Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MSU, The Outback Bowl, and some Cobain Angst

Yesterday, two executives from the Outback Bowl flew up to Okemos to do a press conference. Bloomin' Onion's were cooked, served, etc. Chris Vannini wrote a pretty thorough article covering the bases on his blog. The not-so-subtle message is that with only 5,000 of 11,500 tickets sold and people making their holiday plans that people need to get in line and buy their damn tickets. The Outback Bowl is the Big Ten's third bowl tie-in and a New Year's Day game. Vannini pointed out on twitter, this is MSU's third New Year's Day game in four years after one in 18 years. A good chance for Dantonio to get his first bowl win against a quality opponent. These are good points, and if you have the means to comfortably go, you should.

The game should be incredible. Statistically, the only difference between these two teams is what they each had for breakfast this morning. Incredible defenses and good offenses. It could very possibly be a quality defensive 10-7 type game.

I respect the hell out of this 2011 Spartan Squad. I thought their regular season ceiling was 9-3 and I thought all three would be in the Big Ten. A win at OSU? Unpossible! Four in a row against UM. Very Difficult! Getting the monkey off our back at Iowa. Eh. Not very likely. Yet, we did ALL of those things and we played in the first ever Big Ten title game. So it feels cheap to draw my line in the sand on this issue.

Yet, I laid out my Herculean Effort to go to the game a few weeks ago for the game in Indy. I blew out my voice in the concourse leading the Go Green/Go White cheer before kickoff. I like the rest of Spartan Nation had my still-beating heart ripped from my chest with unfathomable sadness. The promise of a good game, while likely, is as of right now an empty promise. Unless I was burning Benjamins to run my furnace, I don't think I'd go to the Outback Bowl.

It's not the Outback Bowl's fault. I wouldn't be excited to go to the Sugar Bowl either. The Cap One Bowl three years out of four does not a good time make. I think this is MSU's best matchup and opportunity to create a competitive and interesting bowl game. Yet, I'm just kind of numb to the whole thing, or was kind of numb until yesterday. Now I'm pissed, again, not with the Outback Bowl.

The Argument

"MSU's fans need to show up so future Bowl Selection Committees don't view MSU as a school who won't support their team."

My blood boiled a bit after reading this argument.  Here's a fact. "The Spartans have ranked among the NCAA's top 25 in attendance each of the last 55 seasons, including 19th in 2010, averaging 73,556 fans per game."    Well fine, that's home attendance, we'll overlook the fact that the Football team has sucked for probably half of those years.  Rexrode dropped this nugget a few days ago: "MSU fans have done well in Florida recently, bringing an estimated 30,000 to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando in 2009 and 2011.A Capital One Bowl exec gushed to me about MSU fan support a few weeks ago, saying it kept MSU in the discussion for that game despite the fact that MSU has been in Orlando in three of the past four years (the Spartans played there in the Champs Sports Bowl in December of 2007)." I was at the Big Ten title game, I feel comfortable saying that was 60/40 in favor of MSU.

We travel. We show up. We support our team. In 2006, when MSU went 4-8 and John L slapped himself out of a job, 70,819 fans showed up on average to all the games. That's 94.4 percent of the stadium in a year where MSU almost lost to Idaho. Don't even get me started on how well supported the basketball team is.

It's cliche and shitty to argue that the bowl system sucks without offering another alternative, but explain to me how this makes more sense than nothing? If MSU's attendance numbers don't speak for themselves, what will? Are we short the requisite number of fairweather fans? If that's the problem, maybe we're better off that way.

Anyway, go to the game if you have the means, it should be a good one. This is not a crusade to persuade people to stay home. This is a complaint that the notion that MSU doesn't travel off these sluggish sales for it's team is stupid and petty. For my own part, I'll be at home, having an ironic Bloomin' Onion party and rooting like hell for my Spartans. But don't question the MSU fanbase, we've been rocking out the NCAA attendance top 25 since before this game was called the Hall of Fame Bowl and we'll continue doing so long after Outback has sold the naming rights to someone else.

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