In case you missed it, Auburn announced yesterday that season tickets for the 2014 season are now officially sold out. In addition, tickets to the LSU, South Carolina, and Texas A&M games are also sold out.
This is big news. Many people have been clamoring for more upgrades to Jordan-Hare - including the possibility of additional seating - but this was never going to happen until we started selling out games consistently. Personally I wish we would expand the amount of physical benches but not the number of actual seats. People are larger than they were when the place was built and just large in general in Alabama, so it would be nice to have a little more room. That's not going to happen, though.
The announcement got me thinking, though. What's the difference between this year and 2011? In 2010 we were coming off a National Championship victory, not a loss. Yet there was no excitement on the level of what we're seeing right now. Why is that?
I think it's for a few reasons.
Maybe there was still a hangover from the Cam Newton saga. At the time, it was still an "on-going investigation," and while Auburn people were confident in the outcome, there was still some uncertainty about it. I don't really think that was a part of the lackluster response in ticket sales, though.
Head coach Gene Chizik didn't get much credit for the 2010 team. I think that was a huge source of the troubles that would follow. On the heels of that was the certainty that we were not going to keep Gus for long as Offensive Coordinator, and then what would happen? Well, what we all feared would happen did happen. We changed offensive identities again and failed miserably at it. In 2011 Gus was still the OC, but the writing was on the wall for him to get a head coaching gig somewhere.
All of those could be reasons, but I suspect the answer is much simpler. The Auburn football team that took the field in 2011 looked almost nothing like the team that won the championship a few months earlier. Everyone suspected Auburn would have a down year in 2011 after losing a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Cam, but in addition to Cam, we lost Nick Fairley and plenty of other major contributors from the 2010 team. Everyone knew 2011 would be tough. Compare that with 2014, where we return almost everyone. Sure, there are some major losses (Tre, Greg Robinson, Jay Prosch), but we return our dynamic QB and have added even more threats in the passing game. We return enough key players that there is hope this season.
Auburn fans can be fickle. Look at our basketball program. When it's winning or there's general excitement about it, fans will show up and pack the house. Let there be signs of trouble or mediocrity and it's a completely different story. In football, there just wasn't much excitement going into 2011 because no one believed a repeat of 2010 was possible. In 2014, everyone is looking at the players we return and knowing that Gus is our head coach to lead the attack, and there's excitement around the program. And when Auburn people are excited about their programs, they will show up in droves. No one wants to miss the next amazing moment that may happen around this football team.
It's an exciting time to be an Auburn Tiger. There's still time to get tickets to some of the other games this year. I believe there were around 200 tickets left to the Arkansas game as of yesterday afternoon. It's still showing up on the official website if you want to snatch up the last seats. Let's hope the product on the field in 2014 carries this excitement level over into 2015 and beyond.
War Eagle, everyone. We're almost there.