Should non-sellout concern the Gator Nation?
In a rather stunning development, Florida's season-opening 41-3 defeat of Florida Atlantic was the first non-sellout at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since October 1989.
The Gators had played in front of a full home crowd for 137 consecutive games, a streak that spanned the coaching tenures of Steve Spurrier, Ron Zook, and Urban Meyer.
Conventional wisdom would be that if the University of Florida managed to fill the bleachers for every game of the dismal Zook Era, then the debut of new head coach Will Muschamp would be enough to put butts in the seats.
Apparently, that's not the case and there could be several reasons for that.
One that's obvious is that the fans are growing tired of standing in the heat and watching the Gators pulverize a grossly inferior opponent.
To be completely honest, I overpaid for my ticket, which was the sole motivating factor for me to stay past halftime.
Whenever a new season kicks off, fans are football-starved, but why stand and sweat for a bag of popcorn like Florida-FAU when you could be sitting at home in the air conditioning, enjoying a juicy steak like LSU-Oregon.
Games against mediocre opponents in "the Swamp" have been selling out for years, but maybe the fans finally reached their breaking point.
With all of the success enjoyed by Spurrier and Meyer, forgive these fans for being football snobs.
Another factor to consider in the failure to sell out the game was just how deflating the 2010 campaign was on the fan base.
The offense was pathetic, the defense was streaky, and the coaches were stubborn.
And to top it all off, Meyer quit his job for the second time in a year.
The only silver lining was the departure of offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, but even that could not undo the turmoil that had transpired.
Some fans may have not been ready to return yet due to all of the uncertainty, which brings me to my next possibility.
Muschamp kept the offseason affairs of his team very private, only giving the public sneak peaks of the Gators.
I'm not saying that that directly led to fewer ticket purchases, but it may have dampened anticipation, especially when much-needed fresh news aren't available to drown out the old, depressing news (i.e. 2010).
To put it simply, it's much easier to get excited about a follow-up to The Dark Knight than a sequel to Green Lantern.
And finally, the increase in price for student tickets may have taken a toll on the attendance.
It's a pretty risky move to raise prices in a down economy and when UF decided to increase unclaimed tickets from 10 dollars to 15 dollars, some people may have lost interest.
Five bucks may not seem like a lot, but if you're paying for things like tuition, rent, books, food, and beer, that extra cash tacked onto the tickets adds up, especially if attending multiple games.
If a cash-strapped college kid (of age) has a choice between beer and watching Florida obliterate a cupcake, he/she will likely pick the former.
Now, will empty seats becomed a trend at Florida Field? Of course not.
This weekend's opponent, UAB, will have a much stronger pulse than FAU and in the following weeks, the Gators will be taking on foes such as Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida State at home.
By all means, you can call the non-sellout an anomaly, but do not call it an accident--there's a reason those tickets were not sold.
Mike Bianchi wrote a story similar and far superior to this rendition. Click here to read it.
Photo by Doug Benc, Getty Images