They’re just not that into you, Gators.

Adding insult to injury:

The Sugar Bowl’s announced crowd of 54,178 for Florida-Louisville was the game’s worst since 1939 and the smallest ever for a BCS bowl.

The Cap One outdrew the Sugar.  The New Orleans Bowl almost did the same.

And it’s not like this is some sudden development.

This was the third time in the past four years the Sugar Bowl crowd was below 70,000. That happened only twice from 1975 to 2009. Florida has now played in five of the past seven Sugar Bowls with crowds under 70,000.

Overall bowl attendance continues to trend downwards.  If that remains the story, I’ll be curious to see if that generates another freak out like the one we saw that led to a revamping of the postseason, or if the conferences instead decide to lie back in the new TV money and not worry about it.

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61 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Gators, Gators...

61 responses to “They’re just not that into you, Gators.

  1. greeneggboy

    Recession, dwindling fan support, and big HDTVs.

    • MGW

      I honestly believe when the economy picks back up, bowls attendance will right along with it. But not as much for the bowls that are after Jan. 1. Spending a little extra money on tickets/travel when you’ve already got that time off work is one thing, but there’s not nearly as many people who can justify taking even more time off along with that cost right after the holidays for a middle of the week bowl game, even if its a BCS game.

      More people will be able to swing that once the economy picks back up, but the Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 bowls will benefit much more.

      • greeneggboy

        I’d agree with you, and the article underlying the post supports what you are saying.

        I would also point out that Papa John’s subsidized the L’ville allotment, which is significant considering how much more expensive Sugar bowl tickets are on face value than on secondary markets like stubhub. So, saying that Florida returned the majority of their allotment doesn’t necessarily mean L’ville had better attendance, just that their school’s offering was more competitive with the secondary ticket market than what Florida could offer.
        Of the factors I mentioned above, dwindling fan support is probably the least important, maybe insignificant. I’d agree with you then, the cost of travel, lodging, missing work, etc is the real attendance killer these days.

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          Papa Johns? I thought he said he would have to declare bankruptcy if the election titled the wrong way. Was it a parting gift?

  2. DawgPhan

    I think that the Sugar Bowl being midweek the last couple of years kills it as well. tough to make NOLA a trip worth that many vacation days to start the year.

  3. Ben

    Somewhere else (maybe another thread here?) suggested that these midweek games are the problems, When I was watching the Orange Bowl, I stopped halfway through the third quarter because I realized it was already 11 PM, and that game didn’t even have the excuse of being in another time zone. With more bowl games not being on 1/1 and the season being stretched out and many games not even being on network TV, it’s not surprising that numbers are down. As fans, we’ll watch almost anything. Most folks, though, might get bowl fatigue.

    Why in the hell is the Cotton Bowl on 1/5? Do they think that A&M and OU are such big draws that people who are casual fans will tune in on a Friday night to watch the game?

    I really do miss the days of all the games being on one day, and if there was a stinker you could certainly find another good one playing simultaneously or kicking off shortly.

      • Russ

        Yep, this exactly. I’d have to think long and hard before traveling mid-week to watch the Dawgs in a non-MNC game following a holiday. They need to corral all these games into the holidays where they used to be, or just turn it into NFL-Lite (my fear) and schedule all the games for each Saturday in January, leading up to a championship game in February the day before the SuperBowl. Bleh!

    • PTC DAWG

      Cotton Bowl on a Friday makes more sense to me than a game on Wednesday night post Holidays….

  4. burt

    I expect the 2014 bowl attendance to be the lowest ever

  5. DawgBiscuit

    The low attendance is because all the Tebow era Gator fans are now Alabama fans.

    • Nate Dawg

      Awesome.

    • The Lone Stranger

      But the Boy King was there in the flesh last night (or was that hard to convey with the ceaseless sideline shots of him yukking it up?!) so what does it say about his congregation? Lapsed or just on to the next Gator national media creation? Though I am hard pressed to identify who can be co-opted outside of the boiling kettle that is The Muschamp.

  6. HVL Dawg

    Somebody help me because I can’t remember. Didn’t the Gators win the coastal division to earn their way to the Sugar Bowl?

    • VIDawg

      @HVL Dawg, I think you’re partially right. Backing into a BCS bowl is not the same as winning the right to enter it. Stepping over another team you lost to, because they picked up the loss in the championship doesn’t create any real excitement, as they didn’t earn it, they were just the one standing on the sideline as the two big boys battled it out. This isn’t anti Florida, but a real concern for the SEC coming up. How many quality teams stand to lose BCS spots for losing a tightly contested SEC Championship? Does it make any sense to anyone for the consolation prize for not making the SEC to be the BCS?

      • Careful Brad

        How many times last night did the announcers say “Florida just missed out on being in the national championship”? It was ridiculous.

