Illini Football 2024

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#81      
Awesome! A large season ticketholder population is absolutely essential to continuing the good attendance trend. We saw in 2022 just how difficult it is to sell thousands of brand new tickets in a week's time ... we went from drawing 34k for our home game vs. Virginia (when we were 1-1) to 46k vs. Minnesota (when we were 5-1 and ranked #24) to over 56k vs. Michigan State (when we were 7-1 and ranked #16), but we would have sold out multiple games during that stretch if we had a high enough floor due to a large season ticket base.
 
#82      
Robert just started up his LLUOI series and hoooo boy am I loving the Tanner Heckel write up. Give me every off-the-radar recruit that signs around NSD.

Reminds me of that Sydney Brown forced fumble on the punt return vs UVA in 2022...

Just shot out of a cannon from nowhere
 
#87      
Awesome! A large season ticketholder population is absolutely essential to continuing the good attendance trend. We saw in 2022 just how difficult it is to sell thousands of brand new tickets in a week's time ... we went from drawing 34k for our home game vs. Virginia (when we were 1-1) to 46k vs. Minnesota (when we were 5-1 and ranked #24) to over 56k vs. Michigan State (when we were 7-1 and ranked #16), but we would have sold out multiple games during that stretch if we had a high enough floor due to a large season ticket base.
I was thinking more about this as I posted about our average basketball attendance in another thread and how different of a dynamic we have for football. People can say basketball simply has smaller capacities, but I think this is a bogus argument for two reasons. (1) Not every basketball game is a once-per-week weekend event, so it will inevitably drive down attendance; (2) basketball games are not "events" in the same way football games are, so you will always have some people who simply want to go to a college football game on a beautiful fall Saturday and (3) EVERY program has the same dynamic where more people go to football games, so it is apples-to-apples comparing football vs. basketball as a package across different schools.

With all that said and having lived in Iowa City from 1998 to 2019, it really struck me how the Illini and Iowa are mirror images of each other for fan support. Illini football faces VERY similar problems as Iowa basketball, and Illini basketball enjoys very similar fan base advantages as Iowa football. We always act like our problems are unique to us, but Iowa basketball fans are constantly annoyed and bewildered that they can't get more fans to games even when the team is ranked. Sound familiar?? Meanwhile, Iowa football fans will get a minimum of 60k in that stadium every week no matter how good the team is simply because (1) it's a fun experience where every fan going knows the atmosphere alone will make it a good time/fun event and (2) YEARS of sustained success have bolstered their season ticket base up to a high floor, and there are also just fans who have built in attending games to their fall routines. We are not as thankful as we should be that Illini basketball enjoys the same type of fan base advantage ... we could start off with a TERRIBLE record next year, and the first weekend Big Ten game will have 14k (over 90% of capacity) no matter what.

So, it is really nice to see our football fan base start to expand. While I am a college basketball fan to the core because of our Fighting Illini, college football is an objectively larger, more relevant cultural phenomena, and it is super unfair to Illini fans under 40 or so that they have pretty much never seen Illini football in a "big time" spot for more than a year or so. We deserve to look forward to fall Saturdays at a packed Memorial Stadium as much as anyone else, and while our fans WILL show up if we continue to win games (I hate when people act like this is the ONLY way to build a fan base, lol ... go to other states, and report back!!), it's a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg thing. While NIL now dominates recruiting, I still think a good chunk of players want to play in big-time atmospheres, too. Memorial Stadium has taken huge strides since 2019 or so, and I want to see it continue to improve. It REALLY could be one of the better destinations in college football with all of the history and architectural significance if we just keep improving the gameday experience!
 
#88      

ChiefGritty

Chicago, IL
I was thinking more about this as I posted about our average basketball attendance in another thread and how different of a dynamic we have for football. People can say basketball simply has smaller capacities, but I think this is a bogus argument for two reasons. (1) Not every basketball game is a once-per-week weekend event, so it will inevitably drive down attendance; (2) basketball games are not "events" in the same way football games are, so you will always have some people who simply want to go to a college football game on a beautiful fall Saturday and (3) EVERY program has the same dynamic where more people go to football games, so it is apples-to-apples comparing football vs. basketball as a package across different schools.
I always wonder what the Central Illinois/Chicagoland/Other ratios are for our basketball crowds vs our football crowds.

My anecdotal sense is that the hardcore Central Illinois fanbase who have relatively quick and easy transportation to the games fills SFC but doesn't come even close to filling MS and thus the marginal attendance needs to come from further afield. (Braggin' Rights versus football games in the St Louis dome having a similar effect, we have a dedicated fanbase in that area, but it's only so big)

My other pet theory is that all the hotels in CU having two-night minimums on football weekends is an underrated contributor to the inability to attract those out-of-towners. It is certainly a negative impact for me personally.
 
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#89      
I always wonder what the Central Illinois/Chicagoland/Other ratios are for our basketball crowds vs our football crowds.

