Man, you couldn't ask for any better weather this weekend to kick off the start of the season. Saturday temps dropped significantly and had a certain crispness in the air uncharacteristic of early September in the south land. Not to mention that we had games all holiday-weekend long--from Thursday through Monday, since the NFL waits until this weekend to get started. Our eight-month long wait is over and did we ever get off to an exciting start this weekend.
Even as I write this thread, Boise State and Virginia Tech are playing on the national stage, and at least for the Broncos, the exposure is a rare occurence outside the bowl season. As Tony Barnhart mentioned today, the one-game hype is typical for the Broncos, whose schedule is basically one or two games long--including the bowl game. Although ranked #3 in the pre-season AP Poll, Boise State has two regular season games against BCS opponents, tonight's and against Oregon State in two weeks. With current rankings, their schedule is ranked 100th in the country. Yea, these guys are good, but I don't want to see them cruise through the rest of their weak WAC season and then get to wait for some battered SEC or Big 10 team to meet in the national championship game. Count me among the traditionalists that Tony mentions who don't think Boise gets tested during the year the way that BCS conference teams do.
Cupcakes or not, at least we didn't have the same kind of weekend that Ole Miss did. What an up-and-down week they had. First, Jeremiah Masoli won his appeal with the NCAA and was cleared to play for the Rebels this season, albeit a little too late to meaningfully prepare for the opener with Jax State (see, if you're in Alabama, you can refer to them as 'Jax' State, provided you just don't loseto them, then they're MR. Jacksonville State, sir!) Now, after the double overtime loss, which included a few TD drives in a row, coupled with a final 4th and 15 Hail Mary AND the 2-point conversion to win it, the rest of the SEC await the Rebels to perform some sort of southern-fried version of a ritual disembowelment. Sister SB Rebel blog Red Cup Rebellion is reflecting, after posting an expletive-laced rant, and that was just in the two lines of the post. They've customarily offered Houston Nutt up for those holding the long knives, which is way too predictable. Some compare it to Alabama-ULM from 2007. No, it's much worse than that. Regardless, maybe not everybody with a computer should have a CFB blog. Guys, if I ever melt down like that, someone just take me out behind the barn and shoot me, or send me out drinking with Damon Evans. Maybe Ole Miss was looking ahead to the national premier of this:
Watching the game on TV this weekend, it looked like we had a pretty good turnout until the camera finally panned into the outer part of the upper decks sometime in the 2nd quarter and showed what I dreaded: empty seats. You hate to see that, especially on opening weekend and with all the excitement coming with this season, but I guess I'd be a hypocrite to complain about it while my arse was parked in my living room on my couch. I had heard that season ticket sales were down and I knew of some fans who decided to stop purchasing season tickets, but it didn't hit home until I read this article in the Birmingham News that season tickets sales are down everywhere in the country, even in the SEC. Who would have thunk it?
Actually, it's not that hard to wrap your head around. The economy sucks, people have no money and athletic departments everywhere are raising ticket prices, increasing the required donation amounts and further complicating the already Byzantine procurement process. Auburn claims to have sold 60,000 tickets, which they say is down 3% from a year ago. One season ticket costs $445 plus a minimum donation of $220, per ticket. And you thought Ticketmaster was a racket. Alabama's sales are up 11% to 60,634 (sounds like one of us rounded some numbers off). The Tide's season ticket costs $375 with a donation of $80. No mention was made about how many seats that leaves, once you factor in sky box seating and such.
I'll tell you this much: If Auburn had tickets to sell, they surely did a poor job advertising that fact to alumni in the Atlanta area, either directly or through various groups, clubs or organizations--hell, even blogs. If this was my business and I had the kind of networking web that even we bloggers provide, I'd get the word out there. It's cheap advertising. If you're too embarrassed to do that, well, maybe you need to rethink your whole ticket sales process again.
And one last note: in between watching Lester Miles and LSU try their best to give one away in the GA Dome (yea, I was channel-surfing a little) and even watching Tommy Tuberville do his best to give one away to SMU on Sunday, I did catch the end of the Navy-Maryland game this afternoon. Now, everyone knows I like the rushing game, but you just can't appreciate how well-crafted and diverse Auburn's spread offense is--even being predicated on rushing--unless you saw Navy's last drive to try and beat the Terps. It went about 80 yards and took 14 plays and lasted around 10 minutes of game time, 40 minutes in actuality. It was like watching paint dry. There was not a single pass, and most of the options were to the fullback up the middle. Navy tried to win it on the last play, 4th and goal from the two. They failed, but you have to give the tortoise that is Navy's offense credit for going for the win rather than kicking the field goal for a tie. Overtime might have taken all night! See you for the short week against State Thursday night!