        • evolveddeepsoutherner

          You got that right. Even my wife – a UF graduate and a crazy-big Gators fan – called horseshit on that “just missed out on the national championship” business. Even she, one of the world’s hugest Gator partisans, realized they didn’t do anything of the sort.

        • Russ

          Same as the announcers slobbering over LSU in the Peach Bowl when they showed highlights of the LSU-Bama game. “They just missed playing for the National Championship!” At least the other announcer mumbled something about “well, they would’ve had to beat Georgia…” like that was a foregone conclusion.

          I realize these announcers need to fill the air with sound, but a least put a little thought into it, guys.

  7. Macallanlover

    Attendance numbers are not the measurement, it is the overnight TV ratings that drives this. I love the mid-week, after New Year’s Day games. Some great viewing almost every night.

    I understand the comments about how it is hard for some people to take time off right after the holidays but that is not the problem, imo. Forlida has millions of alums and retired fans to draw 30K+ to a game, the timing isn’t an issue for them, and the ocsts aren’t that great. The problem was the matchup, exchange Louisville for Oregon or Oklahoma and Florida fans would have been all over the Big Easy and paying scalper prices. Something has to be done about the matchups of games like the Sugar and Orange before you see this corrected. I don’t think this was any surprise.

    • StuDawg

      Exactly, its the matchup. This is exactly what I said last night to my wife while watching. If Im a Florida fan, I dont care about a game with Louisville. I mean the team itself obviously didnt even care about the game.

    • PTC DAWG

      Take away the upset last night and you hardly get any UGA fans viewing this game past the first quarter….if that.

    • SouthGaDawg

      Agree and disagree. The match up and the mid week time are both equally to blame. If this game were on New Years night, it would have higher attendance. If Ok had played instead of UL, it would have higher attendance.

  8. Mike Cooley

    The gators aint the big draw they once were either. That program is trending down.

  9. PTC DAWG

    I too blame mid-week after the Holiday’s games….who wants to go? UGA would have had the same attendance problem….

    • MGW

      Hell, I’d love to go…. but that’s catch up time after the holidays. I can barely afford to stay up late enough to watch these things on tv just cause I’m not 100% at work the next day. I do stay up, but its a pain in the neck. I don’t like watching football praying one team will just blow the other out so I can go to bed.

  10. SCarolinaDawg

    I was at the Sugar Bowl last year and this year. Both atmospheres were awful. The Louisville crowd was the only redeeming factor in either game. O and you old foggies (sp?) would have hated the piped in music that drowned out the bands trying to play during commercials. I shutter to think about what the non-playoff bowl games will be like in two years. Delany might lose what little hair he has left after he sees the “stage his conference created” (aka Rose Bowl) diminished when it isn’t a semi final game.

  11. Ron

    You are all correct. The matchup stinks. The midweek scheduling stinks. And non deserving teams backing their way into the game stinks. But ESPN doesn’t care because the TV ratings were probably very high. We’re not going to stop watching the games and ESPN knows this.

    I have a theory that involves colleges reducing their stadium sizes in the future. Sounds crazy right now but the time will come when we prefer the couch versus the stands. As attendance dips, just watch how colleges will react. They’ll actually increase the ticket prices – the exact opposite move. After a while, schools will reduce the size of the stadium and increase ticket prices even more to account for the smaller attendance. The NFL is already doing it….the new Soldier Field barely seats 60,000 people. This will happen…mark my word.

    • Macallanlover

      You may be right Ron. That would make good use of that space for bathroom expansion, covered seating, and better kitchens so that the food would be better. Shame that the gameday traditions will be swept aside but with ADs giving fans the finger regarding scheduling, increasing costs, more Federal-type regulations to limit fan enjoyment, and increasing HDTV quality and sound, home viewing is becoming the better option for many. I have great memories of fall Saturday afternoons at Sanford, but each year I am less and less motivated to give up a Saturday or a weekend. It has to be really special, so I cherry pick games. I really appreicate, and understand those who are still hanging on but I feel the trend will continue and attendance around the country will decline even more as traditions are broken.

    • sUGArdaddy

      You’re on to something I’ve been saying for a while. I’d be for a major renovation to Sanford Stadium that included ditching bleachers for folding seats with cup holders on the back of each seat for the entire stadium. It would probably knock us down to something like 88K in seating. Multiple screens so fans at each end can see a screen. Improved concessions with limitless refilss on a $7 souvenier cup that changes each game so as to not have folks bring in onese from previous games. Free wi-fi throughout the stadium.

      That would increase the gameday experience tremendously. I’d pay $5-10 more if changes like that were made. I go to every game and the experiences in Jax and the Dome are simply better because they’re NFL quality, and they think about things like that while most CFB teams don’t. The scoreboard operators in Jax and the Dome are lightning fast getting the down and distance right while most colleges barely get it done before the next play. It’s little things.

