I started thinking about the idea of draw the other day. I've always collected data on GT's home attendance but I wanted to see what kind of draw or buzz we're creating on the road. The data isn't great because we've only got two seasons under our belts, the economy has sucked, and it's still the fledgling years of CPJ's stay in the ACC. However, there are some interesting things to see in the numbers.
I put together the table with as many factors that affect attendance as possible like date/time, rankings, homecoming (HC) or Thursday nighter (Th), and driving distance. I also included inclement weather for FSU and UVA. The weather was abhorrent for UVA. I have mad respect for anyone that sat through that chaos.
Now, the BCS average is the average attendance for each team in that given season against BCS-caliber opposition. I took out the GT game attendance, non-BCS game attendance, and I-AA attendances. Editor's Complaint: BC had 10,000 people attend a home opener against Kent State (WTF?!?) The net is the difference between the school's BCS average and the attendance of the GT game. For the most part, GT has fared well within a 5 hours radius of Atlanta. Obviously, there are a billion factors in play that may affect attendance such as the home team's momentum and GT's ranking/record but these numbers can show us some limitations and strengths of GT's fan base.
Currently, I'd say GT draws a small crowd but the evidence is just so little that it's inconclusive. I'd say for now the numbers indicate that we have to play natural rivals to draw and this may be the case for a couple years until we really start rolling up the ACC ala Virginia Tech-stylez. Miami on Thursday night should've been closer to a sellout but instead was 2,700 short of their season average (maybe they were afraid of getting run over again?). The Vandy and UVA games look bad but couple in weather and terrible seasons and both attendances are a little more understandable.
Future scheduling can be affected by the attendance trends of GT's road warriors. For example, I'm predicting a terrible attendance for the Kansas game next season. Why? New coaches (generally speaking) have a negative effect during their freshmen season on attendance because their system isn't ingrained in the players yet and they're dealing with player defections. Couple in the fact that every GT fan attending will have to fly to KC (and drive another hour) and we're talking about a poor draw from the visitors. Secondly, I expect about as much from Kansas football fans as I do from UNC football fans ("WTF FALSE START! HE'S MOVING BEFORE THE SNAP! THIS GAME IS STUPID! THERE ARE TOO MANY RULEZ! LOLZERS!").
Scheduling SEC teams for road trips is much better for logistical reasons, recruiting, and GT excitement in general. GT road fans appear to initially be excitable for big trips but we're still relatively few in number. We need road trips to be within a certain range and we need the trips to peak our interest. A trip to play Vanderbilt would suck if not for the fact that it's in Nashville. A trip to play football in Baton Rouge would suck if not for the fact that LSU is a perennial power. So we need trade offs. Lose-wins. We don't care much for lose-lose situations like Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky, or even Ole Miss at the moment. Give us something to look forward to, if not for the game itself.
Any thoughts out there?