Late Sunday night an article appeared on the front page of The News Record, the University of Cincinnati’s student-run. I didn’t see it until this morning when it was retweeted on Twitter but boy did it start my Monday morning off on the wrong foot.
Here, I’ll break it down for you piece by piece:
The University of Cincinnati’s football team opened its season in triumphant fashion on Thursday night.
Yes, true, this did happen. Alright, one paragraph in and so far so good.
33,562 watched UC send Pittsburgh back up the Ohio River with a stern beating, but what the game truly symbolized was the apathy of members of the UC fan base who were not in attendance.
Huh?! Nippert Stadium was 95% full and you’re bitching about 1,500 people who didn’t feel like sitting in the first few rows behind the Pitt Panther sidelines? Those by the way were the only unfilled seats in the house and are well-known for poor sight lines and overall discomfort. Talk about nitpicking.
UC head coach Butch Jones expressed his gratitude to both the fans and the students that were in attendance during the post-game press conference.
“I will say this: I am indebted to our student body. Over 8,000 tickets sold, our student body and fans were outstanding,” Jones said. “That is what a hometown crowd is supposed to be. That is big time college football environment and atmosphere. And as we grow and elevate this program, that needs to become a norm here at Nippert.”
I watched the game from the press box and was present for the Jones’ press conference afterward. I felt he was not nearly as indebted to the student body as the general fan base is. Because, frankly, the student body saved UC’s fan base from being absolutely embarrassed for three and a half hours of primetime ESPN coverage.
Right, because a normal person reads those quotes and thinks, “Wow, he was really disappointed in the atmosphere at Nippert Stadium, especially the 25,000+ non-students who were there on Thursday.”
And here’s why:
The student section in Nippert Stadium is designed to hold 6,000 people — 3,000 students that pay for season tickets and 3,000 students that wait in line 10 days before every game to get their ticket.
When those sold out, more than 2,000 students paid $15 to sit in the plethora of seats apparently unwanted by more than one million people living in the greater Cincinnati area.
UC’s student body occupied roughly one fourth of the stadium on Thursday and the game still didn’t sellout. In a season opening night game against the football team’s biggest rival, this fan base can’t fill a 35,000-seat stadium — that is an embarrassment.
The math is correct; 8,000 students were at the Cincinnati – Pitt game. But even though Nippert’s listed capacity is roughly 35,000, it can really only comfortably seat right around 33,000. Again, it was 95% full and still a hornets nest as far as the Pitt Panthers are concerned. In my eyes, nothing to worry about here.
Saturday’s game — for which the student body has already exceeded its allotted 6,000 seats — is against a Football Championship Subdivision school, Delaware State University. I’ll be surprised if the gate surpasses 20,000 people and that is embarrassing.
Let’s see here: 12,000 non-student season tickets sold and the 3,000 student season tickets are sold out. That’s 15,000 seats already sold. If negative Nancy here doesn’t think 5,000 more UC fans will show up to a 7 pm game after a marquee win with this exciting team then there’s no helping him. And if UC doesn’t come close to capacity it’s not a big deal. This past weekend, Florida State’s Doak Campbell Stadium was only at 86% capacity against Savannah State and the same goes for Neyland Stadium when Tennessee hosted Georgia State.
The reason UC isn’t considered a big time program is the same reason West Virginia got invited to the Big 12 and Cincinnati didn’t, the same reason UC receives lesser bowl bids, the same reason Mike Dantonio left for Michigan State, the same reason Brian Kelley left for Notre Dame and – if nothing changes – the same reason Butch Jones will eventually leave for greener pastures.
UC isn’t a major program because UC’s fans don’t fill stadiums.
Josh apparently doesn’t understand conference realignment. West Virginia got invited to the Big 12 because they draw the viewership of an entire state and the attention of people in the Northeast, where the Big 12 wanted a presence to draw more money from the TV networks. And UC doesn’t receive lesser bowl bids. They went to the Liberty Bowl to face an SEC team. I’m not quite sure what he’s referring to here.
Oh, and while claiming UC isn’t a ‘major program’ is true, what defines a major program? 50 years of football success? National championships? Well if that’s the case 90% of college football schools wouldn’t be considered ‘major programs’. Only the Texases and Ohio States of the world have the right to claim that. Cincinnati isn’t a ‘major program’ but that doesn’t mean they can’t wallop opponents on the football field, which they have for the better part of the past 5 years and can do so in the future.
Jones politely alluded to this blatantly obvious issue in the same statement in which he expressed the previously mentioned gratitude.
“As we grow and elevate this program, that needs to become a norm here at Nippert,” Jones said. “That is a challenge to everyone out there we need you Saturday night out here, this isn’t a one game thing.”
I hope the fan base realizes just how serious that challenge is because with the BCS ready to be eliminated in 2014 and UC no longer able to attain automatic qualifier status, this fan base has a choice to make. Be big time, or go back to being completely irrelevant.
If the choice is the latter, Jones and the higher quality recruits he has been bringing to Clifton will quickly head to a place where they have gone with the first choice.
Yea this could happen but why focus on that now? Especially when UC sold out 95% of their stadium on Thursday night.
The fact of the matter is, when the Ohio States, Alabamas and Oregons of the NCAA play the “Northwestern Wyoming Presbyterian A&T Tech’s” of the world, they sellout stadiums. Rain or shine, noon game or night game — and regardless of opponent — top tier fan bases show up.
First of all, this appears to refute that statement. Secondly and once again, comparing Cincinnati with those three top-tier programs is unfair. 90% of the other programs in this country are always in danger of losing coaches to these programs. Coaches in football and basketball will almost always go to a better job, an exception thankfully being Mick Cronin. And Ohio State, Alabama, etc. aren’t safe from losing coaches, either! Pete Carroll at USC accepted the head coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks just two years ago and they have one of the most obsessed fanbases in the country.
UC relied on students to buy an additional 2,000 tickets for Thursday’s game to come even remotely close to a sellout.
Let’s do the math. Taking away those 2,000 tickets and Cincinnati has roughly 31,000 fans at the Bearcat-Panther game, putting Nippert at 89% capacity. Not sure how that is not ‘remotely close to a sellout’ but OK.
Until that is no longer the norm, Cincinnati will continue to be nothing more than an overachieving coaching carousel for the aforementioned powers.
More unjustified negativity here when Nippert was 95% full except for a few rows of uncomfortable bleacher seats. Nitpicking again.
I get what Josh is doing. I mean, I hope he’s a Bearcat fan trying to rile up the people of Cincinnati and not a closet Xavier or Ohio State fan. But he’s going about it the wrong way. Cincinnatians are infamously stubborn. They aren’t going to change their views by being peppered and ridiculed. That’s just not how it works around these parts!
You attract more bees with honey than vinegar, Mr. Miller and your high-and-mighty attitude is going to push more people away than it brings in.