Friday, October 23, 2015

College Football: That little matter of UH Home Attendance.

This post is NOT intended to be a shot at UH.  And now, with that out of the way......

UH is having trouble filling it's football stadium on game day because there aren't enough UH students invested in the program to do so.  This is not unfair to the University, it's true. Because if there were enough fans then they would be clamoring to watch this team, with this coach, put an exciting, winning product on the field.

They would have done so during the Art Briles' era, and the Sumlin Era as well. They can, however, be excused for taking a pass on the Tony Levine error as it was patently obvious that the AD was going on the cheap.

The Houston Press' John Royal is correct. It's not about the stadium and it's not about the schedule and it's not about the conference and it's certainly not about the neighborhood. All of these are excuses, and excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they are full of........

While it's easy for members of the Chron staff, and others, to talk about how UH would be an ideal match in the Big XII because "they'd bring Houston to the conference" all of that is just not true.  The simple fact of the matter is this:

Most of the major conferences who would like to have a presence in Houston already have one.  The Big XII has UT-Austin, TCU and (increasingly) Baylor. The SEC has Texas aTm, which provides all of the other schools instant access. Don't believe me? Take a look at where the top High School Recruits in Houston are receiving offers. The list is peppered with Big XII, SEC and Pac-12 Schools.

While the PAC-12 might seem a little mysterious remember that Mike Leach of Washington State and Sonny Dykes of Cal both have strong Texas HS connections.

TV ratings?  Nope. Big conference games pull in 5-8MM viewers per game. Last Friday night the University of Houston/Tulane game drew 185,000. Their viewership was almost doubled by UNLV/Fresno State. The television numbers for UH games don't make the big conferences look up from their catered lunches.

Of all the conferences that might want an increased Houston presence, the ACC seems to be doing just fine recruiting Florida, the Carolinas and the rest of the East Coast.

The point is that, unlike in the old, pre-B(C)S, days, college football is no longer a regional brand. The big programs and big dollar games bring in big audiences from around the country. There's no reason for the B1G, SEC, ACC, PAC-12 or Big XII (X) to court Houston because they don't bring anything to the table.

Does this mean they're out forever?  No.  Just like happened with the Big East American, the Big XII (X) could find a couple of teams poached from it and be forced to look at them. However, I think it's more likely that the Big XII (X) looks East toward Memphis, East Carolina or Cincinnati to try and find a couple of travel partner's for the out of sorts Mountaineers.  This would set up the Big XII (X) to have an East and West Division that would make at least a little geographic sense.

Barring that Houston will have to wait and hope that something falls in their favor when College Football eventually contracts to 4-16 team Super Conferences. Unfortunately the numbers game makes that idea difficult as I can't see anyone who would think UH is a good fit. Possibly the ACC, but even then it would be an odd pairing.

Houston's biggest problem is that they don't have a big fan base in comparison to other schools. Many people like to compare them to Miami (which is fair) but Miami has a much better football tradition. And, as we all know, protestations to the contrary realignment is all about football and the revenues it generates.

Until then UH just needs to hang on and hope. They need to start filling the stadium and try and build a buzz around the program. They had better do it quickly. Because by all accounts the Tom Herman era at UH could be one and done. Then they're back to trying to find a good head coach again.

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