The goal of this Florida season was laid out in Tim Tebow's "Promise" a year ago: "We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done before." But now, with that dream dashed again, Florida fans aren't exactly treating the Sugar Bowl as a sweet substitute: The school still has a ton of tickets to sell.
â‡¥"We have about 5,000 to go (to sell out)," said Mark Gajda, UF's assistant athletic director of ticket operations.â‡¥
â‡¥Gajda said he thinks ticket sales have been slow for two reasons: the Gators' disappointing loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and the sagging economy.â‡¥
Blaming the economy is a nice way of trying to downplay the fact that Florida fans, specifically, simply are not traveling for this game this year. After all, in this economy, TCU and Boise State have both accepted more than the required allotment of Fiesta Bowl tickets, and their tickets go for $140, which is more than the $125 Florida fans must cough up for Sugar Bowl tickets. Oh, and Cincinnati, the school that is further from New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl matchup? Their allotment has been sold out for a few days.
So call this what it is: A crestfallen fan base turning its attention elsewhere for bowl season because of unmet expectations. (I count myself among the fans who might have tried to conjure up something to see a national championship game, but has no interest in traveling to New Orleans for this game, so I'm part of the problem here, but it's not students who make up the majority of bowl game ticket sales.) It's not like Florida fans didn't travel to support this team this year: LSU set an attendance record with the Gators in town, and they helped Mississippi State draw a "record crowd" in Starkville.
But that team had a chance to be historically great and run off an unprecedented unblemished season. This post-Crimson Tide washout edition is treading ground that has been covered more than once. Give Florida fans -- the same ones who sing "In all kinds of weather, we'll all stick together, for F-l-o-r-i-d-a" before every fourth quarter in the Swamp -- a storm cloud and a chance to react like fairweather fans do, and they will.â†µ
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