Three weeks to the start of the season and only about 15,000 tickets have been sold for Temple's home football opener against Villanova in a stadium that seats 70,000.
Time to panic, right?
Relax, Temple will get its target number of about 37,000 fans. It says so right here.
I'm a firm believer in the Tom Sawyer school of marketing. You know, it was Sawyer, through the talented pen of Mark Twain, who made an otherwise dreadful chore, painting a fence, look like it was the thing to do.
Not like going to the Temple vs. Villanova football game is a dreadful chore.
I've been looking forward to it for 330-plus days.
So has the Temple football hardcore fan base which, if you go by the EagleBank Bowl and the Kent State game to close out the season last year, is now 20,000 (Temple traveled 20K fans to D.C. for the bowl game and drew 21K at home for Kent State in the final regular-season game).
We'll get the hardcore 20,000, whether the game is played at 5 p.m. on Friday or midnight on Friday (it's 5 p.m.).
That said, the "chore" right now is to get to my magical figure of 37K (Al Golden wants 45K and that's fine, too) by adding both the hardcore and soft core Villanova fan base and our own soft core fan base.
Evidence points to the "hardcore" Villanova fan base as being around only 5,000. You need only look at the last three playoff games in Radnor for those figures. Add in a couple of more thousand "softcore" Villanova fans just on the novelty of winning the national championship alone and we're right where we were last year.
The challenge comes in getting the "softcore" Temple fans to postpone by only a few hours a trip to the shore on the last weekend of the summer.
Chore yes, impossible no.
Need an idea?
Look no further than Tom Sawyer for one. Make the thing so appealing that it's a "can't-miss" deal.
Say this is fun (it is), this is what everyone is going to do, that all the students are coming (15K did last year, fudge the figure upward and say 20K are expected this year) for the free food and drink and camaraderie (many are) and this is a happening like no other sports event in this town for years. Students are going to be saying, "Geez, 20,000 of my fellow students are coming, I don't want to be one of the few kids left out. Get me my ticket now." It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Mix in the primer of Bernard Pierce's Hunt for Heisman campaign and, vuala, you have a walk-up crowd of people asking for an opportunity to pain this fence.
Just like Tom's friend, Ben, did in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer.