A common retort when Jim Sterk made the decision to fire Barry Odom was that as a school, Missouri could do better. The ceiling had been met, and they needed someone who could take Missouri back to the heights of when Gary Pinkel was coaching, or even higher. More was expected, and I get that.
Fans had made their voices heard, and Sterk pulled the trigger and fired Odom.
As the coaching search began, there were a lot of names thrown out. Names like Blake Anderson, Jeff Monken, or even Jay Norvell. The reaction from Missouri fans was swift and harsh. Those names were not good enough. I disagreed with that take, but I understood wanting to make a splash hire.
The fans, again, had made their voices heard. Jim Sterk dug a little bit deeper into his bag, and recommended Eli Drinkwitz to the board of curators.
The fans not only have a voice, but it is listened to by decision makers in the athletic department.
That brings me to this tweet:
"It needs to be 70k there. Regardless whether you're excited about what were doing, we owe it to this state...Nothing's going to get somebody to want to flip from another school more than our fan base...If we do that, then in-state recruiting is like shooting fish in a barrel."— Matt Rocchio (@Rocc590) June 16, 2021
Coach Eli Drinkwitz knows what the value of a filled stadium is.
Coach knows that getting fans in the stadium is one of the most important things he can do to sustain his hot streak of in-state recruiting. It’s so much easier to sell recruits on a stadium that will be packed to the brim with screaming Tigers fans. It can be a good pitch that he can use, or one that will absolutely be used against him. For a while though, it’s been a negative for the coaching staff to recruit around.
Missouri Football, since they entered the SEC in 2012, has hovered near the bottom of the conference when it comes to attendance. They’ve ranked outside the top 45 in the FBS in attendance for the past five seasons. Even when tickets are being scanned, people aren’t staying long. The athletic department has taken steps to lower prices, and the capacity was even reduced when the south end-zone project was completed, but there hasn’t been any real improvement in the first season of that reduced capacity that occurred in 2019.
The bottom line is really simple.
Mizzou fans have had no issue using the influence they hold over the athletic department, and they actually hold more influence than some would like to admit. Now is the time though, to come and support the program and do their part to elevate it. It can’t be a one way street.
If you expect your team to compete for championships, your coaches, administration and fans have to meet certain expectations. The great schools do it. The schools that Missouri fans aspire to be like have fanbases that show up rain or shine. It can’t just be a commitment when things are going good, either. It has to be a steadfast approach if you want to build something sustainable.
To the credit of Missouri fans though, they have stepped up when it comes to buying tickets. There is great fan support for this program for the first time in what feels like a long time. Fans across social media have even gone as far as to celebrate their season ticket renewals, and are encouraging others to buy in as well. That’s a really great thing and should be encouraged.
It just has to translate to actual attendance to receive all of the benefits that comes from a purchased ticket.
Follow me on Twitter @iAirDry!