My anecdotal sense is that the hardcore Central Illinois fanbase who have relatively quick and easy transportation to the games fills SFC but doesn't come even close to filling MS and thus the marginal attendance needs to come from further afield. (Braggin' Rights versus football games in the St Louis dome having a similar effect, we have a dedicated fanbase in that area, but it's only so big)

My other pet theory is that all the hotels in CU having two-night minimums on football weekends is an underrated contributor to the inability to attract those out-of-towners. It is certainly a negative impact for me personally.
Also even just the price. If we are going to come for a football game, the wife and I prefer two nights anyway … but when the Hyatt (only cool hotel Downtown to my knowledge) is charging $700 per night, no thanks. Thankfully this past year for PSU, we found a great Airbnb option less than a mile west of the stadium. However, it is my perception that the Airbnb scene is still VERY underdeveloped in Champaign, considering it’s a major college town with like 250k people in the metro.

I also find your first question fascinating myself. My dad once said (with no evidence, just his gut feeling) that you should assume Illini fans in a given location are taking advantage of seeing the team while they're close. We never missed an Illini basketball game in Iowa City growing up, and I always found it interesting thinking that a lot of the fans in attendance were Illini fans from the Quad Cities who had a much easier time getting to Iowa City than to Champaign. Similarly, I have always imagined the crowds next to me in Evanston as 90%+ Chicago Area fans that are catching a "local" game and the majority of the fans around us at Braggin' Rights being from the Metro East and Southern Illinois.

With this preconceived bias in mind, my wife and I always have a little bit of fun trying to gauge how different the Illini contingents seem in Iowa City, Evanston and St. Louis, as we have seen them play at each place multiple times now. You can definitely notice a bit of a difference, haha. As for your question, my TOTAL guess is that the vast majority of our regular basketball fan base at home games is from C-U or the surrounding counties. I would imagine that our football "floor" attendance (which seems to have stabilized up to about 45k now) is similar, but probably more from Bloomington, Springfield, Peoria, etc. However, I would guess that when we are pulling in bigger crowds that are pushing 55k, it is at least as much due to people from Chicagoland, St. Louis, Rockford, etc. deciding that a trip is worth it than it is from folks in Central Illinois who previously had zero interest attending a game and now because we went from bad to decent, they're in. I would kill to get my hands on some DIA data of tickets by county of the buyer, though, haha.
 
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#90      
My 87yo Dad had a ball back at Memorial Stadium today. ‘55-‘59 had some Illini greats, including Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Mitchell and Ray Nitschke during his time at Illinois. “Thanks for the memories!”
 

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#91      
My other pet theory is that all the hotels in CU having two-night minimums on football weekends is an underrated contributor to the inability to attract those out-of-towners. It is certainly a negative impact for me personally.
This hits the nail right on the head. The 11:00 am starts are a killer when coming from out of state. This necessitates finding a room for Friday night only. So I have to stay in Tuscola or Arcola. No room at the inn as the story goes, for the greater CU area. I even tried to book the Hilton one year in advance, no go. I care not for the explanations for attendance about students wanting to go to the bars. All students will be alumni in less than 4 years.
 
#92      
This hits the nail right on the head. The 11:00 am starts are a killer when coming from out of state. This necessitates finding a room for Friday night only. So I have to stay in Tuscola or Arcola. No room at the inn as the story goes, for the greater CU area. I even tried to book the Hilton one year in advance, no go. I care not for the explanations for attendance about students wanting to go to the bars. All students will be alumni in less than 4 years.

And this isn't just a thing during football season either. Family friends of ours have a booth at the Mom's Weekend craft show at the student union every year. Most of the hotels in CU charge at least $200+/night and require a 2-night stay that weekend. Most of them either choose to drive in super early the morning of (and they're coming from Peoria area) or will stay as far away as Monticello the night before and get up early that morning.
 
#94      
OK, how is Iowa’s offense projected to outperform the FBS average by 9 points? Doesn’t their defense generally out score their offense? Maybe I don’t understand the table.
 
#95      
OK, how is Iowa’s offense projected to outperform the FBS average by 9 points? Doesn’t their defense generally out score their offense? Maybe I don’t understand the table.
QB McNamara will be back from injury, hired a new OC Tim Lester (from the Bill Cubit coaching tree (!) funny enough) who will at least be better than B. Ferentz. I don't know if I would say they'll be 9 points above average. Lester had one year at Elmhurst where the stars aligned and got into the DIII playoffs and then broke into the FBS. Since then, had average to slightly above average QB play. Not that impressed with his body of work
 
#96      
QB McNamara will be back from injury, hired a new OC Tim Lester (from the Bill Cubit coaching tree (!) funny enough) who will at least be better than B. Ferentz. I don't know if I would say they'll be 9 points above average. Lester had one year at Elmhurst where the stars aligned and got into the DIII playoffs and then broke into the FBS. Since then, had average to slightly above average QB play. Not that impressed with his body of work
Sure, I knew Brian finally got the boot, but daddy seemed pleased enough with his body of work. Doesn’t the head coach still have a vote in offensive strategy? I’d assumed Kirk was inherently cautious and plodding. Nine points above average sounds like a fever dream with respect to their baseline performance unless Kirk changes his approach.
 
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