Meyer won't encourage anyone to hit the links when his Gators scrimmage Saturday. Florida will be the first school to host the next logical step in the spring game's evolution from casual, sneak-peek scrimmage to full-fledged event/major recruiting tool when ESPN's
While casual fans may still consider the game to be a glorified practice, die-hards consider it a welcome relief from NBA playoff games and regular-season Major League Baseball games. "People," Florida State coach
Brown said he can envision in future years broadcasting from multiple sites during a three- or four-week period after the Final Four. Meanwhile, more schools will offer free parking and free-or-heavily-discounted admission to lure fans and turn the games into events that keep interest stoked and donations flowing through the doldrums between the BCS title game and the opening of preseason camp in August. Coaches, always on the lookout for an edge in recruiting, have found that a packed stadium on an April Saturday can offer a final chance to fire up recruits, many of whom will commit to schools before the football season begins.
Last year, Alabama coach
"The fan support, the positive energy that the fans had to support the program, had as much to do with having the No. 1 recruiting class as anything," Saban said. "Their continued support and interest is something that can help us be successful here, and they need to know that. They need to understand that."
Perhaps the best Web site for predicting attendance at spring games is Weather.com. The nicer the weather, the better the chances of packing the house. When 'Bama's A-Day game kicks off at 2 p.m. CST on Saturday it should be sunny, breezy and 68 degrees. That forecast could bode well for signing day next February.
It may not matter whether the weather cooperates at Nebraska. The school already has announced a sellout of 65,000 reserved tickets for
Fans who can't make the games will get plenty of spring coverage on
So why the sudden glut of spring football programming? Cable networks need fresh content, but that doesn't explain it all. Put simply, media companies based mostly in large metropolitan centers have finally realized that people love college football -- in many cases more than professional sports. For example, the state of Florida has nine NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL franchises, but the two most popular sports teams in the state probably are the football teams at Florida and Florida State. In Ohio, diehard Cleveland Browns fans had to suffer the indignity of losing their team to Baltimore, but they know the Buckeyes will never leave Columbus, where those Browns fans can join forces with Bengals fans and celebrate their shared hatred of Michigan.
Speaking of the Wolverines, stadium construction at The Big House will keep Michigan from enjoying the momentum bump that usually follows the first spring game for a new coach.
In recent years, Southern Miss could have held its spring game in a high school stadium. First-year Golden Eagles coach
"That was the first number I threw out where people said, 'You can't do that. That can't be done,'" Fedora said. "So obviously when they said that, that was the number I decided on."
Fedora realizes 30,000 may be a stretch, but his moxie has earned his program more attention than it would have received normally.