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Attendance and passion in Pac-12

2/7/2011

How do you best measure fan passion? Attendance? Or is it more about playing in front of a full house?

Well, if it's the latter, that Utah and Colorado are bringing plenty of passion to the Pac-12.

Let's look at some numbers. First, attendance. Here's how the Pac-12 ranked. The number to the left is the national ranking. (You, too, can review the NCAA's final attendance figures for the 2010 season).

15. USC, 79,907

23. Washington, 66,264

28. UCLA, 60,376

29. Oregon, 59,398

31. California, 57,873

36. Arizona, 55,408

47. Arizona, St. 47,943

49. Colorado, 46,864

51. Oregon State, 45,509

52. Utah, 45,459

62. Stanford, 40,042

83. Washington State, 24,532

Obviously, the Pac-12 doesn't rank among the nation's elite in terms of attendance. The Pac-10 ranked fourth among the FBS conferences, with an average of 53,819, which was down 367 from 2009. The Pac-10 was the only FBS conference whose average attendance was down this season. Michigan topped FBS teams with an average of 111,825. Ohio State (105,278) and Penn State (104,234) were second and third, while the SEC claimed six of the remaining seven spots in the top-10.

But that's not our issue here.

One of the complaints about adding Colorado and Utah to then make the Pac-12 was they didn't bring big stadiums with them. Colorado boasting the Denver market? Well, a 54,000-seat stadium says not really.

Still, if one way to assess fan passion is a lack of empty seats on Saturday in a home stadium, both Utah and Colorado rank in the top-half of the new conference. In fact, Utah joins Oregon as the only Pac-12 program that's over 100 percent capacity.

The number in parenthesis is the percent of capacity represented by the average attendance.

1. Oregon (110)

2. Utah (100.98)

3. Oregon State (99.64)

4. Arizona (95.86)

5. Washington (91.4)

6. Colorado (87.41)

7. USC (85.36)

8. California (80.6)

9. Stanford (80.08)

10. UCLA (66.25)

11. Washington State (65.25)

12. Arizona State (65.09)

How 'bout them Utes? Expect Rice-Eccles Stadium to be a place where an opponent is not going to hear a snap count. And considering Colorado has been struggling of late and fired its coach, Dan Hawkins, 87 percent of capacity seems fairly respectable.

Now, obviously, these numbers aren't perfect. Arizona State's home schedule was pretty terrible last year -- it played two FCS teams at home and was at Wisconsin, Washington, USC and Arizona.

Still, in terms of considering the Pac-12's new members for a potential road trip, you might want to prepare for an environment that equates more to Autzen and Husky Stadiums than for a more subdued venue.