Monday, September 19, 2011

The Seats Are Filled With Gold

There were 6,704 people at Princeton Stadium Saturday night for the opening game of the 143rd season of Tiger football.

Princeton, in fact, was one of five Ivy League schools to play home on Week 1.

Yale drew an announced crowd of 12,246 against Georgetown.

Dartmouth - who might be the league favorite right now - had 5,616 at Memorial Field for its win over Colgate.

Cornell announced 14,032 for its Homecoming Day game against Bucknell (who along with head coach Joe Susan will be at Princeton this Saturday at 6).

Penn, in its shocking loss to Lafayette, drew 9,438 to Franklin Field.

Here are some other attendance numbers:

No. 1 Oklahom at No. 5 Florida State drew 84,392. No. 7 Texas A&M drew 86,623 - against Idaho. Nebraska? 85,110. South Carolina? 78,807.

Those numbers are actually pale compared to some others. Take Alabama. The Tide rolled past North Texas while 101,821 watched. Tennessee at Florida drew 90,744; had the game been at Tennessee, it would have been more than 102,000.

Here's a bad game. Eastern Michigan at Michigan. Attendance? 110,343.

Those attendance figures - and the accompanying parking, concessions, merchandising and other sales on game day - are only part of it. They don't even begin to take into account television revenues.

Do not fool yourself in any way into thinking that anything that is happening with college realignments these days is happening because of anything other than money, football money at that.

This isn't about men's basketball, which is why the Big East is in trouble and why schools like Syracuse and Pitt so eagerly jumped to the ACC.

Here's what it's not about, by the way: the best interests of the athletes.

TigerBlog isn't sure when it became the sole mission of major athletic universities to squeeze every last penny they could out of their football teams, to the point where they make decisions that are so obviously being made for that purpose.

Remember, if Texas goes to what would become the Pac-16, then it would result in Texas at Washington State women's volleyball and men's tennis, not just football. By being in the ACC, Syracuse is going to have play women's soccer at Florida State, and on and on.

Speaking of Texas, the Longhorns - and their gaudy ESPN network - are now shopping themselves literally from coast to coast, trying to find the right place to maximize revenues, wondering if they're above every league out there and probably giving very little thought to questions like, oh, when are all these people going to go to class. And they're doing so at the highest levels of the school and with so little regard to the fact that it couldn't be clearer to the public at large what is driving these decisions (read - $$$$).

Geography? Who cares.

Loyalty? Who cares even less. So what if Syracuse men's basketball went from being a nice regional program with a pretty good history to being one of the very elite programs in college basketball solely because of its affiliation with the Big East? Does Syracuse realize that it's athletic identity nationally was made by men's basketball games against teams like Georgetown, St. John's and Villanova?

Every time conference realignment comes along, TigerBlog wonders if it could ever, ever happen in the Ivy League.

The obvious answer is no, and for one reason.

And it's not money per se.

The football attendance numbers from this weekend would change radically if, say, Harvard was in the Big East and playing at Gillette Stadium against, say, West Virginia or if Penn was in the ACC playing at Lincoln Financial Field against Clemson.

It's not about historical loyalty and precedent either. If anything, those factors have been proven to be non-existent anymore in college athletics.

Nope, the eight schools are bonded together largely because the academic connection to the Ivy League brand is so much more valuable than extra television revenue for football could be in a different league.

It's actually pretty refreshing.

The Ivy League isn't going anywhere.

If anything, TigerBlog could see some very, very strong academic schools who want to adopt a similar athletic philosophy possibly join the league, but that's highly unlikely as well.

So, armed with the knowledge that he works in the most stable athletic league in the country, TB can sit back and watch how the rest of it unfolds.

And continue to be shocked by the unabashed greed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Ivy League has a wonderful football tradition. In today's era, players in the Ivy league are true student athletes versus the athlete first student second scenerio at most of the powerhouse football programs.