We know that the playoffs are coming for the top teams in the 2014 season. We also know many of the teams that attend these games lose money due to ticket guarantees and other travel costs.
So how are the bowl games doing and are people attending?
The average crowd this year for the 35 bowl games was just under 50,000 per game which is down 2% from the prior year and the lowest average attendance since 1978-79.
With 70 teams making bowl games and a playoff system coming in less then two years, will these bowls stand long term? My guess is no. I attended the Outback Bowl this year and most of the upper bowl was empty and they were up 5,000 fans from the year before. What really shocked me was watching the Sugar Bowl and seeing so many open seats. Bowl games are starting to have an NFL Pre-Season feel if your not in a BCS game. Last years Sugar Bowl was a 100% different then the vibe from the Outback this year, where the winner got it's fans a free appetizer.
Here are some of the bowls that had the biggest drop in attendance:
- Little Caesars : -22,867
- Russell Athletic: -20,178
- Meineke Car Care: -18,009
- Gator: -12,700
- Belk: -10,299
- Sugar: -10,334
I believe these games will become harder and harder for fans to travel to when their teams don't make one of the playoff spots. Clearly, Florida fans were not excited about the Sugar Bowl after missing a shot at the BCS National Championship. Nebraska fans which normally travel well were not real excited about playing the SEC runner-up after Wisconsin puts 70 points on them in the Big Ten Championship game.
The TV money is saving these games but will ESPN and others continue to pay big dollars for these games when the playoffs start and their current Bowl contracts runs out?
These bowl games could become the NIT equivalent after the playoffs format starts in 2 years. If that happens, college football will have to expand the playoff system so more teams can get in so it has more of a "March Madness" type of excitement. When you see examples like Maryland and Rutgers athletic departments running with huge deficits, how can they still support a system where they lose millions of dollars each year?
- 2014 WR recruit Drake Harris from Grand Rapids has decided he prefers playing big time football over playing basketball at MSU. So Drake has opened up his recruitment and will be looking at traditional football powers like Michigan, Alabama, Florida, ND, OSU and others.
- Wheat is back in the NFL as the RB coach for the Buffalo Bills. Congrats Tyrone!
- The Michigan coaches will be visiting Texas TE Durham Smythe today.