Dear Big Ten FB Coaches: Stop Complaining About Your Fans and Just Be Better

Photo: Phil Friend, Lansing State Journal
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“The fans that grew up going and tailgating, and the fans that grew up going to the stadiums four hours before the games are getting a little older. And I think the next and younger generation of fans are more reliant on technology. They’d rather have 12 TVs set up in their TV-watching cave than go to the game and experience the pageantry.” – Pat Fitzgerald | Northwestern (Quote via Star Tribune)

“You hear about what’s important now, getting Wi-Fi in the stadium. I mean, heaven forbid we all go to a football game and watching the game, like the whole game. All we can try to do is try to put a good team out there on the field. … If that’s not enough, if they need me to stand on my head, that’s going to be tough. Or juggling. Or acrobatics.” – Kirk Ferentz | Iowa (Quote via Star Tribune)

“Raising our kids the right way. Having morals and characteristics that I admire, personally. Having genuine, real, tough people; loyal people that are going to show up through thick and thin and stay for four quarters in a Michigan State game when it’s freezing outside. … That’s the type of people Nebraska has.” – Scott Frost | Nebraska (Quote via Star Tribune)

“I don’t want to be negative but I think apathy exists in America, and impatience exists in America,” Dantonio said. “There’s a trend there, but I think you see that trend in high school, too. Maybe it’s that there are so many other sports or so many other things to do that they can watch it on social media. I don’t really know the reasons for it, I just know it exists in society.” – Mark Dantonio | Michigan State (Quote via Spartan Mag)

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You don’t get very many technologically sound millennials who are as old-school-minded as I am, but these quotes from football coaches around the Big Ten are getting to the point of unbearable. Please Big Ten coaches, cry a little bit more on our shoulders about how you can’t get fans into your stadium anymore. Go ahead and reminisce about how much better life and our youth was back when all you had to play with were sticks and pinecones, maybe a tire swing if you were lucky…

The stands around college football have been emptying in recent years. There are a lot of logical reasons for why this is happening. I know one reason, though, for why it is NOT happening: FAN PASSION. Fans are as passionate as any of these coaches think they remember but many fans would rather watch the game (for free) from home than bare the elements, to watch the field from the 3rd deck, where you can’t see uniform numbers.

To bring fans to your stadium in 2019, winning just isn’t always enough anymore and if you don’t win, then you don’t stand a chance. Winning is still number one. If you can’t win games then I don’t want to hear you mutter a complaint. Win with some consistency and get back to me, Pat Fitzgerald.

For the Kirk Ferentz’ and Mark Dantonio’s of the world… I believe you’ve heard this saying… probably even used it on your teams a few times through your coaching careers: “Adapt or Die”.

How about you stop bitching and just do something about it. This is a free market world with unlimited entertainment options. What makes you entitled to your fans’ attention any more than other entertainment options that they enjoy?

Here’s some free advice: You aren’t entitled to shit.

People can watch you win games on their TV, celebrate with friends, and then still enjoy the rest of their day/night doing something else.

So, how do you entice fans to actually get their asses in their vehicles and spend their entire day at your college football stadium? You already have 3 possible hours of entertainment built in (with a good product on the field) but you are asking fans to come before games and to stay after, then fight traffic to get home. How do you make 6-8 hours worth it for your fans? WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A PROGRAM TO MOLD THE ATMOSPHER TO YOUR LIKING?

These are all basic questions that football programs should have to confront as a business, just like other businesses need to ask similar questions that relate to their product. College football isn’t any different.

With all of this in mind, I fucking love what the Gophers are doing to the gameday experience, starting Thursday. It’s clear they want more of you in the stands and that they want you to come through the doors of TCF Bank Stadium earlier. They offered $10 tickets, cheap student season plans (and scholarship giveaways every home game), and cheaper ticket prices (in general) to get more people to show. And now, to get you in the doors earlier, they came up with “Gopher Hour” which might be their most genius plan yet:

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This is the shit I am talking about. What can YOU do to enhance the fan experience so YOU can make sure YOUR stands are packed and ready for every one of YOUR home games? As soon as coaches and programs start using that mentality, you will see fans back in the stands…. as long as you win games.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan