College football attendance down again

Sam Khan article

Guessing our sharp decline in attendance this year is a big reason for the American’s decline. Still, I will echo the reasons that I’ve seen elsewhere that TV (scheduling especially) and pricing is causing the decline across the board.

Only two FBS conferences saw an increase in average attendance: The Big Ten increased by 76 fans per game and the Mountain West by 832. Every other league saw declines in attendance, with the American (2,942) and SEC (2,433) having the sharpest falls.

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IMO that is exactly why a so called “super league” won’t work. Sure you can have four to eight Teams but what about the rest of the P5 Teams? A Super League with so few Teams capable of winning the big salad bowl will turn off the viewers. The excitement of sport is to expect the unexpected. Alabama winning every other year is a recipe for disaster. College Football is about local identity. When we recruit in-town players their friends and family are more likely going to come to the games.

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We probably haven’t helped, but ECU’s decline is probably the worst. Those people supported average teams for a long time. Right now, that team has sucked since firing Ruffin McNeill. They are hurting, bad…

I agree with Pray that tv schedules have a lot to do with it. One thing special about college football is more out of town fans go to games than in pro sports. When alumni face 11am starts or Thursday/Friday night games, less will make it. Those neutral site games are down because they are strictly for tv now too with more games with no local team

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It can be expensive going to games. It is expensive going to the movies too.

The home experience is much better and cheaper.

I just saw an article about declining viewership in the NFL. It goes back to 2014 (so leave the politics out). In the key demographics of males 18-35 those who follow the NFL is down from 75% to 51% last year.

I have two college aged sons who both played football through HS. One loves both college and pro the other one barely cares.

My thoughts on the NFL and college.
The NFL is boring. The offenses all look the same, most play not too lose. In an era of free agency that should result in parity you end up with the Patriots in the Super Bowl yet again. I am not an eagles fan but I cheered for them mostly to see the Patriots lose (sorry Elandon). It feels to predictable. At the start of the season you just figure the Patriots will be there yet again.

Which is now the same issue in college football. Though there are a better variety of offenses and crazier games and outcomes it too is predictable. The season starts the same with the illusion of parity and the playoffs and its slogan “Are you in?”. It makes you think everyone has a chance but most fans realize their team has a chance if their team is named Alabama, OSU or just a few others. There is no room for a Cinderella in the playoffs, the committee will see to that (it is why The CBK tournament is the best event). Alabama is now like the Patriots, people just want to see them lose to just about anyone. Again NCAA football is exclusionary and predictable.

Though not an issue for college football, I think fantasy football has hurt the NFL. I know guys in that 18-35 demographic that don’t watch but play fantasy football and just follow on their phone. They don’t have the attention span to watch a single game and even the RedZone channel is boring to them after a while. They have no loyalty to a team but individual players. Long term it will just further erode a teams fan base as much of the support will be transient at best.

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Not having a shot at anything but a bowl game, maybe a conference championship has taken some of the shine away. Thanks CFP committee


This is as good a place as any to show an example of what a real playoff for 2017 would have looked like. The teams were selected using a methodology “based on”, but not exactly the same as, DII uses for football.

Background: I organized the schools into geographic regions. it was tough to do for the West region because there aren’t that many schools in the “West” so to get a balanced number of teams in reach region, the West has some teams you think ought to be in the Central. I did not cherry pick. I took the teams that were logically in the central but who had the most western longitude (had to look it up) and put them in the west. That’s why UT, OU, and UTSA are in the West but Nebraska, OSU, and TCU are in the Central.

From there, I computed each teams Overall win% vs FBS opponents, win% vs opponents in their region(I may drop this criterion as it skews some school’s results. WV is in the Northeast region but all of it’s conference opponents are in the Central or West), Strength of Schedule (Opponents average win% + Opponents opponents average win%), Road record vs FBS, Win% vs FBS opponents with win% > .500 (so a win vs a 6-6 team doesn’t count for this criteria).

The win % excludes conference championship games (under a methodology like this they are irrelevant) and bowl games.

I know it’s not perfect, probably far from it. The point here isn’t for you to rip apart the many flaws in the methodology I used but to show that any methodology other than a bunch of people in a smoked filled room yields a bracketology the winner of which could not be reasonably disputed as the national champion. Why the NCAA doesn’t do this is a manifestation of their corruption imho.

Here are the brackets by region.

1 WIS vs BYE
2 OSU vs 7 LSU
3 TCU vs 6 KSU
4 MEM vs 5 NW

2 ND vs 7 BC
3 PSU vs 6 ICH
4 MSU vs 5 TOL

1 UCF vs BYE
2 CLEM vs 7 AUB
3 MIAMI vs 6 FAU
4 UGA vs 5 ALA

1 OU vs BYE
2 SDSU vs 7 WSU

Would having a shot at a real playoff improve attendance? I have to think so. Right now, even if you’re P5, after that 2nd loss, what’s the point? Scheduling changes would have to be made. A 10 game regular season makes sense with no conference championship game (team with best record in conference is the champ, so yeah, maybe we have co-champs). Playoff would add 4 or 5 games depending on whether you start with a bye or not. That’s 14 or 15 games which isn’t ridiculous.


