BY MARK KNUDSON @MarkKnudson41
Happy New Year! Welcome to the Three Strikes Sports Blog, where the aim is to inform and entertain…and not necessarily in that order.
STRIKE ONE: Football attendance is still going down nationally across both the college game and the NFL. The recently concluded NFL regular season saw ticket sales drop for the 7th straight season…with even fewer people actually using all the tickets they purchased. The same goes for college football. Nationally, attendance dropped for the fifth consecutive season. The previous season saw the biggest decline in average college football attendance in 34 years. Is the sport in trouble?
So what gives? It’s simple: It’s gotten easier and easier to watch the game from your living room on big screen, high def TV; you’re just a few steps from the kitchen and the restroom. No traffic to deal with, no weather to worry about. Easy. And we all like easy, right?
So what can the ticket sellers do? That’s pretty simple too. DROP ticket prices.
It’s no secret that television revenue now pays the way for big time college programs and professional franchises. Big 10 teams got more than $50 mil from their TV deal this year! SEC teams raked in $41 mil, Big 12 teams $37 mil last season. It’s staggering, right?
Ya, that’s nice money…but each NFL team raked in more than a quarter of a BILLION – with a B – dollars from league wide TV revenue last season.
So with that kind of money coming in from TV, ticket revenue can pretty much be an afterthought, right? Teams aren’t dependant on butts in the seats to make ends meet. So…why not just cut ticket prices in half? Allow the thousands who DO want to attend in person be able to get in – some for the first time. As a bonus, you’ll also have a full stadium to show on TV! Makes for a much better showcase.
So far, nobody’s done this. There’s still trying to squeeze every penny out of fans. Pretty soon they will wish they hadn’t.
Does this make TOO MUCH sense?
STRIKE TWO: Denver Broncos VP/GM John Elway has already eliminated former Broncos Offensive Coordinator and recently fired Miami Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase as a candidate to replace the fired Vance Joseph. Gase was a young Broncos assistant from 2009 – 2014 and worked with Peyton Manning during Manning’s best seasons in Denver. He left when John Fox was canned, apparently with hard feelings. Last season, Gase’s Dolphins appeared to run up the score on Joseph’s Broncos in a late season 35-9 beat down on South Beach.
Apparently hard feelings still linger. Gase would appear to check all the boxes as Elway begins his search for a new coach: He’s young and offensive-minded, WITH NFL Head Coaching experience AND familiarity with the way the Broncos do things. It’s too bad egos appear to be getting in the way of what could be a very nice fit.
There are some good candidates. Chuck Pagano for example, would be a really good choice. A young and aggressive offensive coordinator needs to be part of the package, too. Perhaps that coach could get a chance to work with a first round draft pick quarterback like, maybe, Missouri’s Drew Lock?
This is a huge coaching hire for Elway. He needs to prove he can hire a good coach, get out of that coaches way and let him run the team on the field. If Elway doesn’t – or can’t – he’s going to be stuck with a well deserved reputation for being difficult to work for…which will make it hard for him to ever work with any head coach, period.
STRIKE THREE: Is everyone looking forward to March Madness yet? We all hope our brackets do better this year, sure. But are we also hoping for some local representation in the big dance? Don’t hold your breath. The chances don’t look very good again this season.
Air Force – which hasn’t made the NCAA tourney since Jeff Bzdelik took them there in 2006, is a no-hoper. So is Colorado State. The Rams are rebuilding…and both schools are in the same league as nationally ranked Nevada, who I’m picking to win the NCAA tournament!
Northern Colorado has a shot – but they’ll need to win the Big Sky tournament to get in. Montana is the favorite, and they’re just #101 in the latest Ken Pom Rankings. No at-large bids are coming the way of the Big Sky Conference. The Bears? They’re #165. Jeff Lindor’s team is off to a good start, so there IS hope for UNC to make a strong push.
Tad Boyle’s Colorado Buffaloes appear to be in much the same position. They’re at #76 in the Ken Pom rankings, trailing four Pac 12 rivals. Oregon is playing well, but overall, the Pac 12 is down – UCLA just fired Steve Alford after and embarrassing loss to Liberty, and Arizona State just lost a home game to Princeton. The Pac 12 can be had…but once again, it will likely take a Pac 12 conference tournament title for the Buffs to get in. It’s likely going to be a two or maybe three bid league this March.
Have a comment or counter argument? Fire back at me on Twitter @MarkKnudson41.