This time of year is just gold to me. Of all the major sports, football is the one that has the fewest games, also meaning it takes the longest to reboot. But for the NFL draft and then again about five weeks from opening day for the Cougs I just start to get this renewed energy in my soul, getting ready for football season. But I have a reservation about our fans that need be addressed.
I’ve been openly critical of the Washington State fan base over the past year since I’ve been at All Coug’d Up, I think it’s been warranted beyond question. No doubt the atmosphere at a full Cougar football game is absolutely unique and the WSU faithful can be some of the best in the country. But honestly, these past several years have been meager table scraps of what is available on a full plate of what we know as “Cougar Pride”. That includes a lot of minute pieces, but in particular it boils down to one tell-tale sign; game attendance.
Ticket sales are generally a sign of how the program is doing, with exception of the hardcore fan bases that will sell out regardless of how their team struggles or what their record was the previous season. That’s all fine and dandy for the Idaho’s and Ohio’s of the world, but the problem for WSU is that its’ fan base considers itself “hardcore” and “loyal” and “unwavering” to the core, yet it hasn’t shown up in the meager times to support those claims. True, for people not living directly in Pullman or Moscow it’s not the easiest place to get to, especially in the interesting weather that spikes from day to day over the rolling hills of the Palouse.
Still, it can be said for many stadiums across the country that a very high portion of the fan base comes from 90 plus miles away to support the team on a weekly basis with sellouts upwards of two to three times what Wazzu’s stadium capacity holds. By the way it was 35,117 before the recent renovations to the press box and endzones, so the estimate will be slightly different in 2014 when it’s completed, but you get the picture. Coug fans only reached the 30,000 mark two times last season (EWU was dubbed a “sellout” with 33,598 and the Apple Cup 30,544). That’s simply pathetic, especially considering the Apple Cup was Thanksgiving weekend with students out of town.
The point is, it’s time for the Coug fans to step up and prove their worth (and their claims), in 2013 and beyond. Win, lose or draw, it’s no secret that there are many several fan bases all over the country that simply outclass us when it comes to supporting their school in the stands. Wins help a program to draw interest beyond the norm, obviously, but it can’t be the only reason we show up on Saturdays to support the Cougars. We claim to be more than that and there’s no excuse for Martin not to be filled to the brim for 5 days a year when the Stadium is the smallest in the conference and only 5,000 more than the city’s population. You can also throw in the incredible stadium renovation as another reason to not have the seats packed.
Want a staggering stat line? Auburn’s (WSU’s first opponent of 2013) Jordan Hare stadium has a difference of plus 30,000 between capacity and city population (nearly Martin stadium’s FULL capacity), yet with the same season as the Cougs had, averaged a full house the entirety of 2012! Clearly having a National Championship season a couple years ago inflated that number a little, but their crowd is like that every single season. It’s time to step up to the plate for Washington State University if we’re going to consider ourselves a top national fan base. It wouldn’t hurt if the wins returned too.