Couple thousand student season tickets remain unsold
Attendance at sporting events is a growing problem across the nation, and the Florida Gators have been attempting to do whatever they can to try and address the issue in order to reach full capacity at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium each week.
Florida has wired the stadium to drastically improve cellular phone reception (though high-speed wireless internet, at a cost of about $3 million, has not yet been implemented throughout the stadium), begun offering more affordable tickets to recent graduates, opened spring and fall practices to all comers and even formed a council of boosters and students to ensure the program is doing everything it can to get its tickets sold.
UF also worked with the Southeastern Conference and its television partners to ensure that its early-season games were played in the late afternoon or evening, rather than the grueling early-afternoon heat.
Unfortunately for the Gators, the problem has only continued to grow. What was once limited to declining season ticket sales from boosters, those unwilling to spend thousands of dollars to get a couple of seats in The Swamp on Sunday, has now jumped across the field to the student section.
A Florida spokesman told OnlyGators.com last week that the school had “a couple thousand” student season tickets unsold with just two weeks to go before the start of the season. Pressed for a more specific number with 10 days left, the spokesman divulged this week that there are approximately 2,000 student season tickets available (as of press time) with that number shrinking minimally each day.
The Gators would not be concerned if there were a couple hundred student season tickets looking to be snatched up, but the fact that there are still thousands available is exactly why the University Athletic Association has gone into full-court press to desperately try and sell out its student season ticket allotment.
Richard Johnson, a student at Florida and online editor for The Independent Florida Alligator, tweeted a picture of a letter that arrived in his inbox on Aug. 8 from athletic director Jeremy Foley. In it, Foley explains that student season tickets are available “on a first come, first serve basis.” This, after the Gators held a lottery to determine which students would initially be allotted tickets ahead of the 2014 campaign.
That was followed up by a second message on Aug. 19, which alerted Johnson and his fellow students that “student season tickets are still available at a first come, first sold basis,” noting “there are a limited number available.”
Though students actually attending games by stepping foot inside The Swamp has been an issue in recent years, having those tickets purchased has not been a problem.
In a story posted on Feb. 24 by The Gainesville Sun, executive associate athletic director Mike Hill claimed the Gators sold out their 21,500 student tickets “every season for the 21 years he’s been at Florida.”
That much is certainly true in 2013 as the school confirmed to OnlyGators.com that the allotment was indeed sold out last season.
Six months ago, Hill expressed no concerns that the student tickets would sell out once again. He was so confident that The Sun concluded its story with the assumption that “there is little or no doubt that the students will purchase the 21,500 allotted to them like they do every season” with the only question posed as whether or not those students will attend.
Well, students that were not attending are now not buying, despite the fact that their season tickets are just $105 for seven games ($15 per contest).
There are plenty of theories as to why student attendance had been down – most note unquantified demographic and psychographic changes to the student population over the years – but the fact remains that students (like boosters and fans) will pay and get off their couches to see a quality product.
No matter how much time Florida spends researching the newest innovations from professional franchises, remodeling concourses and wiring the stadium, the Gators know that winning will put more butts in the seats than anything else. If UF was defending a national title or fielding one capable of reaching that pinnacle of success, the stadium would be filled each week, regardless of start time or opponent.
Florida denied an interview request for Hill or another representative to speak about ticket sales.
Eli Carter’s future still foggy
A transfer from Rutgers who became eligible to play immediately for Florida in 2013-14 after the NCAA waived the necessity to sit out a year due to coaching issues at his old school, guard Eli Carter ended up needing a year off anyway as he had not completely recovered from a severe broken leg he suffered at the end of his sophomore campaign.
Carter played 53 minutes over seven games before being sidelined. He hopes to earn a medical redshirt to retain two full years of eligibility but has not been granted that yet as of press time.
Nevertheless, the Gators have been holding out hope that he can return to form and contribute in a major way in 2014-15. To this point, it is not looking good.
A source close to the program has told OnlyGators.com throughout the summer that Carter is still slowly recovering from his injury and will be severely limited “when and if he does actually play” this season. He has not healed nearly as quick as expected and there is some sentiment that the surgery was not performed as expertly as one would hope.
