Patrick Reusse
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We can confirm that 709 days after the arrival of P.J Fleck in the Twin Cities that the amped-up Gophers football coach has gained a zealous following that does not appreciate belittlement of his quirks in either mainstream or social media.

More surprising, there still seems to be strong backing for men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino as he heads toward the meat of his sixth campaign in January with a 32-60 record in Big Ten regular seasons.

The men’s hockey followers received what they seemed to want this season, with the departure of Don Lucia and the hiring of Bob Motzko, the veteran coach who turned St. Cloud State into a potent program.

So, we’re optimistic about football (I’m hearing the Gophs won the Axe), and we still have faith in Pitino, and we have renewed hope with Motzko, and that begs the question:

Where is everybody?

Much focus has been put on former athletic director Norwood Teague’s accelerated “scholarship seating” fees for driving away longtime season-ticket holders.

Here’s what I didn’t get until some recent conversations at Williams Arena: Those fees also have had a harsh effect on impulse ticket buying because of wildly inflated single-game prices.

The athletic department doesn’t want a customer in the Barn with four season tickets paying an average of $70 because of fees to find out the person in the next seat got in for a reasonable single-game price of half that.

Meaning, the single-game tickets have been sent to the stratosphere by being prorated at a similar price to the fee-attached season tickets.

There are nine Big Ten men’s basketball home games left and five have prices between $55 to $90. The Wisconsin hockey series tickets are $50 to $70. The ticket prices were similarly outrageous for this fall’s Fleck-ball, even with tens of thousands of empty seats.

Deterrent A for Gophers ticket-buying is not competition in the sports market, too-busy lives or a negative perception of the programs. It’s the price for somebody to take his or her kid to one decent Big Ten game.

Question: Are you all nuts in the athletic administration thinking it’s a good idea to charge some of the highest single-game prices in the country?

PLUS THREE

Hoops three-ball:

• The fresh, post-Jimmy Butler look doesn’t change the reality that subpar teams can’t win on the road, and the Wolves were 2-11 on the road entering Saturday’s game in Phoenix.

• Butler was out of the Sixers lineup Friday and frustrated big man Joel Embiid scored 40. Have we seen this before?

• Daniel Otoru is finding his way as a 6-10 freshman for the Gophers. A year from now, he’s going to be a force to the degree that he’s a candidate for early entry to the NBA.