Coker Defends Orange Bowl Crowds

University of Miami head coach Larry Coker would like nothing more than to see a 'full' stadium every single time the Hurricanes play in their home confines of the Orange Bowl.

But Coker knows that could difficult in South Florida-thanks to rainy weather and a diverse events calender.

"There's no question I'd like to see a full stadium every Saturday, but weather and some other things have been a factor," said Coker.

"Living in Miami, you have a lot of different activities, so I think that has something to do with it as well."

Unless the schedule called for a home game against Florida State or Viginia Tech, the Hurricanes have been faced with playing in front of plenty empty seats in recent years. Although the amount of tickets sold is announced as the total attendance, crowds are routinely sparse in the OB.

Despite averaging 58, 430 fans per game last year, the Hurricanes ranked 26th out of 114 Division I schools. Miami averaged 39,263 during the 1999 campaign.

Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio State, Penn State and LSU, who all play their home games in larger stadiums, finished last year with the top home-crowd averages. West Virginia, the Hurricanes opponent this coming Thursday night, is sixth in the nation in home-crowd average per game.

"Even though we as a team have been down a little bit, the fans have continued to come out and show us support," said West Virginia first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

But Rodriguez acknowledged unlike in South Florida, events are hard to come by in Morgantown, West Virginia.

"Over here we're the big show in town. Miami has the Dolphins and a bunch of our teams to compete with," Rodriguez said.

UM fans (or any fans for that matter) have failed to show up this season. After two home dates-Troy State (36, 617) and Rutgers (39, 804)- the Hurricanes are averaging 38, 215. The UM-Rutgers game was delayed 46 minutes because of rain and lightning. The Hurricanes contest against Washington, originally scheduled for Sept. 15, was pushed until next month because of the terrorist acts of Sept. 11.

Following Thursday night's game in the OB against the Mountaineers, the Hurricanes will have three remaining home dates on their schedule (Temple, Nov. 3), Syracuse (Nov. 17) and Washington (Nov. 24).

BREAK IN ROUTINE

Coker said that he would prefer that the Hurricanes schedule consist of a game every Saturday at the same time. Although, he understands that because of television obligations that will never happen.

Miami, coming off a bye week, hasn't played since Oct. 13 when they defeated Florida State 49-27.

"It bothers me that we have to break routine a little bit, but we don't make the schedule" Coker said.

BCS CHATTER

After being told that the Hurricanes would be ranked fourth in the inaugural BCS rankings later tonight, Coker said it wouldn't make a difference if the Hurricanes don't win the rest of their games.

"It doesn't matter because to get were we want to go, we have to win every game," Coker said..

Coker also knows his players are clearly aware of the BCS rankings.

"You'd have to be totally brain dead not to notice it, but all we can continue to stress is the importance of the games ahead of us," Coker said.

"Sure, you'd rather be No. 1 or No. 2, but it's still there for the taking. All we have to do is our job and that is to win games. There is still a lot of tough football to be played in November and December," Coker said.

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