Category Archives: College Football

“Nothing can unify a community and alumni base of a university like college football can.”

Too bad schools are losing touch with their students on that front, then.

Average student attendance at college football games is down 7.1% since 2009, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of stadium turnstile records from about 50 public colleges with top-division football teams. The decline was 5.6% at colleges in the five richest conferences.

The decrease even at schools with entrenched football traditions and national championships stands in contrast to college football’s overall popularity.

What’s the problem?  Not enough wi-fi?  Nah, it’s the usual suspect.

The growing number of empty seats in student sections across the U.S. is a sign of soaring ticket prices, more lopsided games and fewer matchups against longtime rivals, and the proliferation of televised games that make it easier than ever for students to keep tailgating long after kickoff.

It’s money that they love.  Schools, I mean.  And students usually don’t have that much, at least in comparison to older alumni and ESPN.  And perhaps that’s why ADs like Joe Alleva don’t sound that upset.

“There are so many other things they can do that maybe going to the game that day isn’t the most important thing on their agenda,” says Louisiana State University athletic director Joe Alleva. Student attendance fell 5.5% to 8,508 in 2013 from 9,000 in 2012.

By the time LSU notices that those students aren’t buying season tickets down the road, Joe will be off enjoying retirement somewhere and it’ll be somebody else’s problem.  Of course, by then college football may be sporting a 24-team playoff, so maybe nobody will notice.

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It’s time to celebrate toe meets leather.

Since D-1 football of a sort kicks off tonight – tickets are still available on StubHub, believe it or not – it’s time to bring out this GTP chestnut to welcome the 2014 season.

A Brit who knows next to nothing about the sport, two programs I don’t care about and I still love that clip.

And, yeah, I’ll tune in and watch some tonight.

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Filed under College Football

Tuesday morning buffet

It’s getting closer.  So eat.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Nick Saban Rules, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Tim Tebow: Rock Star

Monday morning buffet

It’s game week.  You know you’ve got an appetite.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, College Football, It's Just Bidness, Nick Saban Rules, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The Body Is A Temple

Saturday brunch buffet

Slide up and load a plate.

  • Fans get to vote on where the Goodyear Blimp shows up opening weekend.  Georgia vs. Clemson is one option.
  • Groo has some thoughts about the Star position.
  • Phil Steele, the New York Times and conference predictions.
  • Paul Myerberg has Auburn at #9 on his preseason preview list.  (He thinks Kansas State is more likely to beat the Tigers than Georgia.)
  • It sounds like Ramik Wilson’s coaches are trying to send him a message.
  • John Sununu thinks it’s time to tax college athletics.
  • It’s a sign of what people think of the NCAA that some thought Oklahoma’s request for a waiver for Dorial Green-Beckham to play this season might be approved.  It wasn’t.
  • Think there’s much of a talent gap in the ACC?  One conference coach does: “According to one ACC coach, FSU is so stocked with talent across its depth chart that he believes about half the league’s teams do not have one player who would start for Florida State this year based on what he’s seen on film.”

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Filed under ACC Football, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Political Wankery, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

If you build it, will they come?

So now athletic directors across the country are worried that they’re losing the next generation of wallets… er, fans.

At Michigan, student sales were off so significantly this spring (an estimated 5,000 season tickets according to MLive.com) that the school made some of that allotment available to the general public. Iowa has been so desperate to draw students, it recently offered entry into a tuition giveaway drawing in exchange for buying a season ticket. Even Alabama has had issues filling its student section, prompting complaints from head coach Nick Saban last year.

“It’s a very real concern,” Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione said. “It certainly gives reason for pause because right now the demand for tickets may still be high overall in the marketplace, but within that segment the demand isn’t as strong. It’s an ongoing issue the last couple years and we’re trying a lot of different things to attract students to create a stronger connection.”

Though not every program is experiencing a student malaise – Minnesota, for instance, experienced an increase of 10,000 students across its seven home games last year in correlation with a surprising 8-5 season – the data suggests athletic departments are finding it harder to draw students into the stadium and keep them there.

What to do, what to do…

Well, there’s always beer sales.  (I’m only being semi-facetious.)

More seriously, there’s a certain you’ve made your bed, now lie in it aspect to this problem.  Wave to the cameras, fellas!

In some ways, schools have done this to themselves. College football is now owned by television and increasingly available on streaming video. The Pac-12, Big Ten and now SEC have their own networks, guaranteeing that practically every game is televised. Even some of the smaller leagues like the Mountain West and American Athletic Conference have deals to live stream a large portion of their content that isn’t picked up by national television.

The last round of television contracts (and subsequent conference realignment) set the bar at $20 million per power conference school per year, give or take a couple million from league to league. In exchange, schools were essentially left to compete against themselves.

“I don’t think it’s a targeted demographic problem; I think it’s more of a (high-definition) TV, living room, leather couch problem and we have to give the people a reason to come to our live product,” Washington athletics director Scott Woodward said. “It is something we’re going to have to address and deal with.”

But you guys have no clue.  In-stadium wi-fi ain’t gonna save you.

At the very least, forging a stronger connection between football programs and the next generation of ticket buyers is going to take some work and creativity.

Pitt heavily promotes student tailgates and markets discounted club level tickets to graduate students because it believes that group is prime to be targeted as potential donors. Last season, Memphis offered two free season tickets to every 2012-13 graduate and got an attendance pop of more than 4,000 per game. Florida has come up with several incentives, including discounted tickets for recent graduates and the opportunity to win a “VIP” experience going behind the scenes on game day or to be part of the pre-game tunnel.

Student tailgate promotion isn’t a bad idea, but does anyone see Athens taking a course like that?  Actually, the key word in that paragraph is “discount”.  Expect a steadily larger dose of that in the coming years.  If you’re an AD, half a ticket revenue loaf is better than none.  And maybe you can make it up in the next TV contract.

Or you can give in.

“I hear concern from various (athletics directors) that their season ticket base is aging,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “You need to step back and take a look at the reasons and really understand what (younger people) want from that game day experience.

“And if I’m an athletic director now and I’m building a stadium or a basketball arena, I’d be very careful about the size of it. For years, people always felt bigger was better and I don’t think that’s true anymore, nor do I think it will be true going forward.”​

You can do that at Georgia Tech, for sure.

One last cynical note:  anybody notice the key word missing from the entire article?  That would be “scheduling”.

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Filed under College Football

Thursday morning buffet

Dig in, dig in.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, College Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA