Being on the road, we can’t criticize or defend the Scarlet faithful. So, let’s get right down to business and start with the Big Ten.
Penn State was the big dog this weekend. It was the only 100K-plus stadium in the conference in use and, as expected, the Lions had the full house on Homecoming. And as has been the pattern, there is a clear difference between the “haves” and “have nots” in the conference.
Maryland had the third largest crowd in the Big Ten this weekend, and it was their largest crowd of the season. With Michigan in town. But I’m not gloating because our largest crowd was with Ohio State at HPSS. The Terps probably can’t wait for Penn State to come to College Park to close out the season.
Illinois, seemingly playing out the string, has its fans doing the same. Yes, a tad over 40,000, but that doesn’t look that great when you have 25,000 “fans” disguised as empty seats.
And while PJ Fleck hasn’t exactly turned Minneapolis on its ear with his boats and oars, you have to love Minnesotans. Look at how they describe their weather for the game: “sunny & crisp”. That’s so cute. You betcha!
Around the country: who does show up
There’s been a repeating comment under these posts that, being honest, unless you are among the biggest of the P5, you aren’t going to see huge crowds. That 35,000 or 45,000 may be as good as it gets. So we took a look at a few random crowds in the east this past weekend.
We looked at the ACC and the American for comparison purposes. Of interest, the ACC had some great matchups and had home games for some of their better programs. Clemson was home playing Florida State; that was a draw! And Miami was hosting - and I use that term loosely - Notre Dame. On the flip side, the Big Ten had some of its lesser teams at home.
I was more than a little surprised with Louisville’s attendance as they hosted Virginia. The Cards usually draw well, but they’ve also been dealing with a slew of scandals with their AD, Tom Jurich, and the firing of hoops coach Rick Pitino.
And if you ever....ever....don’t think being in the Big Ten isn’t the best thing that ever happened to Rutgers, look at the attendance totals in the American. Cincinnati, which has made some significant upgrades to its athletic facilities including “historic” Nippert Stadium, had the smallest crowd of any of the schools in these three conferences. And USF, which we talked about in an earlier post, drew less than 30,000 against UConn.
And then there’s Navy
And just because I can, I want to talk about Navy. Their attendance last Saturday against SMU was pretty much a full house. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is a very cool place to watch a game.
It’s even better to officiate there. Which I did back on Nov. 3 in a Sprint Football game. For the game I did, there were more people on the Navy sideline than in the stands. But it didn’t matter.
I’ve watched Rutgers play Navy in Annapolis. And I’ve officiated Navy Sprint on post; this was my first time in stripes inside the “big” stadium. When you look around and see the notable military engagements that the Navy has been in, unless you’re without a heart, you can’t help but get chills.
And realizing that in about seven months, many of the young men playing that game will be commissioned officers in the Navy or Marines is a very sobering thought.
It truly is more than a game.