Another area of haves/have-nots concern for college football is attendance.
Through five weeks, announced attendance in Football Bowl Subdivision games is down 1 percent compared to this point in 2013 and nearly 7 percent from three years ago.
The average FBS home crowd this season is 44,997, according to a CBSSports.com analysis of NCAA attendance data. That is down from 45,596 through five weeks in 2013, 47,181 in 2012 and 48,279 in 2011.
The good news for the game’s attendance health: Crowds are up 3 percent among the top 25 attendance leaders, due in part to some expanded stadiums. Seventeen of the top 25 attendance leaders experienced an increase through five weeks compared to 2013. Only 12 of the top 25 leaders in 2013 at this point had an increase from 2012.
The bad news: Many other FBS schools continue to struggle to fill seats. Outside of the top 25 attendance leaders, crowds for the remaining Power 5-conference schools are down 3 percent from 2013.
TV is a culprit, of course. So are neutral site games, which, as Solomon notes, “are continuing to increase and can produce more attractive games than season ticket-holders sometimes pay for on campus.” You’d think that would be a pretty clear hint about what the problem might be, but expecting athletic directors to use logic about the problem is evidently too much to hope for.
Besides, why worry about scheduling when you’ve got Mickey Mouse?
Increasingly, athletic departments are turning to Mickey Mouse for help on how to create a magical football experience.
Numerous schools have used the Disney Institute to reassess their football game experience. The Disney Institute is the professional development arm of The Walt Disney Company that gets hired by many industries, including healthcare, aviation, government/military, food/beverage and retail. The Disney Institute declined to identify or list the number of athletic departments that have worked with the company.
Mickey on the front end and ESPN on the back end. College football, you’re doomed.