YEAR IN REVIEW #9: Football attendance third worst at Kelly/Shorts

Few CMU football fans remain late in the third quarter during CMU's game against Ohio on Thursday night at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Mike Mulholland/Staff Photographer

NCAA guidelines require Division I football average attendance to be at 15,000 at least once every two years — the Central Michigan University football team was dangerously close to being under this year.

CMU finished just barely over the threshold last year during a second-straight disappointing 3-9 season. It was the third worst attendance mark Kelly/Shorts Stadium has ever seen with an average of 15,291 fans at the five home games.

The final home game against Toledo brought in 12,741 fans. The game against Ohio the week before had even less people there. The student section and stadium appeared empty for numerous mid-week games this season.

The three mid-week home games and having another losing season contributed to football's poor attendance. By the time the Chippewas played their second home game and first Saturday game they were already 1-3 and had lost to rival Western Michigan, making Mid-American Conference title hopes grim one game into conference play.

Dan Enos' second season as head coach ended much like his first with a 3-9 record.

“We fell short of our goals and that’s going to hurt for a while,” said quarterback Ryan Radcliff.

Athletic Director Dave Heeke announced he has no plans on removing Enos of his duties after two tough seasons.

“I just fully support Dan and his vision for the program," he said. "We’re in a process. You just can’t look at it as these mini slices in time. We’re in a process of trying to build a program. It will be easier to get people at games with Michigan State University, Navy and Western Michigan University coming to Mount Pleasant next season."

He said he has no worries of making attendance next year. He anticipates a few games with huge attendances with a big schedule.

“I have every expectation that we’ll make that,” Heeke said. “I have no doubt we meet 15,000 next year.”

Heeke went on to say he expects four games next year to be near or at full capacity; the three games listed above as well as the Homecoming matchup.

Enos is expecting a better product on the field too.

“I really like the junior class and I think it’s a solid class of leaders and good players,” he said. “When you inject these young guys and bring in another recruiting class, I really like our football team.”