Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin criticizes lack of fan attendance
September 29, 2022
Ole Miss Rebels coach Lane Kiffin has shared his thoughts on the lack of fan attendance at the team’s home games this season, saying the atmosphere at the start of the games was like that of a high school game.
"When you come back out, run out of the tunnel and it looks like a high school game playing in a college stadium, you can't let that affect you," Kiffin said on Monday.
In the Rebels’ first three home games, the average attendance was reported to have been 59,849, although it was more of an overestimation considering the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium houses 64,038 seats. In the second halves of the games, the stadium reportedly was rarely half-full.
During their Saturday game, where they won against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, the student section was virtually empty after halftime. Other than the seats directly behind the home sideline, most of the seats were relatively empty. The announced attendance at that time was 60,641.
Kiffin said he had used social media to persuade the audience and especially their fans to come to the game. He eventually decided to use the low attendance as a “learning lesson” for the players.
"But I'm worried about what I can control," Kiffin said. 'I've tried social media in here for two years, so we'll worry about what we can control and that's getting our players ready to play."
Playing in absence of support
Despite the lack of support in the stadium, the Rebels were determined to play their best and have won all three of their home games. They are currently on a 12-game winning streak at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which is the longest streak college football has experienced since 1964.
"There's psychology to that obviously. There's home field advantage for a reason. When it goes the other way, you kind of have that feeling that, 'Man, are we still really playing in a game here?' The players have to fight that,” Kiffin said.
After completing the season opener against the Troy Trojans, Kiffin said jokingly that he wouldn’t want to stick around to see a team not score any points in the second half, although the Rebels won 28-10 against the Trojans. He went on to say a similar thing after the game against Tulsa.
"When you don't score in the second half of a game, you're not going to criticize the fans,” he said.
The Rebels are set to host the Kentucky Wildcats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Reports said that the tickets to the game have already been sold out.
Reaction to Kiffin’s criticism
Kiffin’s criticism regarding the Rebels fanbase for low attendance has drawn some comments from other fans. Some fans of the Tennessee Volunteers, in particular, appeared to enjoy Kiffin’s situation and went on to troll the Rebels’ coach on Twitter.
The Vols reportedly sold out 102,000 seats in their game against the Akron Zips at Neyland Stadium. Most of them stay until the end of the game.
“You're at Ole Miss because you went down a path that began by screwing over an historic blueblood that puts 102K in its stadium against Akron. I feel just awful for you,” a fan tweeted.
On the other hand, WHAS11 sports reporter Tyler Greever said on Twitter that fans shouldn’t be entirely to blame for the Rebels’ low audience attendance.
“It’s a problem in most places and the blame does not fall on the fans,” he tweeted. “It’s not affordable to go to most sporting events. Fans know how much cheaper and more convenient watching a game from home is, especially with pretty much every game being streamed or televised.”