UCLA gave away tickets to Oklahoma game, but fans still didn't show up

Eric He
Yahoo Sports Contributor

If you dropped someone who knew nothing about college football into the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, they probably would have guessed that it was an Oklahoma home game.

Sooners fans turned the Rose Bowl into a sea of red and then watched their team rout UCLA 48-14.

UCLA announced an “attendance” of 52,578, although it seems like many of the 75,000 people who were “issued” tickets decided to stay home.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. In an effort to try to fill the Rose Bowl for a key matchup against the No. 5 team in the country, UCLA gave away four extra tickets to season ticket holders.

Apparently, it’s going to take more than that to entice fans to watch a program that has started the season 0-3 and is coming off a 3-9 campaign.

This comes on the heels of just 36,951 showing up to watch UCLA lose to San Diego State last week. That was the program’s worst home attendance figure in 25 years.

Yahoo Sports confirmed earlier in the week that the free tickets given away on Saturday were valued at $280, but as kickoff neared, prime seats at the 50-yard line could be bought for $25 on the secondary market.

Who’s to blame for UCLA’s poor attendance?

The Rose Bowl is a beautiful stadium with a gorgeous view over Pasadena, but it doesn’t seem like fans are interested in sightseeing.

The Bruins have no one to blame for poor attendance but themselves, although underperforming in a sports market as large as Los Angeles certainly does not help. USC, a program going through its own struggles, still outdraws its crosstown rivals. The NFL has further diluted the local football market with the Rams and Chargers moving into the city.

UCLA has finished under .500 the last three seasons, and it will take a miracle to snap that streak this year. Chip Kelly has done little to live up to his five-year, $20 million contract as head coach. The program has to essentially beg fans to show up to arguably the biggest home game on its schedule — and look at what happened.

It seems like a fun time to be a Bruins fan.

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