TU fans miss out on Hurricane win
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/04/12 at 2:59 AM
If you weren't at H.A. Chapman Stadium on Saturday, you missed out on something special.
The University of Tulsa's 33-27 overtime win over Central Florida in the 2012 Conference USA championship game had everything a sporting event can offer - except for a large crowd.
Only 17,635 attended the contest. That not only fell far short of TU's goal of selling out its 30,000-seat stadium, but also it didn't even match the 19,725 who witnessed the Golden Hurricane's 23-21 victory over the same Central Florida team two weeks before.
While the game was shown on ESPN2, those who watched at home missed out on a festive atmosphere in and around the stadium that has kept fans like Bob Chapman coming back for decades.
Chapman, 85, said he attended his first TU football game in 1940. He said he remembers that kids could get in the stadium for a dime back in the 1940s, an era that featured the Hurricane appearing in marquee postseason games like the Orange and Sugar bowls.
Chapman said that year after year "the best show in town is on 11th Street" on the days when the Golden Hurricane plays its home games.
Stephen Chapman, Bob Chapman's son, said of the attendance: "I wish it was better. It's a great football stadium."
He mentioned that Saturday's game, like all but one of TU's home games this season, was on live TV. Still, that factor doesn't keep people from packing the stands at the larger state schools.
Certainly the fact that the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University played games at 11 a.m. on Saturday didn't help TU's attendance. Mike Janes noted that the Golden Hurricane is the team that wears the city's full name on its helmets, not even abbreviating it to "TU."
"The logo says 'Tulsa,' " Janes said, "I wish more Tulsans would go to the home games."
TU student J. Christopher Proctor said he not only goes to all the TU home games but has even attended all the road games this season. That odyssey has taken him to Ames, Iowa; Birmingham, Ala.; Huntington, W.Va.; Fayetteville, Ark.; Dallas and Houston.
On Saturday morning before the game, Proctor and friends Tim Nissen, John Lepine and Katie McGouran ran through the fountain to the west of the stadium. Normally, that would have been a "polar bear" run on the first day of December, but not on this particular Dec. 1. The high temperature Saturday in Tulsa was 77 degrees, which tied a record for that date set in 1950.
John Moyer, who holds two degrees from TU, said it's important to remember that TU has the smallest enrollment of any school playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the highest classification of college football.
Dev McCabe, a TU alum, pointed out that, as a private school, TU has lots of out-of-state students who don't stay in Oklahoma after graduating.
McCabe also noted that, for all of its attendance challenges, TU still outdraws Conference USA rival Tulane, which is in New Orleans.
The defections of Tulane and East Carolina from Conference USA to the Big East were announced on Tuesday, the same day that the dome in the Blue Dome District was painted in TU's shade of royal blue in the effort to fill Chapman Stadium on Saturday.
Still, TU's true blue supporters were rewarded on Saturday as the Golden Hurricane won its first Conference USA football title since 2005.
Just like that year, the reward will be a trip to Memphis to play in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve.
Perhaps in 2013, area residents will make a resolution to go to more TU football games.
"It's just good, clean, family fun," said Golden Hurricane fan Brian Sipes.
Original Print Headline: Hometown champions
David Harper 918-581-8359
University of Tulsa fans celebrate the winning touchdown by Alex Singleton. BRETT ROJO / For the Tulsa World
TU students John Lepine (front), Tim Nissen and J. Christopher Proctor run through the fountain during festivities before the Conference USA championship football game Saturday at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World
Tulsa's Trey Watts charges up the field for a large gain against UCF. BRETT ROJO / For the Tulsa World