1. PSU must be fraidy-scared of us.
More seriously, the issue with Lehigh scheduling FBS schools is competition for those games. There are not many FBS teams close by, and if PSU and Rutgers say no and Temple and Syracuse has said yes to other schools out to 2021, what are your realistic options? Army and Navy seem to have been great and very accommodating, but they’re only two schools. Go up to UConn, BC or UMass, and now you’re against historic rivals of theirs (Holy Cross, UNH and Maine, and Fordham/UConn is a thing, too). Go south, and now you’re up against half the CAA. You can probably get Western Michigan, Wyoming or Appalachian State if you’re willing to fly, but how bad do you want it? You’re not even breaking even on those games, and are you willing to fly out to Ypsilanti? My guess is not many people are willing to book that flight.
From Temple’s point of view, they have their pick of FCS schools to schedule – Nova, Delaware, Fordham, Towson… a giant list. It’s simple supply and demand: many options for them.
2. At some point I will do a blog posting on this, but the key difference today and in the “olden days” is the definition of participating in an “event”. In the past, paying to attend a game in Taylor, or Murray Goodman? That was what you needed to do to “participate” in the program. Now, though, you can participate by going to the game, heading to a tailgate… or sitting at home, listening to the game on the radio, watching the game on TV, or the Internet… or even just putting Twitter up on your phone. These were not all options available even 10 years ago – if you wanted to really “experience” Lehigh beating Richmond in the I-AA playoffs, you needed to either get your butt on a plane or bus to Richmond, or you listened to a grainy radio feed on Yahoo! (which is how I experienced that epic win).
Kids today are looking for an immersive experience if they go to a game. Buying a ticket isn’t enough – they want to go to a game to fully experience something they can’t at home. That means making all football games, not just ones involving Lafayette, into unique events that allow people to tweet about it and interact with it. Tailgates are good, but they’re just a start. Making the football games true interactive experiences, something that students can show their friends, tell them that they’re missing out – that’s what will bring up attendance.
This doesn’t only apply to students – it applies to local HS kids, people in the ABE community – everything. Make an immersive, interactive experience at games, one that they can tweet and “report” to their friends – that will boost attendance. I guarantee it.