Villanova Students Give Guerrero a Lesson in Cultivating Fans

Why are those Villanova kids making such a fuss? - Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Dan G,

Don't say anything. Just watch this video first.

This happened last night at a college gym in Philadelphia.

(um, Dan, you need to click on the triangle in the circle in the middle...there, yeah...)

Do you see that reaction? That moment of sudden and pure unexpurgated joy and bedlam? The results of a once in a lifetime iconic shot at the horn to win a national championship? See the response? Hear the screams? Feel the emotion? Pretty damn cool, huh? Hell, even that human golf clap Jim Nantz lost his mind.

Anyway, Dan, back to the video. Do you see those kids in that gym? The ones jumping around and yelling and dancing and cheering and going nuts? You know what every one of those kids in that gym is?

The answer: a potential lifelong supporter and future donor - no matter where their academic departments rank nationally.

Now let me ask another question...What percentage of the student body at Villanova knows who its basketball coach is?

The answer: It's more than 30%.

Well, no, I don't have concrete data to prove it, but I'm South Campus. I know it. I'm sure of it. Just, believe me.

Ok. So hang onto that thought, and let me show you another video. (yes, same triangle thing...)

Man, I am almost grateful that it wasn't Gus doing the game last night.

I watch this video from almost exactly one decade ago and I still feel nearly the same joy that I did when I watched it live on my TV, and it's the same once in a lifetime high that those kids at Villanova felt last night.

I show this to you for a couple reasons. First, I show it to make my case that it's not just about winning championships. People who criticize U.C.L.A. fans for supposedly holding that standard just aren't being fair. You don't have to win a title to feel this way. But you do have to have a program that is honest and hard working and competitively great and plays to its potential (all terms that are tough for you, I know) like that 2006 team. Just do that and Coach will call you successful your fans will adore you and winning will take care of itself (ohh, Ben, why did you give up on that formula!).

The second reason to show that video is because it is one of the most memorable moments in a college basketball program that virtually defines college basketball legacy. And I guaran-damn-tee you that at that time in 2006, more than 30% of the U.C.L.A. student body knew who Ben Howland was. And in 2006 that more than 30% of the student body was bought in and ready to support your athletic department for life. Tell your boss, Dan. Sports matter. A lot.

But look where U.C.L.A. Basketball is now. Sub .500. Left out from even the consolation to the consolation to post season play. Irrelevant. Oh, and essentially unknown to all but 30% of the current students. Those fans from 2006? They aren't coming to Pauley now. They aren't donating the way they used to or the way they would like to. But they are supporting flying banners and mobile billboards. And that's because you have let the basketball program and to a greater extent the athletic department as a whole become irrelevant to them. Instead of it being a source of joy and pride and a bond within the current student body and across generations of Bruins, it is a source of frustration and division. Well, except for 70% of the students, and 100% of the Chancellors, where it is just a source of apathy.

We are killing off future generations of avid supporters and donors by depriving the current generation of students of what U.C.L.A. Basketball has traditionally been. Your decisions and delays in decisions may have ignited a dumpster fire, but they have extinguished the flame of faith. It's simple economics. The failure to invest now will reflect in the poverty of the program, both financially and emotionally, in the future.

Look at U.C.L.A. in 2006. Look at The Pavillion at Villanova last night (what I would give to let every Bruin experience that feeling just once).

Now look at Pauley this season. And last.

This is what our current leadership in Morgan and in Pauley has wrought. That's your legacy, Dan. It is tragic, and it may take another decade or two to recover to previous levels, but we'll never get back these recent lost years.

By the way, Dan. It's Jay Wright. I'm not even a Villanova student, but I do know his name.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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