Monday Morning Quarterback
A few weeks back, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney sent a message to Clemson fans everywhere. He asked, if they could, to come to Clemson and pack out Death Valley.
Swinney gave many reasons why it was so important. For one, it was a huge evaluation piece for the coaches. It was the first time some of the players played in front of a huge crowd.
Secondly, it looked good on television, especially with ESPN broadcasting the game live.
Finally, and most importantly, it’s good for recruiting.
“I know I have said it a couple of times, but I really hope our crowd will show up,” Swinney said just a couple of days before the spring game this year. “I think it is important because if they don’t, they put you all over the internet if you did not show up.
“I hope our crowd will show up and this will be a great environment.”
Some Clemson fans got Swinney’s message as an estimated crowd of 55,000 people showed up for the Orange & White Spring Game. The crowd could have been much bigger, but some fans chose to stay outside the Valley and tailgate. Not sure why since the game was free.
Clemson’s spring game crowd dropped for the first time in several years. Last year’s crowd was estimated at 60,000.
However, the ones that were there on April 14 did exactly what Swinney asked for. They made Death Valley a good atmosphere and for the most part it looked good on camera, until this past Saturday.
Over in Athens, Ga., Kirby Smart also asked Georgia fans to pack out Sanford Stadium for the Bulldogs’ spring game, which they call G-Day. Like Clemson, it was free of charge, but unlike Clemson fans, Georgia fans nearly packed out the stadium.
In fact, Georgia recorded a crowd of 82,184, second only to Nebraska’s 86,818.
So what, right? Why am I bringing up Georgia’s crowd? Who cares what Georgia does?
As you know, and maybe you don’t, Clemson and Georgia recruit some of the same players. There were some kids last week that visited Clemson that were at Georgia this past Saturday. Who do you think won the eye test?
Do you think they were impressed with all the people tailgating outside Clemson Memorial Stadium while the game was going on or the nearly packed house they saw in Athens?
I know 55,000 is nothing to be ashamed of in a spring game. In fact, it was the sixth best figure nationally this spring. And I know Clemson is a hard place to get to and to plan a whole weekend for. But, have you ever been to Athens? It is not exactly and easy place to get to either.
And don’t give me Atlanta is close by. We all know there are a lot of people in Atlanta that do not care about sports that much. Yes, some Georgia fans in the Atlanta area went to the game, but don’t kid yourself. The majority of the 82,000 did not come from Atlanta.
Also, I cannot get past the fact several thousand Clemson fans, at least another 5,000 or more I was told, stayed outside Death Valley and watched a game that was free of charge on television. Why?
Face it, Georgia out did you this time Clemson fans. You lost this battle. Granted, you have a few battles to go this year, but in the world of recruiting, Georgia just one-upped your Tigers.
Maybe next year, some of those fans tailgating outside Death Valley during the game will come into the stadium and help their head coach and school by packing out the stadium like he requested.
College Football’s biggest spring game crowds
86,818 – Nebraska
82,184 – Georgia
74,732 – Alabama
71,000 – Penn State
65,098 – Tennessee
60,934 – Florida State
55,000 – Clemson
53,015 – Florida
52,102 – Oklahoma
48,000 – Texas A&M
47,803 – Ohio State
36,814 – Virginia Tech
36,090 – Kentucky
31,751 – Notre Dame
28,033 – Auburn
25,500 – South Carolina