Bumped. Great reflections from VABruin following his trip to campus of University of Florida. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
DISCLAIMER: This fan post will likely not present any new arguments to anyone who frequents this site. These are just my observations from seeing something that just about every other FBS school has.
My wife and I just got back from taking our two oldest children to Florida. We loaded up the van and trekked down from our house in northern VA to hop around Florida for a week. As we were passing through Alachua county, we decided to make a last-minute stop at the University of Florida. I should clarify that it was my wife who made the decision since I have still have horrible reactions when I think about what that school has done to us in the past few years.
As we drove through the campus, my wife pointed out all of the lecture halls and dormitories. And right in the middle of the campus like a big 90,000 capacity beacon sat Ben Hill Griffin stadium. Simply incredible. Next to the libraries and residence halls was this massive ode to everything Florida football. There were big marquees announcing the past championships, statues of the Heisman winners next to the stadium, and all sorts of other signs announcing to the world that this is where football is played (a little more impressive than a few sandwich boards). You could feel it in the air there, the excitement of another coming football season, to be played right there on campus. Wearing a UCLA shirt (of course), I hopped out and walked around this building, peeked in a bit, and then we were off.
As we drove away, my wife reminisced over the many Saturdays that she spent in that nasty sweltering humid heat watching her team. She mentioned that many of the students often would make a last minute decision to attend the game and that the stadium was always packed.
I thought about that for a few minutes. I thought about what I had gone through to catch a game while at UCLA......Having to find a ride with friends when I didn't have a car. I think there was bus transportation, but I don't remember it being well advertised. There was also the time cost of going to a game. For the casual fan, it wasn't 4 hours for the game. It was an all day affair with the commute and parking and everything that we all went through. Who knows how many students stayed home from games due to the hassle and time cost of going to a game? How many casual fans didn't become devoted fans during their time at UCLA because getting to the Rose Bowl wasn't feasible?
I've read a lot of the pieces on this site indicating why getting a stadium on campus isn't feasible. I've read the roadblocks that stand in the way of getting a stadium, a real Bruin stadium, 5 minutes by foot from the dorms. From what I understand, getting the stadium is improbable, but not impossible. Maybe things will change someday and that will happen. Heck, if Coach Mora can make progress on fixing the shoulder stripe, maybe he can get this ball moving on this.
Looking online at the capacities of the Rose Bowl vs. the Swamp, there isn't much difference. Both stadiums have a capacity of around 91,000 for their college football games. I was a bit surprised at that. But even when Florida has a lackluster team or record, that stadium is filled. I wish it were the same for the Bruins, but I understand why it isn't.
Many of you reading this live in cities with large college football stadiums. None of this surprises you. You've likely attended those games and walked through the campus to get there...along with thousands of students who are forming a deep love for their football team.
I wish Coach Mora the best this year. I like his style and attitude, and he made significant strides in turning the team around last year. But I know that it will take sustained excellence to pack out the Rose Bowl week after week. To turn the Rose Bowl into the hostile den filled to the brim with screaming fans so loud that opposing teams can't hear the QB calls will require a program that can motivate even the most casual fan to get over to the Rose Bowl and spend a day watching the team. I hope we get there, and I hope we get that stadium on campus someday.