Nadine Babu

Nadine Babu fell in love with Gopher Basketball and The Barn when she enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1996. Fifteen years later, the passion lives on. You can find her tailgating and sporting her Maroon & Gold at any Gopher football or basketball event. Nadine is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for, which has been the leading online home for passionate Gopher fans since 1996. Her dedication to college basketball has brought her to eight Final Fours, dating to the first one in Minneapolis in 2001.

The Gopher Football Game Day Experience Will Not Improve For The UNLV Game

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: August 3, 2013 - 12:44 PM

I was out last night enjoying a lovely dinner and catching up with a friend.  When I finally checked my phone when I got home, I was alarmed to see countless texts from Gopher Football fans who were irate about the home opener vs. UNLV on August 29th.  I thought to myself, “what could fans be upset about?  It's less than a month away and there has been so much excitement surrounding the team.  Most of us just wish we could skip the month of August so we could attend our 1st Gopher football game of the year!”  But then I read this thread on!-U-of-M-botches-Thursday-night-opening-game-logistics


It's not just a rumor, as the 2013 Game Day guide that I received today (and had previously been excited for) included the following information about the UNLV game:



Basically, for this rare and coveted night game, the tailgate lots will not be open until 3pm, leaving only 3 hours for people to tailgate.  You typically get 6 hours for Gopher football games after 2:30pm, and 4 hours for 11am games.  Aside from the fact that people in parking lots near the stadium who are paying $1000-$2500 for their tailgate spot don’t appreciate being robbed of those extra hours, this also hurts the wider game day atmosphere.  We have heard repeatedly that the U is trying to improve the lackluster game day atmosphere.  If that’s true, then this is certainly NOT the way to do it.  


Additionally, the normal football parking lot near the State Fairground will not be open for UNLV game parking (seemingly due to the State Fair).  Anyone with a season pass for this lot will be issued a spot in the Washington Avenue Ramp, which means that they will not be able to tailgate before the game.  This decision was not made prior to the season ticket renewal process and season ticket holders in the St. Paul lot purchased their parking thinking they would be able to tailgate for all 7 home games.


Beyond the logistical issues affecting parking and tailgating, this decision impacts Gopher fans on more personal levels as well.  For instance, many people took off a full day of work for this game so that they could enjoy an afternoon of tailgating.  Had they known the parking lots wouldn’t open until 3pm, they could have just ducked out from work a little early to make it instead.  And with the game less than a month away, not everyone will be able to change their schedules to recoup the wasted PTO.


The displeasure extends beyond the Gopher Hole. Here is a small sampling of the upset fans I’ve seen on Twitter:












For those of you who have read my blog, you'll see that 99% of the time when I address a problem like this, I also list a number of solutions.  But I’m not going to do that today.  The list of options for improving the game day atmosphere for this game is not complex. It would be great if the powers that be at the U could follow through on their words and actually effect a positive change instead of implementing an option that will have the opposite effect.  


What’s also maddening is how they quietly included this important detail in the Game Day Guide instead of proactively publicizing it.  They could have issued a press release stating the reasoning behind the decision which explained all of the avenues the U had exhausted before coming to this decision. If that had been the case, I think people would be more understanding of the move even if they disagreed with it. Instead, fans are left feeling frustrated and misled as the sweet feeling of receiving their season tickets in the mail turns sour.


Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for

Was firing Tubby Smith the right thing to do?

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: March 26, 2013 - 12:28 AM

Unless you live under a rock, I'm sure you are aware that Tubby Smith was fired today.  The news first leaked this morning on .  One of the posters, Ozzy&Ray, was the first to mention it, and I was able to receive confirmation that Tubby indeed, was out.  Jeff Goodman from CBS reported it a few hours later.  Now that you're all caught up, let's get to the good part: debating whether or not it was the right thing to do. 


