- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Attendance is down in college football. I blame you. I guess you were all at home watching all of those Pac-12 games on Direc... oh, wait.
I kid. Actually, the Pac-12 was the only BCS conference to have an increase, according to Jon Solomon of Al.com in Alabama. He broke down the attendance figures from across the country and found that regular-season attendance is at its lowest point since 2003.
From his story:
The Pac-12 (53,586) was the only BCS conference with an increase. But that's largely due to California returning to its renovated stadium after playing last season in a smaller stadium. The Pac-12 average has declined 8 percent since setting a record in 2007.
... Among BCS schools (not counting Cal), the biggest increases in attendance came from: TCU (37 percent in its expanded stadium); UCLA (21 percent); USC (18 percent); and Vanderbilt and Duke (15 percent each).
Here's how the Pac-12 schools shaped up, followed by the average attendance and the percentage movement from 2011.
USC, 87,945, +18%
UCLA, 68,481, +21%
Oregon, 57,490 -3%
Arizona State, 56,835, -4%
California, 55,876, +48% (off-campus in 2011)
Arizona, 47,931, -2%
Colorado, 45,373, -10%
Utah, 45,347, (minor increase)
Oregon State, 43,424, +2%
Stanford, 43,343, -13%
Washington State, 30,252, +5%
Some interesting trends to look at. USC, usually strong in the attendance department anyway, probably enjoyed a big boost from a preseason No. 1 ranking. Not that big of a drop-off for Washington considering they were playing off campus. Expect that number to go up next year -- much the way Cal's number jumped (though the Huskie faithful represented pretty well at CenturyLink so the spike probably won't be as significant).
On the surface, Stanford's dip, the largest of all the conference schools, is a little surprising considering the year they were coming off of and the success the team had. But it makes sense when you look at the schedule. Its first three games in 2012 -- all at home -- were before students were even back on campus so they really only had three home games with the full student body present. Plus, the Cardinal's big-draw games -- Oregon, Notre Dame and Cal -- were all on the road. USC also falls into that category, but that was one of the early games with a ghost campus. I'd expect those numbers to trend up next year.
Looking conference wide, the new TV deal also probably threw a wrench into attendance. Thursday/Friday night games coupled with a smaller window for the announcement of kickoff times all played a factor.