Review: Marshall Thundering Herd vs. FIU Panthers, 11/23/13, 6pm
Weather: 75 slightly damp, Price: $21 at the gate, Parking Free
“Come to Our Game, Please” by Tree
Getting to FIU and the stadium was fairly straightforward with the exception of the toll booth free exits off the Florida turnpike in Miami. Apparently, they read the license plates. I guess AVIS will have to track me down for the $1.25. We were coming from the FAU massacre of New Mexico State so we entered FIU in the dark. The lots were actually closed off when we arrived even though it was still not kickoff. A young student was kind enough to move a barrier and wave us through. We ended up parking right next to the stadium. If there was any tailgating going on, it was very quiet.
As was often the case with the small schools I have visited, the scalping was non-existent. I was forced to buy to tickets at the gate. Having just come from FAU where our ability to move around inside the stadium was very limited, I decided to spring for sidelines seats for $21 since my Dad was with me. I felt like a chump paying that much for what was likely to be a very bad game. We bought the best seats available which turned out to be on the Marshall side. I like to sit with the home team, but I figured there would not be many Marshall fans there.
FIU Stadium, aka The Cage, was built in 1995 but was renovated in 2007. It was a small stadium but it did have seat backs for all seats. The concessions were very standard and for the second time in one day, I found myself unable to get a souvenir cup. Why a program that appeared to be hurting for money would ignore this revenue stream was beyond me. My guess was that someone got burned in the past with a bunch cups that did not sell. Somewhere in the bowels of the FIU stadium there were probably boxes of 2011 “We’re ready to Roar” cups. I settled for a regular cup and bag of peanuts that tasted like they were sitting next to the above said 2011 cups.
We walked to our seats and discovered that there were far more Marshall fans in attendance than FIU fans. So, in effect, I was sitting with the home team after all. The published attendance for the game was over 15,000. I don’t think there was actually more than a 1,000 in the seats. Maybe everyone was at the concession stands looking for souvenir cups? I really did feel bad for the program. Very early in the game, the jumbotron showed a female student sitting alone in the stands reading a book! I knew it was a book because the video screen was the best thing about the game at FIU. It had remarkable resolution. To keep students in their seats for the whole game, they were having a raffle. I have seen this before but never to level that FIU was going. I think they had twenty something drawings for things like a ipads, flat screen TVs, meal plan money and even a grand off of tuition. It worked. The hundred or so students in the stands were hanging around. They were not making a lot of noise, but they were not leaving either. Yes sir, the Cage was certainly being rattled.
To be fair to the FIU players, they were certainly trying. They went out and converted a short drive for a field goal to take the initial lead. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand for Marshall. In fact, for most of the first half a combination of tough play by the FIU defense and a lot dropped balls by Marshall kept the Panthers in the game. It became obvious, though, that the FIU offense wasn’t going anywhere. Their QB spent most of the game running for his life. In the end, Marshall doubled the total yardage of FIU. The loss put FIU at 1 – 10 and they still had to face their cross-town rival, FAU. Perhaps the rivalry will pick the Panthers up. It sure won’t be their fan base.
We did manage to walk over and sit in the 50 yard line premium seats on the FIU side at halftime. It did make for a nice view but it couldn’t make the game any more enjoyable. FIU is a young program that did have bowl wins as recently as 2011 but it was a pretty ugly exhibition of football that we saw that night. The highlight of the evening was probably the slice of pizza we picked up at Rustic Pizza just outside of the university after the game. I would not be in a hurry to return to FIU stadium. Perhaps, they will rebound quickly but for now save your time and money for another venue.