Let's start by looking at some basic fact on how Tubby Smith has done at the University of Minnesota: 


6 Seasons as Minnesota Head Coach

124-81 Overall Record

3 NCAA Tournaments, 2 NIT appearances

5 20-win seasons

Wins over 17 ranked teams

Big Ten Record                  46-62

Home Record                    81-25

Big Ten Records at Minnesota

2007-08                                8-10

2008-09                                9-9

2009-10                                9-9

2010-11                                6-12

2011-12                                6-12

2012-13                                8-10

Postseason Finishes at Minnesota

2007-08                                NIT First Round

2008-09                                NCAA Round of 64

2009-10                                NCAA Round of 64

2010-11                                None

2011-12                                NIT Finalist

2012-13                                NCAA Round of 32

2012-13 Season in Review

Recorded first NCAA Tournament win since 1997*

Beat No. 1 team for first time since 1989

5th 20-win season in last 6 years

*First non-vacated NCAA Tournament win since 1990

Big Ten Finishes

2007-08                                8-10                       6th

2008-09                                9-9                          7th (tie)

2009-10                                9-9                          6th

2010-11                                6-12                       9th

2011-12                                6-12                       9th (tie)

2012-13                                8-10                       7th (tie) had a poll earlier today asking if the University of Minnesota had made the right decision in firing Tubby.  Earlier this evening there were 16,000 votes, and 79% said no.  I've had a number of people today that aren't Gopher fans say the same thing...why would you fire Tubby after you won your 1st non-vacated NCAA?  However, anyone that follows the program closely looks at more than just an overall record, or one win during March Madness.  That was something that Norwood Teague focused closely on during his press conference yesterday.  He said, "We made this decision based on an evaluation of the overall body of work, and once we did, we decided to move swiftly in order to find the best coach and the best fit for our student athletes and the program in general."

There is a body of work to look at…

Transfers - When you look at the players that have transferred (for one reason or another from the program) you look at a group of very talented players that have flourished at others schools.  Colton Iverson (Colorado State), Justin Cobbs (Cal), Devoe Joseph (Oregon), Royce White (Iowa State), Paul Carter (Illinois-Chicago), and Chip Armelin (Southern Miss).  You can debate why some of them transferred, but the theme here is that they've all done extremely well at their schools (aside from Armelin who is sitting out due to his redshirt transfer year) and have developed in ways we hadn't seen them under Tubby.  Iverson languished for years behind Ralph Sampson III but averaged nearly a double-double this season for Larry Eustachy, leading the Rams to the NCAA Third Round.

When you look at the talent Tubby has developed, he went to 2 out of the 3 NCAA appearances with Dan Monson's players.  Blake Hoffarber, Damian Johnson, and Al Nolen were three of the best players in Tubby's tenure.  I make it a rule to not single out college players as much as possible, but let's just say that Tubby has not sufficiently developed many high potential guys. 

Revnue/Ticket sales - When you have a big time Coach like Tubby Smith, you pay the big bucks because they are suppose to draw in a lot of revenue.  However, as I wrote about in an earlier blog (, after the spike in ticket sales when Tubby was first hired, they have steadily declined.  Public basketball ticket sales have dropped 20.68% and student season ticket sales are down 37.45% since 2007. What's almost as bothersome as ticket sale dropping, is the fact that Tubby never really seemed to connect with the fans and the student body to get people to games.  You look at Jerry Kill, in a short time, he's already bought the student section lunch and gone around every Friday before games handing out tickets, asking students to come to games, and connecting with fans.  Tubby almost seemed to have that big school mentality that he developed at Kentucky, but Minnesota is much different.  College basketball isn't the only show in town, and if people are spending good money and their time, they need a good product on the floor.  I doubt Tubby ever had to sell a ticket at Kentucky, it would have helped if he had at Minnesota.

Conference play, and particularly, play in February.  In the past 3 years we've gone 5-17 in the Big 10 in February...that's not exactly the kind of results you want when you're competing to get into the NCAA tournament or contend for the Big Ten title.  Tubby also never finished above 6th in the Big 10 in 6 seasons.  These are just a few key elements, not even digging deep into the play calling, recruiting, and subbing patterns.  

