Friday, Sept. 18, 2009 | 2 a.m.
UNLV Fan Photos
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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech break down UNLV's last-second 23-21 defeat at the hands of Oregon State, which was similar to several games the Rebels let slip from their grasp just a year ago. The guys look at what went wrong, and whether you can expect Mike Sanford's club to still have its edge next Saturday when Hawaii comes to town ... and beyond.
- Opponent: Hawaii
- Date: Sept. 19, 8 p.m.
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
- TV: The Mtn., Cox ch. 334
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
- Series of mistakes doom UNLV in 23-21 loss to Oregon State(9-13-2009)
- UNLV-OSU box score (9-13-2009)
- OSU quarterback stays calm, orchestrates winning drive (9-13-2009)
- James and Jacquizz Rodgers power Oregon State (9-13-2009)
- Instant analysis: Close game with Oregon State something to build on (9-12-2009)
During his remarks after UNLV’s 23-21 loss to Oregon State on Saturday, Rebels coach Mike Sanford talked about the great crowd that turned out for the game.
From Corvallis, maybe.
Not from Las Vegas.
The announced attendance was 25,967.
The announced attendance for the season opener against Division I-AA Sacramento State was 22,195.
So there were roughly 4,000 additional spectators on hand at Sam Boyd Stadium for one of the marquee games of the season.
But when you factor in that roughly 8,000 were wearing orange and black, and that almost nobody was wearing green and gold (Sac State’s colors) the week before, it means there were about 4,000 fewer locals cheering for the Rebels against a nationally ranked team from a real conference.
That is not a good crowd.
That is a disgrace, especially in a city of this size.
Upon further review, Sanford labeled the difficult process of building a strong local following “an ongoing thing.” Then he did a James Earl Jones impression.
“I think as we build it, they will come. As we win, they will come.”
Yeah, and Ray Liotta and pals are going to come walking out of a corn field at halftime.
Sanford has seen it happen before. Not Ray Liotta walking out of a corn field. Cities that are indifferent to their football teams eventually rallying around them.
“Honestly, I think that there’s a lot of cities (like this). San Diego was like this with the Chargers. We played Green Bay, and I’d say two-thirds of the stadium was wearing Green Bay stuff. I just think there’s towns that are like this, and they’re waiting for us to give them something to come out for, and I really believe they’ll come.”
I, on the other hand, believe there is a better chance of Archie “Moonlight” Graham lining up 7’s on one of our airport slot machines.
This town, with few exceptions, is an 800-pound gorilla (with a toothache) when it comes to live sports. People keep falling back on the same reasons why relatively few support UNLV football: There are too many other things to do in Las Vegas. The team stinks. The stadium (or at least its remote location) stinks. The parking situation stinks.
Yes, there are a lot of entertainment options in Las Vegas. But the team doesn’t stink anymore. It is getting better. The stadium location hasn’t changed (although it’s not as remote as it was 30 years ago) and yes, the parking does stink, especially getting out of the lots, most of which are dirt.
But there were a lot of entertainment options in Las Vegas in 1981. Frank Sinatra was still around. Yet the Rebels drew 25,605 against New Mexico, 24,560 against West Texas State, 25,080 against Long Beach State, 27,883 against Utah, 23,090 against San Diego State and 22,574 against Air Force.
That team finished 6-6. There were no luxury suites at Sam Boyd Stadium in those days. Russell Road wasn’t as wide, or as well paved, as it is now.
The population of Clark County in 1981 was 489,129. Today, it’s right around 2 million.
In other words, the county has quadrupled in population since 1981, yet attendance at UNLV football games is virtually the same, if not a little worse.
As Sanford says, it’s an ongoing thing.
Drawing a crowd for Saturday’s game against Hawaii won’t be an issue, because if you think Oregon State brought a bunch of people, just wait until the Hawaii fans arrive and begin to co-mingle with the transplanted ones already here.
The last time these teams played here, in 2007, the game attracted a sellout crowd of 38,125. Book ’em Dano! But don’t forget to sell ’em an end zone seat for the Colorado State and San Diego State games.
After this week the Rebels will have four home games remaining, with one against BYU. That also will be a sellout. Utah, another of the Mountain West’s marquee teams, should also help the Rebels put a few rear ends in the seats. The game against Colorado State on Nov. 7 and the finale against San Diego State on Nov. 28 will present challenges.
So at the end of the year, UNLV could have a nice round number on the bottom line of the attendance chart, and it will be more misleading than the Texas Leaguer that falls in for a double in the next day’s box score.
I honestly thought last week’s game against Oregon State would sell out, and it didn’t come close.
While the Rebels appear to be closer to turning the corner, interest among their fans still seems to be wandering around aimlessly down the block.
As Mike Sanford says, it’s an ongoing thing.