"My life has become a single, ongoing revelation that I haven't been cynical enough." - Chrisjen Avasarala
We can talk all we want about coaching changes, culture changes, injuries and so on but until you can start beating some ranked teams and winning your rivalry games more frequently, it will be very tough to get fans in the stands. Let's start out by beating Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin at TCF Bank Stadium this year.
Fans here complain that PJ is a "salesman". Let's examine that. A salesperson's job is to try to figure out the needs of the potential buyer and then find a way to fulfill those needs. It is not a dirty word and does not mean that the person selling is a liar or of low moral character. I want my coach to be a top seller, someone who can get recruits and their parents to buy in to what he is selling. Someone who can sell alumni on supporting their football team. Someone who can convince corporate sponsors to realize the value of spending dollars on ads, gifts, buildings and other needs. Someone who can move the focus off of the players and their egos and onto thinking about other people. It's called empathy and those players involved in the scandal last fall did not demonstrate empathy. Perhaps with a different focus, things will change in the football culture. Coach Claeys was not going to take this program to the top. I believe PJ will. I remember attending a game in Madison back in the early 70's and they were hyping a player named Gregory "Grape Juice" Johnson (playing off the OJ nickname). That stadium was as dead as ours has been recently. But one man came in and changed everything. PJ will do the same for our university.
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Beetlejuice - Beetlejuice - Beetlejuice
There are a lot of factors involved in attendance. Like it or not, MN fans are fair-weather fans and front-runners. (I've been following Gopher FB and attending games since the late 60's, so I do have some experience with this.....)
I would estimate the hard-core, die-hard Gopher FB base to be around 25,000 to 30,000 fans. They show up for every game no matter what. Any attendance beyond that is determined by fans of the opponent (higher for IA, WI - lower for other schools), casual fans, and the general level of "buzz" around the program. AND - ticket price is a big part of the equation. MN fans are cheap - no two ways about it. Raise ticket prices - attendance goes down. simple as that.
I would say that last year's attendance was due mainly to the increase in seat donations driving down the season-ticket fan base. Lack of buzz and poor play played a role but were not major factors. But don't kid yourself - for most people, if you say "wanna go to the Gopher FB game?" - their first response will be "how much are the tickets?" and "who are they playing?" If the ticket price is reasonable, and the Gophers are playing a name oppenent (IA, WI), people will go. But, if they think the tickets are too expensive, or if it's not a team they're familiar with, they'll pass.
There are 3 million people who don't care a bit about the University or the football team.
I would guess if you polled them whether they had a positive reflection on the U or a negative, the majority would probably say negative. (Because we like to hate things and because people think it's expensive and cost us tax payer dollars).
We're kind of a messed up state that way where we don't become too proud of anything and easily embarrassed and offended by it's misfortunes.