It’s no secret SEC fans are among the best, if not the best, in college football. The proof is in the (Southern style banana) pudding. After the first month of the 2013 season, reports showed overall attendance at college football games was lower than last season. Apparently SEC fans didn’t get the memo; they were too busy heckling opposing players from the stands.
As a whole, the 14 member schools are averaging 99.92 percent capacity attendance at home games this season. So far, more than 5.8 million fans have packed the stands of some of the best venues in the sport. Only one team, Kentucky (88.63 percent) is averaging less than 90 percent attendance at home games this season.
Half the teams in the conference average more than 99 percent attendance at home games, but three fan bases took their support to a new level this year by averaging more than 100 percent capacity attendance. And you may be surprised to find out that four of the most lauded SEC fan bases – Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU – are not among those three.
The most supportive fan bases this season are: Texas A&M (104.73 percent), South Carolina (101.98 percent) and Mississippi State (100.78 percent). These schools may not average the highest number of people in the seats on Saturday, but there’s something to be said about exceeding the limits of your stadium on a weekly basis. Not to mention the legendary tailgating that occurs prior to the games.
By comparison, the other major conferences don’t measure up based on the numbers provided in weekly league press releases. Home games in the ACC average 49,757 fans. Big Ten fans have filled the stadium in just 24 of 69 games this season. The Big 12 has an average home attendance of 58,039 fans, while the Pac 12 averages 52,554.
To be fair, this comparison isn’t comprehensive, as average percentage of capacity numbers are not considered for the other conferences. Also, these other leagues generally have smaller venues than the SEC.
Still, it’s hard to deny the level of support (err, rabid madness) among SEC fan bases. And it’s no surprise that the highest attendance numbers by conference coincide with the best football in the country. When you’ve won the last seven BCS championships and have seven ranked teams (four in top 10), people want to go to the games.
Here are the full attendance numbers for all SEC schools:
Alabama: The Crimson Tide average 101,726 fans, which is 99.91 percent of Bryant-Denny Stadium’s 101,821 capacity.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks average 67,724 fans, which is 94.06 percent of Razorback Stadium’s 72,000 capacity.
Auburn: The Tigers average 85,058 fans, which is 97.26 percent of Jordan-Hare Stadium’s 87,451 capacity.
Florida: The Gators average 87,931 fans, which is 99.30 percent of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s 88,548 capacity.
Georgia: The Bulldogs average 92,746 fans, which is 100 percent of Sanford Stadium’s capacity.
Kentucky: The Wildcats average 60,220 fans, which is 88.63 percent of Commonwealth Stadium’s 67,942 capacity.
LSU: The Tigers average 91,464 fans, which is 98.99 percent of Tiger Stadium’s 92,400 capacity.
Miss. State: The Bulldogs average 55,509 fans, which is 110.78 percent of Davis Wade Stadium’s 55,082 capacity.
Missouri: The Tigers average 62,901 fans, which is 93.71 percent of Memorial Stadium’s 67,124 capacity.
Ole Miss: The Rebels average 60,330 fans, which is 99.59 percent of Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium’s 60,580 capacity.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks average 81,842 fans, which is 101.98 percent of Williams-Brice Stadium’s 80,250 capacity.
Tennessee: The Volunteers average 95,311 fans, which is 93.03 percent of Neyland Stadium’s 102,455 capacity.
Texas A&M: The Aggies average 87,125 fans, which is 104.73 percent of Kyle Field’s 83,002 capacity.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores average 36,644 fans, which is 90.82 percent of Vanderbilt Stadium’s 40,350 capacity.
With stadium expansions planned for the near future at Missouri (77,200), Texas A&M (102,500) and possibly Auburn, those numbers only figure to increase in the coming years – assuming there’s not a massive drop off in the quality of the SEC’s on-field product. And no one in their right mind is banking on that happening anytime soon.