ISU is coming off one of the their best seasons in a while, fans are excited about Paul Rhoads, most of these players are back for another year, and fans get to see teams like Utah, Texas Tech, and Nebraska at home this year. You figure the demand for ISU season tickets would dramatically increase compared to previous years, when the product on the field was... well.... not good to put it nicely.
But according to the Paul Rhoads call in show, Jamie Pollard said that student tickets are below 5,000, and regular season ticket sales are down as well. Now, I know that with some students they are purchasing hillsides because they are cheaper, and they can get into the student section by flashing their ids. I also know that some fans are holding out for the mini-pack. But guess what? These were all options last year, and we had over 6,000 student tickets sold, and more regular season tickets sold too!
So what gives?
Obviously this is my opinion, because that's what I do here, but I think it has to do with Iowa's success. First off, let's not kid ourselves here. Many ISU "fans" are Iowa fans as well. I know a lot of people that root for both teams, and I know some people who are planning on going to games in Iowa City this fall as opposed to Ames, even though they live in Central Iowa, and even though they've been going to ISU games for years.
Iowa has a lot of hype right now. Goes without saying. Local media are calling for a National Championship run, and I don't know if I've seen a projection that puts Iowa any lower than the Rose Bowl. Honestly, I think a lot of people are bandwagon jumping onto Iowa's hype. Now Iowa has a lot of fans, no doubt, and I'm not calling all of their fans bandwagon jumpers. But what I am saying is that they have some quasi-Iowa State fans buying into that hype... literally. Fans around here know that Rose Bowl and National Championship chances do not come around often, and I think the potential excitement of that is drawing people that would normally support ISU into Iowa's corner. Similar to how we've seen ISU and Iowa basketball fans support UNI and Drake the last 3-4 years.
I just wonder what the season ticket demand would be, if Iowa was coming off a 6-6 season, and didn't have the hype they are seeing this year. We will never know.
But with the chance to see Northern Illinois, UNI, Utah, Texas Tech, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, ISU fans can do better. We should do better. It's a tough schedule, and wins may be few and far between this year, but being a fan is about supporting the team through good and bad. It's the support through the bad times that can help the team get into the good times.
If you feel like ISU has "made it" with Rhoads, I think you're smoking something. All I know is that ISU went 6-6 and probably should have gone 5-7 during the regular season, with the 71st toughest schedule in the nation. I know the coaching staff did all of this last year with Chizik and McCarney's players. I'm not saying Rhoads can't do it, but they still have a long way to go in the program. Rhoads' mark on this program will not be just in how he gets the players he inherited to play, but also how he develops the players he is bringing in. Don't get me wrong; things are looking good for ISU's standards, but this program isn't there yet. Rhoads still has some things to prove, and it will take another 3-4 years before we fully see what he can do with this program.
Is it the end of the world? No, but ISU fans can do better. Where was the excitement from the end of last year?