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Category Archives: The New View | Mitch Vingle

WVU’s Wells sees what Brown can do for him

WVU’s Wells sees what Brown can do for him

For the last handful of years, WVU Senior Associate Athletic Director Matt Wells has been slugging it out with a national trend.

Overall, college football season ticket sales have been on the decline, with the exception of the Big Ten.

And that’s not all.

After last season, Wells found himself staring at another opponent: the scenario for the 2019 football season.

Gone is draw Will Grier. Gone is David Sills. And Gary Jennings. And David Long.

The cupboard, it seemed, was bare. Which, I’m sure, led to Dana Holgorsen’s decision to flee Morgantown.

But then along came Neal.

Wells has watched new head football coach Neal Brown hit town. He’s seen him land Oklahoma quarterback transfer Austin Kendall. He’s watched his commitment to in-state recruiting. Most importantly, he’s watched Brown run a reverse in regard to Holgorsen’s statewide public relations.

In sum, Brown actually seems to enjoy meeting people. Genuinely. And that gives Wells hope in regard to ticket sales.

“I think it’s going to help tremendously,” Wells said Monday morning. “I think there’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm around the program with the transition – and certainly with the tremendous job Coach has done with his initial time in Morgantown.”

Wells, in fact, seems confident.

“Whether it’s season tickets, whether it’s mini-packages or whether it’s single game sales, I foresee a lift,” said the associate AD. “There’s a lot of momentum. I think it will increase ticket sales and attendance.”

Brown’s way with fans and the media might just translate into support from Mountaineer Nation – whether those fans believe the team will fare well or not.

“It’s definitely given fans a new take on the program,” Wells said. “I think you’ll see that translate to additional sales. I’m not going to predict whether it will be in season-ticket sales, mini-package sales or single-game sales, but I do think people will be supporting at a higher level.”

Understand, again, this has been an ongoing fight for Wells. Consider that the final season ticket sales number for last season was 25,629, which was DOWN from the previous 26,542. That’s hard to comprehend considering WVU was picked to finish second to Oklahoma in the preseason Big 12 media poll. That’s hard to comprehend considering Grier was a Heisman Trophy contender. That’s hard to comprehend considering Grier, Sills, Jennings, Long, etc., were on board.

Yet Wells knew. He got it. This is what he said to me back on July 26 of last year:

“There are so many variables that go into the season ticket purchase process now. It’s not shocking our numbers aren’t up because the marketplace has changed so much — and not just at West Virginia University. This is something across the board: the options available to fans and how the games are consumed. It’s much like what you see in regard to television. Fans are being more selective with their money and looking for that a la carte option.

“Three games [packages] seem to be hitting the sweet spot better than the six-game packages in a lot of places. I don’t think what we’re experiencing is all that unique when you look at the trends, not only across college football and athletics, but all events, whether it’s major league baseball or the NBA. It’s a new world out there in terms of options for fans.”

Don’t misunderstand. WVU football is still very healthy. WVU’s athletic department is very healthy. The total football ticket revenue was $13.4 million last season, according to Wells. The department took in $34.3 million from the Big 12.

“That’s why I say, ‘Let’s look at this globally and not just focus on the season ticket sales,’” Wells said Monday. “Certainly, we hope for an increase there. But if we don’t have a significant increase there I don’t want people to think it’s a disappointment. You won’t know until we go through the entire process.”

A more upbeat football coach like Brown, meanwhile, doesn’t hurt.

“He’s been terrific,” Wells said. “Very impressive.”

Want sunshine? Check out WVU’s Manoah

Want sunshine? Check out WVU’s Manoah

It’s just a hunch, but I sense WVU sports fans could use a little sunshine. Maybe, just maybe, they can use a changeup from the Mountaineer men’s basketball season. And if you’re one of those fans, well, you’ve come to the right place. I have such a changeup. And he happens to throw a changeup.… Continue Reading

WVU’s Brown ‘more organized’

WVU’s Brown ‘more organized’

Yes, last week I unplugged. Sort of. Miss Joni and I escaped the cold for a week of R&R (how about THAT for timing?), but, of course, we kept up with the sports world. We took a taxi to watch the WVU men lose to Iowa State and watched the ticker in the airport for… Continue Reading

Finding a little treasure in a deep dive of WVU hoops

Finding a little treasure in a deep dive of WVU hoops

It was a day or two before last year’s July 4 holiday when I filed the WVU basketball preview to Athlon magazine. I’ve been the man behind those basketball and football outlooks for years. And as I studied the roster and considered its coach, Bob Huggins, there was optimism. The Mountaineers had made the NCAA… Continue Reading

WVU’s Brown now faces challenges

WVU’s Brown now faces challenges

The contrast was stark. Shortly after Neal Brown was named the new WVU football coach, he was captured on film thanking Troy fans at a basketball game. Dana Holgorsen, meanwhile, left Morgantown for Houston with nary a glance back. He tweeted out a picture of him in “H-Town” mugging with Andre Ware. See ya, he… Continue Reading

Detecting an uh-oh, troubles with WVU hoops

Detecting an uh-oh, troubles with WVU hoops

WVU basketball fans have to be yearning for ghosts of Christmases past. Recent past. Last year at this time, the Mountaineers were 9-1. (They finished 26-11.) In 2016 at this time, they were 9-1. (They finished 28-9.) In 2015, they were 9-1 and coming off an 86-68 victory over Marshall. (Remember those games? They finished… Continue Reading

Streamline player/bowl process

Streamline player/bowl process

If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, perhaps you can guess today’s hot topic. Over the weekend, it sparked comment after comment after comment. It sparked looooonnng comments. It sparked heated comments. I write, of course, of quarterback Will Grier’s decision to skip WVU’s upcoming Camping World Bowl against Syracuse. (Oddly,… Continue Reading

Alamo reps may have misread WVU fans

Alamo reps may have misread WVU fans

When the Alamo Bowl passed on WVU’s football team, I must admit I was surprised. Bowl president Derrick Fox and staff passing on passing? They passed on pitting Washington State and standout quarterback Gardner Minshew against West Virginia and stud QB Will Grier (if, that is, the latter indeed decides to participate)? They decided to… Continue Reading

Breaking down WVU’s regular season

Breaking down WVU’s regular season

Much is swirling around the WVU football program on this Monday. As expected, Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen’s name has been floated in regard to openings. Some have questioned whether Will Grier and others will participate in the upcoming bowl game. There is uncertainty over the bowl destination. (Does the College Football Playoff committee take Oklahoma… Continue Reading

Breaking down OU-WVU game; hoops

Breaking down OU-WVU game; hoops

Maybe it was a pipe dream. Yet WVU fans were hoping. Had their Mountaineers finished the regular season with one loss and a Big 12 championship in hand, perhaps upsets elsewhere would have slipped WVU into the College Football Playoff. It seemed the year for the possibility. Will Grier, David Sills, Gary Jennings, etc., lead… Continue Reading

Where does WVU’s Long stack up among school’s best ever?

Where does WVU’s Long stack up among school’s best ever?

It started as a simple tweet. While watching WVU dismantle TCU this past Saturday, I took to Twitter to proclaim that David Long is one of the Top 10 Mountaineer linebackers I’ve witnessed in 38 years. It sparked some fun discussion with, among others, John Antonik, the Director of Digital Media at WVU. Where exactly… Continue Reading

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