Numbers tell the true story

Numbers rarely lie.

And, in the case of the recently ended bowl season, they tell us that fans have grown weary of the postseason, mean-nothing, contests and are prepared for the change-known as the College Playoff System-that will take effect at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season.

Of the 35 bowls, only the Royal Purple Las Vegas, the Valero Alamo, Rose and Tostitos Fiesta bowls drew sellout crowds. Not even Florida State’s exciting come-from-behind win over Auburn-ending the SEC’s seven-year stranglehold on the national title-filled up the 94,392 seat Rose Bowl in Pasadena (Calif.).

The excuses will be many and some of them even will have merit. But, fans are beginning to let their unhappiness show in the form of staying in their homes for the bowl season.

Of the five contests played on New Years Day, only Michigan State’s dramatic 24-20 win over Stanford and Central Florida’s clubbing of Big 12 champion Baylor (52-42) were witnessed by capacity crowds. More than 95,000 attended the annual season-ending bowl between the Big 10 and Pac-12. UCF’s first BCS bowl appearance drew nearly 2,000 more fans than the 63,400 capacity lisited for the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The Heart of Dallas Bowl featuring North Texas taking on UNLV drew only 38,380 fans to a Cotton Bowl which seats 92,100. The Outback (LSU vs. Iowa) and Capital One (South Carolina vs. Wisconsin), both located in the Sunshine State, failed to attract sellout crowds as only 51,296 made it to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (65,647) while 56,629 saw South Carolina’s win over the Badgers in the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando (70,188).

It has become almost a given that bowls played in cold-weather regions are likely to attract only the hardiest of fans. That was indeed the case at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise as only 21,951 showed up to watch San Diego State double up the score on Buffalo (49-24) at Bronco Stadium, which holds 37,000 fans.

Not even playing a game indoors helps. Only 26,259 fans showed up to watch Pittsburgh slip past Bowling Green (30-27) in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit (65,000).

Economics are a big part of the problem. Let’s face it, no matter how big a fan you are of Oregon State or Boise State, you are going to think twice before shelling out the thousands of dollars it was going to take you to watch the Beavers’ 38-23 victory in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Television, however, is as much the blame for the low attendance numbers.

With ESPN, and its family of networks, televising every game from start to finish, why leave the comfort of your living room?

The time is right for a national playoff and the numbers prove it.

Contact Jim Butta at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com