It's because Gainesville is a small metro area. Hard to drive in for a weeknight game.
Places like Raleigh-Durham, Lexington, and Knoxville have an easier time filling an arena on a weeknight.
I spent the better part of 35 years driving round trip from either Jacksonville or Tampa for gator basketball games.
Granted, I am a diehard gator basketball fan but if the product is good enough, people will drive to games during the week.
The problem is the administration’s approach to basketball.
While Billy was taking the program to places we never dreamed, he expressed concern for the poor arena we played in versus the teams he was competing with every day. This was one of many challenges but one with a potential solution.
Foley agreed that this was a definite need that was justified by the program’s success so he proceeded to take 3-4 years to plan and try to fund a renovation that was already overdue (Gee, sounds kinda like the football facility) and eventually Billy became convinced that it wasn’t going to happen so he took off.
After his departure Foley did two things:
1. He continued moving forward with a $66 million renovation that now seemed unnecessary.
2. He confirmed that UF is NOT a basketball school by pursuing training wheels coaches for a top 10-15 program.
The renovations included a purge of all of the longtime season ticket holders, like yours truly, in favor of the Johnny Come Lately’ big money boosters wanting to get into a sport they ignored for 40 years.
Now it’s very difficult to find any resemblance to the program we had less than a decade ago.
- The big money boys rarely show up half the time.
- The students are incentivized to attend the games and do so with no real enthusiasm.
- In an attempt to minimize the morgue-like atmosphere they moved the TV camera to show the students but they aren’t really engaged.
- The renovation also killed the entire’House of Horrors’ atmosphere by moving the seat’s away from the court nearly 10 feet.
The end result is that the program that Greg Sankey used as the template to convince others to invest in basketball (like TAMU, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee) is now a bottom feeder and all the laggards have blown past us.
Sankey is basking in the success of 8 of 14 schools in the tournament.
Do you think he ever thought that the SEC would become the top basketball conference?
Do you think he ever thought that the 8 schools wouldn’t include UF?
When I became a season ticket holder in 1981 I never dreamed that UF would become a top basketball program.
When I was watching the great teams of 06 and 07 I never dreamed that the program would deteriorate into a mediocre program again.