LARAMIE -- "The student section sucks."

That's how I posed the question to Jeff Linder Monday, adding those are my words, not his.

I was prompted to say that because, for one, it's true. Secondly, Wyoming's fourth-year head basketball coach began his press conference urging fans to show up Wednesday night, despite the 8 p.m. tipoff and Valentine's Day holiday, with the front-running Utah State Aggies in town.

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I could tell this issue has been bugging Linder. He hasn't exactly hidden his feelings on attendance numbers inside the Arena-Auditorium, dating back to last fall.

He's not wrong, either.

While some are taking this as a personal attack and throwing out brilliant, never-heard-before ideas like "win more," my guess would be this is more of a plea to the university's athletic administration, marketers and other decision makers.

He's also sending a message to his own roster: I've got your back.

"It isn't good enough."

Those are Linder's words -- and mine.

Let me preface this by saying I don't have the answers. In fact, I've been asking myself for nearly 24 hours now how the atmosphere in the once rightfully nicknamed "Dome of Doom" can get back to its glory days.

Look at this video:

I've been blessed to witness a lot of games in person during my life. That includes trips to Michigan's Big House, Ohio State's Horse Shoe, Kyle Field in College Station, Lambeau Field and old Mile High Stadium, among many others.

That 2002 March afternoon in Laramie is in my Top 3.

Words truly don't do it justice. Many of you were there. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

That's why Linder says he came here in the first place. He remembers the Fennis Dembo days, too.

Some nights, it's hard to believe we're even sitting in the same building.

While it's as beautiful as ever esthetically, something is off. Way off. Where are the students? Where is the influx of fans from Cheyenne, Laramie and northern Colorado?  We all know it's those factions that need to create chaos when Mother Nature is very much doing the same on highways and interstates throughout the Cowboy State.

I've seen a number of ideas and thoughts scroll across my social media feed:

* Ticket prices are too high for a family.

* The in-house entertainment is anything but.

* High-dollar donors have taken over the lower bowl, and rarely show up.

* Students are busy -- on their phones.

* The student section is in a bad spot in the arena.

* The team isn't winning, especially against the top programs in the league.

Those issues are valid, in some cases, but how do you fix them is the question?

The program needs to make money and keep up with the other schools in the Mountain West. Not to mention securing home games in the non-conference slate is next to impossible these days. The Cowboys hosted just five of those this season. While the bright yellow empty seats are hard to stomach, someone paid for those.

Wyoming needs home games. It needs season-ticket holders. That pays the bills.

I'm not buying the argument that the seating area is keeping coed's from the arena.

Colorado State, Utah State and San Diego State, among others, plant their students behind the baskets. Sure looks like they're having fun, doesn't it? Those three teams are a combined 35-2 on their home floors.

Can you imagine that title-clinching win over Utah and sitting that close to Rick Majerus and the Utes' bench? 

While winning is the obvious answer here, that's easier said than done, especially in the Name, Imagine and Likeness era where money talks and players walk.

Linder said Monday, "If you want good players to stay here, and we're not going to give them a bunch of NIL money, we're not going to do anything on that front -- which is not happening -- then you know what, when they walk into that gym there better be people in there supporting them through thick and thin and not just when you're winning."

The football team isn't exactly being flooded by NIL dollars, either. So, why are those players staying put? Wyoming has one of, if not the best, gameday atmospheres in the Mountain West. The student section is rowdy, fun and boisterous.

That helps tremendously if you ask new head coach Jay Sawvel, who proudly boasted last week out of the 41 official recruiting visits, 32 of those prospects signed on the dotted line.

Why? A number of reasons, a main one being they witnessed you, at full throat, supporting your team.

Football is an event, as Linder puts it. Hoops, unfortunately, isn't.

How do you begin to change that?

I keep thinking about Steve McClain's teams of the early 2000's. Yes, banners were hung, nets were cut, but that roster was also full of characters. From local hero Marcus Bailey to the gentle giant Uche Nsonwu-Amadi to the thunderous dunks of Josh Davis, that lineup was littered with personality.

Who can forget McClain himself, launching his sport coat into the third row just minutes after tip, his cowlick swaying in rage?

Tell me guys like that didn't make that four-hour round trip from Douglas more palatable, no matter the conditions outside.

What got you in the car to make that drive?

For me, it was simple -- the Cowboys were my team.

It also helped growing up 45 miles over the hill. Hosting weekend meetings with old rivals BYU and Utah were also special, something that has been unfortunately lost to conference realignment. Those Big Monday tilts were memorable. More than 10,000 fans for a 10 p.m. tipoff, despite the game being on national television.

I always enjoyed the national reputation.

Wyoming fans were once upon a time referred to as "despicable." Maybe a tad misguided, but I took pride in that. It was a tradition born in the War Memorial Fieldhouse and carried over to the new barn.

Not anymore.

Gimmicks could possibly put a Band-Aid on the issues: $1 beer night, free t-shirt, make a bucket from center court for a prize. But that only goes so far. Linder said he is willing to do whatever it takes. OK, good. Gather up your players, head to every dorm, fraternity and sorority on campus and pitch these kids.

Show them you're human. Show them you care. Tell them what their presence means.

It could make all the difference.

(I would love to hear your ideas, especially if you are a student at UW. Feel free to sound off on our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook.)

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