How Do They Do It?


We’ve talked about this before, so it’s nothing that new. But it is kind of a natural time to re-approach the topic of ACC fan support in light of a recent observation made by EagleinAtlanta and the fact that one of the ACC’s best fanbases visit Raleigh this weekend.

I like to occassionaly take opportunities to educate and highlight items from athletics programs not named NC State because there are many fans out there who have no idea what athletic are like at other schools. If you haven’t been to many (basketball &/or football) games at a variety of other programs then it is hard to understand where NC State support is both good and bad. Most likely, however, a fan who hasn’t been to many other places would easily take for granted the strong support that both our basketball and football programs receive from Wolfpack fans when compared to other schools.

I wish that I could find some links to previous conversations that we have had about football fan support amongst ACC member institutions, but to this point I am not having any luck.

Of all of the schools in the ACC, it has always surprised me the most that Georgia Tech does not have better support. Additionally, it has always surprised me how well GT manages to recruit and perform on the field in light of fan support that is so sub-par and fails to compare with others. In a Lee Fowler world where coaching makes little impact and takes a back seat to facilities and support and everything else under the sun, the results generated by Yellow Jackets’ program are quite impressive.

My first eyewitness experience with this was in the middle/near the end of the Mike O’Cain years when NC State traveled to Atlanta for a very important 3:30pm ABC game vs a great Yellow Jackets team led by Joe Hamilton. The weather was PERFECT and…to add to the magnitude of the game…it was HOMECOMING at GT. If the game was played in Raleigh – even back then when football wasn’t as big as it is today – there is no doubt that Carter-Finley would have beeen filled to capacity. But in Atlanta, SEVERAL thousand seats remained empty. I remember sitting there wondering how the hell Georgia Tech could put together such a great product/program while we were/are mired in general mediocrity in light of the fact that they have such comparably poor fan support?

Well…another ACC blogger has noticed the exact same phenomenon. Take a look at this link from EagleinAtlanta from last week’s BC-GT game for a moment. Now, I think that we all find it a little ironic that a Boston College fan is criticizing another school for poor fan support…but, exclude the hypocrisy of BC and focus exclusively on Georgia Tech.

How do they do it?

Empty Seats

Those are empty seats for a primetime night game against a ranked opponent. Is Georgia Tech now bush league? No. Yet you’ll hear BC critics and TOB mention our occasional attendance issues when talking about BC. Once again let me restate, I want a packed house every week, but attendence has nothing to do with what happens on the field.

^ I ardently beg to differ.

First, attendance manifests itself in both energy and noise during a game. This leads to increased levels of emotion and energy on the field. Heck, if ANYONE should understand the impact of attendence….the folks at Boston College should recognize one of the primary reasons that an inferior NC State team was able to remain within striking difference in last year’s game with the Eagles was because the value of ‘home field advantage’.

NOBODY argues that the concept of ‘home field advantage does not exist? Well, you don’t have any home field advantage if you don’t have people in the stands.

More broadly, attendance creates a perception of support. Support helps with recruiting. Recruiting raises talent within a program. Talent raises performance on the field.

HOW in the world can attendance NOT impact what happens on the field?

For an addendum to this entry, make sure that you check out MrO’s comments in the #1 slot just below.

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53 Responses to How Do They Do It?

  1. Mr O 09/21/2007 at 9:50 AM #

    BC fans like to show how other schools might not have packed stadiums to justify their own lack of support. Already, the new coaching staff at BC is commenting on the lacking atmoshphere at Alumni Stadium and overall support of BC fans.

    This is a quote from that post:

    Went to the dinner last night. Here are a few items that I posted on TOS as well:

    1. I was one of the very few under 60. No surprises there.

    2. Jags spoke for about 10-15 minutes. One of the things he stressed was Gameday atmosphere. Says it needs to improve. Get in the seats early. He talked about recruiting and he said to ignore, two stars ratings and all that. He said they were confident in the players they were picking. Also said that their first priority was a game breaking running back and he can’t mention any names, but they’ve got a good one (obviously Haden). Mentioned that this was the only college job that would have lured him away from the Packers. He was asked about scheduling and he deferred to Gene and Gene said, “We’ll schedule anybody who we can beat.”

