THIRD STRAIGHT ANNUAL DECLINE …
Despite a disastrous regular season finale, the University of South Carolina football team took a big step forward on the gridiron in 2016. Obviously it took awhile for positive results to start showing, but we believe the young talent that’s been assembled in Columbia, S.C. (and the nationally regarded recruiters responsible for assembling even more of it) will continue to bode well for the future of the program.
“These guys can really recruit,” one program insider told us, referring to the Gamecock coaching staff.
We’ll address our thoughts regarding the state of the program in a future post, but it’s clear South Carolina will need to continue attracting and developing better talent (especially in the trenches) if it hopes to return to national prominence.
And if it hopes to draw the sort of crowds it was drawing at its zenith.
In 2013 – the third of South Carolina’s three consecutive 11-win seasons – the Gamecocks drew 576,805 fans to seven home games. That’s an average of 82,401 fans per game – good for the No. 14 ranking in the nation.
The following year, attendance slipped to 569,664 (or 81,381 fans per game) – and South Carolina fell to No. 16 in the national attendance rankings.
Last year saw a major drop-off, with the Gamecocks averaging 78,822 fans per home football game.
Did things improve this year? No …
Below are the announced attendance figures for the seven games played at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2016:
EAST CAROLINA – 80,384
TEXAS A&M – 78,245
GEORGIA – 77,221
MASSACHUSETTS – 73,428
TENNESSEE – 78,696
MISSOURI – 73,817
WESTERN CAROLINA – 76,650
According to our math, that’s a total of 538,441 fans – good for an average of 76,920 fans per home game (or nearly 200 fewer fans per game than last year).
Also bear in mind those are announced figures – not actual “butts in seats.” Anyone who attended the Massachusetts and Western Carolina games can certainly attest to the discrepancy.
We continue to believe attendance figures should be based on tickets used, not tickets sold.
Either way, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hasn’t released its annual attendance report yet because there are still several regular season games remaining on the schedule. So we don’t know yet where South Carolina will stack up compared to the other 128 NCAA Division I (a.k.a. FBS) programs.
We do know that heading into this season NCAA football attendance had fallen for five straight years as more fans choose to take in games on television from the comfort of their homes – taking advantage of a much broader array of broadcast options (and platforms).
We suspect that trend will likely continue – meaning the Gamecocks will stay in the top twenty (at least as far as announced attendance is concerned).
(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)