Season ticket invoices were sent to University of Louisville football fans a month ago. After procrastinating a while, I finally write the check Thursday and mail it in, hoping everybody else is doing the same.
Interest seemed to pick up a bit during the spring camp for a couple of days during the public practice sessions, then died down until the spring game when less than 3,000 people showed up. A couple of days of followup, but then all quiet again.
Maybe the concern has do with all the attention college basketball gets around here. Rick Pitino, his assistants or players have kept that program in the headlines. As I noted a few days ago, the basketball-leaning U of L fans haven’t quite gotten over the disappointing finish. Then Pitino goes out and hires three super recruiters as assistants. Something to get excited about? You bet. Does it detract from football? You bet.
Other than the occasional news about football verbals, we’re not getting much from the football complex. And that’s somewhat concerning, especially when football season ticket holders are supposed to be renewing for next season. At a time when the economy is still lackluster, with few signs of getting better.
Back in my post-graduate years, I did a study on football attendance trends at U of L games. The program always did best on Saturday evening games. But also during seasons when the head coach was out vigorously promoting the program. Lee Corso, Vince Gibson and Howard Schnellenberger were among the best. Bobby Petrino wasn’t around then, but he didn’t need to promote because he was winning. Not much has changed over the years to alter my earlier conclusion.
There won’t be many Saturday night games in 2011. Nor will there be the excitement of a newly-expanded stadium or a new coach. The home schedule won’t include games with rivals Kentucky or West Virginia, and not much experience returns on the offense except for the receivers — the kinds of things that are instrumental in getting fans excited about Louisville football. Still very much in a building mode for the foreseeable future.
I’ve always been of the opinion that the U of L job requires the individual in charge to be as much a promoter as he is a coach. Charlie Strong has proven he’s a good coach with an excellent staff. And we’re confident they are doing everything necessary to prepare for the upcoming season. However, if we are to meet and exceed the record average of 50,600 fans per game last season, some promoting needs to start happening … and soon. Get in the news somehow, some way.
I know it’s the off-season and maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I would like to see the face of U of L football more often. Good attendance at Louisville football games isn’t something that just happens.