    3. Players that spoke were Ayers, Aponovicius, Tennant, Brace, Herzlich and Ramella. They were asked among other things, what the main differences were with the new staff. Ayers had a funny story – said that O’Brien never really spoke to him for three years and then at the first day of practice this year, Jags went up to him and said, “You want an umbrella with that cocktail?” I’m guessing Ayers was just sitting around drinking some water or Gatorade. Basically the players stressed the same kind of stuff – practices are more fun, and Jags is easy to approach. He is somebody you can introduce to your family. Brace said he was no longer watching the clock during practice.

    4. Barry Gallup – Also stressed Gameday atmosphere. Said that Georgia Tech is the same type of school and that place was rocking. We should be like that. He said that doing the pregame walk at BC and turning the corner and seeing nobody there was ‘depressing.’ Talked about the road record of 20-8 over the last few years being the sixth best in the nation. Claimed the reason for that was players liked playing in a big time atmosphere and the players wonder if BC will ever be like that. Gallup also said that we had a big time recruit in (again didn’t mention name but obviously Beal) who went to Florida-Tennessee the next week just to make a comparison. He acknowledged our limitations, etc. but we should still do a better job.

    5. Host of the dinner – also talked about gameday atmosphere. He said grab your children or grandchildren and have them around for the pregame walk.

    Overall, the main point was improving atmosphere. TOB complained about this often and it is clear that the new staff is just as concerned or bothered for lack of better words.

  2. Mr O 09/21/2007 at 10:07 AM #

    As far as GT, it really is amazing how consistent their program has become.

    I lived in Atlanta for 2.5 years and all you heard was criticism of Gailey and praise for Hewitt. Gailey was the guy who always would get 7 wins and Hewitt was going to lead GT to national titles.

    Gailey’s problem with GT fans is that he is having Herb Sendek type of results. He is consistently pretty good, but his teams haven’t achieved anything significant that matches what previous coaches at GT have accomplished. He typically has gotten these results with modest recruiting classes and some of the toughest academic requirements for recruits and his players once they are in school.

    Throw in the lackluster fan support and you have to admit that GT job isn’t easy. He is in the middle of loads of talent in Ga and the surrounding states, but he is also in the middle of SEC country. Atlanta is a major draw for recruits, so that is one advantage of GT.

    Gailey took a big step by getting to the ACC title game last year and I think that silented some of his critics. But if he doesn’t take advantage of the weakened ACC this year and at least get back to J’ville, then my guess is that the critics will be back.

    Could be a TOB situation allover again in a year or two.

  3. Wolf-n-Atl 09/21/2007 at 10:16 AM #

    Gtech made all of their UGA games available only through mini-packs since UGA fans were buying all of the tickets. Now UGA fans buy a full mini-pack or even season ticket, just to get that one game.

    I am also surprised at the photo above, since Atlanta has around 5 million people. You would think that there are enough college football fans who would pick up the extra tickets. Maybe the photo is late in the game as I have been to some packed games at Bobby Dodd.

  4. noidea 09/21/2007 at 10:42 AM #

    I believe the empty sections in that picture are the visitor sections. I also believe the BC athletic dept. returned approx. 2,000 tickets to that game. And, it would seem to me that picture was taken before the game started.

    Ga. Tech does have some trouble drawing sellouts but maybe in this particular instance, BC’s lack of fan support was also to blame.

    SFN: So what? EVERY school has visitor seats to sell for the majority of their games. That is consistent across the country.

  5. Mr O 09/21/2007 at 10:46 AM #

    The band is on the field, so it is either halftime or pregame. Also that is the student section IIRC which is even more likely not to be filled pregame and at halftime.

    At least take the photo during the middle of the game to be fair, but from reading the BC message I am not surprised that the picture was taken at those times. The folks over there tend to leave important facts out to make their points.

    The same guy who does that blog made a post a few days ago when it was announced that there were a few Clemson/NC State tickets were available after Clemson turned in their unsold tickets. He failed to point out that NC State has sold out their season tickets for 8 straight seasons. Little did he know that as of yesterday there were no tickets available and the game is officially a sellout.

    His purpose was again to try and justify BC’s lack of support and show that criticism of their fanbase is unwarranted. They have their best team in two decades and they still aren’t selling out their stadium. Not to mention, they have played last year’s ACC champs and their former coach in their only two home games so far.

