Nicholls State Showdown!
At the end of the 2012 college football season the Oregon Ducks found themselves with a 12-1 record, sitting in the No. 2 position in the polls, and with one of the more talented quarterbacks in the nation, Marcus Mariota.
Though Chip Kelly left to pursue an NFL career with the Eagles, a few key starters on defense saw their names called in the NFL Draft, and the Ducks were hit with NCAA penalties for their involvement with Will Lyles, the Ducks remained relatively unscathed over the offseason.
Mark Helfrich is expected to step right into his predecessors shoes, there was no postseason ban placed on Oregon, and the Ducks have a bevy of talented young players who are ready to emerge on both sides of the ball.
Ranked third in the nation by just about every poll heading into the season, there don’t seem to be many doubts surrounding the Oregon football program right now. That is except for whether or not Autzen Stadium will continue its sellout run. Currently standing at 89 straight sellouts, there reportedly remain 3,500 tickets still available for the Ducks’ contest against Nicholls State on August 31st.
So, with national championship aspirations, some of the best talent in the nation, and the reputation for being a boisterous crowd, what is exactly behind this?
It’s Nicholls State
One of the biggest reasons why tickets are probably not sold out yet is for the sole reason that the Ducks will be playing Nicholls State, an FCS program that saw themselves walloped to the tune of a 77-3 score against Oregon State last year. If OSU can put up 77 on them, Oregon will likely be shooting near 100.
This is an awful matchup. Pitting one of the top college programs against a lowly FCS opponent is all too regular nowadays, and Oregon fans are apparently flexing their disdain by not purchasing tickets.
Nobody likes these games, and the sole reason they are done is for an easy “tune up” victory for the host and a big paycheck for the visitors. It’s stupid, dumb, and the NCAA needs to do something about them. It’s a pathetic excuse for a contest, as some teams would be better off scrimmaging against their own squads just like they do in spring practice.
By this point in the year it should be expected that teams should be ready to play fluid college football. You’ve had spring drills, summer workouts, and fall camp. There’s absolutely no excuse for playing a team like Nicholls State, even if other national powerhouses do the same.
The Ducks used to match up against tough opponents in non-conference action, but the athletic department has apparently decided to follow the trend of all national powerhouses and schedule at least one cupcake team every year.
Perhaps one of the other main things driving fans away from this game are increasing ticket prices. Based off a capitalistic supply-and-demand structure, ticket prices for Oregon football games have skyrocketed as the Ducks have seen a plethora of success. Whereas season tickets used to float around $250 – $350, fans now find themselves paying an average of $411 – $500 for seven home games per year.
It’s also been noted that plenty of backlash has been received, and yet the athletic department continues to raise its prices, so much so that people really don’t want to support their actions.
While ticket prices for Nicholls State remain at just $34 (compared to $88 – $99 for other games this season), that price is still relatively high when considering the level of opponent the Ducks will be facing.
Factoring into this as well is the fact that the students will not yet be in school and their section will be smaller than usual, especially for an opponent like Nicholls State.
Also, in recent years, the athletic department has decided to sell students season tickets if they don’t want to risk not being able to go to the games by playing what UO students like to call “ticket roulette” with the online ticket system.
This system replaced the tradition of lining up before the season started to pick up tickets to games (a fun atmosphere and great way to hang out with college friends) and has received terrible reviews.
You have to be on exactly the right connection to really get through, and many people who really want to go are forced to watch on television, complaining about the lackluster atmosphere that not-as-devoted fans bring.
To compensate for this, the athletic department decided to sell student season tickets starting at $200 a few years back. A great way to make a quick buck even though students pay for their tickets in their tuition, the AD profited on the desire for students to go to these games despite their college budget.
While that sounds bad, this year student season tickets saw an increase in price again. If a student claimed a season ticket pass to all the games they saw themselves shelling out $360. That’s completely ridiculous! What used to be the average fans season ticket price is now relegated to student level, when student tickets are supposed to be included in tuition!
The Oregon Athletic Department is clearly getting a little inflated and money hungry. Sure, it may be sound capitalism, but to charge students and loyal fans the way they are is completely ridiculous.
You’re talking about charging college students with a college budget who need to buy school supplies upwards of $300.
That’s over three textbooks. It’s ridiculous. It’s INCLUDED IN THEIR TUITION!
Expand the stadium, allow more fans to buy tickets at a lower price, and you’ll satisfy everybody while making a little more money. I love my Ducks, but these inflated prices by an athletic department that is getting a little greedy has got to stop.
The atmosphere of Autzen was created by passionate fans who you used to give great prices to, but you decided to increase them because “the athletic department assessed ticket prices for each of the top 10 teams in the national polls at the end of last season, and found that the Ducks’ lowest priced seats — those reserved end zone tickets — were well below average.”
Why not keep your fans happy, keep a unique atmosphere, and keep them coming to the games at previous rates?
College football shouldn’t be all about money, it should be more about its atmosphere.