According to figures compiled by al.com, the average per-game attendance at a Division I-A college football game dropped to 45,247 fans, the lowest per-game attendance average since the 2003 season.
Boston College football's year over year attendance average was actually up 3.7 percent to 37,020 a game in 2012. That may come as a bit of a surprise, but the raw number doesn't tell the whole story.
This year's average attendance figure was bolstered by a sold out Notre Dame game and even-numbered years -- when BC typically hosts Clemson, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame -- outperform years when Florida State, N.C. State and Wake Forest come to the Heights. The better comparison would be to compare the 2012 season to 2010, where the program averaged 1,349 less fans per game this year than they did two years ago. There was a similar, albeit slightly smaller drop when going from 2009 to 2011 (delta of just 7 per game).
Across the conference, the results were ... not pretty.
Of the eight BCS schools that saw double digit declines in per-game attendance, four of the eight call (or will call) the ACC home in 2013: Maryland (15 percent); Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and North Carolina (10 percent each).
Here are the ACC (or soon to be ACC) schools that experienced YOY per-game attendance declines:
1. Maryland -- 36,023 (-15%)
2. Wake Forest -- 28,912 (-10%)
2. Pittsburgh -- 41,494 (-10%)
2. North Carolina -- 50,286 (-10%)
5. Georgia Tech -- 43,955 (-9%)
6. Syracuse -- 37,953 (-6%)
7. N.C. State -- 54,106 (-4%)
8. Florida State -- 75,601 (-3%)
8. Virginia -- 46,650 (-3%)
10. Virginia Tech -- 65,632 (minor decrease)
And the per-game attendance increases:
-- Whoever is reporting the Miami Hurricanes announced attendance figures should be hooked up to a polygraph. They are clearly lying through their teeth. That per-game figure has to be inflated by, say, 10k a game?
-- If it wasn't blatantly obvious before, Maryland's move to the Big Ten can be clearly understood with only a cursory glance at these figures. The Terrapins experienced one of the biggest per-game attendance decreases in Division I-A. The only program to experience a more precipitous decline was Joker Phillips' Kentucky Wildcats. Kevin Anderson's gotta sell those new Byrd Stadium luxury boxes somehow, right? Don't worry though. President Loh will be paying off those new luxury boxes with all your hard earned eyeballs on a screen money.
-- To be fair to the Terps, Maryland did have a very 'meh' home schedule that included William & Mary, Connecticut, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Florida State. The only thing more 'meh' than that home schedule was 2012 Maryland Terrapin football.
-- Pittsburgh and Wake Forest's double digit declines don't look all that strange when you consider the Panthers (6-6) and Deacons (5-7) had rather unimpressive seasons. Though a lot of the double digit drop in per-game attendance can be attributed to the fact that both programs went to South Bend to face Notre Dame. A year ago, both programs had sold out home games vs. the Irish.
-- Overall the league didn't make out so hot. The Atlantic Division (-3%) and Coastal Division (-9%) champs were both down quite a bit YOY. The only program to experience a double digit gain was Duke, riding the way of on-field success that lead to the Blue Devils first bowl game since 1994. When your biggest YOY attendance gain is Duke, you know you are suffering from a football brand issue.
-- Glancing over the Division I-A numbers, it's clear that declining per-game attendance is not a problem specific to Boston College. Maybe we can put that one to bed, eh?
-- Finally, non-ACC related, but I thought it was interesting that Temple's per-game attendance average actually dropped 5 percent in 2012 (to 26,580). I know that the Owls didn't have a particularly memorable season, but it seems curious that Addazio wasn't able to sell the program better in Temple's first year back in the Big East.
When you trade in a home schedule of Villanova, Penn State, Toledo, Buffalo, Miami (Ohio), Army and Kent State for Villanova, Maryland, South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Syracuse -- in your first year back in the Big East, one could reasonably expect an uptick in attendance. Then again, that Penn State home game was a pretty big outlier (57,323) and no other current MAC or Big East program travels as well as the Nittany Lions. So perhaps Addazio deserves a pass here.