LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It's time for the annual University of Louisville football attendance story, but it's a bit of a different slant from previous editions.
You know the Greatest Hits. The "Get In Your Seat On Time," classic that played to such acclaim. And the "Watch the Game Instead of Hanging Out in the Lounges," sequel.
No, this year's edition is not written to knock U of L football fans. The fact is, regardless of what else is said about their kickoff arrival or time of departure, the Cardinal football fan base has grown. This year's attendance -- particularly in season-ticket sales -- is proof of it.
U of L sold more in season tickets this season than it used to average in football attendance.
So what's the problem? I can't figure it out. There has been no more perfect college football Saturday in years than the one that shone resplendent on Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last Saturday. U of L has a Top 25 football team. It has one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the nation. It has a talented corps of receivers, an interesting stable of running backs and a coaching staff that fans profess to want to hang onto for dear life.
So when the attendance -- after tickets came close to selling out -- was announced on Saturday, the number included nearly 7,500 no-shows.
The glass half full says that it's a great crowd for an opponent like Missouri State, particularly since five years ago the crowd would've been 10,000 fewer. I get that. I not only was at those games a decade ago, I was at them as a U of L student when the crowds were lucky to get to 17,000.
But here's what U of L is facing, or at least how it looks after watching things for a while. If someone can hold something against U of L when it comes to things like BCS inclusion or, now, "elite conference" inclusion, it will.
So dipping below 50,000 in attendance, even against a weak opponent, probably isn't going to look good. Even though plenty of teams do it.
In fact, let it be noted, in the august Big 12 Conference, that bastion of football tradition, exactly half the league is drawing less than U of L right now, even after the Cards had a down week in attendance, and one team the Big 12 just added, TCU, is turning cartwheels over a crowd (45,112) that we'd be criticizing if it were in Louisville. Side note: The program at No. 3 in the august Big 12 is an import -- West Virginia at 59,120 per game.
No, this isn't to bash U of L fans. In fact, the ones that care about this issue, particularly enough to read a web column about it, are the very ones who probably not only were in their seats, but bought extra tickets and dragged fans out.
The point is this -- the fan base, like the program, is improving, but still has plenty of room for growth. Let that carry the discussion.
Given the stakes they have and the team on the field, the only excuse for U of L not having 50,000 fans in the stadium is that they don't have 50,000 fans who want to be there. I don't think that's the case. So there's still some firming up to do in the fan base.
Regardless, with attendance in college football slipping, U of L's is creeping upward. Whether that matters to folks looking at college football's bottom lines, I don't know.
I do know that U of L fans, if they're looking outside on Saturday and wondering whether to go to the game or stay home, find themselves part of the decision-making process on realignment. Stay, or go?
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
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