Sunday Morning Quarterback: The UCLA Bruins Are Back!
UCLA is playing well and the Athletic Department is doing things to enhance the game experience.
Last night, the UCLA Bruins played a fantastic game and came away with a well-earned victory over LSU. After the game, I wrote about the big win.
So, this morning, I want to write about what it was like inside the Rose Bowl yesterday. I’ve long joked that UCLA fans invented social distancing. Well, if that’s the case, then last night’s game proved that the pandemic is over. I’m not talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m talking about the phenomenon which caused Bruin fans stay away from the Rose Bowl.
Last night’s attendance was 68,123. To be sure, there were a lot of LSU fans there, and Bruin fans welcomed them with open arms. Pre-game estimates had LSU bringing 20,000 fans with them. But it doesn’t change the fact that there were many more Bruin fans as there should have been.
The fans who did show up got to see a heck of a show. Certainly, the results of the game had a lot to do with that, but I’m not talking about just the game.
UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond and the Athletic Department staff managed to make the most of the opportunity to showcase how much fun a UCLA football game could be.
A few of the things that were done included giving every UCLA student who wanted one a free ticket to the game as well as allotting a block of free tickets for local high school students. It was a smart long-term strategy.
Get the kids to the game early and let them experience how much fun a UCLA home game can be. Students that have a great experience today become the season ticket holders of tomorrow.
For too long, the UCLA Athletic Department had treated the student experience as something of an aside to the season ticket holders and big money donors. Last night’s game proved that those days are over.
But it wasn’t just those free tickets, and the higher attendance that came with it, that made last night’s game fun.
UCLA actually found a way to make a night game more fun. At several points after sundown, the stadium lights went down and quickly came back up indicating that the shutdown was done on purpose. Nothing exemplified this better than the Fourth Quarter Pump-up where the stadium lights were randomly turning off and on to go along with the music.
Meanwhile, fans, who were clearly enjoying the light show, broke out their cell phones and turned on their phone flashlights like we were at a rock concert. If you haven’t seen it, you may be able to find video of it on social media.
But, here is one fan’s reaction:
I completely agree with Joseph Schirmer.
This wouldn’t have been possible until recently. It seemed pretty obvious that the Rose Bowl upgraded the stadium lights to LEDs and that made it possible because it used to be that if a block of stadium lights went out, it would take a very long time for the lights to come back up.
For a final touch, Athletic Director Martin Jarmond played cheerleader addressing the crowd from right in front of The Den and encouraging everyone to stand up and be loud. Try for just a moment to imagine Dan Guerrero to play that kind of role. We all know that that never would have happened, yet it showed an appreciation for having fans back in the Rose Bowl.
Last month, Major League Baseball celebrated the movie Field of Dreams by playing a game in an Iowa cornfield. Of course, the memorable line from that film is “If you build it, they will come.”
Well, last night, Jarmond and his team built it. Now, it just remains to be seen if they will come for the rest of the season. If the team keeps playing like they are and home night games are as fun as last night, I suspect they will.