The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

WVU Sports

August 1, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Winning addresses viewing habits

MORGANTOWN — First off, as West Virginia University’s football camp opens today with a clean slate, the disappointments of a year ago a distant memory and, as always is the case with the rebirth of football season, there is extreme optimism.

People expect the football team to have a different look and feel, with the departure of superstars Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. With the running backs seemingly the strength and with a change in defensive coordinators and an influx of junior college talent, it’s expected that the worst defense in WVU history will make dramatic strides.

But those are only part of the changes in West Virginia football this season, for there will be changes in presentation brought about through the Big 12 itself in an effort to alter what has been becoming a serious problem in the college game.

“I think one of the things that will be a hallmark of this coming year is an attempt by our conference to really be innovative,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in his “State of the Conference” address on media day. “We have a number of different things that we’re working on, some of them in response to elements of our business, and some of them just things that we think are interesting and that might eventually bear fruit down the road.”

One of the major changes will be bringing in-game taped and live highlights from other Big 12 games around the league into conference stadia.

The reason they feel this necessary?

“This is largely a response to declining attendance on a national basis,” Bowlsby said. “Our schools are 85 percent full. We’ve got many that are experiencing hard sellouts every game.”

As popular as college football is, there are real problems. Even here at West Virginia, where football is king, attendance has slid significantly.

In 2007 it reached a high average of 60,400. Last year it was down to 55,919.

That’s a 7.75 percent decline with attendance falling every year since then except 2011, when average attendance rose only 207 per game.

This is not out of line with what is going on across America.

“We feel like our attendance has remained relatively strong, but I think nationwide we’re seeing student numbers declining,” Bowlsby said. “We’re seeing season ticket numbers declining. College football has experienced declines in overall attendance over the last four or five years, and I think bringing highlights in will take into account and help one of the things that really is getting to be a challenge for us.”

In a way, college football has cost itself attendance by increasing its revenue through television.

“We put together all of these multimedia deals, but with that comes the interminable 2:30 and 2:45 television time-out, and during those time-outs in Big 12 stadiums this year, we will have highlights from other games. They will be mixed in with other things that are being done on campus,” Bowlsby noted.

Bowlsby believes this will be entertaining for fans at the stadia.

“I think it will be one item that will keep people from staying home in front of their televisions or watching on a PDA or in one way or another saving time and money and staying home. That is the trend,” he said.

Bowlsby says people’s viewing habits are changing, and that going to the stadium now has strong competition from staying at home or heading into your local bar and grill.

“We see people that have a 60-inch television and they can have their mobile device with full wi-fi on their lap, no lines at the restroom, no charge for concessions. They can have a cold beer when they want to, and they don’t have to spend six to eight hours traveling to and from the stadium,” Bowlsby said. “So it’s something that we’re very excited about, and we think that it will greatly enhance the in-stadium environment.”

Nothing, of course, replaces winning, however.

When West Virginia’s attendance was at its peak it was when Pat White and Steve Slaton and Owen Schmidt were running over and around their opponents, challenging for a national title and a Big East title.

No one at that time was complaining about lines at the concession stands or the rest rooms, about traveling from across the state to games and of any other inconvenience.

The fact of the matter if WVU wants to reverse the trend here, it needs to win more than the seven games it won last year, because even as exciting as the offense was that was not the major selling point.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos