Rutgers is on the road this week after last week’s bye. So it will be three weeks since the last time they opened the gates at HPSS to our next home game. Maybe.....ju-u-u-ust maybe....a win at Illinois will spark the home crowd back on Oct. 21 for Homecoming versus Purdue.
In the mean time.....
People other than me actually do look at attendance numbers. And sometimes they scratch their collective heads and say, “That’s it?”
You might recall a few weeks ago, we mentioned a Twitter account created to specifically poke fun at the poor attendance for South Florida. Well, there are those who are, well, sort of defending the Bulls and their fans. By laughing at TCU’s crowds.
Now, I don’t know when the photo was taken, but it definitely was during the game. TCU is the No. 8 team in the country and doesn’t sell out. Now, I don’t feel so bad about Rutgers. The official capacity for Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth is 45,000. This game had an announced crowd of 43,257, which is a tad lower than the Horned Frogs’ season average of 43,485.. It does, indeed,look like someone is cooking the numbers.
The No. 8 team in the country! In Texas!
And what about Rutgers?
We’ve reported some not-so-great numbers here for the Knights. And I started to wonder, what exactly has Rutgers’ attendance been like since we decided to actually try to win. I looked for numbers for Schiano’s first couple of years and couldn’t track anydown. So I looked at it from where I could: 2003
It was a slow go, but there was definitely excitement building at Rutgers. Yes, the losing was there in Schiano’s first several years, but people came out.
The first bowl game in almost three decades in 2005 saw a 3,000 attendance jump. And it continued through 2007. The opening of the expanded stadium in 2009 saw average attendance grow by some 7,000 per game, far exceeding the Big East average.
But then something happened: for two years attendance fell, picking up again in 2012. That was Flood’s first year and the loaded 2012 recruiting class. The Big Ten energy again bumped attendance in 2014 (although paling in comparison to the rest of the conference on average) and it has dropped each year since.
If you look at RU’s attendance compared to the stadium’s capacity, it looks more stark. And right now, the trajectory is not what Athletics - and the ticket office and finance people in particular - want to see.
Note: All historical attendance data from NCAA records
Around the Big Ten
Seven home games in the Big Ten this past weekend, all but one a conference match up. As I was doing the research for the segment above, there were more than a few years when Purdue was an attendance leader, not in the Big Ten but among what we now know as FBS schools. With average crowds over 50,000, West Lafayette was a happening place on Saturdays. Boilers are trying to recapture the magic.
Penn State as the opponent along with it being Homecoming saw a larger than usual crowd in Evanston. The Wildcats had been averaging around 33,000 this season. And Indiana, now at 3-2, has seen attendance drop in each of its three home games thus far. The game against Charleston Southern - granted not a hot ticket - was around 13,000 fewer than it drew on opening day.
And for the year....
The numbers at the top of the conference are no surprise. The number at the very bottom is, I’m sure, a significant puzzle for the Terps’ administration.
In looking at Rutgers-Illinois, you wonder what kind of attendance will appear. Amazingly, this is not Homecoming for the Illini! That will happen in two weeks when they face Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin for Homecoming?! Who thought that was a good idea?