The NCAA released their official data for 2013 football attendance, and there is good news for Cougar fans. BYU has once again found themselves in the top 30 for average attendance, with an average of 61,225 fans per game over their six home contests, or 367,349 fans in all. The 61,225 average is good for 28th in the country, ahead of SEC squads Kentucky and Ole Miss to round out the top 30.
Perhaps even more important, BYU managed to buck a recent trend throughout major college football, and actually increased their attendance from last season. Per the 2012 numbers, BYU averaged 61,161 fans a game last year. The year over year increase is very small (only 64 more fans a game), but given the struggles of many other bigger programs, even holding steady is good news.
The 2012 schedule featured home games against Oregon State and Washington State, along with dates with Weber State, Utah State, Hawaii, and Idaho. Essentially, one interesting game, a rivalry game, and a lot of meh. The 2013 slate was a little better, with Texas (!!!), Utah, MTSU, Georgia Tech, Boise State and Idaho State. Given the relative improvement, perhaps a gain of more than 64 fans would have been ideal...but BYU's stadium only seats around 65,000. There isn't *that* much room to grow.
It may be difficult to sustain growth for next season, since on paper, the schedule doesn't look very impressive. BYU fans will get to see Virginia, Houston, Utah State, Nevada, UNLV and Savannah State (the premier games of the season, Texas, UCF, Boise State and Cal, are all on the road)...nothing that really sets the world on fire. The marketing team will have their work cut out for them if they want to avoid a dip.
The NCAA also tracks total attendance (home + away gates), and BYU is not ranked in the top 30. That's probably a function of the Cougars playing road dates in a few small stadiums a season. Visiting Mackay Stadium in Reno (30,000) or Romney Stadium in Logan (25,513) won't do you any favors...but that also probably isn't a concern for the administration.
As other large conferences move towards nine game conference schedules, finding depth in quality home opponents in Provo, outside of an annual Pac-12 game or so, may prove tricky, but a highly competitive BYU team and a positive fan experience at the stadium can help overcome some of the UNLV and San Jose State matchups.
For now, knowing that BYU averages near a capacity crowd every home game should be good news enough.