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Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015

Here's some college football nuts and bolts

Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at 4:20 PM

Being the resident all-around college football fan, I was recently handed some facts and figures that might or might not interest the moderate to avid college football fan.

No, it doesn't include a tutorial on understanding the BCS or the way a true national championship tournament would be outlined.

Instead what I received were highlights of some of the attendance and television ratings numbers from this past season.

While there are so many numbers included in a report released by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, most of them would drive a normal person insane.

And while I have never been accused of being anywhere near normal, I did find it all bit confusing as well.

There's one passage near the beginning of the press release that seems to sum up all the hype.

NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchett gave a bright and promising forecast. And remember he was speaking in general terms when it comes to how well college football is being watched and accepted by sports fans in all available forms.

"In every instance, whether it's the regular or the bowl season, the numbers for college football show increased interest in college football," he said. "College football fans have an unmatched passion for their sport, and the options for them to connect with their teams have never been greater. We are grateful to the conferences, bowl games and the broadcast industry for their creativity and commitment in delivering a first-class product that allow fans to experience the game more and more each year."

Some highlights of the report seem to lend credibility to Hatchett's statement, especially when it comes to one of the most ridiculed parts of college football, the bowls.

There were 35 bowl games this year and the attendance figures show that slightly over 1.8 million people attended games in person while another 134 million viewers watched on television.

That's an increase in both numbers over a year ago according to the NFF report. In person attendance jumped 43,328 while just the BCS National Championship game alone drew the largest cable TV audience in history with 27.3 million viewers.

Incidentally, that number eclipsed the previous record for cable TV when the 2009 Monday Night Football game between Green Bay and Minnesota drew 21.8 million viewers.

When it came to regular season numbers, attendance at games was up as well. This year total football attendance at all 639 NCAA football schools -- that includes all divisions -- was 49,670,895 up 1,386,222 from the previous season.

Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama and Texas all drew more than 100,000 fans at each regular home game.

Speaking of Michigan, this year the Wolverines set the all-time attendance record with an average of 111,825 fans per home game.

That tally snapped the old record, held by them, of 111,175 set in 1999. It was the 13th straight time the Maize and Blue faithful have claimed that title.

As far as playing in front of at least a million fans during the regular season, 13 teams accomplished that feat.

Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Georgia all reached the plateau.

Speaking of 13 straight attendance records, the Southeastern Conference led the nation in attendance for the 13th straight time as well. Their composite total of 6,521,151 -- or an average of 76,719 per game -- was the best.

If all of this number business has you more than a little bored or at least numbed, there were some other milestones reached this past season.

The SEC claimed it's fifth-straight BCS title, thanks in part to the closest BCS title game ever.

It was also the first one ever decided on the final play when Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 on a field goal as time expired.

But there still is yet to be a back-to-back BCS champion and Florida and LSU are the only teams to win the BCS trophy twice.

That in spite of Oklahoma's four appearances in the title tilt or Florida State and Ohio State's three each.

And since the 1998 season there have been 14 different schools meet in the game.

Currently there are seven teams with a consecutive bowl appearance record. Florida State leads the pack with 29 straight followed by Florida with 20, Virginia Tech 18, Georgia and Georgia Tech with 14, Boston College and Oklahoma with 12.

The all-time mark is held by Nebraska who appeared in 35 straight between 1969 and 2003.

The all-time bowl appearances mark belongs to Alabama with 58.

Tennessee and Texas are next with 49 followed by Southern California with 48 and Nebraska with 47 to round out the top five.

Finally in one of those "history has a way of repeating itself" moments, the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium in which Syracuse beat Kansas State, had the exact same final score as the only other game ever played in the Bronx (Nebraska 36, Miami, Fla. 34 in the 1962 Gotham Bowl).

Rick is a sports writer with the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487. He can be reached by E-mail at rcurl@gcdailyworld.com.

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