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Tampa Bay Times Columnists Say USF Needs Better Attendance To Join Big XII. Tampa Bay Times Columnists Are Wrong.

Every other school is in the same boat, but don’t let the facts get in the way of a good column.

If the Tampa Bay Times wants to take a hatchet to USF attendance, in more than one piece on the same day, that’s fine. We’ve done it before ourselves. Having more people come to USF games is an important part of rebuilding the fan base. And we’ve argued for people to come to games this year vociferously as it’s a factor in who will be selected by the Big XII.

It takes time when you’ve lost the trust of the casual fan due to years of incompetence and bad football. It’s all perfectly normal if not exactly desirable.

But if you’re going to make the argument that this affects USF’s ability to join the Big XII, you better realize against whom they are competing. You should at least put the modicum of work in needed to find out where the Bulls stand in relation to other competing schools.

Here, we’ll do that for you. Using the most recent list of consensus candidate schools, we’ll go through and break down their Week One attendance.

USF of course is in the unenviable position of being unable to inflate their attendance figures without fact checking. The Tampa Sports Authority is legally compelled to give an actual turnstile count, whereas no other candidate school is compelled to do so.

But even with that huge handicap, it’s pretty obvious that USF is just fine. Even when you factor in a hurricane that sent many students back to their more inland in-state homes for the weekend.

Air Force:

vs. Abilene Christian
Falcon Stadium capacity: 46,692
Announced: 34,128

NCAA Football: Abilene Christian at Air Force Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Might have outdrawn USF by a bit, but not by much. Helps when you can make cadets go to games too.

Also a school that’s one of the least likely for final consideration.


Won at Arizona 18-16. Probably no longer a realistic candidate anyway due to school policies that discriminate against LGBT students.
Average announced attendance last year: 58,532

You’re not beating BYU on attendance and national following. You’re also not letting them into your conference in the current political and social climate.


vs. UT-Martin
Nippert Stadium capacity: 40,000.
Announced: 28,530.

No better or worse than USF, and no hurricane or Labor Day Weekend either (this was on Thursday night).


vs. Maine
Rentschler Field capacity: 40,642
Announced: 29,377

Best pic we could find was in this piece from

Looks pretty USF’ish to us, if not a bit behind.

Colorado State:

Played Colorado in Denver. Got woodsheded 44-7.
Average announced attendance last year: 24,917


Played Oklahoma. Sold out Reliant Stadium (71,000). About half were OU fans. Want an apples-to-apples comparison? Wait until FSU-USF on September 24th. It’ll be a sellout I promise you.

Average announced attendance last year: 33,980


Lost to C-USA Player of The Week White Mike and WKU 46-14 in Bowling Green
Average announced attendance last year: 19,339


Won at North Texas 34-21.
Average announced attendance last year: 21,043


Lost to Wake Forest 7-3 in a game no one present has been able to unsee.
Average announced attendance last year: 22,930


Beat South Carolina State 38-0.
Announced: 36260

Looks like they outdrew USF by a bit. But in this case, is that really a bad thing considering both schools are likely joined at the hip for expansion purposes?


Beat Towson 56-20
Announced: 35,976
Actual: 22,626


So you tell me: which school listed above, besides BYU, has attendance that’s so overwhelming that it’ll keep USF from Big XII expansion consideration?

What institution is out there waiting to surpass the 11th-largest market in the country, with television sets and recruitable football talent coming out of its ears, because they draw so well against FCS schools? One with the academics, research, and even airport access that USF would bring?

There isn’t one. And that’s why you should ignore the drive-by columnists.

Hell, even their own beat writer said don’t worry about this five weeks ago.