We're at a crossroads, either you reward mediocrity (and I'm using that term generously) or you move on.  Norwood Teague made the well thought out decision to move on, and take the basketball program in a new direction.  If you were not able to listen to his press conference yesterday, you can see the full transcript here:



I was extremely impressed hearing Teague talk about the rationale behind his decision as he framed his long term vision for the program.  He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't apologize.  I have come to the conclusion that he made the correct decision to let Tubby go...the bigger decision he will have to make is who to hire.  The wrong hire can take a decent program into a black hole.  However, I do have faith in Teague and know that he knows basketball and knows how to create a successful program.  He will not hire a least we hope not.  There are some good options out there, and Rob Litt from GopherHole did a great job of putting a top 10 (realistic) list here:

With this being said, I thank Tubby Smith for the 6 seasons he gave to the University of Minnesota.  He ran a clean program with class, he brought national recognition to it, and left it in good shape.  Like Dan Monson, I hope he finds a good fit and look forward to following his career.

Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for






Nebraska Going the Extra Mile(s) to Improve Basketball Program

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: March 6, 2013 - 6:09 PM


A practice facility has been the talk amongst Gopher fans since Tubby Smith arrived at the University of Minnesota.  That is pretty much where it's started and ended  We know that there are plans in the works, but in 6 seasons, there has not been any funding finalized or ground broken.  Some people think we need a practice facility to win, others think that it's not a necessity.  Of course it's not a necessity like food, air and water (and college basketball for many of us) - but I will tell you, it sure would help our hoops program. 


The University of Nebraska staff was kind enough to give me a private tour when I was in Lincoln for the Gopher football game last fall.  I've got to say, it's a huge selling point.  I can't imagine a 16 year old kid coming into the Hendricks Training Complex and not be impressed.  I was given my tour at about 10pm on a Saturday night, and there were players that were taking advantage of this beautiful facility.  They have a place to go 24/7 to watch film, practice, eat, or just kick back and watch TV with their friends and teammates.  With the U, court time is limited and our players don't have the chance to just shoot around whenever they like.  This facility hasn't made Nebraska a winner yet, but I'm sure that Tim Miles will use this as another tool to get recruits, and sell the program.  For those of you that haven't had the opportunity to see this beautiful complex, here are some of my photos: 




Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for



Gophers Need to Dig out of the Slumping Ticket Sales Hole

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: November 2, 2012 - 5:48 PM

I had initially wanted to write a blog on Gopher basketball season ticket sales, however, after seeing the turnout for the Gopher football game against Purdue last weekend, I figured I needed to address the lagging sales for both programs.  Some of you may read my previous article on the lack of student tickets sold (, and ideas on how to rectify that situation.  Students are incredibly important to a college game, and they are the ones that create the atmosphere, and give you a home field/court advantage.  However, it's no secret that public season ticket holders are the ones that pay the bills, making it imperative to sell those tickets.

For those of you who say winning will cure everything, you are right – it will.  Jerry Kill said that at his press conference on Tuesday, and he is correct. However, we've had some down years in both football and basketball, and the truth is, you can't always rely on winning because you won't always win (unless your name is Tom Izzo and this is Michigan State basketball).  So you need to implement other ideas to sustain and grow your fan base.

In football, we're actually having a decent year, we're 5-3, one game away from being bowl game eligible, and just got our first Big 10 win against Purdue on Saturday.  After the past few years, this is a pleasant change.  However, if you were at the Purdue game on Saturday, you would have noticed that the glaringly low attendance.  TCF Bank sold the fewest tickets in its short history, selling only 41,062.  For those of you who are more visual, the stadium looked like this at kickoff:



And this during the last few minutes of the 4th quarter: 



As you can see in the graph below, there has also been a decline in the number of basketball season tickets sold over the past several years. The public season tickets are in gold, student season tickets are in maroon, and their coordinating number totals are also color coded. Despite the excitement surrounding Tubby Smith’s initial years at Minnesota, the graph shows the grim reality of ticket sales during his tenure.  While I fully expect more student season tickets to be sold (as students are lot more last minute), I don't see the public ticket numbers going up drastically, meaning the ticket office will have to rely on specials and various promotions to fill Williams Arena this coming season.



