By Dave Morrison
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen pulled no punches Tuesday at his weekly press conference when talking about the attendance of last Saturday’s 55-10 win over Bowling Green.
He went as far as to compare the small crowd — announced at 46,603 on a cold, rainy afternoon — to that of LSU’s game with Kentucky last week.
A majority of the the student seats were empty as well as other spots in the stadium and that concerned Holgorsen enough to ask for more support for the remainder of the season.
“Whatever our expectations are with our players as far as preparing every week and going to the game and playing our best, I highly encourage our students and our (fan) support to take the same approach,” Holgorsen said. “You only get seven opportunities a year. What’s so hard about it? Is it too cold? It wasn’t too cold for our players, it wasn’t too cold for our coaches, our managers and our trainers.”
Holgorsen said he couldn’t understand why the crowd at the LSU game two weeks ago (well over 62,000) didn’t come back for last week’s nonconference game with Bowling Green.
“So why did we have 20,000 less people out there for this one than that one?” Holgorsen asked. “The funny part of it was we all were talking about it two weeks ago how much difference the fans and the crowds are going to make to the LSU people.
“LSU played well in front of 62,000 of our people and then turned around and went home and played a 1-4 Kentucky team at noon and had 95,000 fans. You want talk about an elite program, that’s one. I don’t know about this place.”
Holgorsen said he went out and campaigned hard for the program over the summer and he felt the support from the fan base at that time.
“I found out how important our team is, how important our athletic department is, and our players and our coaches. I saw the level of support and how much we mean to the state of West Virginia.
“This is the NFL team here in town and hearing, ‘We’re going to be there to support you.’ Well, having 40,000 people at the game isn’t doing that.”
He is hoping it was an aberration and the fans will be back, with No. 16 WVU (4-1) set to host its first Big East opponent, Connecticut, Saturday at noon.
“We have a conference game this week at noon,” Holgorsen said. “I can give you some excuses. We’re playing a team that’s 2-3, but should be 5-0. We’re playing at noon. Who cares? Get up. The Mantrip’s at 9:45 a.m. Are we going to have a good crowd or are we going to have nobody there? Is the weather going to be 85 degrees and sunny, or will it be 25 degrees and snowy? It doesn’t matter, because coaches and players and trainers and everyone else will be there. That’s what our job is, so what’s the support people’s job?”
In the meantime, Holgorsen suggested it is up to the fans to fix the attendance issue, as he and his staff try to correct mistakes they see from week-to-week.
“Well, what’s everyone across the state of West Virginia, including the student body, doing to fix the fact that our players had to show up in the cold in front of 40,000 people?” Holgorsen asked.
— E-mail: demorrison@