayed a series of first round playoff ousters into a spectacularly unspectacular career.  Always coaching JUST well enough to keep his job, Lewis has become a fixture in the lore of Cincinnati sports, holding the fanbase hostage with his complete lack of…. well, any redeeming qualities.

His co-star in the shitshow, hotheaded linebacker Vontaze Burflict, is up to his usual antics of running off the rails faster than a train conducted by Stevie Wonder. A plethora of penalties, a file cabinet of fouls, a foundation of fines, Burflict is consistent and then some- he has all the talent in the world, yet less maturity than your uncle talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner.

The whole point of this is that NOTHING has changed for Ye Ole Bungals.  They are consistently inconsistent, always putting together just enough of an appetizer to make the fans salivate, only to drop the entrée on the floor as they’re about to serve it to the table.  It is frustrating and then some at this point, knowing EXACTLY what’s going to happen each week. At least the tie game earlier this season was a fresh take on mediocrity. 

It is clear that the team is stale and the franchise is in dire need of a new direction. The problem is that the people calling those shots don’t see it that way.  They see a money making machine, a team who does JUST well enough to fill the stadium without having to go out and sign marquee free agents to bolster the roster.  It is a vicious cycle of fans buying in to their own sadness, a stellar example of the American dream.

Lewis has proven time and time again that he is inept. It’s not up for discussion any more. The statistic of zero playoff wins is frightening, but it falls short of painting the real picture: this team has trotted out fantasy football lineups and STILL consistently shit the bed. The Bengals have consistently fielded some of the most talented teams in the NFL, yet done nothing with them.  AJ Green is a generational talent and a surefire hall of famer. The two headed beast of Jeremy Hill and Geo Bernard at running back is a trend setting powerhouse of boom and zoom.  Tyler Eifert has the talent to be The Best Tight End Not Named Gronkowski. And the defense. Holy hell, that defense. A truly elite group of athletes with absolutely no ability to get their shit together. For all of the talk of inconsistency, even quarterback Andy Dalton has turned it around and cemented his place among the top 12 NFL QBs. He’s no longer in danger of losing games on his own accord… so why is this team not winning?

It all boils down to stagnancy.  Why would Mike Brown care about wins or losses? They do just enough to fill the stadium, thus just enough to fill his pockets.  It’s really a situation with no chance of winning.  Bengals fans are held hostage by their team.  After signing into effect the worst public funded stadium deal in the history of sports, Hamilton County taxpayers have no choice but to support the Bengals- because like it or not, a good cut of their paycheck goes to keeping that bleak, boring, outdated concrete slab’s lights on.  So, there’s really nothing anyone can do.  The ownership of this team feels no sense of urgency to move on from this ineffective regime, and the fans will keep buying into it, largely because they don’t have a choice in the matter.  At this point, the sluggish maintenance of the franchise is once again reflecting on the field, with a horribly ineffective team harkening back to the cess pool that was my childhood growing up a Bengals fan. 

If I’m Mike Brown, I blow it up.  I make the move that should have been made each of the last two offseasons and fire Marvin Lewis.  There are plenty of highly qualified, intelligent, and progressive coaches on the market to take his place- even though the three best candidates for the job left their jobs as Bengals coordinators to take over their own teams as head coaches.  If I was Mike Brown, I’d finally open up my purse strings and hire a competent and analytically savvy general manager. I’d remove problem players like Burflict from the team.  I’d prioritize bringing in impact free agents to anchor the pathetic offensive line.  I’d invest in a better scouting system, to ensure that high draft picks are spent wisely. 

I would do a lot of things if I was Mike Brown.  But I’m not Mike Brown.  I’m a guy with a word processing software on his Apple computer, and I sure as hell could run this team a lot better than Mike Brown has.  Bengals fans, jump. Please.  There will never be success. They just genuinely don’t care.  So why should you?

An open letter to FC Cincinnati, from some guy in the Bailey

Dear FC Cincinnati,

 

This year has been unbelieveable. I (and the rest of us) are truly amazed by how you have become part of the fabric of our city in the ridiculously short 14 months you have been a team. The initial reaction to your announcement was overwhelming, ambitious, and exciting. On August 12, 2015 you announced that you will be participating in the USL regular season in 2016.

 

Cincinnati was confused. There was a lot of information to process. You somehow secured Nippert Stadium, the Lidner family resources, a US soccer legend head coach, an executive from a major league team coming on board to serve as the president of a minor league team, and you immediately established that the USL is not the endgame for this organization.

 

It was exciting, but it appeared overzealous.

 

Columbus crew is an undisputed mainstay in the MLS, Louisville City is two years ahead of you, and although your approach is certainly of a higher quality - you are not the first attempt at putting a professional soccer team in this city.

 

I became a season ticket holder in the Bailey on December 30th, 2015. At the time I had never even been to a live soccer match. I did not know what to expect. It was either going to be a roaring success or a colossal failure - and in Cincinnati we have come to expect the latter when it comes to our sports.

 

Not long after, the squad is announced. You made it very clear that the expectation of this season was about establishing the team and growing the sport in our city. Nobody had the expectation that this team would be playing to win - but here we are.

 

This season has proved that when you execute - you can have your cake and eat it too.

 

You hosted your first game on April 9th and Nippert stadium was slammed to the tune of 14,658 people. The stadium was understaffed, lines were long, and you were clearly working out the kinks. Honestly, it was barely organized chaos. It was beautiful because it was indicative how how you were going to be supported in this city - overwhelmingly.

 

Weeks went by, and you tightened up the gameday experience up and made it unique. There is no question that our home games are the best in all of the league. We are a major league city, and you have proven that Cincinnati is indeed big enough for a third major league team.

 

Weeks into the season, we were not at the top of the table - but we were certainly in the conversation for the playoffs. Fans continue to pile onto your bandwagon and just when this season feels like it’s too good to be true - on July 16th you brought an English Premier League team to Cincinnati. Before your inception, the thought that I would be sitting at Nippert stadium in a crowd of 35,000 watching an EPL team play a team from Cincinnati is more than mind blowing….I don't know. I really don’t have a way of expressing how surprising, unpredictable, and ridiculous that really is.

 

Now here we are after the playoff loss. Although it is no easy to take on the chin, this game does not define the squad and it certainly should not drown out all of the success we saw this season. However, it is sad to see the guys walk off the field in that fashion.

 

This offseason is going to be difficult for all of us. I am of the understanding that our best players will be hard to retain. I am a lifelong fan of everyone on this team and I am excited to see what the future holds for all of these guys as individuals. I know that John Harkes will not be here forever, but I certainly hope he stays for a while.

 

I know that the goal is to become an MLS expansion team. The news is out about Don Garber visiting us this winter and I am sure you have the capabilities to make the case for us to be in the conversation - and I hope you succeed. If you don’t, that is also fine. I would argue that the magic of this season will be very difficult to duplicate - major league or not.

 

Thank you FC Cincinnati for a wonderful season. Thank you for exceeding all expectations. Thank you for giving us a place to go this summer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Until next season,


-Some guy in the Bailey.