Collins: Calling All Fans

 

 

One of the most revealing passages from the Temple position paper on reasons for building a new stadium is this:

“Overall, the trend is clear—stadiums built since 2000 have capacities that are sized to fit the institution’s market and football program’s success. The average recently built FBS stadium has a capacity of 37,561, similar to the intended 35,000 seats at Temple. Ninety-five percent of Temple football games over the past 10 years could have been accommodated in a 35,000-seat stadium.”

 

That doesn’t mean that in the last two years of its current contract with the Philadelphia Eagles to play in the cavernous Lincoln Financial Field that the Owls will not try to fill it.

Hence, the hashtag campaign of #filltheLinc and head coach Geoff Collins personally calling season-ticket holders who have not renewed and asking them to renew.

(I didn’t get a call because I renewed during the first week in February.)

A noble goal, but as has been stated here over the years and reiterated in Temple’s own new stadium reasoning somewhat misguided. Our theory is that there is a hardcore base of around 20,000 fans who will come to see the Owls, win, lose or draw. Then there is an additional “softcore” base of about 15,000 who will come out to see the Owls win, win or win.

That base gets cracked easily when the Owls lose an opener they should not have like Villanova in 2009 and Army in 2016.

Win an opener like Penn State in 2015 and the softcore crystallize into diehards the rest of the year.

There is a ceiling of Temple fan interest and it is right around the 35,000 Temple fans who attended the Tulane game for the 6-0 Owls in 2015. It is right around the 34,005 fans who saw the Owls lay an egg in the opener the next year against Army.

The attendance problem simply is not just a matter of wins and losses but of a larger economic driver, supply and demand.

Temple needs a stadium sized to fit its program.

In the American Athletic Conference, Temple currently plays in the largest-capacity stadium and draws below-average attendance, resulting in the lowest percentage of stadium seats filled for home games. Too much supply limits the ability to drive ticket sales and, as a result, gameday revenue.

If Collins calling fans personally leads to the hashtag #fillthelinc then that would be a miracle that would qualify him for Sainthood. It would also have the domino effect of causing the Power 5 to suspend its moratorium on expansion and immediately invite Temple into the conference of its choice. (Hell, if Temple averaged 70,000 fans over the 27 wins of last three years can you imagine a conference NOT inviting the Owls?)

More likely, shoot for a glass full and drink in half that and the Edberg-Olson phone calls will be well worth last month’s hefty Verizon bill.

Monday: Immediate Help

Wednesday: Mr. Softee A Welcome Addition

Friday: Ranking the 5 best Temple teams of All Time

Attendance Goals: Cement Ceiling

mcHale

 

Recently, a hashtag has surfaced on the Temple football twitter page #fillTheLinc18 with photos of several returning Owls in action.

It might have had something to do with seeing that stadium vibrant and exciting and filled to capacity and sound for the Eagles’ season but, while an admirable goal, that ceiling is out of reach.

bestoftemple

 

A university with 40,000 full-time students, 320,000 alumni and 12,500 employees should be able to fill a 70,000-seat stadium

 

It should not be, but it is. A university with 40,000 full-time students, 320,000 alumni and 12,500 employees should be able to fill a 70,000-seat stadium but only a small fraction of those numbers are even interested in college football. (We have a great ex-Temple basketball player who posts photos of him and his sons at Eagles’ games every Sunday on Facebook but who I’ve seen at about one Temple football game in the last five season. #Sad.)

A glass ceiling is an Invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached by a section of qualified and deserving individuals.

Temple football, though, does have a real ceiling of interest and it’s a cement one, harder than glass.

The 2016 Owls were set up for a nice season—which they eventually had—but fell flat on their faces before a crowd of 34,005 against Army. On the way out of that game, I heard several dozen fans saying “same old Temple” and “I’m not coming back” and these were the soft core fans, not the hard core ones. There is a reason why Temple always gets good crowds in the opener and it is because the soft core group is giving them one shot. Big wins in the opener usually mean good attendance years; big losses in the opener are almost impossible to recover from.

Getting that soft core wrapped around the hard core should be the goal and build from there.

Wayne Hardin was asked what it would take for Temple to fill Veterans Stadium—their long-demolished home then—on a consistent basis. “We’d have to go undefeated for 10-straight years,” Hardin said.

The comment was just a little tongue-in-check.

The ceiling of Temple football interest is about 35,000 fans and that’s why the university is creating a demand for tickets by building a stadium of exactly that size. So while the hashtag of #halffillTheLinc18 may not be as sexy, it certainly is a lot more realistic and the best the Owls can do until the new Temple Stadium is completed.

Meanwhile, a nice 52-7 win over Villanova would do much more to fill the Linc the rest of the season than another 16-13 one.

Wednesday: Great Expectations

Attendance: We’re Here to Cheer for Temple

The only thing that would have made this show better is video of the four PI calls against Temple and the hosts breaking each one down. Hopefully, the intro video gets updated next week.

Other than Matt Rhule trying to jar the team out of their heart-breaking-induced slumber and the number of injuries a war like the one against Notre Dame is bound to produce, there was one other important takeaway from the Matt Rhule Weekly.

Rhule said that while Notre Dame brought a lot of fans that it was “a Temple crowd” and he was right. I would estimate 55-45, Temple fans, and that was confirmed by close observation of the replay on ESPN U on Monday night. More than that, though, the noise was about 85-15, Temple. Several times, Kirk Herbstreit said that Notre Dame is going to have to fight through the crowd noise for Temple. Not once did Herbstreit said that Temple had to do the same. From a crowd standpoint, Temple won the day—from the 9 a.m. ESPN GameDay show, through the tailgate, through the night. It was remarkable feat of endurance.

attendance

This was a home crowd for Temple, just like the Penn State game was a home crowd for the Owls. As impressive as those fans were those two games, they were even more so for the Homecoming Game against Tulane when a crowd in excess of 35,000 nearly completely filled the lower bowl. Tulane might have brought 100 to 200 of those fans, tops.

In fact, the Temple fan experience for the Tulane game was the single best home fan experience I ever had for a Temple game. The three or four waves were impressive, but that paled in comparison to the several very loud renditions of “T for Temple U” that were song by just about every fan after every Temple touchdown. Since the score of that game was 49-10, there was plenty of singing.

In my lifetime, Temple attendance will probably never get any better than this and I’m inhaling this like the downwind scent of a good cigar or burning fall leaves.

Right now, Temple leads the AAC in attendance with an average of 51,252. Memphis (44,381) is second and it looks like the Owls will finish No. 1 in AAC attendance. If anything, they should parlay that, plus TV ratings, into a Power 5 invite. They average more fans than many of their own former Eastern rivals, including Rutgers (48,722), Maryland (46,405), Syracuse (31,533) and Boston College (30,483).

That brings us to what one of the team’s mottos is: What’s Next? While we like to focus on SMU and USF, when the team returns from a couple of business trips, they will be 9-1 and deserve a crowd in excess of 45,000 for probably the most important game of the year, Memphis.

Nothing would help the Owls beat Memphis more than that kind of crowd singing T for Temple U at the top of their lungs. That is what is needed in three weeks after the Owls do their business one week at a time.

Tomorrow: Game Preview With Depth Charts

Saturday: Game Analysis