      BTW, Kentucky does a nice job for as far as atmosphere and all that. Their ushers are always the best in the conference. Then there is Williams-Brice, which is not, shall we say, the best experience.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Don’t want to harsh you theory…. but Soldier Field shrunk almost ten years ago. Had nothing to do with HD TV. That was a charlie foxtrot of politics and Architectural engineering firms getting involved beyond their scope. Sacrificed seating was more a result of moving the seats closer. Washington has added seating every couple of years …. to the point that no one wants the seats cause they suck. So they redesign and pull permits before they are complete with the design and end up needing to pull new permits that fit the design. Slows it all down. Sounds stupid and it is. uT isn’t pulling seats. It is offering season tickets with no donation. UGa spent a premium on its upfits. Yes it did. I saw some of those numbers and I was impressed by the margins. UGa isn’t removing any seats. I don’t care what HDTV and Espn do. It will be another 6 or 8 years before Little Nicky forces college football to follow his business plan and go semi-pro. Thaz just my theory. “Ain’t it fun.”

  12. Mike Cooley

    I guess I’m one of the few that still enjoys being there over watching it on TV. So many of my friends and family prefer TV. But we were at the Southern game this year and despite the fact that there was absolutely no real suspense and kickoff time wasn’t great, I had a ball.

  13. paul

    Pretty much everything that has been done in recent years, from conference realignment to rule changes, has been about enhancing the TV experience. Little to nothing has been done to enhance the game day experience for anyone other than the folks in the suites. I think it’s pretty obvious that TV money rules and nobody really cares about butts in seats. We don’t have a new postseason format because bowl attendance is down. We have a playoff because TV money is up. Fans demanded a playoff for many years. It came about when TV agreed to pay. Don’t be surprised to see new rules about the hurry up offense in the future. Not because Nick don’t like it though. Because it limits the number of commercial breaks.

  14. Bryant Denny

    Sugar Bowl TV ratings up 2% http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/01/03/sugar-bowl-up-combined-overnight-ratings-for-rose-bowl-orange-bowl-sugar-bowl-rise-over-2012/163597/

    Orange Bowl ratings up 44%
    Rose Bowl ratings down 3%

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2013-01-02/industries/36107821_1_wisconsin-network-rose-bowl

    The bowl games are about eyeballs watching, not fannies in the seats. Simple as that.

    However, I’m sure the playoff folks will use the attendance data as fuel for their fires.

    • StuDawg

      So why would they match Florida with LOUISVILLE??

      • Bryant Denny

        Ask your local BCS representative.

        To clarify, there are 35 bowl games because of eyeballs, not fannies.

        • Gravidy

          You are correct, BD, and I love it. I have soaked up almost every minute of the 30 bowl games so far, and I plan to soak up every minute of the last five. It will be a long, cruel eight months before we get any more CFB.

          • Bryant Denny

            I love the games, too.

            What I don’t love is having to watch teams like Northern Illinois and Louisville in major bowl games. I would prefer to see them square off in the BBVA classic.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              You’re right BD. Louisville (despite beating FU) should have been playing Northern Illinois and Florida should have been playing Oklahoma. The bowl selection process has become a joke and I don’t see it getting any better with the new playoff deal, beyond the top 4 teams.

        • What bothers me most are the names. I dislike changing the names to the commercial sponsors. Ahhh those days of Peach Bowls, Cotton Bowls, Sugar Bowls, etc. gone with the wind.

  15. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Seems to me we’re moving towards a model of multiple games out of the same venue rather than one big one. The big bowl committees are just diversifying. The Sugar Bowl has gone from 4 games every 4 years to 9 games every 4 years, and it might be more under the new playoff format. Not sure how that works.

  16. stoopnagle

    Well, if UGA was playing L’ville last night, I’d be on the road back to Athens from NOLA today. Very hungover, for sure, but I wouldn’t miss Georgia in the Sugar Bowl en vivo.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Which seems to me to be the relevant question, if it was us playing Louvall, how many tickets would we have sold?

      Always fun picking on anything Gator, but really?

      • stoopnagle

        Honestly, after my 2 experiences in NOLA, I’d buy secondary market tickets. I order tickets to 3 games via UGAA: Cotton, Rose, BCS Championship. I do the Cotton because I want McGarity to be able to say: we’ve sold our allotment so that maybe one day we can go. I do the Rose and BCS because I won’t be able to afford secondary market prices for those two.

        Anything else, I’d almost wait until I was walking to the stadium. But I’d be in NOLA.

    • Beer Money

      You are correct. Never, ever miss a BCS bowl game as they are special and you just don’t know if/when they’ll happen again.

  17. Bob

    The problem with the bowl game attendance is not the economy. I have news for you youngsters, we have had bad…even worse economies before. Check out the bowl game attendances during the Carter Malaise years.