2007: 9343 Public & 1295 Student

2008: 8926 Public & 2105 Student

2009: 9,147 Public & 2,011 Student

2010: 8,931 Public & 1,456 Student

2011: 8,382 Public & 1,285 Student

2012: 7,411 Public & 810 Student (as of 10/29/12), anticipating more will be sold for the year)

So, what incentive to be a season ticket holder?  Obviously supporting your school, getting the seats you want, and sitting by the same group each game.  However, if you don't care about those things and just want to attend the game, you would take advantage of specials the U of MN is putting out there.  I do not have priority seating for football, I do order a chair back, and my season tickets were a total of $340.00 ($275 for the ticket, $45 for seat cushion, $20 for handling), instead of $50 had I purchased all the games individually through the specials the U offered:

New Hampshire - Groupon for $10

Western Michigan - All alums, and anyone with the link 2 free tickets

Syracuse - $10 special

Northwestern (Homecoming) - $20 tickets to start, went down to $10

Purdue - $10 tickets

Michigan - $10 special for tickets posted on the Gopher Sports Facebook

The ticket office also offered a number of specials last year for basketball as well.  Many disagree with me, and like the short term solution of offering a discounted or free ticket, but I would rather think long term and focus marketing efforts on season ticket holders. A long term solution would result in more overall revenue, and less work for the ticket and marketing offices as they struggle to fill the stadium and arena week to week.  

Public basketball ticket sales have dropped 20.68% and student season ticket sales are down 37.45% since 2007.  This past year was the most significant drop partially due to the fact that the Gophers finished 9th in the Big 10 conference, and decided to go ahead with Gopher Points and reseated Williams Arena resulting in new seat fees for many season ticketholders.  Rolling out Gopher Points this past summer was poorly timed, and should have been postponed until there was some demand for basketball tickets, and the team was doing well. 

When you even take a look at the first exhibition game against Minnesota State - Mankato, the attendance was 8,907 Last year's lowest attended exhibition game was against Augustana (S.D.) had an announced attendance of 10,644.  That's over a 1700 person difference from one year to the next. That’s 1700 fewer tickets sold, but also 1700 fewer people buying concessions, merchandise, game programs, parking spots, as well as 1700 fewer people adding to the game day atmosphere in Williams Arena.

Looking at the raw numbers of the ticket sales over the last few years, it’s clear there is a problem.  The more difficult part is coming up with some solutions. Here are a few of mine; some are from posters on, others are from friends, and many are my own. 

Appreciate your current season ticket holders.  It's much easier to retain a customer, than find a new one (that’s an entirely different blog).  Unfortunately, the U is not able to keep loyal fans happy.  How are some ways you can do this:

  •  Give a discount to season ticket holders.  Right now, season ticket holders are paying a lot more than non-season ticket holders.  When you're purchasing 18 - 20 games a year, you should get a better value than someone that's going to 3 games.  That means either lowering the price of season tickets, or raising the price of single game tickets.  That can be determined with supply and demand.  Right now, there is little demand, so giving people a discount makes more sense.  It's better to get $28 for each game, and have a seat sold all season, than $35 for a few Big 10 games. 
  •  If you cannot give discounts to season ticket holders, offer them other coupons or discounts.  Give out 2 free parking passes per year, $5 coupons for the concessions, a free club room pass a year, there are a lot of things you can do that won't cost the U much, but will make people feel more appreciated.
  • Have special season ticket holder open practices, that have 30 minutes of Q &A with the players and Tubby either before or after.  Make this an exclusive event that only season ticket holders can attend.
  • Give out passes to the club room a few times a year for season ticket holders.  Let them enjoy a VIP experience.  This costs the U nothing, as everything in there is a cash/food bar.  
  • Send each season ticket holder a media guide with their tickets, or a panoramic poster of The Barn, similar to what they U did with TCF Bank after the inaugural game.  A gold t-shirt would be outstanding too, or distribute one on each season ticket holder's seat during a "gold out."
  • Before you even give out coupons for a game, or run specials, give season ticket holders the 1st chance to buy up those tickets at a discounted price.
  • Have a reception for season ticket holders before a few games at McNamara.  You can have a cash bar, and a few hors d'oeuvres – not a huge cost, but a nice touch. 
  • Let season ticket holder trade their tickets in.  Theaters do this, as do some of the Twins and Timberwolves season ticket holders.  If you can't make it to one game, be able to trade in a pair of tickets for another game to bring 2 guests (that could turn into future season ticket holders), as long as there is availability for the other game (you can also make a handful games exempt from this, like a Wisconsin game). 
  • Begin some kind of loyalty program. After the first year, you get a t-shirt, after five years, a sweatshirt, after 10 years, a piece of the Williams Arena floor, etc.  Also, award them with Gopher Points for each milestone.  Gopher points should also reward student season ticket holders.  If a student has gone to games for four years, and been a die-hard fan, they should get more points than a student that never went to a game. 
  • For those season ticket holders that have already left, invite them back for a reception.  Have people come to Williams Arena after work, and have food and drinks for them.  Mark each seat in The Barn that's available, so people can see what great seats there are still left.  Have Tubby and the players there.  If you get just a few people to come back to the Gophers, you make up for all your food and drink costs.  I know I dropped my season tickets last year, and the only marketing outreach I've received this year was one phone call from the ticket office.  After spending over $600 a season on tickets for quite a few years, you'd think they'd want me (or anyone) back as a customer. 
  • As the season goes on, pro-rate the season tickets.  If we're halfway through the season, let people buy just 1/2 of the season, instead of single game tickets. That encourages new season ticket holders all season long, especially if the team gets hot (which we're looking to do this year).
  • For these poorly attended non-conference games, give guest passes out to your season ticket holders.  It can be a last minute thing, but a day or two before, if it looks like there will be 5000 empty seats, send out an email to let people bring friends to the game.  If you aren’t going to sell that seat, you may as well at least have a butt in it, and possible future customer. 

