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SEC schools led the way in attendance for spring football games this year, with seven of the top 10 highest-attended events coming from the conference. Auburn led all games with a school-record 83,401 fans, with fans flocking to see the team's debut under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. The event also offered the final opportunity for Auburn fans to roll the Toomer’s Corner oaks, as the trees were removed following the event after being poisoned in '10.
FIRST-YEAR COACHES RULE: Several of the schools seeing record spring game attendance did so with new coaches experiencing their first real interaction with fans. Arkansas and Kentucky each set new school records under first-year coaches Bret Bielema and Mark Stoops, respectively. Texas Tech also set a school record with first-year coach and alum Kliff Kingsbury. Tennessee, with first-year coach Butch Jones, had the school’s second best spring game attendance on record (behind only ’76). Tennessee nearly doubled its figure from last season and ranked No. 3 overall.
FUELING RECORDS: Texas A&M, with reigning Heisman Trophy-winner QB Johnny Manziel, shattered its spring game attendance record with 45,212 fans, more than doubling the crowd for last season, which was its first in the SEC. Georgia drew 45,113 fans, marking the third straight record-setting crowd for the school’s spring game. Vanderbilt also saw its best crowd on record, with 14,000 fans on hand to see the team following its first nine-win season in nearly 100 years. Louisville, coming off its win in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, drew a school-record 33,000 to its game.
LOWER DRAW IN ’13: Ohio State, which normally plays its spring game at Ohio Stadium and drew 81,112 fans last season, moved its game to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati and drew only 37,643 fans. Several schools also saw inclement weather affect their attendance. Penn State, with cold and snowy conditions, drew only 28,000 fans after seeing 60,000 last season. Georgia Tech saw about a third of last year's crowd as cold weather and rain in Atlanta kept fans away. Meanwhile, Mississippi State had a lower crowd this season, with attendance limited due to ongoing renovations at Davis Wade Stadium. Florida, with a host of injuries to its players this spring, canceled its traditional spring game and instead held a practice for fans, drawing less than half last year's crowd.COLLEGE SPRING FOOTBALL GAME ATTENDANCE
FOR BCS AQ CONFERENCE SCHOOLS
SCHOOL'13'12'11'10'09 Auburn83,40143,42753,20963,21745,381 Alabama78,31578,52692,31091,31284,050 Tennessee61,07634,42135,89135,00051,488 Nebraska^60,174n/a66,78677,93677,670 Arkansas51,08845,25042,00030,00030,000 Kentucky50,8314,5004,0009,00020,200 Texas46,00046,00029,54144,00044,000 Texas A&M45,21215,00016,50015,0008,000 Georgia45,11344,11743,17738,47242,458 Ohio State37,64381,11244,27665,22395,722 Oregon36,58844,12943,46825,21112,400 South Carolina35,21834,51329,54122,00025,157 Louisville33,00015,0002,4835,60015,300 Notre Dame31,65231,58227,86327,24131,104 Clemson30,00028,00027,00027,00024,000 Oklahoma29,20020,50925,59816,00028,592 Penn State28,00060,0007,00055,00076,500 LSU28,00033,00025,03223,00030,532 Ole Miss28,00025,00028,00030,22928,357 Florida State27,50040,63153,81851,00036,000 NC State27,50024,79713,13925,37221,075 Virginia Tech25,00015,00040,00041,00041,000 Michigan State22,50021,00035,00030,00026,000 Mississippi State21,00022,60436,35734,12731,606 Rutgers21,00015,00021,12020,11415,899 UCLA20,00013,0006,40012,49412,000 Missouri18,38418,61410,00015,00013,122 Michigan18,00025,00025,00035,00050,000 Iowa16,50015,0008,00025,000n/a Kansas State16,38318,0488,59413,69612,804 Texas Tech16,1163,00012,400n/a12,500 USC15,28415,51516,85015,00022,565 Florida15,00038,00051,00051,50065,000 North Carolina15,00017,00015,50029,0003,000 Oklahoma State15,00011,00016,0007,00012,000 Iowa State15,0005,0004,00010,0007,000 Vanderbilt14,0008,5007,500n/a1,000 Wisconsin12,05010,47910,00023,56723,500 Colorado10,2447,10015,6559,10011,700 Kansas10,00015,0006,00012,50017,000 Washington State8,34010,7134,0761,000400 Oregon State8,2631,0005,5197,1415,000 Maryland8,2002,0005,000n/a10,323 Miami8,00010,0008,00010,000n/a West Virginia8,0008,00022,00021,02913,000 Minnesota7,7003,5002,5004,4007,700 Virginia7,5008,50010,5455,0008,000 Washington7,00011,80210,00015,00010,000 Purdue^6,427n/a5,5005,0005,000 Arizona State6,3865,1426,4006,0005,700 Duke5,831n/an/an/a4,162 Memphis5,500n/an/an/an/a Northwestern5,213n/an/an/a3,250 Cal5,1008,812n/a3,0002,000 Georgia Tech5,00018,1257,000n/a8,500 Indiana5,000n/a2,5645,3253,500 South Florida4,606n/a2,4936,5376,000 Stanford4,3505,0006,8004,0001,500 Wake Forest4,2005,500n/a5,0003,800 Arizona4,0955,0004,5006,0006,850 Syracuse3,8223,7164,2064,7525,184 Pittsburgh3,6424,6071,5076,5326,160 Temple3,5302,500n/an/an/a Baylor3,5002,7503,500n/a1,000 Connecticut3,0005,5002,5002,5007,000 Illinois2,1003,0006,0005,83210,000 Cincinnati2,000n/an/a10,00012,491
NOTES: Figures gathered from various media reports. Attendance not listed for Boston College as the school canceled its planned game in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Other BCS AQ conference schools that did not track attendance were newcomers Houston, UCF and SMU. TCU did not have an official spring game in ’13. ^ = game was cancelled in ’12 due to adverse weather.