We came across something interesting in terms of popularity of football team license plates with the State in Tallahassee and the numbers may surprise you.
Thursday night a television news report and online story by WTSP-10 News (CBS) in Tampa revealed, predictably, the University of Florida is by far the most popular “vanity” license plate (over 97,000) in the state. And, while not all of those purchasing that tag are football fans doing so to root for Gators, a great many of them are.
You would think the second most prominent school in the state, FSU, would be second in line for the plates, and you’d be correct with over 73,000.
Those two numbers by the way, rank #1 and #3 of any of the 97 “vanity” plates the State of Florida allows for schools, teams, causes, etc.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. The most popular NFL plate, according to the story and state records? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers with just over 31,500 of them. The Bucs tag trails only the Miami Heat NBA franchise (just over 37,000) for tops among all professional teams in Florida.
The Dolphins have nearly 17,000 license plates, and the fact that it’s almost 20,000 behind the Heat, is fascinating. Then again, the Heat were at the height of popularity with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade leading them to back to back titles earlier this decade. Oh, and the Dolphins haven’t been to a Super Bowl in almost 35 years.
The Jaguars, who up until this year had six 10 loss seasons in a row, are the next most popular pro football team plate at just over 8,900 and also, fourth on the sports franchise list overall.
A side note, the immensely popular Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, which has the best record in the NHL this season, is right behind the Jaguars with almost 7,300 license plates. That’s easily more than the Rays, Marlins, Magic and Florida Panthers on the list.
Back to the school license plates.
The University of Miami has almost 26,000 plates and UCF over 18,000 and USF almost 15,000. Again, not all of them are football fans, but a large portion of those buying the school license plate likely are rooting for the team on Saturdays.
Also, Florida A&M has a strong showing of pride among the schools list with just over 16,000 of the specialized vanity license plates in use in the state.
As we mentioned earlier this week, UCF continues to push the “National Champions” narrative that we think is making them look sillier and sillier. And there are some lawmakers who are trying to get a “UCF 2017 Football National Champions” special tag approved.
That’s apparently, unlikely to happen, despite the fact it would boost some sales.
Sanity will hopefully prevail on that.
Meanwhile when you consider that the Gators have almost 40,000 more of tags as the Bucs, Dolphins and Jags combined, you see how strong their fan base truly is.
Now, can the team on the field get back to respectability and more popularity, too?
Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?
For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.
First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.
That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.
The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.
Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.
And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001. That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.
However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.
Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.
At least, that’s what we think.
Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener
Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.
Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.
The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.
However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.
Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.
Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.
Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.
The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.
Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.
The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.
The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.
However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.
And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.