Across the country, spring football practice is wrapping up. The last scrimmage is billed as the spring game and has become an annual event marking the end of spring practice, and housands of fans watch these games. Oklahoma State held its spring game in front of 7,000 people on Saturday. Over 38,000 showed up to see Steve Spurrier’s first spring game with South Carolina. Over 8,000 fans showed up to see the University of Pittsburgh squad play on a high school field. Over 23,000 came to watch Phil Fullmer’s Volunteer Squad. Missouri held it’s Black and Gold game this past weekend and also drew thousands of fans.
None of these numbers come close to those at seen annualy at the University of Nebraska. Nebraska is known to have very loyal fans – they are riding a long-time consecutive sellout string that dates back to the early 60’s. The “sea of Red” one sees at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium actually spills out around the state. Nebraskans love their Huskers, and nowhere is this more evident than in their annual Red and White game – over 63,000 showed up this year for the spring game. Oklahoma, once NU’s biggest rival, has fans that are also loyal – but *only* 41,000 showed up for their Red and White game.
While collegiate athletic departments are not profit maximizing corporations, the demand for the various sports is an important determinant in whether the sports can be expected to be viable in the long-term. Notre Dame is an interesting exception, but with fans like Nebraska’s the Huskers shouldn’t expect to be down for long. Big 12 foes best try to get them while the gettin’ is good.