Sports Fodder: Where are the fans?
September 13, 2012
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The only thing more disappointing than the final four minutes Saturday afternoon at Mackay Stadium in the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 32-31 loss to South Florida was the crowd. Just 22,804 showed up on a perfect northern Nevada afternoon to see the home opener against a BCS team after a victory at California to start the year. There should have been at least 5,000 more fans. Are tickets too expensive? Is parking a hassle? Is the stadium uncomfortable? Are there just not that many Wolf Pack fans? Are fans sick of being bombarded with non-stop ads blaring through the public address system during every timeout? Yeah, all those things. Wolf Pack attendance is pretty much the same as it was in 1991, when the school was in the Big Sky Conference.
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The Wolf Pack football team saw its enemy on Saturday and, once again, it was wearing their own jerseys. If the Wolf Pack is ever going to become a legitimate Top 25 program every season — you know, like Boise State — then they must improve the defense. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The lack of a consistent, reliable defense is what keeps the Pack football program from taking the next step. A great offense can only carry you so far. Oh, the Pack will always be competitive and will almost always win more games than they lose every year because of their offense. But is that enough? It’s certainly not enough to draw fans. And it’s certainly not enough to make sure you don’t find yourself in the New Mexico Bowl in the middle of December.
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The Mountain West has had a horrible start to this football season. The 10 teams in the conference have a combined record of 6-12 with three of the victories coming against FCS (Division I-AA) schools. Colorado State lost to North Dakota State and UNLV lost to Northern Arizona. That is just embarrassing to the entire league. Nobody in the conference is 2-0. Despite what happened against South Florida, the Pack can certainly win this mediocre conference. All they need to do is knock down a 50-yard pass in the fourth quarter once in a while.
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Is there any way Don Mattingly keeps his job as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers? Management gave him a fantasy team with amazing mid-season deals and Mattingly has done absolutely nothing with it. Joe Torre, who knows a thing or two about getting a fantasy team to the World Series, would have been the perfect manager for this Dodger team. Don’t be shocked if the new Dodger ownership tosses a truckload of money at Terry Francona this off-season.
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It’s time college football does away with the USA Today coach’s rankings. Coaches have no idea who the best teams in the nation are every week. And half the coaches let their media information people do the voting for them. The Wolf Pack — yes, that same Wolf Pack team down on Virginia Street that blew an 11-point lead at home in the final four minutes on Saturday to a mediocre Big East team — got a Top 25 vote in the coach’s poll this week. Letting coaches vote on the Top 25 each week is sort of like allowing all of the politicians on the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney payrolls vote on who should be president.
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Notre Dame going to the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports but football is a huge loss for the Big East. The ACC even got Notre Dame to play five games a year in football against ACC schools, something the Big East couldn’t accomplish. The ACC is now a major player in all college sports and the Big East is quickly turning into the Big Least. You have to wonder if Boise State and San Diego State, who will leave the Mountain West for Big East football after this season, kind of feel like a fan who holds tickets to Game 7 of a World Series that just ended in six games.