This is how empty Doak could be against Miami on Labor Day (just kidding...but seriously).
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the big grudge match between the Canes and Seminoles is not selling out, and isn’t even close to doing so in the near future. How is it that one of the country’s “best” rivalries can’t even manage to draw 80,000 plus people to Doak Campbell Stadium for a primetime matchup on national television? Because their fans collectively suck…that’s how. For two programs that have succeeded more than most others nationally over the last 25 years, their fans don’t do very much to support their teams. Andrew Carter offered a few reasons (read: excuses) why the game is not sold out to this point, and I felt it necessary to offer my opinion (argument against) each of them.
Reason No. 5: Florida State-Miami is more of a national rivalry than a local rivalry.
The rivalry might be impassioned on the field because there are a lot of Florida guys playing on each team and there is some bad blood between the two. However, fans have to make a rivalry as well. This is college football folks, and fans make it more fun than anything else. By saying that FSU-Miami is a national rivalry is to say that they both have bandwagon fans that latched onto their success in the ‘80s and ‘90s, without any loyalty of affiliation with the universities whatsoever. It’s like my friends that like the Patriots or the Lakers and always have some sort of BS excuse why they’re justified in being fans of those teams. The reason those guys have fans is because they win, not because there is any sort of loyalty there…we’ll see that arise again further down the list. People also argue that this still draws huge ratings no matter when it’s played, but I believe that’s at least partially due to schadenfreude. People tune in nationally to see what kind of train wreck kicker Bowden will send out to lose the game or to see whether or not Miami players will start a brawl…not because they care at all about either team or even who wins.
Reason No. 4: The economy is still bad.
You’ve got to be freaking kidding me with this one. If football fans care about their teams, they tend to find enough dough to go and check them out live, and if not, your 40,000 students should at least help the problem a little. You have teams in poorer areas of the country packing stadiums for lesser rivalries, and it’s a non-issue. Florida State-Miami should sell out regardless of the economic climate if the rivalry is such a big deal.
Reason No. 3: Tallahassee is remote enough – but seems more so for a weekday night game.
Yes, Monday isn’t ideal for fans, especially with work on Tuesday morning. Thursday is much better because people are more likely to take a Friday off…however, either way, I don’t believe it’s asking too much for a rivalry that’s supposed to be fierce. I would argue that over 70% of the Hokie alumni base resides in either the DC area or Richmond/Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach, which puts them at least three hours away (but usually 4+). Most of those people cannot just leave work on Thursday afternoon and get to the night game on time, so they have to deal with taking two days off, and somehow Lane is always wilder on Thursdays. Also, if you want to compare boring I-10 and eighteen-wheeler-filled I-81 at night, I don’t think either is a picnic for fans to navigate. There are plenty of schools in the “middle of nowhere” that don’t have trouble putting butts in seats.
Reason No. 2: Doak Campbell Stadium is too big.
Bull. For a team that spent the ‘90s and early ‘00s in the top 5 (and winning conference championships EVERY season), 80,000 seats should be no trouble to fill up. Their alumni base is large (considering their enrollment) and less-storied programs fill up bigger stadiums for lesser games.
Reason No. 1: Florida State isn’t back. Not yet.
So you don’t show up because your team wins at least eight games a season with the second-winningest coach in college football? For a program that has supposedly elite talent and great tradition. If you don’t come to games because your team isn’t in the national championship every season, go burn your Seminole/Cane gear right now. It’s not called having high standards; it’s called being a bandwagon fan. No team in the history of anything has won a championship (or played for one) every year of its existence, and to think that they should is not only extremely arrogant, but ignorant. At the very least, show up to boo what you consider to be poor effort/performance out on the field. Show your disapproval as a fan to get some change into the program. If that was the philosophy of the other 118 schools in the country, college football never make any money and wouldn’t exist in the state it does today.
FSU and Miami fans try to throw out the “there’s nothing to do in Blacksburg” argument in Hokie fans’ faces on this one, and that’s also complete bullshit. If you put the same fans and same program in Miami, the stadium would still be packed, because we have a legitimate alumni/fanbase that cares about the school and the program. I’ll give FSU fans a little more credit in not being ignorant when it comes to arguments with other programs (and FSU has owned the Hokies for the last 40 years), but to say that either FSU or Miami is a better program that Virginia Tech RIGHT NOW is a joke, and their fans indicate that with their poor attendance. Show up to some games and then come talk to me guys. Until then, your schools, your programs and your “rivalry” are all jokes.