“Aztecs want to hear from Fans”
San Diego State needs help, wants input, seeks advice.
Months after they completed a controversial season, marred by substandard play at quarterback, the loss of a top recruit at quarterback, a bad blowout loss, decreasing fan turnouts, and a sorry rape investigation on campus, SDSU wants to change the fans experience at the shiny new Snapdragon Stadium.
They have sent a questionnaire to football season ticket holders, asking for ideas of what the paying public would like to see heading to year two.
This after a really disappointing season, the loss of energy at home games, tons of empty seats for home games, after the opening day loss to Arizona.
And then SDSU decided after the fact, to cut ticket prices to lure new fans, any fans to the final group of games, that despite charging enormous prices to the fans, friends, alums who bought into the next experience last off season.
Hard to believe the disconnect in the new stadium after the electric launch in the home game against Arizona, played in torrid 110-degree heat.
Not hard to understand how they decided to chop ticket prices 50-to-70% and they should not be shocked how many angry fans felt when they found out guys sitting on the other side of the stadium were getting huge discount prices on tickets.
The common sentiment I got from Emails and friends, ‘I’m not coming back”
More than anything else, there should be a request for a change in prices for everything at that Stadium. Hot dogs, to parking, athletic products in the team store, to the donation demand for select seats. SDSU fans felt they were being gauged on everything.
It has been a tough 36-months for Aztecs football.
Rocky Long’s surprise defection to go back home to New Mexico, and his decision since then to take a job at Syracuse.
The arrival of Brady Hoke, who had a popular first run at SDSU and then decided to become a Michigan man, and then came back.
The horrors of the pandemic, with Covid testing non-stop, the nightly fear of an outbreak on the roster.
The decision to take the team on the road to play home games in Carson while the new stadium was built, sadly a decision in which decided not to follow the team away from home.
Credit given to AD-JD Wicker, whose steady hand guided SDSU thru the Covid crisis, and whose creative leadership helped work the school thru the complex package to get the stadium built on time and at cost, and opened.
It’s a crowning achievement on his resume, much like the entire academic success SDSU now enjoys across that campus with its athletes. All that coupled with the raging success of Brian Dutcher’s basketball program.
But there is work to be done.
There has not been a final report issued from the President’s office on the Title IX rape investigation involving Matt Araiza. That is not going away till there is a public reckoning.
Wicker cannot change the fact SDSU plays in a major market, in a second rate Mountain West Conference the population does not respect.
And there are limitations as to what he can do in the creation of an NIL account for his athletes, but it’s no different anywhere in else, in the Group of 5-world he has to live in.
After all his years in leadership at SDSU and at Georgia Tech, and his experience at his alma mater Mississippi State, one has to question who he has hired to work with him in the administration in marketing, sales, PR and operations.
The Chargers left in 2017. They did not hire any ex-Chargers employees, who could have, would have gladly brought season ticket lists and corporate advertising contacts with them if they had been hired at SDSU. The NFL community never was invited to embrace a really good college football program.
Are there any smart people over there who can explain why, in a county of probably 150,000-alums, there are so very few season ticket holders to fill a 35,000-shiny new stadium?
Is there an evaluation to be made about the Aztecs Sports Property office? Will the new Director of Athletic Development be able to bring new ideas, energy and creative juice into that building?
They upgraded a substandard radio broadcast by finally moving to a station with a signal, now they need to upgrade the quality of the broadcast..
The conference negotiated TV deal is still relegated to late night games on a station no one knows about via CBS Sports Network.
As for Brady Hoke, stung by criticism that 4-QBs transferred out of the program in just over two years, and that the community no longer likes an archaic run game complimented by great defense. The world throws the football in the college ranks, but SDSU operates as if it is Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler era. Great seasons, but no one seems excited any longer.
There is still a sting too about Wicker-Hoke walking out of a season opening press conference during the rape investigation. And the feeling on this street corner that Hoke’s bully-boy mentality is no longer tolerated by the media in this town and needs to be changed.
There has been an erosion of media support from key players in TV-Radio in the market and that is about relationships with key people SDSU seems to have little care about. Closing workouts to the media, limiting access, and lies to the media. How has that worked out for you?
They have a sizzling home schedule at Snapdragon this coming fall, including home games with hated rivals Fresno, Boise, Nevada coming into San Diego. Anybody but me excited about the games to come on the field?
How does SDSU solve all this?
If I were king, I would go hire former Chargers execs, bring them in on a consultant’s fee, and cut them loose to re-establish relationships that Dean Spanos screwed when he left here in the middle of the night.
Change the ticket prices. Consider some form of concerts around home games. Use the contacts with Jerry Jones-Legends group and JMI as to how to market this football property. Obviously use those people to schedule other events at that new stadium.
Change the scope of the offense to throw the ball, use the transfer portal to get the right quarterback. If Fresno, Nevada, San Jose can recruit QBs to get the ball downfield, then SDSU, in America’s Finest City, should be able to attract them too.
I had always hoped there would be an invitation to the Pac 10 or Pac 12. It might still happen, but I don’t want this program going in and hoping they can just compete with a bottom dweller like Washington State, not enough players, and surely not enough resources.
You sent me a questionnaire. I gave you some answers. From someone who likes the program, the kids and the coaches.
I will apologize in advance, under the Full disclosure rule. I like Aztecs football and root for them every game. This fall, I will be wearing Green and White when SDSU plays my Alma Mater-the Ohio Bobcats in the home opener. The rest of the time it’s the Red & Black.
But I will tell you this. I just don’t understand how they can sit in an Ivy Tower, in that Athletic Center, and think they haven’t screwed this up.
You asked. I have given you my ideas.