In explaining that there’s no good reason to blame Notre Dame fans for accommodating the desire of our fan base to show up in South Bend, Michael Elkon makes an excellent point that college football’s decision makers ignore at their own risk.
Additionally, the reaction of Dawg fans to the chance to travel to South Bend is a reminder that there is huge, untapped demand among big college football fan bases to see their teams play other elite programs on the road and not at NFL stadiums.
One way to illustrate this point is to look at how the most popular programs have never visited one another. Here are the top 10 in attendance from 2016: Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Penn State, Texas, Georgia, and Nebraska. There are 90 potential home-and-home combinations among those teams. In over a century of football, 33 of these matchups have never happened. That’s a bevy of road trips that big fan bases have never gotten to take. [Emphasis added.]
Put Saturday’s game in some sterile environment like Jerry World and I guarantee you never would have heard stories about Georgia fans taking over Dallas. Sure, there would have been plenty of folks from around here to make the trip, but the cachet of seeing one of college football’s storied environments would have been missing.
As the highlighted portion of Michael’s piece indicates, college football has this treasure trove of matchups it could mine. What happened last weekend should be an indication that it should make a concerted effort to do so. If even Greg McGarity could make something like that happen, any program should be able to do it.