If you live in Alabama, you have two choices in life: root for Alabama or root for Auburn. All else in life is irrelevant.
It may nor be quite that dire in Ohio, but it's pretty close. For its Spring Game, the Buckeyes drew a paying crowd of 100,189. Last Saturday, Rutgers drew a bit less with 14,177. But that is still a pretty good number, putting Rutgers seventh among Big Ten teams reporting spring game attendance.
stats from Eleven Warriors
The total didn't equal last year's attendance of 15,782. And that's a bit disappointing, as Chris Ash made a point that getting a big crowd to the Spring Game would be a huge help in recruiting. Even Steve Politi joined the get-out-the-crowd chorus.
No numbers were mentioned in any of Ash's comments or tweets, as far as I know, but I wonder if 14,000 was what he had in mind? I'm sure he would have liked at least more than last year. But there's room to grow as he works to change the team culture and Pat Hobbs works on the rest of us.
We are a work in progress.
Which brings me to another point about the game. Our new contributor, Jim Hoffman, did a nice summary of the Spring Game, and the key point that I took from it was that being a part of the Big Ten is a really good deal and a really cool thing.
This year fans feel a part of the program, part of the conference. Even the half-time activities focused on fan involvement. A"quickest fan" contest pitted a guest against Janarion Grant in a 40-yard dash (Grant smoked him).
Folks, we are in the Big Ten. We are a Big Ten school and you folks are Big Ten fans. In the words of our financial champion, Ray Lesniak, "Act like it."
Did we need a full house for the Spring Game? No. Would it be impressive to get 25-30,000? Sure. But we didn't. And we became defensive because the media reported that fact.
@rydunleavy Did you count them yourself, one by one? Because I can see the crowd just as well on TV, and it's larger than usual.— Adam Mumma (@AdamMumma89) April 24, 2016
And we began to make excuses. Or explain the situation, depending on your perspective.
It was Passover
@rydunleavy Yes and most of the Jews are around the Seder table. That's thousands!— Jon Newman (@jonnew) April 24, 2016
It was Saturday night
@rydunleavy do you think they would have had more if it was a day game?— Mark Melhorn (@ACPressSports) April 24, 2016
It wasn't held on Rutgers Day
The NY/NJ Metro area has too many other options
@rydunleavy this is Jersey. People have options on a Saturday night— Juan Carlo Salvania (@JC_Salvania) April 24, 2016
Let's go back to Politi's story on the call for a big crowd from Ash. Steve wrote:
The people who attend the spring game are, for the most part, the most dedicated faction of a fan base. If they're willing to come out for a game that doesn't count in the middle of the spring they're probably serious about the program, or at least curious.
Our fan base is....good. It ain't Alabama or Auburn or Ohio State. But we put up numbers that were better than Wisconsin, Purdue, or Illinois - which, by the way, has a new coach, too.
My point? Stop complaining and making excuses. When I said start acting like you're in the Big Ten, I meant it in two ways. One, you want to be big time, then show up. I know there are a ton of things to do in the area and maybe you don't want to bring the youngsters out at night. Or maybe.....
STOP! Here's number two: Stop playing "poor us" and start being supportive. If you can make it, great. If not, oh well, let's move on. I want a full house in the fall, and as many as I can for all events year round. But let's stop with the excuses.
We can - and should - laugh and point at Maryland. And Illinois, too. Just be happy about who we are, and how well we did. But no more excuses.
We are Rutgers. We are in the Big Ten.
Here's how spring game attendances stacked up across the country:
- Ohio State - 100,189
- Georgia - 93,000
- Alabama - 76,212
- Nebraska - 72,992
- Tennessee - 67,027
- Penn State - 65,000
- Michigan State - 51,000
- Clemson - 50,000
- Florida State - 49,913
- Florida - 46,000