Ohio and UAB played a bowl game back on Dec. 22. Less than 16,000 people showed up. But who cared? They were in the Bahamas! It was 82 degrees. I knew one of the officials on the game....I was more jealous of him than of the guy I know who did the Rose Bowl!
And that brings us to our now annual review of attendance at the bowl games.
Truthfully, there are just too many games. Until 1986, there were only 12; there are now 39. Meaning 27 have been created over the last 29 years. Plus the national title game! Thank you, ESPN.
We are not including the CFP finale. It’s a sellout - we all know that. Athens, Georgia is 70 miles from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Why count?
The top ten games in terms of attendance included - surprise! - the New Year’s Six plus games that had some built in advantages. The Texas Bowl, featuring Texas, was played in Houston. The Alamo Bowl, with TCU, was played just four hours by car from the Horned Frogs’ campus. And the Liberty Bowl, with Memphis, was played in Memphis.
The top ten attended games are below; New Year's Six are noted with an asterisk *.
Big Ten Games
As with all games, you don’t know if the numbers reflect tickets sold or actual attendance. I was at the Pinstripe Bowl on a comp ticket; is that part of the count? I don’t feel there were actually 37,667 in the building.
The games are listed in the order they were played. Not surprising that, with the exception of the Outback Bowl, attendance generally improved as the bowl season progressed. The 28,436 for the Foster Farms Bowl, a pretty good game as it turned out, was not that surprising. Locale and match up weren’t the prettiest.
With the SEC having two teams in the CFP, and those two semifinals having the two largest crowds, it’s not a surprise that the conference had the largest average. And to explain, we gave a conference a game’s attendance if it had a team in the game, regardless of the opponent. So games were counted more than once, as with the Texas Bowl which was counted for both the SEC and the Big XII.
When there are five bowls that drew crowds under 20,000 and another five with less than 25,000, you can see why the overall average was under 40,000.
The Bowl Challenge Cup
Yay, Big Ten!
With a 7-1 record, the conference won ESPN’s Challenge Cup. And aren’t you glad we’re not in the Pac-12?
Then there’s the SEC. Yes, they have two teams in the CFP title game (that alone is worth two or three dozen posts. Another time, though). But take away Bama and the Dawgs, the conference was only 2-5. Top to bottom strength? Hmmm
And while Colin Cowherd is not my favorite sports pundit, I like this comment:
The SEC might have the best team, but the Big Ten is the best conference in college football pic.twitter.com/mh2ghAnrjQ— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 1, 2018
But the SEC does have the last two standing, which means....
We could be looking at an all-SEC tile game.— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) January 2, 2018
(And I’d understand Booger & Finebaum being insufferable, after all the pro-B1G stuff we have tweeted.) pic.twitter.com/2IPzJsQ0aR
Yes, Paul Finebaum and Booger McFarland will be waxing poetic - and unpoetic - over how wooooonderful the SEC is.
And while I would love to have had the B1G go 8-0 in bowl games, there is a certain satisfaction to having the khaki-clad cretin be the only losing coach from the Big Ten.