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USF Football Attendance Is In Crisis

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For the first time in school history, the team is better than the fans. Which is a horrible place to be.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at South Florida
Willie Taggart and his team say thanks to the dozen or so students that actually stayed until the end.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

USF Football is 5-1, and 2-0 in conference play. They are averaging 44.5 points per game this season, while their opponents post just 25.7. Their 7.0 yards per play ranks the Bulls sixth in FBS, and their ludicrous 6.3 yards per rush is fourth nationally. They are a perfect 7-7 on fourth downs, which they go for with increasing regularity.

And some of you actually booed the offense yesterday.

And those that did are not even the worst of our fan base, because at least you fucking showed up.

The official attendance of 16,585 from the TSA is the worst in USF’s 20-year Homecoming history. Which would be understandable if this was 1998 or 2013 or 2014. But the product on the field is legitimately compelling and entertaining, and yet so many couldn’t be bothered.

Guess what? Your players and recruits noticed it too.

There is a shared accountability here. Some of this goes to the local media, who besides the Tampa Bay Times, just doesn’t seem to have time for USF. The only tv camera I saw yesterday in the press room was from Bright House Networks, and if I’m missing someone I’m sorry. But did any local tv sports reporter do a stand-up from the sideline as part of their coverage? Did the Bulls get more than just tv clips for 20 seconds, or were they lumped into a larger package of college football again?

USF Athletics also has done plenty to reach out to students, but are they doing so the right way? They’ll talk about the busses that run from campus to Ray Jay, and all the other measures they’ve taken, and those are needed. And I do believe they have been very willing to engage the students. But USF is a weird student culture, and it might not be getting marketed to the way it should be.

Who is on the ground every single day working with students so things like the Homecoming parade & a big soccer game on campus don’t happen at the same time? And has anyone gone to a Sunday fraternity/sorority meeting, Black Student Union, Latin American Student Association, Students of India Association, or any of the hundreds of groups on campus and just asked? Or gone to a student organization president and said “hey, here’s my phone number, call me if there’s anything you need for your tailgate.”

Bid Day for fraternities & sororities needs to be scheduled around football. So do formals and socials. Those calendars get planned often a year in advance, and someone needs to be there now for 2017. You can argue that big-time football teams shouldn’t have to do this, but again this is USF culture. You’ve got to build that bridge, or else they won’t come.

As for the alumni: we’ve already mentioned how we talk to them when we ask for money, are we going about it the same way for tickets? How are we reaching them? I know our ticket sales people bust their butt, and that’s a very tough gig. But are they just working hard without working smart?

We’re going to talk about all of the above this week. It’s not a Big East schedule anymore, but USF is a very competitive football program on the edge of Top 25 status. Don’t tell me an on-campus stadium fixes all this either, because USF has drawn far more than this previously.

This program needs to solve this problem. Now. Because with Houston losing yesterday, there’s a very decent chance an American Conference Championship Game will be in Tampa this year.

So what will the excuse be then?