When Mark Dupes
tells a college quarterback to get a grip, he's
confident that grip will lead to a gentleman's handshake."Our ball is a little shorter than the Wilson, which is longer and skinnier and tougher to keep in a tight spiral,'' said Dupes
, a southeast regional sports marketing representative for Nike Football
best to sell his
product -- the Nike football is being used by 45 of 112 Division I schools -- but so far he
cannot match the domination of Wilson, which controls the majority of the college ball market.Nike
arguably is the more recognizable name, but when it comes to quarterbacks and their footballs, the company is at definite disadvantage for no other reason than the Wilson 1001 -- used by Ohio State
-- is virtually the same ball the NFL uses, except with stripes.
If you are a college quarterback with NFL aspirations, which ball would you want to use?"That has hurt us in some areas,'' said Dupes
, who works out of Atlanta."But I think we (had) 13 of the top 25 passing schools in the country'' last month.
Perhaps, but Wilson has eight of the top 10.College footballs can be a maddening game, in which this year's starting quarterback might prefer Wilson but his
heir apparent is a Nike guy.So it's not unusual for a quarterback to dictate what ball company a school signs with.