As well as Alabama played in it’s 45-3 win over the now 0-5 Georgia State Eagles, one hotly debated topic kept popping up both inside and outside Bryant-Denny Stadium and it wasn’t on the field.
Many holes in the stands where you would normally see ticket-holders were spotted by kickoff in an environment that’s normally packed shoulder-to-shoulder. It was only the second home game in Nick Saban’s career at Alabama that wasn’t a sellout. The biggest holes were spotted in the student section, especially in the block seating area where student organizations – mostly made up of Greek organizations – are normally present.
It’s certainly a letdown when you had such a powerful atmosphere one week ago as Alabama routed then-ranked Ole Miss 25-0. There is an obvious competitive difference between Ole Miss and Georgia State; so should Alabama schedule more competitive opponents or are the one or two cupcakes a good thing? Let’s look at both sides.
It’s Time For Better Home Games
Alabama hasn’t had a thrilling home game where a big-name out-of-conference opponent comes to Bryant-Denny in a while. While easy games produce a virtual “scrimmage” for the team, what good are home games if your full home crowd isn’t there?
Alabama’s neutral site games are usually competitive and allow fans to travel to places teams wouldn’t normally go, but you have bowl games for that. Let’s start scheduling the Oregons, the Ohio States, the Florida States of the country and bring them to a home-and-home series.
If money is a problem for bigger teams to show up to Tuscaloosa, offer to pay for it. The UA Athletics Department has the money and you could really make up the difference in ticket sales alone for bigger games. Bob Stoops is right: The SEC needs to schedule better games at home and Alabama has the opportunity to bring big opponents to one of the biggest stadiums in the country.
You wouldn’t have to worry about fans not showing up or not staying for all four quarters. Even if the game is blowout, fans want to see their team trounce a big name opponent, whether they are there in person or watching on television. And a full stadium greatly boosts recruiting, but if I was a recruit watching the Georgia State game, I’d have second thoughts if my priority in choosing a school was fan support.
Smaller Games Allow More Opportunities
While the bigger games are fun to watch, there is usually one thing preventing the die-hard fan from attending and that’s money. These big name games often sell out before they even go to a public sale and prices go for $400 or above on the streets. In a rough economic climate, going to a big game is not affordable anymore. And that leaves Alabama fans only dreaming of going to Bryant-Denny Stadium because it’s become more of a luxury than leisure.
But when small games like Georgia State or Chattanooga come along, these games aren’t usually sold out and are relatively cheaper than the other games. It gives fans who wouldn’t normally be able to go to a game to watch a game and get the full gameday experience. And it gives parents of the band, cheerleaders etc. to watch their children perform for a crowd.
Sure, the game might be a blowout and fans will likely head for the exits, but it’s wrong to criticize fans for doing so. This happens at other schools all the time. So why should Alabama fans be treated like they are the worst fans when they leave early? The small games also afford the team an opportunity to rest some of their injured players and gives the team to practice some things for the upcoming big games.
What do you think? Should Alabama schedule bigger games to drive up fan attendance? Let us know in the comments.
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