The public relations firm hired by Baylor has been forced into public relations on its own behalf following characterizations of it as a pressure group hired to help push the Bears into the college football playoff.
“We had no contact of any kind with members of the selection committee,” Kevin Sullivan of the eponymously named Kevin Sullivan Communications tells Breitbart Sports. “Any reports that described our work as ‘lobbying’ were inaccurate.”
Sullivan’s clients currently rank sixth in the playoff selection committee’s rankings. Alabama, Oregon, Texas Christian, and Florida State comprise the top four. With TCU playing 2-9 Iowa State, and an Oregon loss to Arizona likely meaning the PAC-12 schools exchange spots, Baylor likely needs a loss by Florida State to Georgia Tech or Alabama to Missouri to sneak into the top four. And even then its prospects for postseason play in Pasadena or New Orleans appear sketchy. In other words, they needed external help, which, one imagines, served as the rationale for injecting an outside public relations firm into an athletic contest.
Sullivan insists that his group handled interviews for the school’s athletic director and worked with the school’s communications department at a time when the demand for information from the press has naturally increased. He says his group has done work for Baylor in the past. “As has been the case on multiple prior occasions,” Sullivan explains, “we were hired as an extra resource for national media relations during a particularly busy time.”
The played see it differently than the player. CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd characterized the flak’s purpose as “to state [Baylor’s] playoff case.” The Washington Post headline read: “Baylor hires a P.R. firm to lobby for College Football Playoff spot.” ESPN’s Jake Trotter similarly described Kevin Sullivan Communications’s role as “to advocate its case for a playoff spot.”
To that end, the PR firm sent an email titled “2014 College Football Playoff: The Case for Baylor” to members of the media. Therein, the group described how Baylor defeated TCU head-to-head and plays for the Big 12 championship this weekend. Defeating #9 Kansas State, it maintains, means that the Bears should claw their way into a playoff spot. Why should the committee rank a team Baylor beat that didn’t even win their own conference ahead of their conference champion vanquishers boasting an identical record?
The message isn’t without merit. It’s the messenger that leads to the media demerits. Describing the “chess move” as “more of a Candy Land move,” the Houston Chronicle‘s Sean Pendergast declares: “Baylor, we salute your moxie!”
The PR gambit not only backfired on Baylor in the press, the committee ranked them at #6 on Tuesday night. Does Sullivan think the committee railroaded his client? “No,” he tells Breitbart Sports. “The season is not complete and the entire body of work has not been written yet for any team.”
And when it is, you can be sure that Kevin Sullivan Communications will be there to help Baylor write it.