Portland State's Bruce Barnum candidly admits free beer promotion spiraled out of control
Portland State coach Bruce Barnum has drawn international attention for his gesture to buy beer for any fan who came to his team’s game against Western Oregon.
The idea came to light on a local podcast when Barnum, who goes by the nickname Barney, would buy fans’ beer “for the entire game” and added, “I’m not buying your ticket, but I’ll buy your beer,” Barnum told John Canzano on the BFT Podcast. When asked how many beers he’d be willing to buy, the 57-year-old head coach said “all of them.”
All fans had to say was “I heard Barney on the BFT.”
It turned out to be a wild success, as Portland State beat Division II Western Oregon 21-7 on Saturday, and Barnum paid for 2,064 beers at a cost of $14,448. Since it went off, he’s heard from coaches around the country, from Montana to Hawaii, and even his brother in Tokyo. Portland State reported 3,124 tickets sold.
In an interview with Football Scoop, Barnum described it this way.
“It’s more than a month (salary.) Like you said, I don’t get paid like them. But I get paid so much more than my staff, I don’t feel guilty,” he said. “I think I’m the lowest in this conference. What I decided on was the highest paycheck I could get without bonuses. I get the same as (other Big Sky coaches) I just don’t have that side here.”
But he might not have to foot the whole bill in the end.
“The brass is talking about going dutch with me, which I would love — $7,200 is a lot better than $14,400,” he said. “But I wasn’t going to do it and then go, ‘Who the hell’s paying this?’ That wouldn’t be right.”
Ultimately, it surprised everyone, up to and around the administration.
“The president, AD, everybody, afterward they thought it was the greatest promotion they’d ever seen from the university,” he said. “They were getting the same calls. ‘Who’s your football coach? How’d you do that?’ And I was just talking out my ass to Canzano on the radio.”