I read a report a few weeks ago that attendance at UCLA football games is becoming problematic. According to Yahoo! Sports, UCLA gave away tickets to the UCLA home game against Oklahoma earlier this year and the recipients of the free tickets chose to do something other than go to the game. Every season ticket holder was given 4 free tickets to the game; a total of 75,000 tickets were issued; the announced attendance was 52,578; looking at photos of the stadium, some of those 52,578 folks must have worn a Klingon Cloak of Invisibility to the stadium.
It seems that waning attendance at UCLA home games is not isolated to this one instance – a game where it certainly appeared as if UCLA was overmatched and was likely to be on the short end of a blowout score. I think there are several reasons behind these attendance woes:
- UCLA football has not been highly relevant for a while. Since 1986, UCLA has been to the Rose Bowl twice. Its last 5 bowl appearances have been to marginally relevant contests in the Cactus Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Sun Bowl and Holiday Bowl.
- UCLA football has never enjoyed the stature of UCLA basketball. UCLA football was routinely considered “the other college team” in LA after USC.
- UCLA plays its home football games in the Rose Bowl which is in Pasadena about 30 miles from the UCLA campus. In LA traffic, those 30 miles or so are not ones that are normally traversed at typical highway speeds.
If any of the Athletic Department mavens have not yet figured this out, their football games offer two very unattractive aspects to potential attendees:
- The team loses as often as it wins – and when the opponent is a top-shelf team the expectation is to see your home team take a drubbing.
- It is inconvenient at best – and more like a pain in the ass – to get to and from the venue where the game will take place.
Switching gears… The XFL is going to hold its draft next week over a two-day period. Not surprisingly, the XFL Draft will not resemble any other draft in any other professional league in the US. At the end of the process, each team will have 71 players on its roster; I don’t know if teams can sign free agents since my understanding is that all player contracts are with the league and not with the individual teams. I’ll leave that item as a TBD question…
The draft will consist of 6 Rounds. Here is how it will go:
- Round 1: Before any team takes any player from the draft pool, the league will assign 1 QB to each of the 8 teams. That is all I know about this round; I don’t know who will make the assignments or what criteria will be in play as the assignments are made. I have no idea if the teams can trade the player assigned to them during or after the draft. All I know is that at the end of Round 1, every team will have 1 QB on its roster whether it wanted that QB or not.
- Round 2: Using a snake draft, each of the eight teams will draft 10 players who are designated as “Skill Position Players”. These will include QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs. [Aside: A snake draft is often the model used to draft players in a fantasy league.] It is not clear how the order of selection for Round 2 will be determined.
- Round 3: Using a snake draft again – but with a different order for the teams – each of the 8 teams will select 10 players designated as “Offensive Linemen”.
- Round 4: Using a snake draft again – and with het another order of the teams – each of the 8 teams will select 10 players designated as “Defensive Lineman” or “Linebacker”.
- Round 5: Using a snake draft again – with yet another ordering of the teams – each of the 8 teams will select 10 players designated as “Defensive Backs”.
- Round 6: Using a snake draft yet again, each of the 8 teams will select 30 players from the draft pool that is left after Rounds 1 through 5.
Clearly, Round 6 is where teams will find their punter, kicker and probably their long-snapper. Round 4 – the one where teams pick defensive linemen and linebackers – seems the most difficult one to me. Each team will need 7 starters in those positions and 4 backups at the very least. Taking only 10 players in this round, tells me that teams will need to be most efficient and judicious in their selections.
The XFL Draft will not be televised and given the timing restrictions it would not make for interesting television. After the announcement of the assigned QBs in Round 1, the draft will proceed through Rounds 2, 3 and 4 on the first day with each team having 90 seconds to make their selection. Even if Mel Kiper, Jr. were available to make comments on the picks here, it would be useless since it takes Mel Kiper, Jr. at least 60 seconds to tell you if it’s raining outside.
Eight XFL teams will have rosters of 71 players by the end of next week. I am trying to guess how many of the 568 names I will recognize once it is finished. My guess is 150 players or a little more than 25% of the league.
Finally, let me close today with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Coffee: A laxative that you can buy in the same places that sell croissants.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………