The Collegiate Licensing Company released its top 75 merchandise sellers this week, with Boston College ranking as the 55th most sold school. The Eagles placed in front of Vanderbilt but behind Montana, ranking 11th out of all ACC schools.
The Collegiate Licensing Company is a trademark and licensing company for the marketing of over 200 schools, all bowl games, the Heisman Trophy, and the NCAA.
The 55th ranking was kind of surprising to me, but if you look within the rankings, each school brings something specific to the table. Among the schools at the top are Texas, Alabama, and Notre Dame - three of the most recognizable brands in college sports for the better part of the last century. Florida State ranked 8th, no doubt fueled by their national championship and Heisman Trophy victories last year in football.
North Carolina placed 10th; their basketball team is one of the most recognizable brands in the world thanks to their special relationship with Michael Jordan. Still the best marketed athlete of the modern era, Jordan collegiate jerseys are one of the most widely sold jerseys.
Louisville broke into the top 25 on the heels of their national championship in basketball, a sport that unquestionably helped Syracuse and Duke to spots in the top 35. Despite having both men's and women's basketball as immense draws, Connecticut is only in 47th spot, ahead of Brigham Young, a team with an entire church in its corner.
Some of the more interesting cases in the top 75 exist on their branding. Army stands at 64th, unquestionably drawing on its support as the national military institute of the United States. Their brand and their image benefit from a large amount of national support and pride. West Point is directly behind Louisiana-Lafayette, a school that's benefitted from a unique nickname (the Ragin' Cajuns). ULL's use of their Cajuns nickname is similar to how South Carolina is able to shorten its Gamecock moniker for sales.
Looking at the rankings, it's not hard to see how the marketability of the collegiate athlete comes into play. South Carolina, one of the more recognizable brands of the SEC to begin with, is 17th, and we can rightfully assume that their slot is thanks in part of the publicity surrounding Jadeveon Clowney. Nevada also breaks into the list, the alma mater of Colin Kaepernick. Other schools, like East Carolina, benefit from unique color schemes and branding. The ECU Pirates' primary colors are purple and black with a pirate logo, benefitting from a bump in the same way that Ole Miss can benefit from their red and blue colors and rebel mascot.
The only two ACC schools not on the list were Miami and NC State. NC State doesn't surprise me - it runs clearly behind Wake Forest and Duke in basketball, and UNC is the state merchandise empire thanks to Jordan. But Miami kind of suprised me. There was a time that Miami was a fashion statement in and of themselves, and their merchandise was all over the place. But I guess them not making the list makes sense given their attendance issues last year.
As for Boston College, there are a couple of things to note. Number one - the Eagles are 55th with a marketing scheme that is either loved or hated. The partnership with Under Armour brought forward those flag uniforms for both baseball and football that the majority of us didn't really love (but they were apparently popular with people younger than we), and the hockey uniforms are, for the most part, derided. The stained glass approach to uniform numbers, sleeves, and football helmets aren't particularly great. I'm fairly certain nobody bought anything that said Boston College basketball.
Yet the merchandise can still prove popular with great hats, t-shirts, and, of course, the hockey program. Unveiling great gold hockey jerseys seems to be a trend in these parts, and those have always sold well. If you're doubting my analysis, don't doubt the popularity of college hockey's nice-looking uniforms in this area - Boston University is a school with only one major sport recognizable in its own backyard. Yet the hockey program and its merchandising is good enough to place the school 75th on the list during a year when they were absolutely atrocious. Harvard, a worldwide brand, isn't on the list, and neither is Massachusetts. And, I mean, you automatically know if someone isn't from Boston if they're wearing a Harvard sweatshirt.
Northeastern... well... not even Northeastern kids want to wear Northeastern stuff.
Check out the full rankings here.