These are some simple ideas.  Is giving someone a media guide going to get them to renew their season tickets?  No.  But if you can a number of small, and inexpensive thing to make people feel appreciated as season ticket holders, and receive some benefits, they will be a lot less likely to drop them. Bottom line is, stop focusing on giving away or running inexpensive specials to sell one or two games, that's a short term fix.  Focus on your season ticket holder, and the thousands you've lost over the past few years is a great place to start. 


Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for








Gophers win over New Hampshire...were beer sales as successful?

Posted by: Nadine Babu Updated: September 12, 2012 - 12:42 PM

For all of you that don't have the pleasure of being able to go to TCF Bank, and enjoy a nice cold one while watching the Gopher beat New Hampshire 44-7, I thought I'd share my experience with you.  My seatmate Galen and I left after the 1st quarter to check out the beer/wine lines, see how smoothly the process went, and took some picture to share. 


This is what the line looked like:


 It took us under 10 minutes to get our drinks and finish the transaction.  Quite honestly, I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly the process was on the 1st game they offered beer, and thought the drinks were priced very competitively for a stadium or ballpark; it's not higher than anything I'd seen in other venues. 



 Here are a few issues we noticed.  We ordered 3 drinks together.  You are allowed 2 drinks per person, and since we were both there, thought it wouldn't be an issue.  However, the concession stand woman said she'd have to do 2 different transactions because she could only do 2 per transaction.  That seemed like not a huge time saver.  I could see if one of us had asked for over our 2 drink allotment, but that didn't seem right. 


On top of that, they had run out of change by the beginning of the 2nd quarter. There was no change, at all. That really surprised me, as it wasn't even that late into the game.   The only other complaint was the lack of televisions outside by the beer tents.  We went to the non-plaza section by Gate A, and there were no tv’s out there.  If they did have them, I don’t think the fans would mind lines as long as they could see the games. 

These are nitpicky things, and things that I’m sure will be worked out by the next game.   


I'd say the 1st day of beer sales at TCF Bank was a success.  The University of Minnesota reported that they received $111,119. Exact numbers are currently not available because premium/suite alcoholic beverages can differ in price, and sales numbers will need to be audited over the coming weeks to ensure accuracy (per the U of MN).  Approximately 15,327 servings of beer and wine were sold at the stadium, including an estimated 11,118 servings in the general seating area and 2,209 in premium/suite areas. 

For those of you wondering if beer sales caused any issues at TCF Bank, you will be happy to know that there were zero arrests, they haven’t ever had that.  There were only 2 people kicked out of the stadium, and it was reported that they had the least amount of issues the U has had since the stadium opened. 

 I think if they can make the transactions quicker, get proper change, and let people buy as many as they have people for the transaction (to cut down on number of transactions), they will be able to grow that number by at least 20%.  More money for the U and more beer for the fans is always a good thing!


Nadine Babu

Twitter:  @NadineBabu

Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for






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