UTEP Fans Gone Forever?
In the wake of the ongoing attendance problem that UTEP football has endured for quite some time now, it has lead me to ask two key questions; will fans ever want to come back to the Sun Bowl to watch a program that has been on the decline for years now, and will this issue inevitably lead to the Miners dropping to Division II for football? This topic has been talked about quite often this week following UTEP's dismal crowd of 12,809 on homecoming this past Saturday, their lowest attended game since the 1993 season.
To make things worse, the program gave out commemorative jerseys from their 1988 Independence Bowl season to the first 1,000 fans, and still drew friends and family. I have heard a million ideas on how to improve attendance, as far as I'm concerned, some of them are good, but unless this team starts winning right away, and in a consistent manner, it won't matter what you give away or do.
Now I'm not trying to be a negative Nelly here, just a realist. Let'ts put this into perspective, we're talking about a program that has the nation's longest losing streak at 18 consecutive games and realistically hasn't been competitive for years, in fact their last winning season was in 2014, and the program has endured only three seasons in the past 15 years where they have finished over .500. The bottom line is that fans are simply sick and tired of watching a losing program and have reached their breaking point, hence the attending declining in all three home games this season, with the exception of the NMSU game which had 19,412, but that is a rivalry game.
Sure the program has been much more competitive lately, despite losing their last three games by a combined 19 points, but at this juncture, it is safe to say that this team may very well have another winless season, or maybe squeeze out one or two victories if they can actually play turnover free ball. Even if the program can get off the schneid, it would be hard to see fans coming back to attend games this season, or at the very least, average 15,000 for their final three home games.
So why do I ask if fans will ever come back again like the good old days of the Mike Price era? Simple, losing puts people in a bad mood, sure there are die hard fans that will support a program despite the outcome, but they fall in the minority. At this point it will take a while for Coach Dimel and his staff to recruit their own players and hopefully drastically improve this program, questions is, do Miner fans care any more? I truly want to believe in my heart that this program will return to winning games and making bowl appearances, and of course actually getting good crowds to come watch them accomplish this, but let's face it, right now things are a mess to say the least.
One thing is for certain, the program better figure out something fast even if it means bringing a three ring circus in at halftime, because if things don't improve soon, this team may very well be moving to D-II, and that is the worst possible scenario for obvious reasons. If that did occur, I know it would make some fans happy, but be careful what you wish for, as this is a Division I team, and should always be one. The UTEP marketing department has their work cut out for them and better pull a Houdini soon or else it could be too late. Lastly, winning in the near future may solve this dilemma, but that is surely much easier said than done.