Nick Saban Goes Full "Crabby Baby Boomer who Needs a Nap" about Student Attendance

Submitted by FauxMo on October 4th, 2018 at 12:17 PM

All kidding aside, if Alabama students don't show up for games after winning 5 of the last 10 national titles, what are regular programs experiencing? Is the "stadium experience" dying, as some are warning? Have 70" high def TVs and $15 hot dogs made-obsolete the stadium experience???



October 4th, 2018 at 1:58 PM ^

There was also no MAC opponents and no FCS opponents during the Schembechler years. 

Cupcake non-conference opponents during Bo's time were Navy, Wake Forest, Maryland, Washington State, Vanderbilt, Kansas, Duke, Arizona, Virginia, Stanford, etc.  Those opponents in the 70s and 80s are much more appetizing than playing Bowling Green and Akron today.  


October 4th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

His point is precisely that our non-conference schedules were both difficult and appealing in the 80s and they are not anymore and he is exactly correct.

To your point, yes, some big ten programs were basically baby seal U's as well, but at least we cared about getting revenge on Indiana for a basketball loss.

We don't even care about Rutgers, which is as bad a program as any conference program in the 80s or 90s. We certainly don't care at all about SMU. And Alabama doesn't care about ULL.

I don't even think the scheduling is half the problem though.  Attendance hits across the country are mostly about 1) games are way too long now between up tempo offenses stopping the clock more frequently and TV timeouts run amuck and 2) watching at home on hi-def televisions or doing other more productive things are alternatives that people prefer now more often than they did in the 80s and 90s. 


October 4th, 2018 at 2:51 PM ^

TV timeouts have become incredibly onerous, yes. But I think the game length issue is overstated, at least with regards to people attending or not.

See, the time commitment for a football game is pretty big. When I went to noon games I actually had to set my alarm because I got up early enough to wash up, eat something, and get dressed; then I had to go find parking, and then walk to the Stadium to pick up a ticket. My preferred arrival time at my parking space was 10:30 am, which got me into the Stadium with some time to spare before the band came out. That meant I left home at no later than 10:15, living in Ann Arbor.

If the game ended at 2:45 (which even then was improbable) I might be home by 3:30 if I was able to dodge traffic. If it ended at the more realistic 3:30, I was home after 4. Or worse if I got stuck after a close game. 

That's a minimum six hour time commitment when I lived a couple of miles from the stadium and didn't tailgate or wait around after. It's worth it, too--there's no experience quite like college football in person--but it's a huge time investment. And it's a lot more for people who travel some distance and/or tailgate before the game (when we tailgated a noon game we tried to show up at 9:00 or 9:30 am and we had breakfast, and it was great). 

An extra half hour of game time doesn't change that time commitment all that much. 

I tend to favor other explanations. We're getting old, and we're not conditioned for the inconvenience that 6-8 hours of a Saturday when it's chilly and there are no convenient restrooms, and many of us now experience the games with other fans via social media rather than in-person interaction. And of course HD makes it that much more enjoyable. 


October 4th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

The time commitment is large but most of that time should be spent doing enjoyable things.  Like tailgating or walking to the game with fellow fans or watching the band or watching actual football.

So much of the time spent in the uncomfortable bleachers is now waiting for a commercial.  That's not enjoyable time and it's an hour plus.

Also, I'm not putting weights on those two factors just because I put the game length issue at 1 and bolded.  I would actually say the second issue is of greater impact.  Tastes for entertainment are changing and it's not at all a bad thing, per se.  Spectator sports are just dumb distractions, in reality.  Younger generations have other dumb distractions they prefer.   We shouldn't be holier than thou by pretending someone else's dumb distractions are any better or worse than ours.


October 4th, 2018 at 3:23 PM ^

The issue is money.

College and professional sporting events are aimed directly at entertaining the middle class.  The middle class is far different than it was 20 years ago, and has far less disposable income.  People are going to less games because they cannot afford to go them.   Four tickets to a Michigan game at $90 a pop is a non-starter for most people who would have been the people filling the stadium 20 years ago. 


October 4th, 2018 at 11:39 PM ^

When it comes to student attendance at schools like Michigan it is more of an attendance issue, not a ticket purchasing issue.  Students with cheap season tickets are not attending games despite 0 marginal cost.  And that's because the games are too long and there are better alternatives.

Money is a contributing factor amongst non-students and especially in pro sports but it's not because the middle class has less money (which is an entirely different conversation), it's because tickets are far more expensive in a relative sense.

From a 2017 Forbes article: "In 2011, the average cost for a family of four to attend a MLB game and pay for various extras was $207.68, with tickets increasing over 340% since 1957, after adjusting for inflation. (emphasis mine)

Over the last 20-30 years sports have become big business and college and pro sports have figured out how to (and more importantly, have the desire to) squeeze every penny out of fans. 

If doubling ticket prices, reduces attendance by only 20%, you make more money at the higher prices.  Doesn't matter that your stadium is 20% empty.  So teams just don't care anymore when they're maximizing profits.


October 4th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

Absolutely this^^^^^

The teams mentioned above were, for the most part, pretty lousy in the 70's and 80's. Another poster mentioned that many of them probably would not rise to good MAC level competition today and that is totally spot on.

And.....I do miss the days of students being allowed to bring in coolers to the stadium. In the mid-80's they had outlawed kegs, but you could still bring in coolers, no questions asked. It was the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon. 

Section 1.8

October 4th, 2018 at 3:47 PM ^

Not exactly.

Those teams (Navy and Duke) weren't so bad.  Michigan, on the other hand, was definitively a Top-5 team in the nation.

'76 Navy had some bad games, but they beat UConn, Georgia Tech and Army.  They played Notre Dame and lost by a touchdown.

