Is the NDSU Fan-base Tired of Winning?
1 month ago during my daily 5:45am 60 mile commute to the office I was listening to my normal morning program Golic&Wingo.
During this particular show the topic of discussion was the Alabama Crimson Tide and their poor attendance they have been experiencing during this 2018 season. Alabama had just came off a 1,000–0 win over some school I couldn’t name if you paid me. Nick Saban was tired of the empty seats and the school was trying to figure out why no one was showing up. Mike Golic (one of the hosts and former NFL offensive lineman) suggested “Play better schools.” Meaning, Alabama needs to start scheduling more compelling games. If I remember right, Alabama had played only 2 schools ranked in the Top 25 up until this point in their season and blew almost every single one of them out, to the tune of their Heisman runner up QB not having to play in ANY 4th of those games. But, Alabama is in the SEC, which some may consider to be the Best and the toughest Conference in FBS College Football so just scheduling better games is easier said than done considering they ARE playing the best teams.
Well, the discussion was taken over by a list of “how can Alabama increase their attendance?” The simple answer was to schedule better games. Why does Alabama need to play Mercer, Citidel, and LA-Lafayette? The short answer is…..They don’t. The reason Alabama has low attendance is because the games are boring and those games don’t matter. Who is going to pay hundreds of dollars to go see Alabama beat Citidel 50–17? Alabama fans know there isn’t a team that can hold a candle to the Crimson Tide so why even bother if they will be leaving by half-time.
I had never even considered the connection to Alabama and their attendance problems and NDSU until this past weekend when there were a record 2,000 extra tickets for their FCS playoff game against Colgate. It was so low it was actually record low for ANY playoff game in the history of the Fargo Dome.
I’ve been a Bison fan since I met my now my wife which yes, conveniently enough is right when the Bison started this unprecedented run they are on now (which is a different story I’ll cover in a different blog). But with the countless regular season games, play-off games and a Nation Championship game I’ve been too I’ve noticed one thing pretty regularly…..the Dome is stale and the games boring.
The Dome used to be so loud you couldn’t hear the person next to you talk and you could literally feel the electricity when you stepped in. It used to be a HUGE home field advantage for any team coming into the Dome. 3rd downs would give you a headache, you would lose your voice by the end of the game and it was sold out…19,000 people every weekend.
Now, after a 110–8 regular season record 22–1 playoff record, 6 National Championships in 7 years the Dome is hardly sold out, 3rd downs are a above average buzz and I can hear the conversation from the people 6 rows behind me.
There’s a saying in football “winning fixes everything”. Well, can winning also ruin everything? Have Bison fans become so accustom to winning that spending 4hrs in the Fargo Dome watching the Herd become a chore? We can all agree most of these bouts have been over by half time, right? Well it shows. I would venture to assume most of the people still in attendance after half-time are only sticking around to see if they had enough luck to win the 50–50 raffle held during the 3rd quarter. When most of those families realize the $20 they spent on a chance to win $17,000 was faded most clear out. This leaves the dome about as quite as a church on Sunday.
But the question remains, are NDSU fans so accustom to winning and having games over by half time that it isn’t even worth going to the dome any more unless there are serious Play off implications such as this coming weekend against SDSU which is boarder battle 2.0 that could send the Thundering Herd to a 7th trip in 8 years to the National Championship? And if they DO go, how many Bison fans are going for a 7th year?
So how does NDSU fix this problem? Do they move up the the FBS? That may work. Getting to see new teams and the chance to get into a bowl game is interesting. How about a chance at the FBS National Championship? Unlikely to ever happen but the idea may bolster an increase in regular season ticket sales. But we never know. All I know is it seems like the NDSU fan base is getting tired of seeing the same teams every season and every season watching the Bison beat every opponent by half-time. People’s weekends are sacred and are the Bison playing quality enough teams OR games for 19,000 people to give up their Saturday at “the Dome?” The recent past has shown they aren’t and the Bison need to figure out a way to peak interest again before all this winning looses a fan-base.