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February 17, 2014

SEC Hoops Attendance

Jon Solomon at has our yearly basketball hand wringing article. His conclusion? We need better start times and marketing.

While I'll agree that we have to have better marketing (he quotes Bruce Pearl, y'all!), he only dances around a bigger issue: top to bottom, the conference is terrible at basketball.  Now, I'm not one to think you have to win all your games to expect a full crowd. Actually, I believe there is some chicken and egg here, as far as winning at home goes.  I've been in Stegeman where it is a ghost town and with it full (both times). Georgia plays better when the Steg is rocking.

But I'm talking about the quality of basketball being played across the conference. After Florida and Kentucky, there is nobody that is looking like a sure fire NCAA team.

Wonder what the record for most teams a major conference has placed in the NIT?

And that is part of the problem. The SEC is all in on football now. Ten years ago we were a sports conference. At best there are four schools that really care about hoops: Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri. Tennessee only cared when Bruce Pearl was there telling everyone how awesome he was (and putting a brand of hoops on display that made it hard to argue with him). The ADs (and conference leaders) are laser focused on football TV revenue and failing to see the upside having strong men's basketball programs can do for you from a financial, football recruiting, and visibility/marketing standpoint.

The SEC is mediocre, at best. We have two very good teams, two more decent teams, three ok teams (UGA included), and seven terrible teams. While looking at attendance alone is not very illustrative, you can see some trends:
  • Mizzou is tiring of the Frank Haith regime
  • Same could be said for Anthony Grant at Alabama
  • Marshall Henderson has been great for Ole Miss' attendance
  • LSU fans believe in Johnny Jones
  • Georgia's fans are starting to get excited about the improved record
SEC 2013-14 Attendance (entering Feb. 8 games)
Team2013-14 Average   +/- Last Year At This Time
Kentucky22,662< 1% decrease
South Carolina9,228+7%
Ole Miss7,052+22%
Mississippi State6,851+2%
Texas A&M5,098-16%

Based on the numbers, you could say things are looking up for Mark Fox, but before we start congratulating each other, remember: Georgia is still with the bottom feeders in % of the arena full at 63%. 


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Alkaline said...

I read the Vandy manager's arena rankings... How sad for us. The adjoining training facility and the outer concourse at Stegeman are top notch now, but the inner arena itself really is pretty terrible. Since Evans locked us in to that location with all the external upgrades, McGarity needs to spend the dough to strip it bare inside--down to the concrete--and just start from scratch.

TylerDawgden said...

Stegeman isn't terrible. The seats are comfortable. There are no bad seats, at all. It is easy to get in and out. The problem is that we rarely sell it out and when we do, we aren't very loud.

Could it be nicer? Sure. We could drop $10M and provide some upgrades inside the bowl, but at best we'd just get a nicer looking facility that is empty.

That is the bigger issue, if we build a new facility, how will that make things better? Didn't help Auburn, as they still only draw about 50% capacity at a smaller arena. Carolina Coliseum is nice, but other than looking pretty, there is no functional difference.

We start putting 10K plus yelling fans in there, that guy's ranking has to change, because the only legit problem he pointed to is the numbers. And a new stadium won't change that IMHO.

Alkaline said...

I can't argue with that--but that gets into a whole other discussion w/o easy answers about how to improve the on-court product. In the meantime, the rest of the SEC seems to be lowering themselves to our level of competition, so that's something.

paulwesterdawg said...

improving the on court product requires having better recruiters landing better recruits playing better basketball. That's it.

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