There’s no need to pile on Miami for poor attendance in the 2015 figures just released on college football. The simple fact that not enough people go to Hurricanes games is unchanging, whether we’re talking about championship seasons or total clunkers.
It is interesting to note, however, a purely numeric expression for the difference in culture that new coach Mark Richt is about to experience.
Georgia, where Richt spent more than a quarter of his life as an SEC head coach, averaged 92,746 for its home games this year. That number is about the same as the previous year, and the number didn’t change even though the Bulldogs supposedly were going through such a disappointing season that it was time to fire the coach.
To put that in a larger perspective, Georgia ranked No. 8 in the nation in average home attendance during what qualified as a down year for fan enthusiasm.
Miami, on the other hand, couldn’t even crack the top eight in the ACC.
The Hurricanes averaged 47,561 in their Sun Life Stadium appearances. That is No. 9 in a league that overall is better known for basketball fever than football success and consequently has several stadiums with relatively small seating capacities.
Richt comes into this with eyes wide open. He understands and he’ll adjust to all the things that are different about Miami. For one thing, the scrutiny and the criticism will be every bit as intense when the Hurricanes lose a game than it was at Georgia, where the population of fans is much larger and covers the entire state without a hint of competition.
All those empty seats at Sun Life figure to strike him much harder, however, than they did former Hurricanes coach Al Golden. His former team, Temple, also played in an NFL stadium and had little chance of ever filling it up.
In other notes from the college attendance figures, Florida State took a significant 11 percent drop from the previous season, finishing with a 2015 average of 73,219.
I’m willing, however, to chalk some of that up to the ridiculously early kickoff times assigned by television. Two FSU home games started at noon, another at 12:30 and the worst of them, against South Florida, at 11:30 a.m.
There should never be an occasion where the refs greet the captains for the opening coin toss with a friendly “Good morning, gentlemen.”
Lastly, can’t figure out which of these figures is the most discouraging.
Seeing that Central Florida has lost so much of its hard-won momentum that attendance dropped 20 percent this season to just over 30,000.
Or learning that FAU’s paltry average of 17,617 in its beautiful new on-campus stadium represents an increase of 25 percent.