Dear Jeff Long,
I’ll try to keep this short, because I know you have a lot of work to do in finding the next head coach for Kansas football.
During the press conference on Sunday evening, you said:
Fans need to come back and support the program.
You also said:
It begins with the fans. They need to invest on the front end.
Come on, Jeff. (Can I call you Jeff?) You know that’s not how this works, right? This sounds like something the previous administration would (and did) say.
To be fair, you did send this tweet a few hours after the presser:
It is reasonable for some to interpret my comments at today’s press conference as “calling our fans out” that was NOT my intent. I was urging fans to turnout for the final home game to support our seniors & underclassmen. There is no question fans make a difference to the players— Jeff Long (@jefflongKU) November 5, 2018
Kudos for that clarification, but surely you know that fan support doesn’t come first. You, er, the athletic department, has to invest in the fans first, especially at this point. I know you’ve only been on the job for a couple of months, so consider what the fans have been through.
Kansas is 18-87 on the football field since 2011. They’ve lost nearly five times the number of games they’ve won. That includes a 6-79 mark in Big 12 games, which is obviously an even worse winning percentage.
We’ve seen multiple losses to FCS teams. Multiple losses to MAC schools. An 0-12 season. 65-19. 49-0. 66-7. And those are just the home games! Kansas hasn’t won a road conference game since 2008. And who can forget the running clock at TCU last year?
No. You don’t dump on the fans or beg them to come out. Build it, and they will come. Put a winning product on the field, and they will come.
You want to break the cycle? You want KU fans to show out for the Texas game? Give away free tickets, no strings attached. Let anyone who shows up to the stadium in. Make it up to season ticket holders with a credit on next year’s tickets. Issue refunds to single game purchasers. You’re a smart guy, you can make this work. (Besides, you’re likely to make some of that back in concessions and apparel sales anyway.)
Your predecessor already allowed this game to be moved from Saturday to Black Friday, and a morning kickoff, no less. The biggest shopping day of the year, turkey hangovers, and etc. Most students won’t even be on campus. If you’re going to ask fans to give up family time, holiday time, shopping time, or any other time, you can’t expect them to give up their money, too - not with what they’ve gone through for the past 10 years.
Do SOMETHING, Jeff. Invest in the fans. Don’t beg them to come, give them a reason to come.
They’re out there, all you have to do is go and get them.