|by Mickey Plyler - Radio Host - Monday, December 17, 2012 11:09 AM||
In the late 1970s, South Carolina fans had a bumper sticker that read, "Directions to Clemson? North until you smell it. West until you step in it."
Clemson fans countered with one that said," Directions to Clemson? Ask a bowl scout dummy."
Clemson fans have a great national reputation and are among the best in the country in following their team in road games and bowl games. However, things have changed since the late 1970s. Clemson still has great fans but I am not sure that Clemson fans are a lot different than most schools' fans.
I think fans love to win and hate to lose. I think many fans are having a hard time keeping up with the rising costs involved in traveling to see their teams. Fans are affected by the economy and it is showing up in a lot of different areas. We also know that television has had a big effect on fans traveling to away games and bowl games.
I hear fans from a lot of schools that complain about the time of games. I hear them complain about ticket prices. I hear them complain about the quality of the opponent.
Some Clemson fans are still upset enough about losing to South Carolina that they will not go to Atlanta. I know some people who have been to Atlanta so many times and have seen Clemson lose most of those games. However, the place was packed for the Auburn game and Clemson won that one this past year.
I hear some fans say they get bored watching Clemson play Ball State but that can't be an excuse with LSU as the opponent.
One thing is clear to me, the bowl system is broken.
Florida fans loved Tim Tebow but had to eat 5,000 tickets in his last game, the Sugar Bowl. This year Florida has sold only 6,500 of their allotment of 17,500 to the Sugar Bowl. How about that? The Gators are 11-1, ranked third in the country and headed to the Sugar Bowl but they are having a hard time selling tickets.
Florida State has sold only 4,000 of its allotment of 17,000 to the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles finally won the ACC and are finally headed to the Orange Bowl but they can't sell tickets.
Oregon is reporting slow ticket sales for the Fiesta Bowl as well. So several of the BCS bowls will once again see thousands of empty seats.
Virginia Tech is known for a great fan base but the Hokies have sold only 3,000 of its allotment of 13,500. You can say Tech fans are disappointed in their season but they couldn't sell tickets when they made their last three BCS games. Tech sold 3,300 tickets to the 2009 Orange Bowl, 6,500 to the 2011 Orange Bowl and 9,877 to last year's Sugar Bowl.
Minor bowls have struggled this season as well. Utah State sold 3,000 tickets. Michigan State has sold 2,000, Rutgers has sold 5,000 and Toledo sold a total of 300.
Sure the economy is bad but I also think people of tired of the bowl tie-ins. Fans are tired of traveling to the same sites and cities. Nebraska has the greatest fans in the country but has sold only 3,800. Part of that is because they were blown out in their last game but also because they return to Orlando again this season.
Not all schools have struggled. Alabama received 42,000 requests. Notre Dame made a ton of money when they charged people $25 just to apply and received over 100,000 requests.
The main point is that the bowl system needs a makeover. Conferences should not have to help schools eat tickets. Schools should not have to have a mandatory amount of tickets they are responsible for selling. The games should be good enough to where fans want to come instead of schools eating unsold allotments.
Clemson cannot play a bowl game under the current system in some great bowls like the Gator Bowl or the Cotton Bowl. That is a major issue.
Other issues are out there though. We have too many bad bowl games, too many bad bowl cities and too many bad bowl teams. This year's bowl system will once again reveal thousands of empty seats in the second most popular sport in our country. This should not be allowed to continue to happen.
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