Column - Can WVU get 30,000 people at spring game?
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 23:04
Second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen is attempting to change the culture of spring football at West Virginia.
You may have already heard about his new spring practice schedule, which has drawn rave reviews from players and coaches alike.
There’s also his affinity for optimizing the power of the Milan Puskar Stadium speakers as the team warms up before each practice.
One key goal Holgorsen has established is to eclipse 30,000 fans in attendance for next Saturday’s Gold-Blue game.
As of Monday, about 3,000 tickets had been sold – which leaves 27,000 left to be gobbled up before the April 21 scrimmage.
Can West Virginia do it? Will Holgorsen get his wish?
In a word, I say yes – but it’s going to be close.
Last year, West Virginia had an estimated 22,000 people in attendance – setting a new record for the perennial inter-squad scrimmage.
I have to admit, the game is kind of fun. There are a lot of cool pre-game festivities, usually including a concert and an Old-Timers’ Game.
It doesn’t matter how old he is, former West Virginia quarterback Major Harris still has quite an arm and some juice left in his shoes.
The best part about the game isn’t the 5:30 p.m. kick-off, $10 tickets or even watching the football team in action for the first time since its record setting 70-33 victory over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Instead, the best part is that the proceeds from ticket sales are donated to the West Virginia University Children’s Hospital. Since 1984, the Gold-Blue game has raised over $600,000 for this admirable cause. 30,000 may seem kind of like an easy target. After all, Milan Puskar Stadium holds nearly 65,000 fans. However, it is just a scrimmage and many of the people that travel several hours can’t justify going all that way for a spring football scrimmage.
And I don’t blame them.
Fans that are fortunate enough to attend a handful of games every year wouldn’t want to waste a potential game trip on the Gold-Blue game.
Then again, this is the first time West Virginia will take the field since that prolific January night.
Texas Tech was the first school in the Big 12 to hold its spring game; the matchup between the Red and Black squads drew an estimated crowd of 3,000.
Last season, both Texas and Oklahoma topped West Virginia’s attendance of 22,000 but neither hit the 30,000 threshold (Texas was about 500 fans short).
Theoretically, West Virginia could have the most fans in attendance at its spring game of any school in the Big 12.
Talk about making an impression.
Factoring in the move to the Big 12, the momentum from the Orange Bowl win and the hype that is surrounding the team this season, it’s reasonable to think 30,000 fans is at least possible.
In nine days, the Mountaineers will show fans how much they have been able to accomplish in the brief time between January and now. No doubt there will be some exciting plays that will keep fans talking until September.
While it still remains unclear whether or not Holgorsen will meet his lofty goal, it is safe to say this year’s spring game will have a
buzz unlike any in recent memory.
With nice weather, some good promoting the week of the game and a little luck, West Virginia could have the most impressive spring game of any team in the Big 12, or the Big East, for that matter.