So last year the bowls did alright:
Bowl Attendance: Four of the Big Ten's eight bowl games drew sellout crowds, including packed houses for the BCS National Championship Game and the Rose, Capital One and Valero Alamo Bowls. The conference's eight postseason games attracted 525,679 fans for an average of 65,710 per contest. The BCS National Championship Game was played in front of 79,651 fans, the largest crowd to see a football game in the history of the Superdome. The Valero Alamo Bowl attracted 66,166 people, making it the most attended sporting event in the history of the Alamodome, breaking the previous record of 65,875 patrons set during the 2006 event featuring Iowa and Texas.
That's a pretty good average when you consider how far down the ladder some of these Big Ten bowl games go, and being part of two all time records isn't bad either.
Well then this happened, and all of the sudden everyone had a real good excuse for not wanting to go to their team's pretty awful bowl game. I'm just not sure that is the whole story.
If you are having trouble coming up with the money to follow the University of Wisconsin football team to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., you are not alone.
These are tough economic times and it is reflected in the Badgers' ticket sales for the bowl game.
Call me crazy, but I suspect it has a lot more to do with people simply not being impressed with the team. They were at one point ranked 8th in the nation, had the top spot in the Big Ten, and were looking at their first BCS bowl bid since the 1999 season.
Now? A 3-5 league record and a bowl game against a four loss Florida State team. This sounds a lot more like disappointment than economic problems. The story linked above says the school plans on using 3,000 of their 12,000 tickets.
Bill Jones, Ohio State's assistant athletic director for ticketing, said he thought the economy was part of the reason for slower demand, but believes that Ohio State is playing in the Phoenix area for the fifth time in seven seasons is a factor as well.
The economy isn't part of the reason, it's none of the reason. You think Ohio State wasn't hoping for big things this year? They were picked to win it all in several preview magazines and had a couple of very talented NFL ready players ready to return in hopes of fixing the national image problem they created.
Besides, the trend doesn't hold true across the board. Iowa and Pennsylvania are hardly recession proof, yet tickets for the Outback and Rose are hardly aren't exactly hitting the Humanitarian Bowl level.
Iowa sold well more than their allotment, not exactly what you would expect during a recession for a game featuring the 5th place Big Ten team kicking off at 10am central on New Year's Day.
Back in State College, there was a minor riot for tickets to a game playing played 2,500 miles away:
"It was completely unsafe," Dolan said. "I can't believe they actually thought this would work. I can't believe more people didn't get hurt."
There are clearly way too many bowl games, and instead of ADs blaming the complete lack of interest on the recession, maybe they should take a second look at the product. Most of these places give good deals (or even free tickets) to the locals, yet the stadiums are still largely empty. Even the schools in bigger bowl games are returning tickets.
Of course maybe no one cares. TV revenue is the important thing, and the extra couple of thousand spectators isn't even material to the bowl budgets. Hooray bowl tradition, I guess.