I agree that a huge issue with the NFL is the stagnation of the product. Just too many bad teams with bad coaching. Trying to watch games this year, prior to the playoffs was a chore, and I ended up not really watching. Honestly, since I’ve quit playing fantasy football, I’ve watched less and less of the NFL.

Another issue is that it costs around $100+ For one ticket to go to a single game and sit in the nose bleeds. On the other hand, I can sit in front of my TV for free and watch the game better without having to deal with possibly obnoxious fans.

(On a sort of related tangent, the last NFL game I went to was after I came back from deployment in 2004 and was stationed in Omaha. The Texans were playing at KC and I said screw it and got tickets for my wife and I. Cost $200 to sit on the 2nd level were I ended up next to a couple of Texans fans which I thought was cool. That changed as they both drank a ton, spilled beer on each other, started wrestling each other, flicked off the crowd and yelled to the point where people were throwing stuff at them, and one passed out drunk in his chair while the other went down a level and got in a fight. Ushers would not remove them either. Texans won on a last second FG and we had some Chiefs fans that were right behind us offer to escort us out so that folks wouldn’t think we were with them. Wasn’t worth the money).

The college experience is way better with the students, bands, cheaper tickets, rivalries, connection, etc.

TV is ruining it though. Games in Houston shouldn’t be played at 11 am (or really, before 6 pm) before November for safety reasons…not just for the fans, but for the players and everyone else involved. That Tech game was miserable, which is sad considering the atmosphere for the Tech game less than a decade ago. The ECU game wasn’t much better and it sort of ruined homecoming. I just don understand, with all the games in ESPN’s inventory why Houston can’t be in the evening slot. Hell, give us the slots the Pac12 is complaining about; I’d rather sit through games that start at 9 pm.


ESPN is the biggest reason why gameday experience is now largely terrible at UH games. Thursday/Friday night and especially Saturday 11am games are terrible.


Don’t disagree with the above. Just want to ad a new factor in the changing world of college FB and schools in general.

When I was a student back in the dark ages the men were a clear majority in the student body. This meant more students in attendance and more fans from previous grads. who went to the games while students.

The male majority went because they like FB and the ladies because they liked the men.

Fast forward to today and the old guys like myself and dying off, the younger guys are less interested than those in previous generations.
Then you have the female students, the new majority, who are realizing the opportunities afforded them because they are female and employers need to meet EEOC hiring in engineering, IT, and other math/science areas.

Today fewer females are still looking for MRS degrees, far fewer than in my generation. Why risk good grades because they lose study time by attending FB, BB, etc. games. Oh, and some ladies would much rather watch girls BB, volleyball, etc. for a host of old and new reasons. Why date some guy that will probably be working for you someday.

FB is still a predominately male game both to play and follow. Each year a shrinking male student population, fewer senior fans, and fewer interested female students, combined with all that was stated in other posts above, means fewer fans at college stadiums.

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I’ve always felt that UH student demographics hurts attendance at sporting games. A lot of student work on weekends and can’t get off even for a big game; and former HISD students have no cultural commitment to HS sports, and they carry that over into college. Campus student population is the best thing to happen to UH for increase long-time support, but it’s too new to really help. Also, I’ve know a few UH graduates to encourage their own kids to leave town for school. Why?

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11 a.m. fits espn.
11 a.m. does not fit students especially when it is 90DF with 80% humidity.
11 a.m. has to get the message that they are damaging their own product.
This is the typical “It is good now so let’s take advantage of it” They are not looking at the “big picture” and what damages they are causing.


There is a lot bigger drop going on in youth football. I think the cause is

Over-saturation: too many games on too many different days/nights and weird times. Too many ways to watch games. Price inflation.

ESPN has ruined college football in many ways. And they are now paying the price. And well, we all are.


This !

UH had the third biggest drop in attendance last year with ECU suffering the biggest attendance drop.

We lost over 6k attendees.

Disappointment in applewhite being coach and the ensuing boring product is what I attribute to that for UH.

After that people simply weren’t willing to put up with the heat of the day to watch games.

Ticket brokers not renewing is likely another reason for the loss.

I’m predicting we will remain the same this coming season and then increase again in 2019 as the exciting offense brings people back.


Harvey took a toll on attendance as well. People were more focused on getting their lives back into order than going to football games.


The single biggest reason for the drop in season ticket sales was Oklahoma. In 2016 we had Oklahoma at NRG (home) and last year we did not.


I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t remember if I had to buy the nrg game separately from season tickets or not. If not then your explanation makes the most sense.

The Oklahoma game was included in our season ticket package.