Here's the bad news: your school is having serious trouble getting students to show up on time - if at all. Now here's the good news: you're not alone. Far from it. In many cases, the biggest schools in college football are the ones having the toughest time getting students to show up.
According to a report from ESPN, only 3,773 of a possible 9,000 students seats were filled for the second half kickoff of Arizona's upset of Oregon last November. Twenty-six percent of Michigan's student ticket holders didn't make it inside the gates this season. Georgia reduced its student section by nearly 2,000 seats, and nearly 30 percent of those ticket holders still no-showed.
ESPN reached out to students across the nation for their reasons for staying home.
"People would rather stay at fraternity houses with unlimited food, booze and a big-screen TV than make the trek to the stadium," North Carolina student Thomas Doochin said. "Phone service is terrible during games and it's hard to stay in touch with the world for the three hours you're in the stadium."
"The routine is the exact same as it was the first game of my freshman year," said Nebraska student Bryce Maher. "The exact same warmup songs at the same time in every game. Even the tunnel walk has gotten stale after being there for a couple seasons. I believe the university needs to try some new rituals, get some new traditions. At a place that covets tradition, as much as any fan base in the country, a change is needed."
Personally, those sound like lame excuses to me. But like football enough to get a job writing for a football website.
The most common answer was that the opportunity cost of attending a game was too high. Many kids would rather miss a game in person than miss three hours of text, tweets and other games on TV. The NFL is wrestling with the same issue, albeit with an older clientele. If a fan thinks they can get more value watching a game from behind a (television or smartphone) screen than with their own eyes, how can you convince them otherwise?
Many schools start their sales pitches on students as soon as they get on campus, if not before. "We spend a great amount of time in the summer and the fall working on the freshman," Miami associate athletics director Chris Freet said. "We want them to understand that athletics is a big part of college life at Miami and make sure that their first experiences are entertaining. If you get off on the right foot, hopefully they become a fan and matriculate to a season-ticket-holder after graduation."
The most common answer has been to turn the stadium into one big living room. The Big Ten has made a concerted effort to boost the wireless experience inside its own stadiums, and the Big 12 has started showing in-game highlights of other conference games inside its own stadiums. Of course, Nebraska recently dumped $12 million into Memorial Stadium's in part to improve its wireless capabilities, only to be told its traditions were too monotonous.
This empty-seat plague is one that stretches across regions, divisions and conferences. Athletics administrators aren't exactly sure how, when and why this became a problem, but they're in agreement that they need to find a solution.
"We have to solve this because we are talking about the season ticket-holders of tomorrow," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "But interests and attitudes are changing so rapidly it's not easy to quickly identify what we need to do."