Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Why Georgia won’t have 90,000 at G-Day…and that’s OK

Wednesday April 13, 2011

Across the South, college football fans are packing stadiums to take in the spring scrimmage: that one morsel of something approximating real football during the eight month famine that is the offseason. Fans, especially in the SEC, bring near-capacity crowds to see how their favorite team has progressed through spring practice.

Georgia won’t be one of those schools.

Don’t let yourself be one of the Georgia fans who get caught up in the ridiculous comparisons of spring game attendance. There’s nothing wrong with a mostly-empty Sanford Stadium. It doesn’t mean we care less about our football. It’s not a statement of waning fan interest in the coach and the program. It might even be a sign of rational behavior, and since when are football fans known for that? Here’s why you haven’t seen anything close to a capacity crowd for G-Day and won’t for any time soon.

We have other things to do. We don’t have the excuse of a scheduling conflict with the Masters anymore, but there’s still no shortage of things to do on a spring afternoon in north Georgia. If you want to catch G-Day, you can still set aside 2 hours to see it on TV and have plenty of time to do other things on an April Saturday. Consider yourself blessed to live in a state where a few hours of watching the third string light it up isn’t your top entertainment option.

You won’t see what you want to see. You’ll find more vanilla at the spring game than at the University Creamery. G-Day is designed to keep the stars from shining. It makes perfect sense – sure, Murray could post a gaudy 400 yards if the coaches structured the scrimmage that way, but they have a team to evaluate and will send multiple units and player combinations out there. Rules designed for safety take some of the wow factor off of an aggressive defense. For those reasons, the stat leaders on G-Day are just as likely to be reserves.

In 2010, G-Day’s leading rushers were Carlton Thomas and Dontavious Jackson. The top passers were Mettenberger and Gray. The top receivers were Wooten and Durham, with reserve tight ends Lynch and Rich weren’t far behind. The leading tackler was linebacker Nick Williams who spent the 2010 season getting Tripped as he moved from linebacker to safety to linebacker.

It’s a pain to go to Athens for football. We do it willingly six or seven times for real games, but the hassles of tailgating restrictions and parking scarcity have soured many fans on the experience. Those issues aren’t as bad with 30,000 people descending on the town, but fans aren’t willing to push it for a scrimmage they can just as easily watch on TV.

Game? What game? No one could call the University hostile to G-Day; it’s not like they hide it or schedule it on a Tuesday. It’s often been a community fundraiser, and it is again this year. But it’s not like the event has been heavily promoted. I think they don’t want a large Alabama-like crowd. It’s not a huge money-maker, so the additional logistics of a large crowd might even cost the University and the city.

Those who care to ask when G-Day is already know when to find the particulars. They’re the ones who looked up the starting date of spring practice as soon as Signing Day was in the books. G-Day is a great chance for those who can’t afford season tickets or the casual fans to see the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. But those are also the fans more likely to be out of the loop on Georgia news unless they’re hit over the head with it. It’s better this year with the “It’s Great to Be a Bulldog” Weekend idea combining events involving four sports over three days. There’s an effort to make G-Day weekend bigger than it has been, but it’s still not reaching far beyond the diehards or the Athens area.

Should the Athletic Association put on a marketing blitz across the state to increase awareness and reach those casual fans? Sure, if the goal is a full house. I just don’t think it is. Again, that’s fine with me. I’m much more likely to attend and enjoy the day with some friends if I know I won’t face the parking and traffic crunch of 90,000 fans.

One Response to 'Why Georgia won’t have 90,000 at G-Day…and that’s OK'

Subscribe to comments with RSS