USU's troubles: When you win games, people come
By Steve Haynie
December 15, 2006 | What were you doing on the evening
of Oct. 7? If you were driving the streets of Logan
after dusk, you were probably all alone.
That night there was a strange phenomenon that occurred
at Romney Stadium. While many students and alumni sat
and watched the game unfold, they also witnessed numerous
fans filling the stadium late in the fourth quarter.
It was quite a sight to see people show up for a homecoming
game over two hours late! So what happened to make so
many people put in an appearance at that game? It's
simple. When you win games, people come.
Those who were present witnessed one of the most exciting
football games in Utah State history. A true freshman,
and first time starter, Riley
Nelson led the Aggies to an unforgettable victory.
Driving down the field with under a minute left in the
game, Nelson completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior
wide receiver Kevin Robinson.
"I have never been to a Utah State football game so
thrilling!" said Bryson O'Neil, a senior in marketing
at Utah State University.
Romney Stadium has a capacity of 25,513. In 1997,
their last non-losing season, the Aggies achieved a
6-6 record. That year the crowd averaged 18,613. In
2001, Utah State had a 4-7 record, with an average attendance
of 21,784. Yet, in 2005, with an almost equaled performance
of 3-8, Utah State football only had an average turnout
of 10,896. So why are the numbers so different? Why
did they have more than 10,000 people per game in 2001
than in 2005?
In 2001, Utah State played four teams which ended
the season with more than 10 wins. They also had two
players (Chris Cooley and Kevin Curtis) who were NFL
bound, and they played No. 4, Oregon, at home. All of
these things were part of a grand combination that sold
The men's basketball games at Utah State has increased
from 6,756 attendees per game in 1997, to 8,222 per
game in 2005. Therefore, the basketball team had nearly
a 25 percent increase in the same span of time that
the football team had approximately a 50 percent decrease.
This was the same school, with the same students, which
filled the basketball arena to 80 percent of its total
capacity of 10,270, but, pathetically under-filling
the Romney Stadium (which is under renovation) to only
42.7 percent of capacity.
If you watch college football, you know that it would
be easy to be a Florida or Notre Dame fan, not because
you like their mascot, but because year after year they
win games. A winning team is a popular team; and a popular
team will always sell tickets.
Utah State has been down on their luck during this
past decade. Since 1997, the school has gone 30-71,
with 17 of those wins being between 1999 and 2002. They
recently have changed coaches, and they even changed
conferences, with the hope of engaging in a winning
season. Since joining that WAC, and under the direction
of the new head coach Brent Guy, the Aggies have only
produced a 4-19 record over the last two years. On ESPN's
list of the 10 worst teams in college football for
2006, Utah State comes in a sad seventh.
Although Utah State has gone through a decline over
the last few years, it wasn't always that way. Utah
State was the Big West conference champion in 1993 and
1997. In 1993 they beat Ball State in the Las Vegas
Bowl. Right now, if Utah State had a winning season,
they would not be able to go to a bowl game. The NCAA
has a requirement that a school participating in a bowl
game must have an average attendance of 25,000, or 70
percent of the stadium capacity. Utah State would not
Utah only has three major college football programs;
Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and Utah
State University. With Utah State being one of the "big
three" as they call it in Utah, it would seem possible
for them to be able to recruit some of the top high
school athletes from within the state.
Last year, Utah State had 25 high school students
that signed to play on scholarship. Out of the 25 that
signed, only three were from Utah, two of which were
from Logan. So why are they not more focused on instate
recruiting? Some believe that if there were more instate
recruiting there would be a better following at home
This last year Utah State initiated a student based
program to try and help the already struggling football
attendance. The HURD is a club for students that gives
them the opportunities to be more involved. "Utah State
Athletics have a lot to change," said Steve Edwards
from the USU Athletic Department. Even with the changes
that have been made, the attendance is still on a downward
Just like every spring brings a new beginning, there
is a feeling of change on the campus of Utah State University.
More students, faculty, and locals are getting involved
and trying to help people get excited to get out and
support the local University football program. Time
will tell if the Aggies can get back on track to having
successful football seasons, and therefore selling tickets.