An avid OnlyGators.com reader alerted us Tuesday evening that head coach Billy Donovan discussed Carter’s progress during a Gator Gathering with the Atlanta Gator Club. Though we were originally going to post his synopsis of Donovan’s comments, the school decided to post select quotes from the appearance on GatorZone.com Thursday morning.
“He’s much, much better than he was a year ago, but he’s not the same player that he was at Rutgers. He’s going to have to play his way back. Right now, we’re trying to get his leg stronger. It was a really difficult injury. It’s fully healed, but there is some dysfunction there. We’re hoping we can get that back. We don’t know right now whether he can be an everyday guy at practice. That’s the biggest question mark. He’s doing really, really well. But can he practice and play every single day on a regular basis? That’s what we have to see. And we’re probably not going to find that out until October.”
Whether Carter receives his medical redshirt or not, this season could wind up being his last in a Florida uniform. Donovan would never pull a player’s scholarship or convince him to retire, but Carter may have to face his fate sooner than later if he is not able to practice let alone play legitimate minutes.
The Gators are currently recruiting for 2015-16 knowing that sophomore forward Chris Walker will not return and assuming that they will have an additional scholarship available. Whether that comes from Carter or another transfer remains to be seen, but Florida is planning accordingly.
Not Only Gators: The Emmys
For the last two film seasons, I have posted my personal picks (who should win) and predictions (who will win) for the Academy Awards on a personal website. And to be quite honest, I nailed most of the awards I covered. Therefore, with the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards set to air early next week, below are my picks and predictions for the most important awards that will be handed out on Monday.
Outstanding Comedy Series
Nominees: The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Modern Family, Orange Is the New Black, Silicon Valley, Veep
Prediction: Orange Is the New Black
Though a comedy at heart, Louie is not rip-roaringly funny. Besides, it is simply not meant to be that type of program as it is too deep and dark at times. Veep, which would be my runner-up, was hysterical this past season. Nevertheless, Orange Is the New Black wins because that’s how these things go for shows this hyped, even if it is rare for an hour-long to take home the trophy in this category. (How is Parks and Recreation not even nominated?)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Louis C.K. (Louie), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Ricky Gervais (Derek), Matt LeBlanc (Episodes), William H. Macy (Shameless), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Pick: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) / Louis C.K. (Louie)
Prediction: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Parsons is great, the show is No. 1 and this award will be No. 4 on his Emmy shelf (2010-11, 2013). Louis C.K. is equally deserving, and Macy is as well with Shameless switching categories from drama to comedy this year.
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black)
Pick: Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Ideally, Poehler would follow up her Golden Globe Award with an Emmy, which would make sense considering she is at the helm of one of the top two comedies on television, but Louis-Dreyfus deserves her praise and a fifth Emmy (third-straight). She has been nominated as a lead actress eight times in the last 10 years and has 18 total Emmy nominations to her credit (four more than Lucille Ball). In fact, she is the only woman in the history of the awards to win Emmys for three different comedies. (By the way, is everyone else sick of Falco yet, or is it just me?)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominees: Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Adam Driver (Girls), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Tony Hale (Veep)
Pick: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Prediction: Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Do you watch this show? No? It’s funnier than you think, and Braugher is a big reason why as he plays the straight-laced captain to Andy Samberg’s goofball detective. This is actually a relatively weak category considering Modern Family has fallen off a cliff as of late, though Hale does a fantastic job playing opposite Louis-Dreyfus in Veep and is defending his title in this category.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominees Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Anna Chlumsky (Veep), Allison Janney (Mom), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black)
Pick: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Prediction: Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black)
Speaking of taking a nosedive, Saturday Night Live has struggled to put together a solid cast for years, but McKinnon is such a vastly talented comedienne that she fills in a lot of holes and makes the show much funnier than it otherwise would be. She’s definitely a darkhorse candidate, though, and very unlikely to win. Alas, Orange Is the New Black is a juggernaut and Mulgrew will get the win out of another weak grouping.
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Nominees: Episodes, Glee, Louie, Modern Family, Orange Is the New Black, Silicon Valley
Prediction: Orange Is the New Black
See “Outstanding Comedy Series.”
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Nominees: Episodes, Louie, Orange Is the New Black, Silicon Valley, Veep
Louis C.K. creates and molds his show from top-to-bottom, and if he’s not going to win a series, acting or directing award, the least voters can do is recognize how well-written his series was this season.
