Once upon a time, Temple and Rutgers shared a conference in football. And then Temple became so bad that the non-Temple Big East members voted to expel the Owls for their failure to meet the minimum criteria related to attendance, stadium facilities and scheduling.
Ultimately the Owls worked their way back into the conference in 2012, but then Rutgers left two years later and, well, yada yada yada.
All that is to say, while Rutgers had an announced crowd of 47,621 (90.8% capacity), Temple drew 18,430 fans to Lincoln Financial Field for its home opener against Lafayette. That’s 49,164 empty seats or 27.3% of capacity. Woof!
By the way, the last time Rutgers played Lafayette - a team that at one time was regularly on the RU schedule - was 1975, a 48-6 Scarlet victory.
Now about attendance closer to home, last Saturday the Big Ten averaged 66,151 fans over 13 home games. That was an average of 82.5% capacity. Including a full house at Iowa and over capacity at Michigan (107,601/102.24%), Nebraska (86,862/101.64%), and Penn State (107,306/100.69%). And if you’re keeping score at home, that’s the 384th consecutive sellout at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. And with that in mind, Nebraska fired its coach, alumnus Scott Frost, after the game. I guess with that kind of loyalty among its fans, AD Trev Alberts felt the team deserved better than Frost’s 16-31 record.
Rutgers’ crowd was the ninth largest of the 13 B1G home games, ahead in total numbers of Indiana (46,785), Minnesota (43,859), Illinois (33,669), and Northwestern (24,662). And on the basis of percent of capacity, Rutgers still found itself in ninth place, but it did break the 90% mark; those same four teams below it did not. Take the W!
Not only is Rutgers not Temple, it’s also not UConn. Ironically, when Temple was booted out of the Big East, it was to be replaced by UConn. UConn was an original BE member before the conference had football. And, again ironically, UConn would abandon a now pretty decent American Athletic Conference to rejoin the Big East so that, if we’re embracing honesty today, its basketball programs could return to their roots. And, in doing so UConn pretty much said to hell with football. And the Huskies now find their football team as an independent. And on a beautiful sunny, 84 degree day in East Hartford, UConn drew 25,114 for its 48-14 loss to Syracuse. That’s respectable – for a football independent – at 61.8% capacity. Rutgers almost doubled that draw. Schadenfreude!
Oh, yeah. I said we're also not UCLA. While USC was on the road at Stanford, UCLA played Alabama State at home. In case you were wondering and/or scratching your head, ASU is in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, one of the top drawing conferences in FCS. But on Saturday, the Rose Bowl was just a tad over one-third full with 33,727 fans. It was a 2 pm PT start, 78 degrees at kickoff. This has become the norm for UCLA in the Chip Kelly era. Can’t wait ‘til next week when the Bruins host South Alabama.
It is 70.5 miles from SHI Stadium to Lincoln Financial Field in Philly. A 73 minute drive. Will the Linc be a cherry-clad arena or will it be more a glorious shade of scarlet. Ah, those are the benefits of regional games! Security note: last time I went to a Rutgers-Temple game in Philly, someone ripped up my "R" car magnet and left it on the ground behind my car. Yeah, those people also booed Santa Claus. Be forewarned!