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Louisville proves (again) it fits right in

4/21/2014

Louisville already has proven over and over why it will fit right in to the ACC when it officially joins the league later this year. But for good measure, here is reason No. 502 why the Cardinals were the perfect choice to replace Maryland:

Spring game attendance.

Louisville drew 27,500 fans to its spring game (on a Friday night) two weeks ago, one year after drawing 33,000 fans. For those keeping track at home, only 17 schools that reported spring game attendance to date even reached 20,000 spectators. Based on attendance figures that have been reported, Louisville ranks in the top 15 in the country and third in the ACC behind established powers Florida State and Clemson.

They are the only three ACC schools that had more than 20,000 fans at their spring games so far, tied for second with the Big Ten. The SEC leads the way with eight to date.

While we are not putting a large amount of stock in attendance numbers associated with fairly meaningless scrimmages, the support is tangible proof that interest in the program goes beyond basketball. Louisville has made a huge effort to boost its football product, and rising spring game figures show there is excitement in not only what already has been accomplished but what also lies ahead. Charlie Strong helped rebuild the brand, and now Bobby Petrino takes over for his second stint with high expectations surrounding the program.

It cannot be understated just how much the ACC needs Louisville to generate football interest. Football essentially pushed Louisville ahead of UConn in the race to join the league two years ago. The ACC would have been just as good a basketball conference with either Louisville or UConn, the last two men's basketball champions. But it is not even close with football (it should be noted UConn's spring football attendance was 6,500).

Wake Forest and Virginia Tech close out ACC spring practices this weekend with their spring games. The Hokies usually rank No. 3 in the ACC in attendance during the season and should draw a solid crowd this weekend. Among the other ACC schools that reported attendance numbers, Miami was the only one to draw more than 10,000 to its spring game (announced crowd of 12,160).

Boston College, NC State, North Carolina and Virginia did not announce spring game attendance numbers. Pitt did not hold a spring game.