    And yep, watching it on TV is much better than it used to be. Got it. Not the reason. The reason is actually very, very simple. Just go back to 1960 or so and run the New Years Day bowls up to 1997. In that 38 year window you will find fewer dog games than we have had in the BCS era. This whole concept of trying to drag America’s greatest sport into the cookie cutter idea of a playoff has destroyed New Years Day as the greatest in all of sports.

    Lets just look at 1983 as one example. At 1PM Georgia out defensed then #2 Texas in Dallas..What time is it in Texas? And then in the evening we had #3 Auburn edge Michigan and #5 beat # 1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl because Tom Osborne went for 2. Three nail biters that all had an impact on what was and remains a mythical National Championship. There was a ton of drama and you know what…we didn’t have any more or less dispute over who was truly #1 than we do now or we will have in two years when we pick 4 teams to play for a title. And make no mistake, I could have chosen just about any year, not just 83.

    We are wrecking the uniqueness of this sport with this uniquely American obsession with rendering regular season accomplishment meaningless by inviting every team with a pulse to participate in some sort of playoff. CFB doesn’t fit this scenario, but by damned we are going to try and force it to happen anyway. But the genie is out of the bottle and it will never be able to be put back in. A damn shame.

    • Slaw Dawg

      1000% what you said, Bob. While watching the Citrus (or whatever corp crap name it is)–on TV–a friend asked “so what system would you set up to pick the national champ?” I said immediately: “I’d go back to what it was pre-BCS.” He was surprised, but I kept on “What is it we thought we were fixing then and what is it we think we’re fixing now? Was there a problem selling tickets? Did all the games matter? Was there something evil about having to debate who the real MNC was? Weren’t we having fun?” And, as you say, the name bowls really meant something, because the nat’l champ would come out of one (at least!) of those games.

      I’d get it if there had been something inherently corrupt or immoral about the old system, but, if anything, the moral underpinnings (screw the fans! get the TV $! endless commercial time outs!) of the current system are queasier and greasier than they were for the old.

      I also agree with joyridingdawg that the corporate names are a problem. They’ve robbed the better bowls of their branded, unique stamp. We knew what the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Rose–even Citrus or Peach–were about, knew where they were, and had a sense of their relative importance in the scheme of things. Now the corp hyphenated alphabet soup of a zillion bowl games makes the whole thing feel meaningless and reinforces that it’s all about the $.

    • Cojones

      Don’t agree, Bob. Where does all the negative come from when you have no comparison to a playoff of the top 8 teams? It is infinitely harder for ESPN and other pundits to pick two teams that they like (and UGA ain’t one of them) to represent the best in CFB. You may not have gotten tired of the bias for Big-10 teams, but many of us easily remember it going on for years before we had enough and opted for a playoff.

      It always surprises me to see UGA fans in print asking “Can I have some more gruel?” again. Having a playoff is not a fad nor will it be sidetracked for insufficient reasoning. I can predict Doomsday for CFB if it stays the same because fan interest isn’t going to continue to accept the ESPN lobby as Sports Barons. Nor will we sit by and watch our team bashed after they have worked hard to get to the forefront of CFB. That doesn’t happen as often(getting on top) as it would if there was a playoff among the highest ranked teams.

      Do you want the deserving UGA squads to be in it for the NC each year? You won’t get it with the present system and it won’t happen until a sufficient # (8 has been put forward as the best # and would gain defenders of the system to prevent “sliding” to the 16 # that you playoff opponents use to scare people ) of adjudged best teams take the field in a playoff.

      It doesn’t matter which conference they represent, just take the top 8 as judged in the current BCS polls.

  18. Scott

    Question: What did Shaun Williams do to piss off the Husker fans? I keep see derogatory comments about him on their message boards.

    • 69Dawg

      He did not play nice with their QB.

    • The984

      I think he’s the one that hit Martinez in bounds while Martinez was trying to run out of bounds. Martinez ended up sliding into the team bleachers. I know they’re mad about that hit despite it being perfectly legal. Can’t be a late hit out of bounds when the QB hasn’t gone out of bounds.

      • Scott

        I figured they would be mad about the way Ogletree tackled that player like a rag doll near the end of the game. Thanks for the info.

    • stoopnagle

      What he always does: talks shit and hits hard.

  19. DawgByte

    Perhaps attendance wouldn’t be so dismal, if the ticket prices weren’t astronomical. Hello!

  20. Florida fans

    At least we have the Lakers. I mean the Cowboys. I mean the Yankees. I mean checkers.

  21. Carolinadawg

    I can’t wait for Corinne Brown to rise and “grachulate Flodah native Eddy Bridgetender fo’ winning’ the Supah Bowl”.

  22. Big time?.......not!

    Looked like they had trouble OVERCOMING ADVERSITY on the field……ha. Gators eat boogers.