Seth Emerson ($$) posits a reason why Georgia is steadily upgrading the attractiveness of its schedule over the next decade or more:
The actual turnout at Georgia home games in 2018 was very different for games against Power 5 teams than it was in the other games. While every game was officially announced as a sellout, Georgia (like other schools) keeps track of actual attendance by counting tickets scanned at the door. Here is the breakdown for actual attendance last year, in order of highest to lowest turnout:
Austin Peay: 78,050 (season opener)
Georgia Tech: 76,203
Middle Tennessee: 66,191
* Note that for each game, the total includes 4,128 credentialed people, a figure UGA came up with to include staff members, security, media, concession workers, etc.
This all tracks with Georgia’s actual attendance for 2015-17, which we wrote about previously. Since 2015, Georgia’s attendance for games against Power 5 opponents averages 77,598.4 per game. For non-Power 5 games, it’s 69,328.6 per game. You might say that it’s only about 8,000 per game, but that adds up over time.
Indeed it does. And remember, as Seth notes, when it comes to college football attendance, Georgia is one of the fortunate ones, with a rate about 20% higher than the average. But you keep throwing out home schedules as crappy as last season’s was and you risk watching falling attendance bleed into ticket purchasing as your fan base slowly gets out of the habit of coming to Athens to watch a game.
Kirby Smart deserves an enormous amount of credit for recognizing the risk and taking steps to blunt it from growing. If it were up to McGarity, we’d be looking at schedules much like 2018 as long as Butts-Mehre could get away with it.
Yes, we are wallets. We also have our limits. Asking us to shell out more for what is at heart entertainment means at some point more has to be offered to entertain us. And, no, that doesn’t mean just winning. If it did, we’d fill the stands for UMass every season.