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Matt Murschel: College football programs go to extreme lengths to court fans

By Matt Murschel Orlando Sentinel (MCT) • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:59 PM

Perhaps someone at Oregon has been spending too much time staring into those glossy yellow and green football helmets the Ducks have a penchant of wearing.

How else can you explain the fact that the school announced last week that it was unveiling new scratch-and-sniff tickets for season-ticket holders? Scratch away and you’ll be treated to the delicious smell of Carl’s Jr. hamburgers. I suppose it could be worse.

Ever smell a locker room?

In the immortal words of Lynard Skynard, “Oooh that smell. Can’t you smell that smell ...”

WARNING: If you scratch this column, the only thing you’ll smell is desperation.

In the past, some of Oregon’s season tickets have featured special foil, unique textures and even holograms.

What’s next?

Tickets with personal audio messages recorded on them similar to greetings cards? “Hi, this is Florida coach Will Muschamp. QUIT BOOOING ME!”

Let’s face it, schools will do just about anything to get you to come to a football game these days.

Getting fans into stadiums is a concern that keeps athletic directors and school administrators up at night. According to the latest numbers compiled by the NCAA, more than 38 million fans made their way through the turnstiles last season. That’s up slightly from the previous year, but the average home attendance at Football Bowl Subdivision schools has been in a state of flux since it reached its peak in 2008.

Why the decline?

Some of it is cost. Tickets per game can be expensive and despite school’s best efforts to make attendance more affordable for families, it’s tough to shell out hundreds of dollars when most of the games can be seen on television or the Internet. Why pay $6 for a hot dog and wait in line to use the bathroom when you can enjoy all of it from the comfort of your couch.

It’s gotten so bad, some schools are even — gasp — resorting to selling alcohol to enhance to fan experience.

Schools like SMU are experimenting with the idea of selling beer inside the stadium as a way to generate revenue and entice fans to come out to games. Most luxury boxes feature the sale of alcohol, but the sale to the general public has been absent from most venues. That could soon change.

UCF just approved a project for 2015 that would convert some of the general seating at Bright House Networks Stadium into premium seats as part of an elevated area that could be turned into a tiki bar with limited alcohol sales.

Here are some other ideas for schools:

Speed dating

Why not team up with an online dating service and offer special ticket packages seating fans looking for love next to someone who could turn out to be Mr. or Mrs. Right. And at the end of each quarter, fans can switch seats.

No Internet

Do you remember when the only thing you took to a football game was a fanny pack and a foam finger? Now with smart phones and tablets, people don’t communicate face-to-face. How about offering fans the chance to buy tickets to sit in an Internet-free zone. Turn off, tune out and watch football.


A method that’s tried, true and proven to work.

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