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FAMU Preseason Magazine Is Packed With Information
Alvin Hollins was doing some of the personal things he hadn’t been able to do much of during the 30 years that he was sports information director at Florida A&M University. Most of all he was able to take a real vacation and visit his parents.
Then, Eddie Jackson called last summer.
Jackson, a former sports information director and former vice president of university relations at FAMU, wanted to publish a preseason football magazine. He figured Hollins’ knowledge of FAMU football would be an asset.
As Hollins listened to the pitch, the long hours of writing feature stories, compiling statistics and accumulating photos flashed through his mind.
“It did have a lot of eerie echos of those days when I used to be sitting up late at nights over the computer,” he said, “putting together bios or whatever.”
But at the same time, Hollins admitted, he felt a sense of normalcy as he went to work on the magazine.
The second edition of Rattler Football, a preview of the upcoming season, hits newsstands in a week. It’s priced at $10 per copy and the first 2,500 will be available through several local outlets and online.
Throughout the 96-page glossy publication, the effort to go beyond stats and photos is clearly obvious. Bishop A.J. Richardson’s recollection of his years as a drum major with the Marching 100 is especially informative, as is a feature on the price that historically black colleges pay for playing athletics.
It also looks at the future stars on this year’s football team, featuring six of the skilled players. For those who like nostalgia, Hollins writes a lengthy piece on the Rattlers’ 1979 upset victory over Miami.
The magazine is the effort of a two-man staff — Jackson, who spent more than two months selling advertising and sponsorships to cover production costs, and Hollins, the lead writer.
Hollins said he had to call on every bit of experience gained in the years he spent at FAMU before leaving in December 2010.
“I don’t know of anyone who could match Alvin; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of FAMU football and its history so he brings a major talent to this effort,” he said. “When you look at what we’ve produced, you get a clear sense of FAMU football, not only returning players and the level of talent and toughness of schedule, but also an in-depth look at our opponents as well.”
From the cover — a collage of photos with a mug shot of coach Joe Taylor in the center — to the final page, the content answers every concern that the avid or casual fan might have.
There has been plenty, too. A trip to the supermarket doesn’t go without someone asking if a preseason magazine will be published this year, Jackson said.
“Every time someone asks me about the magazine, it lets me know that we’ve touched a basic need of Rattler fans who didn’t want to wait until football season to get an in-depth look at the team in the coming year,” Jackson said.
Fans should find the article on “The money game of financing black college sports” engrossing. The information that Hollins dug up in his reporting is eye-opening.
Take, for example, this excerpt: “Unfortunately, only a few sports, such as football and men’s basketball, generate enough revenue to cover their expenses and provide funds to operate the rest of the athletic programs, via gate receipts, student athletic fees and proceeds from guarantee games against larger Division-I programs and Classic football games.”
Then, he mention some interesting statistics: “Of the 24 Division-I HBCUs, only four — Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M, Hampton and Howard Universities — receive no direct state aid for their athletic programs.
“FAMU’s athletic program is primarily self-supporting, while the other three — Bethune-Cookman, Hampton and Howard — are private institutions, which fund their athletic programs from their overall institutional outlay. The remaining 20 schools, including all 10 members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the remaining schools of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, along with Tennessee State, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) all receive state funding through their host institutions for athletic operations.”
Written by St. Clair Murraine, Tallahassee Democrat