    While we have played Wofford and Central Fla and are likely on our way to another 2-4 win season, yet our stadium is still sold out for every game.

    The guy from that blog writes some interesting stuff, but he misses some key elements of reality when trying to make his points.

  6. Mr O 09/21/2007 at 10:48 AM #

    noidea: That would have been hilarious if those sections were for visitors. However, the visitors section is the opposite corner.

  7. LRM 09/21/2007 at 10:51 AM #

    We drove down for that gawd-awful ’03 game in ATL, a noon start, and the thing that amazes me most isn’t that the upper decks are empty, but that the gold seats on the 50 were completely empty.

    It really stands out when Georgia is in town and it’s a sea of red.

  8. RickJ 09/21/2007 at 10:52 AM #

    Mr. O – great link regarding BC and comments on GT. Specifically:

    “I lived in Atlanta for 2.5 years and all you heard was criticism of Gailey and praise for Hewitt. Gailey was the guy who always would get 7 wins and Hewitt was going to lead GT to national titles.”

    The Sendek comparison seems spot on to me. While many non-GT fans see Gailey as doing a great job, GT fans see an underachieving team of a program with a great history under Bobby Dodd and a National Championship in 1990. If he finishes 8 – 4 this year with another loss to Georgia, the situation may become untenable.

  9. RAWFS 09/21/2007 at 10:53 AM #

    If Jags thinks GT was rocking (rolling eyes there, sorry) just wait till he brings his team in CFS next year.

    As State fans, we owe to Coach O’Brien to make the BC watch the clock and count the minutes until they can get out the Red Hell that encircles them.

    I know that that game is already circled on my mental calendar. Next to UNC, BC has jumped to #2 on the ACC teams I dislike.

  10. noidea 09/21/2007 at 10:55 AM #

    Mr O: I may be reading that seating chart wrong, or maybe looking at the stadium from wrong angle, but that chart shows all student sections as being on lower level except one, which is next to a building. I think the picture from the article is the corner between Gate 4 and 5 which has the upper level flagged as a visitors section.

  11. Mr O 09/21/2007 at 11:03 AM #

    noidea: I stand corrected, that is marked as a visitor’s section. Though having that whole upper level is a lot of visitors seats.

    That is classic BC from my experience of interacting with their fans. A BC guy trys to take a shot at GT’s fanbase to justify their own lack of support and by doing that he unknowingly points out unsold Boston College seats.

    I bet the Atleagle didn’t even check the seating chart.

  12. LRM 09/21/2007 at 11:06 AM #

    I lived a short time in Buckhead and worked for over a year in ATL, and it’s unquestionably a Dawgs town — just pick up the AJC any morning during football season.

    Except for the few years after the Braves began their run, Atlanta has never been accused of having a rabid fanbase (I say that as a diehard Braves fan); just check out all of the empty seats when they were in the playoffs.

    There are several factors that probably affect this. Georgia State is literally next door to GT and has 27,000 undergrads, so not everyone in ATL is a GT alum. Atlanta is really a melting pot of the metro area around it, and so it lacks the inherent charm and accessibility of the SEC towns in that region; Athens, Tuscaloosa, Oxford…

    I just don’t think Atlanta is a natural college sports town — they always seem to have empty seats for basketball, too. Without any evidence to back this, I’d feel safe in saying that he majority of State grads (or WPC members and LTR holders) live very close to Raleigh and the rest live around Charlotte (I do know that ALT has a huge WPC base). I’d be curious if this is the same for GT grads and the ATL area??

    Mr. O or Noah, ya’ll are usually right on with this stuff — any idea?

  13. charger17 09/21/2007 at 11:15 AM #

    ^It’s probably not late in the game. I live in Nashville, TN and went to the ’03 game in Atlanta and I can attest to the fact of poor attendance. I believe it was their homecoming and it was PATHETIC! ! !

  14. charger17 09/21/2007 at 11:16 AM #

    Sorry . . . way too slow!

  15. ColaJacket 09/21/2007 at 11:17 AM #

    I’d like to point out to all of the other fans, that the picture shows 2 things:

    1. The big empty section belongs to the GT band which was on the field at the time.
    2. A lot of the rest of the seating shown was a visitor’s section. BC returned 3000 tickets the week of the game. Since you can see some gold in those sections, it is apparent that the GTAA was able to sell some/most of those tickets.

