According to a recent study from Ticket City, Texas Longhorns fans are the eighth most engaged fan base in college football. The study took data on how many fans travel to see road games, how much they pay for tickets to those games, and how often they take to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to voice their opinions on their beloved program.
Texas earned a score of 82.11 according to the algorithm with the top program, the Michigan Wolverines, earning a score of 100. Despite what the study says I can’t help but disagree on the nature of Longhorns fans. As a UT grad and massive Texas football fan it hurts to say this, but overall Longhorn fans are lazy.
Look no further than the ‘Horns stadium, Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium, for proof. On many game days the stands look nearly barren right up until kickoff and sometimes don’t fill out until well into the first quarter, if at all. Fans also leave early in droves when one team, be it Texas or their opponent, gets more than a two possession lead. Be it a group of students chanting, “Let’s go to the bars”, or alums looking to beat traffic the stands empty prior to the post-game playing of the Eyes of Texas on most occasions.
Numbers aren’t the only issue though. The passion of those who show up is the biggest problem. Last season then Longhorns’ safety Kenny Vaccaro said he preferred to play on the road because DKR was never loud enough, and he is absolutely right. DKR is a quiet stadium despite boasting the highest capacity of any university in the state at 100,119. To give credit where credit is due, Longhorn nation did rise to Vaccaro’s challenge on Oct. 6 2012 when Texas hosted the West Virginia Mountaineers. It was the largest crowd in UT history with 101,851 in the stands and as an attendee I can say that it was a rowdy night in DKR. Fans were deafening and you could tell that it made an impact on both teams.
Then WVU quarterback Geno Smith had trouble communicating with his offense and the Texas D was feeding off of the energy of the crowd. It was beautiful. Longhorn fans finally came out and showed how much of a home field advantage DKR is capable of providing by living up to the motto blasted on shirts all over the Austin campus: “Come Early, Be Loud, Stay Late, Wear Orange”. One game isn’t enough though. Texas lost that game to WVU in a 48-45 shootout, and the fans went back to being lazy and skipping games.
I went to every Texas home game in 2012, and none disappointed me as much as the Thanksgiving Day game against the TCU Horned Frogs. Texas was trying to replace their longtime rival, the Texas A&M Aggies, and carry on the tradition of having a game on turkey day. UT had the Hex Rally during which a curse is put on the other team as they would always do for A&M. They wheeled out a t-shirt campaign that claimed, “New opponent, same Hex”, but we life-long fans knew it was a crock and game day proved us right.
DKR was a ghost town. The stands in the south endzone that normally seat the band and students were vacant save the band. The entire stadium had massive gaps in the crowd. It was a sad display of the lack of passion that Texas fans have for their program and it isn’t surprising that Texas lost that day.
Some schools, like those listed in Ticket City’s study, support their football programs with obsession. I envy those schools. I am and will always be proud to be a Longhorn and I’ll always support the football team like a man possessed no matter what their record is or what the scoreboard says. Sadly, I feel like I’m one of the few Texas fans with that mindset.
If Texas is going to get back to winning 10+ games and competing for conference and national titles on a yearly basis they need the fans to show up like they did for that WVU game every single game. Don’t be that “fan” that waits until they are racking up wins to show up late in the season, then puts away their burnt orange seconds after a loss. Be a fan. For the love of God…come early, be loud, stay late, and wear orange.