Friday, December 08, 2006

Equal Time

My friend El Machete has written a rebuttal to Mergz' post about "da U" and brings up some good points so I thought I'd bring your attention to it.

For my part, I'll say this: Miami has a good and loyal fanbase of about 25,000. A lot more people consider themselves fans of Miami than this, but they aren't the kind of fans most other college football teams have.

Having lived in Miami for 29 years I can tell you that this town loves a winner. A mediocre team will struggle to be relevant and a loser isn't even on the radar screen. Because most fans of UM are not alums and therefore have no personal connection with the school beyond just being a fan, they simply don't pay attention when things are going badly for the program. When the Gators were down during the Zook years you wouldn't be able to tell by watching on TV.

The UM/Boston college game was even more of an embarrassment than the UM/FIU fight, in my opinion. Only 23,000 people showed up for it. In a stadium that seats 75,000 that crowd at the BC game didn't even fill the lower deck. Here's Miami's home attendance for 2006.

FSU 71,481
FAMU 40,208
Houston 36,107
UNC 29,621
FIU 51,130
VaTech 41,504
BC 23,308

Total: 293,359

Average: 41,908

It should be noted that the average is being propped up by games with above average attendance against state schools with large alumni bases in South Florida (FSU and FIU) The FAMU game is another one that probably brought out quite a few fans of the opponent.

I'll leave the judging of where Miami ranks as a head coaching gig to the reader, but I'll say that expectations from a fickle fan base are ridiculously high as a result of being independent and then playing in a weak conference for so many years. The fact is that the teams that Miami plays against now that it's in the ACC are better funded and more able to compete than any group of opponents the Hurricanes have had before.

I've never had a beef with Miami as a school or a football program. My beef has always been with those fans who aren't part of the core I mentioned at the top of this post. The ones that believe that the Canes are the Oakland Raiders of college football, the ones that believe in something called "The Swagger" which is a euphemism for poor sportsmanship: Just win baby!


machete said...

I can take the criticism of the fan base because there's truth to it, though I wouldn't exactly say that it's fickle.

Like I said in my post: the problem is not so much with The U's fan base, but with the general Miami sports following. The Marlins and Heat and Panthers and even Dolphins suffer the same fate. Perhaps Miamians have too many options for activities (unlike Gainesville, for example) to make a day of supporting a loser. Also, some Miamians feel that not attending a game during a drought of success is a way to boycott failure, and an attempt affect change. Proof of this is seen in the media following. Miami teams may rank low on physical attendance against other teams nationally, but local television and radio viewer- and listenership is among the tops in the nation.

Knock the attendance, but not "The Swagger". It's real, and it's not simply poor sportsmanship.

When Howard Schnellenberger came in 1979, he turned the program around by instilling "The Swagger," which started with scheduling anyone who would play us... the higher the ranked the better. Look back through the years and you'll find plenty tough / ranked non-conference teams.

Don't forget, Henry, who asked to cancel the annual Miami/Florida meeting. Sure, you had/have a tough sked, but bottom line, we've never backed away from anyone.

machete said...

Oh, and about that Boston College game: that was a Thanksgiving night during the worst season in a very long time when the coaching problems were all over the field and the press conferences.

Not really a fair game to use as a barometer, I think.

Henry Gomez said...

The overall fanbase for all sports in Miami is fickle. You know that's true. As far as "the swagger" goes, I think you and I are talking about different things. Howards canes didn't have "the swagger" that I'm thinking of. It was JJ and the camouflage and all the incidents after that made Miami into thug life U. The real Miami fans are hurt by those incidents just as I'm hurt when something happens involving one of our players. But the overwhelming majority of Miami fans actually revel in the thug image. I'm sure that most of them agreed with Lamar Thomas in wanting to get in on that fight with FIU.

machete said...

I think "overwhelming majority" is reaching.

I would say "a highly visible minority."

The true swagger will return with Shannon. You'll see.