Why Isn't Sugar Sweet Anymore?
Once again, the UAA is struggling to sell it's allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets. According to the senior associate athletic director of communications, the Gators have sold just 6,500 tickets to the game in spite of being contracted to purchase a total of 17,500.
In 2009, the same problem occured as the Gators were unable to sell their allotment of tickets (finally selling 5,000 short of their 17,500 allotment) due in part to high expectations of a National Championship game appearance repeat due to the return of Brandon Spikes and Tim Tebow. The Gators, however, were upset by Alabama in the SEC Championship game and ended up playing in the Sugar Bowl against undefeated Cincinatti in what was Tebow's last game as a Gator.
With many already planning trips to Pasadena for the title game in 2009, the Sugar Bowl was a difficult pill to swallow (as spoiled as that may be). This time is very different though. This isn't the football team that won the 2008 National Championship and was pre-season ranked #1. This isn't the football team that had won 2 of the past 3 BCS Title games and lost their way into the Sugar Bowl.
This is the team that was ranked pre-season #23 and many called that overrated. This is the team that many wondered if they could go 8-4 facing the schedule they had drawn. This is the team that had struggled to an 8-5 record in 2010 and 7-6 in 2011. In spite of all of that, they fought hard to an 11-1 record. This is the team that fought to one win away from playing for it all. This is the team that played and beat four Top 12 rated teams in the current BCS polls. This is the team that beat the eventual Heisman Trophy winner at home. This is the #3 team in the country, and could very well be #2 at the end of the season.
To not be able to sell out their bowl game is asinine, especially in the Sugar Bowl of all places!
There was a time when the Gators dreamt of seeing their team play in the Sugar Bowl. The Gators hadn't been to the Sugar Bowl for 23 years and it had seemed like an eternity to it's fan base. Much like this year, the Gators had a second-year head coach and had only lost one game their entire season. The year was 1991 and that coach was Steve Spurrier. The Gators celebrated going to the Sugar Bowl by raining tiny packets of sugar down on Florida Field after beating Kentucky 35-26. The headline in the Gainesville Sun read "How Sweet It Is," and it was celebration time in Gainesville.
The funny thing is that the Gator fans in 1991 were complaining about who they were matched up against that year too (Notre Dame), a lot like fans have about Cincinatti and Louisville. They also were ranked #3 going into the game too.
The major difference between that Sugar Bowl and this one is that the fans were still excited at the chance to play is such a big bowl game in spite of the underdog opponent they had drawn. This group of Gator fans seems so spoiled by National Championships, it makes you wonder can they sell any bowl game out besides a BCS Championship game?
If this team going from the lowest of the lows to the highest bowl you can play in without being in the National Title game isn't enticing, what is?