There's no question how important a large, strong and active student section is to the experience of college football. They bring an energy and excitement to the stadium that cannot be duplicated by other groups. They set the tone for the rest of the stadium.
I don't know how many U of M students read this blog. Based on comments I would guess our community skews more toward 30 & 40-somethings. But game day experience tends to be a hot topic of discussion around here, regardless of the age of those commenting.
Walking up the stairs off of the concourse and up to Section 214 just before kickoff, Jeffrick and I immediately commented on the number of bodies in the student section. Sitting where we do, we have a bird's eye view of the student section and they were a lot of fun to keep an eye on during timeouts last night.
I get it, it was a night game, school isn't in session yet, the students were given free tickets and they were almost exclusively freshman and transfer students.
But the key to what happened last night is that the students showed up, they were clearly having fun, they were engaged in what was happening on the field and they absolutely set the pace for the stadium. The other key here is that they saw a fun game with some exciting plays and they got a glimpse into how much fun a true college football atmosphere can be.
If there are students who read this blog, a message for you...
COME BACK! You need to understand that college football is about you. Those are your classmates on the field. Those are your school colors that they are wearing, and I can tell you that the memories that you make tailgating and cheering at Gopher football games will last you a long time.
It's important for you to know that EVERYONE wants you at the games. Every single person who is involved with this football team; players, coaches, administrators, fans, season ticket holders, suite dwellers, media members, boosters, parents, sponsors; we all know that college football is better when YOU show up. The game is more enjoyable for everyone I just listed when the student section is strong and vibrant and involved in the game.
You really showed us something last night. Freshmen and transfers, you truly made the atmosphere at The Bank last night an exciting one. You did a great job!
But I'm sure Coach Kill would tell you that there's a lot of football season left. There are a lot more games we need you to show up for. There are a lot more games that we need you in your seats at kickoff and there are a lot more games where we're going to need your cheering, your enthusiasm, your swag, your dancing and most of all your continued "WHO HATES IOWA's!?!?!?!"
You've got a week of rest coming up, but in two weeks you've got your first 11am kickoff. These aren't easy... for anybody. But it's part of college football, and this is where we need you more than ever.
We can't wait to watch you continue to rise to the occasion!