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Three and Out: It's time for new math in college football

1. I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence, but it's time I remind college athletic directors of a simple mathematical truth: while 80 is greater than 50, 50 is much greater than zero.

The newest epidemic to hit college football (other than mainstays like the incompetence of the NCAA and the never-ending debate of pay for play) is the vanishing fan. After college football attendance hit an all-time high in 2008, gate numbers have slowly but surely declined to a point now where every conference at every level of major college football is feeling the pinch. For example:

- Want to see Penn State host Michigan? Great, but you'll have to buy an equal number of tickets to see the Nittany Lions host Eastern Michigan first. 

- Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley recently fired off a letter pleading with fans to buy tickets for the Gators' dates with Toledo and Georgia Southern.

- Virginia Tech's 93-game sellout streak is in jeopardy, according to AD Jim Weaver.

- Oregon's 89-game sellout streak will end if the Ducks don't sell 3,500 more tickets for the opener against Nicholls State. 

Talk to any athletic director and they'll tell you it's a national trend with a confluence of factors. Spotty cell service means fans have to miss out on other games to see their team play live. The convience of the home theater is tough for any sporting entity to beat. The economy still isn't all that great. 

Every one of those things is true. But you still shouldn't feel sorry for any of these schools. 

The number one reason why fans aren't showing up the way they used to is because they're smarter than they used to be. They've stopped paying Ohio State prices to see Youngstown State. Like anything else, passion runs second to value when choosing to buy (or not buy) tickets.

Sure, it's a tough economy. Yes, it's inconvient to live without your cell phone for an afternoon at the stadium. But at the right price, none of that matters. Apparently, though, athletic directors would rather their high-priced collect nothing for a $75 ticket than, say, $40 for a more reasonably priced ticket.

2. Here's one more simple formula that bears repeating: 72 divided by two does not equal 37.

In case you missed it, college football's 36th bowl, the Camelia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. pitting the MAC against the Sun Belt, was announced yesterday. The Sun Belt wants to start another bowl in Little Rock. The American wants to start a bowl in Miami. 

Since college football has never passed up a dollar it couldn't claim, I expect each of those games to happen. That would leave FBS with 38 bowl games. There were 72 bowl eligible teams each of the past two seasons. The math doesn't work.

Either one of three things would then happen. Bowls would be left without teams, 6-6 teams with two wins against FCS competiton would be deemed eligible, or 6-7 and 5-7 teams would be allowed to crash the party. I'm betting on doors number two or three.

3. Today is the NFL's birthday. Though the first game was not played until October 3, the league officially formed on August 20, 1920' the National Football League is 93 years old and healthier than ever. 

To commemorate this event, the NFL will celebrate by doing ....nothing. No games are scheduled for tonight, with preseason action taking a break until Thursday night.