Outstanding Drama Series
Nominees: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, True Detective
Pick: True Detective
Prediction: Breaking Bad
The fact of the matter is that True Detective would be the hands-down winner in this category most years, but it’s simply not going to beat a show hailed by many as among the best in television history.
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Matthew McConaughey (True Detective), Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Pick: Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Prediction: Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Breaking Bad will pick up its fair share of awards on Monday, but Cranston is a three-time winner and McConaughey was in a league of his own this past season. His character, Rust Cohle, was motivated and intelligent yet twisted and disturbed, and McConaughey made him come to life by taking his silver-screen acting chops to the small screen. The concern here is split votes with Harrelson also in the same category but only a fool would not pick McConaughey in this race.
McConaughey is just the fifth person ever to earn lead actor Oscar and Emmy bids in the same season, joining Helen Mirren, Helen Hunt, Jeff Bridges and Forest Whitaker. As it turns out, each is also his first-ever nomination, period. Should McConaughey capture the honor on Monday, he would become just the second actor ever to win both lead actor awards in the same season (Helen Hunt).
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Robin Wright (House of Cards)
Pick: Robin Wright (House of Cards)
Prediction: Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
House of Cards faces stiff competition in the drama categories, but Wright should edge the field here for her brilliant work. Momentum seems to be swinging towards Margulies, however.
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nominees: Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Jon Voight (Ray Donovan)
Pick: Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Prediction: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Another loaded category – drama is exceedingly tough to pick this year – comes down to a pair of finalists with equal claim for the award. Paul is one of five actors to win this particular award more than once (2010, 2012), while Dinklage is hoping to become the sixth after picking up his first in 2011. My vote goes to Dinklage for his outstanding work in his most demanding scenes to date, but it will likely be Paul who takes it home.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominees: Christine Baranski (The Good Wife), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
Pick: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Prediction: Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
I would be lying to you if I told you I have seen a single episode of The Good Wife or Downton Abbey. Headey and Hendricks do fine jobs in their roles, but Gunn is the clear winner here.
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, True Detective
Pick: True Detective
Prediction: True Detective
The episode of True Detective nominated in this category, “Who Goes There,” is the fourth in the series. It is, to my recollection, the best episode of television I have ever viewed and includes an absolutely mind-blowing scene, a six-minute sequence shot in a single take that concludes the episode. It was written expertly, acted beautifully and directed to perfection.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Nominees: Breaking Bad (two episodes), Game of Thrones, House of Cards, True Detective
Pick: True Detective
Prediction: Breaking Bad
The very next episode of True Detective, “The Secret Fate of All Life,” is the fifth in the series and a captivating one at that. For those that have seen the series – and if you have not, you have my permission to stop reading and watch the entire season immediately – this episode centers on the raid of Reggie Ledoux’s compound and the subsequent tale that main characters tell the police. Breaking Bad having two episodes in this category should help secure a win here for True Detective mastermind Nic Pizzolatto.
Outstanding Variety Series
Nominees: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Real Time with Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Pick: The Colbert Report
Prediction: The Colbert Report
If you have not figured it out yet, everyone loves Fallon and trips over themselves to fawn over him. He was a great choice for The Tonight Show – loads better than [name will not be written here] ever was in the gig – and brings a fresh take by carrying over some segments and concepts that made his Late Night show so popular. Nevertheless, it is way too early for Fallon to deserve this award, especially when there are brilliant programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on the air. Colbert gets the nod for me, which would be his second-straight victory,
but Fallon will win this thing and I’m going to go ahead and predict the win as well.
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
Nominees: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, Portlandia, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Pick: The Colbert Report
Prediction: The Colbert Report
Since 2001, there have only been two years in which either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report did not win this award: 2002 (Saturday Night Live) and 2007 (Late Night with Conan O’Brien). In other words, the collective writing staffs that make up these two programs have captured 11 of the last 13 awards with The Daily Show winning nine and The Colbert Report three. Since The Colbert Report debuted in 2005, The Daily Show is edging it 4-3 in the head-to-head battle. Let’s even this thing up.
This Week’s Movie Trailer
The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
Best television shows of 2013-14 (ranked):
1. True Detective
2. Breaking Bad
3. Game of Thrones
4. House of Cards
5. Parks and Recreation
Thanks for reading. Leave your comments below.