During the three years Mark Dantonio has been the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, he has refrained from begging fans to attend the Bearcats' games.
His philosophy has always been that when UC begins to win consistently, the fans will show up.
But as Friday night's Big East opener against Pittsburgh approaches, Dantonio has changed his approach. Now he's openly asking for fans to show their support for his program.
"I've never said you've got to come to this game and support the Bearcats," Dantonio said Tuesday. "But I'm asking for this one. I think that should be noted.
"We try to do our work the right way, but we need the support. We need to get the students who are in the area out here to get it going. We need to make this a great atmosphere."
Last week, the Bearcats attracted only 18,792 fans to Nippert Stadium for their 31-0 season-opening victory over Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky. But with Pitt, a name program in town for the second version of the River City Rivalry, Dantonio and his players are hoping for a much larger turnout.
For that to happen, the Bearcats will have to overcome two obstacles: The game is on ESPN2 and Friday is high school football night, traditionally a huge draw in Cincinnati every weekend.
No one knows that better than senior tight end Brent Celek, who played high school football at La Salle and whose brother, Garrett, plays for the Lancers this season. Garrett has committed to play at UC next year.
But Celek says his parents have elected to attend the UC game instead of La Salle's game at Xenia.
"I like the idea of calling people out and having them come down to a game," Celek said. "I know it's a Friday night football thing here in Cincinnati for high schools, but there's some people who are going to sit on their couch at home and watch it on TV when they could come down here and watch it."
Dantonio said he looks around town and sees so many people wearing UC regalia that he knows there's a built-in base of support for his program.
In the past, most of that support has been directed toward the basketball program. Dantonio would like the football team to share some of it.
"I think our players deserve a great atmosphere out there," he said. "I know it's high school football night, but I believe there's a UC faction in this city that sits back and wants to watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio. I think they should come on down."
The Bearcats have won four of their last six games at home and are facing a Pitt team that was 0-5 on the road last season.
"We've talked the whole offseason about how we're going to defend our turf," said quarterback Dustin Grutza. "We really want fans to come out. If we win this game, it can really set the tone and show people that we can play and hopefully we can get more fans in the stands."