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Rutgers Attendance: I’m learning to live with certain numbers

50,000+ doesn’t have to be the benchmark....for now

Bill Shaughnessy

I have this thing about getting big crowds at home. All the time. Regardless of the opponent.

I’m trying to get past that. Trying.

Rutgers drew 45,245 to HPSS last Saturday. That’s a bit over 86% capacity. Which, if you’re Purdue or Northwestern or even Minnesota, is a figure to be coveted. We were playing Howard (I still think it shouldn’t matter) and it was brutally hot (my friend is the TV coordinator at Rutgers; he said it was 147 degrees on the field). And a lot of people still yawn if it isn’t a top tier team. And I still say, if you’re going to be a top tier team some day, you attend all the games regardless of the opponent.

But let’s spin around the college landscape to look at other attendance issues.

It’s not a rivalry

It may have been a Pitt home game, but the crowd wasn’t a typical Pitt crowd. Last year, Pitt averaged 48,150 fans in attendance for six games. And that number was boosted by the 68,400 who showed up for the Notre Dame game. Their average this year is going to get a boost because of Saturday’s Penn State game, a game where students were selling standing room tickets on the access ramps for $120. The non-rivalry game drew 69,983. With a lot of them wearing blue and white, not blue and gold.

Bristol Motor Speedway.....really?

This was probably viewed as a great idea when it first came up. But that was the only thing that really could be viewed.

Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia abut each other on the Virginia-Tennessee border. And it’s a 15 minute drive from there to the Speedway. So, the idea of UT and VT playing each other somewhere in the area was very logical. Until you realize that the sideline of the football field was about 100 yards to the front row of seats.

Nonetheless, the game drew a ridiculous 156,990 fans. Kinda like going to the Final Four in the Superdome and having a ticket in the last row of the upper level. At least you were there.

Yes, Syracuse....I can’t help myself

Syracuse - you remember them, New York’s College Team - is still trying to become relevant in football. And being in the ACC was going to make a difference. So, in comes Louisville with its high-powered offense and what do they draw to the blimp hanger of the frozen north? 32,184 folks watched the Cards dismantle the Orange, 62-28. Which is about 65% capacity.

Enjoy the snow.

The Big Ten

The conference went 8-3 at home last week. Teams drew a collective 703,647 fans, an average of 63,968. And that with - again - Ohio State and Michigan going over their building’s capacity.

Northwestern continues to struggle, on the field as well as in the stands. It’s less than a three hour car ride from Cincinnati to West Lafayette, but the Bearcat fans didn’t seem to care....just as the Boilermaker fans don’t.

Rutgers continues to be somewhere in the middle of the pack, and that isn’t bad. Considering the lack of true tradition at Rutgers, drawing as we do is a positive. It should get better - and it starts this Saturday.

Coming up next week in the Big Ten

There are a few really good home games on the docket next Saturday. The “Smarty-Pants Bowl” takes place in Chicago while Penn State probably gets to put Temple in its place after last year’s thumping by the Owls. Oregon-Nebraska is a nice matchup with Mike Riley going against his old in-state rival.