- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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The numbers are in and it's time to see just how loyal SEC fan bases were in 2011 compared to years before.
Sports Business Journal took a look at attendance numbers in college football over the past three years, and the real shocker (yeah, right) is that Alabama led the SEC in numbers over that time frame.
Alabama crushed the competition when it came to filling seats in 2011, averaging 101,821 a game (100 percent capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium). That was the same mark Alabama hit in 2010 after the stadium's expansion following the 2009 season.
There are some pretty interesting figures in here, and some surprises as well.
Here's a look at the attendance numbers for SEC teams from 2009-11:
Arkansas' numbers might look pretty low, but the average comes from true home games at Razorbacks Stadium and ones at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. Arkansas' average home attendance in Fayetteville was 72,113, which was 100.16 percent of the stadium's capacity. Arkansas played two games at War Memorial Stadium and had an average attendance of 54,184, which was still 100.42 percent of capacity.
I'm actually surprised at the dip Vanderbilt took in attendance from 2010 to 2011. It's not surprising that the numbers were down from 2009 to 2010, but with a new coach and a much better team, you'd think that the 2011 numbers would be up and closer to full capacity. Vanderbilt was last in the conference when it came to percent of capacity (82.65). Vanderbilt was the only SEC school that didn't meet 100-plus-percent capacity for a game in 2011.
Kentucky had the biggest dip in average attendance with a decrease by 6,063 (9.2 percent). Tennessee was second with a drop off of 5,139 (5.2). Neither of these should come as much surprise to anyone. Kentucky lost so much from the offensive side of the ball and rarely saw things get better on offense throughout its 5-7 season. A little more was expected from Tennessee in 2011, but injuries ravaged a team that was also one game short of making it to a bowl game.
There shouldn't have been a surprise in the fact that Mississippi State saw its average attendance go up. The Bulldogs had higher expectations in 2011, and Alabama, LSU and South Carolina all visited Davis Wade Stadium last season. But I was surprised that Ole Miss' attendance actually went up. After a 4-8 2010 season, Ole Miss' attendance went up by 1.1 percent in a season in which the Rebels won just two games and saw their head coach get fired before the season was over. That increase certainly wasn't great, but Ole Miss' average attendance in 2011 was the highest of the three-year span.
1dSam Khan Jr.
2dSam Khan Jr.