Perhaps the purveyors of the hot seat meme ought to take some cold, hard numbers into account.
… Donations to the Georgia athletics program have topped last year’s level despite the Bulldogs’ first losing football season in 14 years.
Contributions to the “Hartman Fund,” the fund-raising vehicle that is tied to football season tickets, stood at $22.94 million as of Monday night with “still a few dribbling in,” according to Dave Muia, the athletics department official who oversees fund-raising and alumni relations.
That total exceeds last year’s contributions of $22.74 million.
Granted, 2009-10 was a brutal stretch, economically speaking. But it’s not like things have gotten dramatically better lately. Based on those dollars, I don’t see how you can argue that Richt’s recent performance is turning fans away from the program.
That, in turn, is consistent with the overall story of college football’s popularity, which has proven to be amazingly resilient.
The pro-playoff crowd won’t like hearing this: College football has never been more popular.
For the fourth time in five years, according to numbers released Wednesday by the National Football Foundation, college football set an attendance record. More than 49 million fans turned out to watch games at 639 NCAA schools, an increase of nearly three percent over last year and 26 percent since 1997.
The BCS clearly has its flaws, but even those who advocate a 16-team playoff would have a tough time arguing that it has not increased interest in the regular season and its do-or-die nature.
And for those who rail on supposedly “meaningless” bowl games, take note that the 35 games also set an attendance record by drawing an average of 51,806 fans.
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