Combining the ticket sales of FBS and FCS games in 2012, college football enjoyed its third-highest attendance total ever with 48.9 million tickets sold. That number was slightly down from the all-time mark set last season of 49.6 million tickets sold.
However, don’t blame Michigan, Alabama, Ohio State or Texas for the dip in sales. The four national powerhouse programs were the only schools to crack the 100,000-person average on the season. The Wolverines broke their own single-season, all-time record by packing in a whopping 112,252 fans per game over the team’s six home games.
Their bitter rivals, the Buckeyes, came in just behind them with an average attendance of 105,330, followed by the BCS national champion Tide at 101,773 and the Longhorns at 100,884.
While no other schools cracked 100,000, several also carried their weight by enjoying the bump in attendance following stadium renovations. Cal enjoyed the largest year-to-year increase, as 48.4-percent more folks saw Bears games than in 2011. Renovations on their stadium were completed prior to the year, helping to bring in an extra 18,000 fans per home game.
The TCU Horned Frogs (36.7-percent), UCLA (20.9) and USC (17.5) also enjoyed massive attendance bumps. Of course, USC may fall back down to Earth in 2013 after the embarrassment of a season the Trojans put together under coach Lane Kiffin, but that’s neither here nor there. We just try not to miss an opportunity to hate on Lane.
While the SEC as a whole led the nation with 75,538 fans per game, several programs within the nation’s most dominant league proved to be riddled with fair-weather fans.
Tennessee, after limping to a three-win season that resulted in the firing of Derek Dooley, only had 89,965 fans on average attend its home football games. That means the Vols played in front of nearly 13,000 empty seats per game. Perhaps it’s time to pull an Oakland and “tarp-up” a section of seats? Again, however, that’s neither here nor there.
On a per-game basis, the school suffered a 4.9-percent attendance decline from a season ago, the highest drop in the nation. Auburn, another SEC school that suffered through a dumpster-fire of a three-win season, averaged 82,646 fans per game, a 3.7-percent drop from 2011, before Gene Chizik was fired from the program.
After the SEC’s 75,538, came the Big Ten (70,040), the Big 12 (59,004) and the Pac-12 (53,679).
Nationwide, the average per-game attendance of 44,970 was down 528 fans from the 2011 season.