What would constitute a good crowd for Saturday’s game?

Photo credit: Wife.

Through two home games this season, the San Diego State football team is averaging more than 44,000 fans per game (you SDSU attendance deniers can view the sexy butts-in-seats evidence here and here). That’s really good — the type of average attendance that would not be out of place among Power Five conference schools in areas that have professional teams, culture and indoor plumbing.

Of course, those two games were also the hottest tickets on the SDSU schedule: The annual KGB SkyShow and Stanford, the best Power Five school to play at SDSU in more than a decade. As the Aztecs now sit undefeated at No. 19 in the nation, but with a less than glamorous opponent coming in, this weekend will provide a truer test of what kind of college football town San Diego can really be.

On that note, Union-Tribune columnist Kevin Acee raised some eyebrows yesterday with a (mostly) good column in which he (partially) offered a mea culpa for his repeated Rocky Long bashing and challenged the San Diego community to show its support for a worthy product.

Why wouldn’t you go?

This is the highest-ranked San Diego State football team to play a home game since 1975.

There really is no reason to not get on this bandwagon.

Yes! This is absolutely correct and true and it would be really disappointing if Saturday’s game didn’t draw a really good crowd. PREAAAAAACH!!!

Show up Saturday night. Because a crowd of less than 40,000 – even 45,000 – would be embarrassing.

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Look, the Northern Illinois team that will christen Credit Union Tombstone on Saturday is no slouch. Good Fans like you and me (smart, attractive) know that the Huskies took care of Nebraska in Lincoln two weeks ago and should be a feared titan of midweek MAC-tioning all season long. The average San Diego fan (dumb, attractive) understands nothing of the sort. Average San Diegan sees Northern Illinois as the sort of opponent that USD should probably be playing.

During the Rocky Long era, SDSU has only played two September non-conference games against Group of Five opponents that were not a season opener or a SkyShow game. It may shock you to hear this, but those games were not well attended!

In 2012, San Jose State (still a WAC school at the time) drew a crowd of 24,103 despite the pomp and pageantry of the storied El Camino Rivalry. In 2015, South Alabama the Prequel was played in front of 18,194 pitiful, cursed souls. SDSU, en route to conference titles in both seasons, averaged 22k and change for the types of opponent we’re about to host.

Granted, 2017 is truly different. The Chargers are gone. Aztecs hype is reaching a rare crescendo, and I agree with Acee that we’re about to find out what that’s really worth. But let’s not move the goalposts to Temecula here.

A crowd in the 40-45,000 range for Northern fuckin’ Illinois, a Mid-American directional school, without a notable promotion, would not be embarrassing. Save that high bar for Boise State or the homecoming Oil Canstravaganza.

To constitute what would make a good crowd Saturday I’m going to go with another number the newspaper columnist used in the past to gauge expected fan support for Aztecs football: The “right-sized stadium” test. Acee has argued before that a stadium of 30,000 would be an appropriate facility for this program, given its level of support.

Will the Aztecs draw a crowd for no-marquee-value NIU that would overflow what the columnist considers to be right-sized for SDSU’s ambitions? In doing so, will it beat its average attendance for similar profile games by 8,000 or more?

Shoot for 30,001 and go from there.

I think we can do it!

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Author: Aztecs Killing Him

Former proprietor of AztecsKillingHim dot com, a long-dead SDSU sports blog that was possibly dumber even than this one. On Twitter at @akh_blog.

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