'78 Duke was 4-7 and beat Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia.  The ACC at that time was just 7 teams.  For its non-ACC schedule, Duke that year played Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ga. Tech and Navy.

Leach SI.png


October 4th, 2018 at 9:53 PM ^

while some of those were 'some of the worst programs..' we also played Miami (FL) Florida State, Colorado, Washington, Boston College, to name a few and at that point, or at least at the time they were set to schedule...they were a top tier team and put up one hell of a game. ND had the likes of Rocket Ismail, Tim Brown, we played some TOUGH and challenging opponents instead of propping up MACtion with ticket sale donations in  exchange for a close game and maybe even...a loss...

Personally, it's the crazy high cost of attending a game, the constant whoring of our fans to TV programming for 3:30 or 7:30/8:00 PM games...screw that. 1:00 pm kick, kids playing a game, students can roll out of bed, have their drink for the alcoholics on the board, and go back to parties after the game...too much of a day is taken up by this media driven monster. And maybe not many of you...but some students do actually study after a game...and even some during a game when I was there, books in hand in the stands, actually reading at half time/time outs...more than one or two as I recall...the time and the game have gone full commercial, and throwing money at kids is no solution, catering to the whims of TV times is not making it better. I have had season tickets for the better part of 30 years, I'm reaching a point it's no longer worth it.


October 4th, 2018 at 12:42 PM ^

To be fair, while the experience you get at the game has largely remained similar over the years, the experience you receive at home has improved tremendously over the last few decades. I have season tickets but I sell all the cupcake games. I have no interest in going to games with a 30 point spread. If it's a blowout then it's not entertaining and if it's close then I'm upset about it being that way. 


October 4th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

I know I'm going to regret this because you are seemingly being obtuse, but when Michigan announced these matchups WMU had come off a 13-1 season and SMU was a .500 team in the AAC.  I'm not sure how you'd schedule football games played by actual human beings and not, I don't know, a collection of pixels, but that's a hard looking schedule that only got softer because of the intervening 2 years.

Section 1.8

October 4th, 2018 at 1:30 PM ^

You sell all the blowout games and keep the rest?

What sort of prices do you get, for the cupcake games?  It must be a significant loss from face value.  And even more, if you factor in your PSD, divided by per-ticket and per-game.

So when we add up the cost of tickets for each premium game (say, $145 like the 2018 Wisconsin game), plus your PSD (per-ticket, per-game which must be something like $45-$85), plus the loss you took on selling your cupcake game tickets (I am guessing here but maybe $100?), you are talking about a real cost to you of something like $310+ per ticket for the good games.

I am not going to ask you, "Is that worth it?"  Because I am facing the same pressure, at somewhat higher costs.  It is up to you and you alone if it is "worth it" to you.

It is a dear cost (to me).  And what you see in Tusacloosa is what we see in Ann Arbor.  Lots of loyal alums and dedicated full-price fans, who are showing up faithfully (but less and less enthusiastically, given the cost), and then students who have sub-market price tickets and who show up late and leave early.

Section 1.8

October 4th, 2018 at 10:25 PM ^

I'm not a student, so I have to pay a PSD of $2400, and then the full price of season tickets (more than $1800).  And that was through the blessing of this year's low-interest home schedule (no MSU, no OSU, no ND).  Next year, my tickets will cost more.  Much more, I fear.

Who buys single student tickets for $30?  Other students?  Of course it has to be other students because only students can use those under-priced tickets, right?  With the sparse attendance of students at games, I'd expect that resale tickets would be next to nothing.



October 5th, 2018 at 3:53 AM ^

If someone is getting $30 for a student ticket, it's probably from non-students who are going to validate them for a fee (I think $35) so non-students can use them. $65 isn't at all bad for getting in the door once your pockets are full grown, so everybody's happy.

But if you just wait until game time, which you can do if you don't need time to validate the ticket, you can buy student tickets for blowout games for $10. All you have to do is walk from the stadium back towards the Union and offer 10 bucks to the first person you see trying to get rid of a ticket.

I did that for a couple of years when I was a grad student and my oldest son was a baby. He would enter on my midfield ticket with the rest of my family, and I'd join them after I went in through the student entrance with a $10 ticket.

Winning Curesall

October 4th, 2018 at 4:03 PM ^

I remember that game as a kid!

It was Anthony Carter, I believe, who caught the ball, stumbled, regained his balance and ran it in for a last second score.

As a kid, hearing the stadium light up like that...a great experience.

As far as Nick Saban goes, I don't really listen to anything the guy says, even if I hear it. 

Arb lover

October 4th, 2018 at 12:53 PM ^

It's not winning by 50 that is no fun. I could win by 50 all day vs msu, psu, and osu and find every second riveting. 

It's when they play non FBS teams. Is there really any surprise that student turnout is similar to spring games and when playing "Washtenaw Community College" er sorry, "Louisiana-Lafayette"

Section 1.8

October 4th, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

That picture gets a lot of airplay; didn't Angelique take it, and put it out on her Twitter account?  Or am I thinking of another similar photo?

Anyway, we shouldn't blame that entirely on "Akron."  That same picture (maybe not quite so bad but very close) can be taken at any number of Michigan games in the First and Fourth quarters.  The picture above was taken pre-game.  You can see the Marching Band on the video board.

Note; the Akron photo was taken when the Athletic Department had tried to narrow the number of student tickets and hopefully make actual, uh, attendance more of a thing.  And so above the portals in Sections 36, 35 and 34 (I think I have my numbers right, without checking) they sold retail tickets.  And all of those people showed up.  Like the rest of the Stadium.

Of course, wherever they were, the ten- or twelve-thousand students who weren't actually in the Stadium were standing and yelling loudly.  Boomers need to know that, right?