    If anyone’s fan support should be questioned, it should be BC’s fan support for returning about 40% of the tickets that they were allotted for the game.

    I can only imagine that if it had been NCSU that we had been playing, your fans not only would have bought all of the 8000 allotment, but you’d have been asking for more.


  16. BoKnowsNCS71 09/21/2007 at 11:18 AM #

    Aren’t those empty seats — the seats for the band? The band that is on the field at the moment the picture was shot?

  17. StateFans 09/21/2007 at 11:29 AM #

    People…who puts their band in the upper deck?

    SO WHAT if they were empty ‘visitor seats’. EVERY SCHOOL has visitor seats returned to them to sell. That happens all of the time.

    For a game as big as GT-BC those seats would sell IMMEDIATELY everywhere else.

  18. charger17 09/21/2007 at 11:30 AM #

    BTW, I was able to watch 360 the first week when SFN linked us to it. I haven’t been able to do that since. Is it no longer available like week 1, or can someone help me out all the way over here in TN?

  19. RAWFS 09/21/2007 at 11:35 AM #

    Having a lot of relatives with Alabama, Georgia and GT degrees (respectively) I can honestly say that there are a lot of quite passionate GT fans out there. Tech has one of the best traditions in all of college football and it amazes me that their folks do not descend on that stadium in droves on football Saturdays.

    Having been to games at Grant Field, Sanford Stadium and Bryant-Denny too, that Alabama has the best gameday experience of the three. Georgia has the nicest looking co-eds, but not by much over the Tide’s, with Tech down there in Duke country in that regards.

  20. LRM 09/21/2007 at 11:50 AM #

    You can confidently add Ole Miss coeds to that list. I’ll vouch for them.

  21. packgrad2000 09/21/2007 at 12:04 PM #

    Statefans – I think BoKnows is referring to the section right behind the endzone. It’s always easy to tell where the band sits because it creates a very clean shape with distinct lines. It still leaves all those seats in the upper deck, plus quite a few in the lower deck as well.

  22. Sam92 09/21/2007 at 12:17 PM #

    another point about the impact of attendance: it affects future results in that recruiting gets a boost when the prospects see a full stadium and fun, boisterous atmosphere

  23. packgrad2000 09/21/2007 at 12:20 PM #
    College Football News is harassing TOB because BC is sitting on top of the ACC. Doesn’t the fact that BC doing so well speak volumes about TOB? The mark of any great leader is what happens after they leave. That’s true for anything, not just coaching.
    They also say, “However, many thought that the Eagles wouldn’t survive the first quarter of their schedule, much less flourish. Like the coach who left for Raleigh.”
    I don’t know who was saying that. I think many of us here even had BC picked to win the division.

  24. choppack1 09/21/2007 at 1:07 PM #

    Having been to Tech and BC – there’s a couple of notable differences.

    1) Tech fans are louder and more knowledgeable
    2) Tech stupidly expanded. I can see no reason why they increased their capacity. I went there in 2001 for a 3:30 or 2:30 game – and there were some empty seats.
    3) Perhaps more notable is the fact that later on that evening, a group of 5 of us went and bought tickets AT THE GATE and got 5 seats together for the playoff game vs. the D-Backs. They could have accomodated 20 of us. This tells you a lot of what Tech is up against. Most football fans in the city – and there are plenty – have other allegances.

    Finally, nice of someone to take a shot of the endzone where the band is and complain about a lack of capacity BEFORE kickoff. Looking at the picture – it doesn’t look that bad.

  25. BoKnowsNCS71 09/21/2007 at 1:15 PM #

    True – I was referring to the empty seats in the lower right. The picture was not as clear on my screen as to the upper deck area. However, upon closer inspection I see what you mean.

    But even more interesting. The game was played at 8 PM and it looks like the sun is setting to the left (west). Seeing that the sun set at 7:47 one could surmise that this is a picture taken before the game started — hence a lack of students. Rather than half time, this would have been one of those times after the teams both left their warm ups.

    If this picture was taken of the upper seats seats Student Section 24 at CF stadium 15-20 minutes before the UCF game — there would have been fewer students in that picture (I sit in 22). That section was filled in the first 10 minutes of the first quarter (after the game started).

    I would guess like any other school — there are those fans who just take their time to go sit in those seats.

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