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Attendance figures plateau for college football, rise for Boise State, fall for the WAC

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The NCAA released a report on attendance numbers for football games in 2009, and the results reflect a down economy and America's love of HDTV. Why go to a game when I can watch Joe Tessitore's pores?

After the jump, take a look at the numbers for the last year in attendance, including a mixed bag for Boise State's year at the gate. How did the Broncos compare with the rest of the country? Let's find out.

Boise State has some good news and some bad news when it comes to football attendance

The good news for the Broncos? Attendance improved by an average of 507 people at home games this year. The bad news? Boise State added 1,400 seats prior to the season.

  • 2009:  32,782 average attendance
  • 2008:  32,275 average attendance
  • Capacity in 2009: 33,610

While the numbers for the Broncos were not ideal (sellouts are becoming rarer and rare in Boise unless a winning team is in town), at least Boise State did not see a huge drop in attendance like many other Division I-A schools. Go celebrate and light some $100 bills on fire, Gene Bleymaier. You deserve it.

Stop the ride; NCAA attendance wants to get off

With a hat tip to Blutarsky, we learn that the NCAA attendance figures have reached a plateau.

After three consecutive record-breaking seasons, college football attendance declined slightly for the first time in five years. A total of 48,284,673 fans attended games at all 630 NCAA schools during the 2009 season (including home games, neutral-site games and postseason contests), a drop of 554,330 from the record set in 2008.

Perhaps this is the opportunity that women's lacrosse has been looking for. Strike while the iron's hot, ladies.

The WAC not the least attended conference in football ... taste our hotness, Sun Belt!

After the big six conferences (of which the SEC was tops with a 76,000 average and the Big East was bottom with a 44,000 average), the remaining non-BCS attendance numbers look like this:

  • Mountain West: 33,202
  • Conference USA: 26,600
  • WAC: 22,749
  • Sun Belt: 16,463
  • Mid America Conference: 15,317

Who knew the MAC would miss Chad Pennington so much?

The WAC lost an average of 1,700 in attendance from last year, which wasn't the worst among non-BCS teams (Sun Belt) but definitely was the second worst. Through the sheer force of commissioner Craig Thompson's will, the Mountain West improved its average attendance by nearly 1,200 per game. Also helping boost attendance: The fact that no one can find The .mtn on their channel lineup.

Put the children to bed; it's time for WAC team-by-team figures

Karl Benson did not want me to show you this.

Team 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Boise State 32,782 32,275 30,338 30,453 30,112
Fresno State 33,578 37,864 36,291 38,551 39,307
Hawaii 36,725 41,010 43,514 36,589 32,735
Idaho 12,546 15,340 11,479 14,543 15,175
Louisiana Tech 20,000 18,020 18,562 14,586 16,416
Nevada 17,500 19,043 17,087 16,728 15,076
New Mexico State 16,511 17,756 14,412 17,596 12,557
San Jose State 15,344 20,952 15,465 18,854 12,506
Utah State 15,971 14,736 13,131 11,360 10,896

Some observations:

  • There is a rule for Division I-A teams that says you must get at least 15,000 people to show up to your games if you want to remain in Division I-A. Supposedly, you cannot have two consecutive seasons of sub-15,000 attendance or else you get the boot. As you can see from Utah State's run from 2005 to 2008, this rule is more like a helpful suggestion.
  • Last season every team in the WAC crossed over the 15,000-person threshold except for one: the Idaho Vandals. Getting an average of 12,500 folks to get all claustrophobic up in the Kibbie Dome is quite a letdown for a team that experienced a semi-renaissance last season by not audibly sucking wind. Perhaps the Vandals need to go 1-11 again to get those overall bibs back in the seats.
  • Who was San Jose State's attendance taker in 2008? I want him to do my taxes.
  • Utah State went over 15,000 for the first time last season. The key? Recruiting players from large families who live locally.
  • Louisiana Tech is obviously just rounding its figures.
  • Utah State, Louisiana Tech, and Boise State were the only WAC teams to see attendance increase from 2008 to 2009.
  • Among the biggest losers in 2009: Hawaii, which lost over 4,000 people on average from 2008. Not to be outdone, San Jose State had 5,600 people choose to do something better with their time than attend San Jose State games.
  • I'm pretty sure the New Mexico State attendance taker needs corrective lenses because I have not seen 16,000 people combined in Las Cruces for the Broncos last two trips there.

Your turn

What are your thoughts on the attendance figures for college football? Think the recession has the most to do with the drop in attendance? Worried about WAC teams getting kicked out of Division I-A? Think Bronco Stadium should be more full than it is? Share your thoughts in the comments.