I'm sticking to my theory on why UTEP's football attendance is down. And it's not the record because 4-4 is respectable; and it's not unpopular tail-gate rules enforced by the university.
The team isn't averaging even 30,000 a home game when, in previous years, a team as good as this would be drawing 45,000.
It's because UTEP has lost a generation of fans due to not having its road games televised - on a regular basis , and on a channel most households can receive.
Note: This Saturday's 1:30 p.m. game is listed to be shown on Fox Sports Southwest, which IS available on the basic Time Warner package (Ch. 27). This is great, but rare these days.
Personal experience: As a young boy my dad took me to a Braves game, my first major-league game. To this day it's my biggest sports thrill. I'd followed the Braves on TV, and listened on the radio. Hank Aaron was my favorite player, and I liked Eddie Mathews, Spahn ...
The TV whet my appetite forbig-league baseball. Then, when I first walked through the little tunnel from the concession area to the outside ... and down on the field were the REAL in-person Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews ... LIVE, IN PERSON. Heaven.
I sure wanted to go to more games. And my Dad took me a couple of times each season (200 mile-mile round trip).
I'm betting it's the same with the Miners. Your kids first need to see the Miners on TV.Being kids, they'll choose favorite players. Then when they see a real, live college football game, with the players out there IN PERSON, they become fans for life.
But if the Miners aren't on TV? Then they're not first on a young boy's list of things to do in person. Much of sports is having favorite players, then going to see them in person.
It's NOT national TV, as UTEP claims, when your game is on some off-shoot of some big network's off-shoot. Example, Conference USA has a new TV deal with Fox Sports. Great. But the UTEP-at-Tulane game was shown on Fox Sports Central. We get Fox Sports Southwest on our basic cable. Why could it not have been shown here, too?
And CBS College Sports? What's that? You need a dish or a special package.
A UTEP game was on ESPN 3. That's not household. You've got to have a fancy TV package.
You can watch games on your laptop. What the? How many people sit around watching a laptop game over somebody else's shoulder?
Real national TV is one of the four networks, ESPN, ESPN 2 and Fox. The World Series was on Fox, not Fox Sports Southwest or Fox Sports Central (or Fox western-southeastern.)
The good days were when our local CBS, NBC and ABC stations could go out and sell ads for a game, and put them on household TV for El Pasoans on a Saturday. Kids saw the Miners, and got interested. That went away when networks started to invoke heavier (financial) penalties on local stations for breaking into national programming.
Only the big conferences get regular national network coverage, as has always been the case. Lately ESPN has signed contracts with not only the big conferences, but the smaller conferences, but the smalls often have to play on days other than Saturdays. That's not too bad.
But where Is UTEP on TV?
I understand some, or most, of you posters are adults who earn a living and can afford watching at a sports bar (which has all the TV packages), or you have enough in your home package to get the Miners when they're on some exotic channel.
UTEP still has about 25,000 loyal fans. But when loyalists get too old to go to games? As we're seeing now, there isn't the next generation to take their place.
UTEP's present conference (C-USA) isn't going to get the Miners on easy-to-see TV. UTEP must work in town, obviously with Time Warner Cable, to sell a package featuring it's road football and basketball games.
TV does not hurt attendance. TV creates the fan base that grows attendance.