Sunday, March 02, 2014

College Football Minute (ok went long, “minutes”)

A: I read a fascinating article on EPSN about college football that I regurgitate here for your edification.

The University of Arizona had only 52% of their student season ticket holders show up on average last year. It was so bad Zona had to resort to handing out cash prizes at the end of games to keep some butts in the seats (20 students won $500 a pop over two games – or would have if three of them hadn’t, yes, left early). They also came up with a “Zona Zoo” concept, handing out shirts saying fans stay the whole game and had a “Zona Zoo Crew” to entertain people.
Now admitted the Wildcats are a perennial disappointment but NCAA wide attendance has been declining since 2008 (which by the way is only 46,000 a game: for every Florida there is a Central Michigan). Heck Oklahoma – mighty Oklahoma – only had 72% attendance from students on average.

That number actually isn’t that bad. Michigan, which always draws the most fans (it helps to have a “Big House” – they haven’t had a crowd under 100k since NINETEEN SEVENTY-FIVE) had just 74% average showups from their students, a drop from the previous two years despite decreasing the number of student tickets available by 10%.

Iowa averaged 70% of student season ticket holders actually come, but only sold about 75% of their season tickets and eventually converted two student sections to general admission. Over Thanksgiving break only half of student tickets were used when the Wolverines came to town.

Ironically Penn State is the Big Ten’s success story with 82% average attendance after selling 1,000 more student season tickets this year (for an impressive 21,000 seats). But that contrasts against 10% total drop in attendance over the last half decade.

Flipping over to the SEC – which has dominated attendance for years (75,500+ average this season) Georgia was the smartest of all. The Bulldogs cut its student section down to 16,000 (from 18,000), but then sold 17,000 season tickets to their kids. Only 71% of which were used. The student newspaper called their own games stale – saying the cheers were geared to the gray-haired big money alumni – compared to Clemson, Auburn, and Vanderbilt (Vandy!?). But while that was funny I have to say I don’t support this argument it is a football game, I doubt what comes out over the loudspeakers is going to dramatically change attendance (this is also why the Cowboy cheerleaders and their insipid reality show need to get over themselves).

Bama had 95% attendance, but then Saban still bitched about students leaving early (after a 52-0 blowout). The school actually did then suspend a bunch of block seating groups.

Schools are really starting to mind data and the answers are a little surprising. Tennessee’s best attended game (93%) was against Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks (yep, had to look that up) are I-AA; although given the Vols’ teams lately that might have been because it was the only type of game fans knew they would be in. What was the best predictor? Kickoff time: night games were the best attended.

All of this was frustrating to read given the amount of time I had to scheme to get extra tickets for the Swamp and help friends out. The only time I noticed empty stands was when we played Div. II creampuffs. But perhaps that was because at Florida the games were the place to be for students fan or not. I distinctly remember one time a girl (not noticeably intoxicated) turning around and yelling to everyone a question about who there for the game and who for the social event – before of course declaring she was there the for social event. No, range did not take over. But I did dislike her immensely.

B: Youngstown State University recently lost their president and there is a movement afoot to hire Jim Tressel as a replacement. Yes, THAT Jim Tressel – this is a sports blog. Sure he’s never taught, doesn’t have a PhD and was forced out of Ohio State in a scandal - but he won a national title for the Buckeyes (and four lesser known I-AA titles for Youngstown State prior)!! And two be fair the “scandal” that cost him in Columbus was not reporting players for swapping gear for tattoos – which given that players don’t get paid isn’t much of one. And he has been working as a recruiting VP at the University of Akron so he has one year of relevant job experience. It won’t happen, but I laughed when I heard and so I posted it. The best part is a US CONGRESSMAN is pushing it. This guys loves Captain Sweatervest (or at least thinks voters do), before the job came open he was pushing Tressel for the Cleveland Browns’ head spot. Tim Ryan is his name if you live in the area and need to know who to vote against.

C: I saw a great poll on ESPN asking if fans would want a rule change (slow down offenses) if was clear it would help player’s health. 51% percent said no. FIFTY-ONE percent would rather let these guys wreck themselves.

D: Fast Fact of the Day: The team Tressel gloriously beat (in a classic game of announcers sticking to their pregame storyline of Miami being a superfast team even as OSU went toe to toe with them right in front of their eyes - that was the fastest two yard run ever!) for his ring in Columbus – Thug U. – has their football stadium TWENTY MILES from campus. Clever planning gents.


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