The NCAA released attendance figures for the 2015 college football season yesterday. And while some of the takeaways might not make a ton of sense, there's one clear trend: less people are watching college football games in person than in previous seasons.
That's not the case at Indiana.
While the rest of the FBS on average saw its lowest attendance on average since the 2000 season, things are trending in the opposite direction in Bloomington. Indiana saw the 5th largest increase in attendance in among Power 5 schools, up 6% over 2014. The Hoosiers averaged 44,314 attendees for home games in 2015 -- up from 41,657 in 2014. That's above the national average of 43,288, something that hasn't occurred at Indiana in recent memory. Jon Solomon of CBS notes some of the other schools trending upward might surprise some, too.
Among the top 25 attendance leaders, the biggest declines were experienced by UCLA (13 percent), Florida State (11 percent), LSU (8 percent) and Iowa (6 percent). Before the Hawkeyes went 12-0 in the regular season, they lost many season ticket-holders who were disappointed with the team's performance in previous years. The NCAA attendance figures count what was initially an LSU road game that got moved to Baton Rouge due to flooding in South Carolina. Fewer fans purchased than normal purchased tickets at the last minute.
The biggest increases among Power Five schools: Pittsburgh (17 percent), Virginia (10 percent), Minnesota (9 percent), Iowa State (8 percent), Kentucky (6 percent), Indiana (6 percent) and Purdue (6 percent). Pittsburgh and Virginia benefitted by each playing a home game against Notre Dame.
The biggest decreases in the Power Five: Syracuse (21 percent), Kansas (20 percent), Oregon State (14 percent), Northwestern (14 percent), Boston College (13 percent), UCLA (13 percent), Florida State (11 percent), North Carolina (9 percent) and Miami (9 percent).
Yes, that's right.
Attendance decreased for the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes in 2015 -- and increased for the 2-10 Purdue Boilermakers. Cats are dogs. Up is down. Most often, nothing in college football attendance follows a pattern or makes a ton of sense.
However, for Indiana, the increase might be a little more explainable. The Hoosiers have been making steady gains in the attendance column since Fred Glass and Kevin Wilson have come to Bloomington. Wilson's exciting #CHAOSTEAM brand of football, paired with Glass's initiatives to get butts have certainly helped Indiana's past attendance issues. Combine that with a home slate of games that included Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan where the Hoosiers were oh-so-close in each, and you likely have the table set for a healthy attendance bump year-over-year.
Of course, Indiana seemingly had an "attendance" problem in a different manner in 2015 -- one that often manifested as early exits by fans, leaving glaring, gauche holes of empty seats late in competitive, national tv games. That's a problem not totally unique to Indiana with some factors that administrators can't control (like construction on Indiana 37) and that would likely cure itself with continued on-field progress.
Among Big Ten schools, Indiana was virtually tied with Maryland (44,341) at 10th in attendance. Rutgers (47,723) was right in the same ballpark, as well. Illinois (41,342), Purdue (37,508), and Northwestern (33,366) brought up the rear of the conference. Looking for more positive spin? Indiana was just behind national powers Baylor, Utah, TCU, and Miami. You can see the full rankings here on CBSSports.com.
NOTE: CBS's table notes that Indiana saw a decrease of 6%, rather than an increase, as it states in Jon Solomon's article. Per the NCAA's raw data from 2014, the table is incorrect -- Indiana did see a 6% increase.