April 22nd, 2013 10:57 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Auburn, HDTV, SEC, Yr Yr Change
With 14 SEC spring games now in the books, we can begin perusing the attendance numbers for each program. Is this a fair comparison of overall interest in a program? No. Florida announced early that it would be conducting nothing more than an open practice session and its attendance suffered accordingly. Auburn had the added draw of the final roll of the oaks at Toomer’s Corner and that spiked attendance on the Plains. Schools with new coaches — Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas — all saw their attendance numbers jump a bit over last year’s attendance, which was to be expected.
Also these numbers are usually nothing more than stab-in-the-dark estimates. And stab-in-the-dark estimates released by a school are usually spun to make gains look as big as possible and decreases appear as small as possible.
All that said, below are this year’s spring game attendance numbers from around the SEC. We’ve also included last year’s attendance for comparison:
|School||2013 Attendance||2012 Attendance||Yr-Yr Change|
|Texas A&M||45,212||15,000||+ 30,212|
|S. Carolina||35,218||34,513||+ 705|
|Ole Miss||28,000||25,000||+ 3,000|
|Miss. State||21,000||22,604||– 1,604|
|SEC Average||40,733||31,899||+ 8,834|
Again, knowing that the SEC average of 40,733 is a ballpark number, let’s compare it to attendance across the nation for actual football games in 2012. According to the NCAA data, the average attendance for the 763 games played by the 120 FBS schools last year was 44,970. Meaning the average attendance for a spring game in the SEC was within about 5,000 people — give or take — of the average attendance for all regular-season football games across the country last year.
Keep in mind, too, that the SEC led the nation in average attendance last year with a number of 75,538. Take away the SEC’s regular-season numbers and the overall FBS number drops… meaning that SEC fans are more interested in spring football than many other fans across the nation are interested in actual, meaningful football in the fall.
Even more interesting — and this says something about the power of bowls to draw crowds in the HDTV age — is the fact that last year’s average bowl game attendance came in at just 49,224. (You can also bet that those numbers were inflated.) In other words, SEC spring games on average drew within 10,000 people of an average bowl game played last season.
We say it every year, but no fans in the country care as much about college football as those of the Southeastern Conference region. Credit the weather or fewer professional franchises, if you like, but the bottom line is — spring or fall, SEC fans turn out for anything involving a pigskin.
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