This season’s installment of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, has been the magnet for most of the disdain directed at the Bowl Championship Series’ second-biggest problem in the eyes of college football fans: the assumption that At-large spots are not awarded to the most deserving teams, but instead to those most likely to fill the seats, hotel rooms and bar stools for any particular Bowl Week. The Sugar Bowl traditionally hosts an SEC team and, when both LSU and Alabama were “lost” to the BCS National Title game (also being held in the Superdome six days later on January 9), it was left with the opportunity to fill both of its slots with college’s version of Wild Card teams.
The Black Sheep Bowl?
To be fair, the BCS rules dictate that no more than two teams from any one conference can occupy the ten BCS slots available, so fans of South Carolina and Arkansas shouldn’t be as disgusted by their favorite conspiracy theories. So while that somewhat arbitrary rule robbed two top-ten teams of a BCS berth, what explains Kansas State, Boise State and media darling Baylor being passed over for two teams outside of the BCS top ten? Was the game’s matchup – Michigan vs Virginia Tech – chosen simply because of the schools’ reputations for having well-traveled fans? Is better football being forsaken purely for the dollars?
Regardless of how you feel about the matchup and the system, the numbers for ticket sales are producing interesting results. If you compare the average ticket prices for all of the major bowls, the Sugar Bowl currently ranks third behind only the national title game and the “Grandaddy of them all” Rose Bowl and ahead of two bowl games with much better matchups on paper: the Cotton Bowl (with pushed-aside Arkansas and Kansas State) and the Fiesta Bowl (with #3 Oklahoma State and #4 Stanford). But these two schools don’t deserve an equal share of the credit for pushing prices this high.
Wolverine Fans Rabid for Tickets
Since the 2012 Sugar Bowl pairing was announced 12/4, Michigan has sold 55% more tickets from its share than Virginia Tech. Since those tickets were first made available, the average price in the Michigan-specific sections (111-117) are over $346 while Virginia Tech’s sections (139-145) are 8% less on average at around $318. The biggest difference can be seen in the most recent weekend sales when Wolverines tickets sold for an average of $276 while Hokies’ seats fell to $204, a difference of 26%.
|BCS National Championship||Mercedes Benz Superdome||New Orleans||LA||2012-01-09||$1,827.53|
|The Rose Bowl Game||Rose Bowl||Pasadena||CA||2012-01-02||$371.68|
|Sugar Bowl||Mercedes Benz Superdome||New Orleans||LA||2012-01-03||$254.70|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||Cotton Bowl||Dallas||TX||2012-01-06||$245.42|
|Fiesta Bowl||University of Phoenix Stadium||Glendale||AZ||2012-01-02||$239.27|
So while the average ticket prices support the argument that the BCS knows what it is doing IF the most important thing is selling tickets and bringing full benefit to the local New Orleans economy, it’s shaping up as a rather one-sided battle that has Virginia Tech scrambling to move its tickets in much the same way that Connecticut did last season. Michigan fans, after multiple seasons of failure under newly-named Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, are showing how excited they are to be back in the BCS mix with their wallets. The Superdome will likely sport very large spots of maize and blue when the game rolls around after the new year and the cheers will be especially loud for exciting quarterback Denard Robinson’s big plays. Sure, Michigan is used to playing in front of over 10,000 more people at home than what the Superdome can handle, but the closed roof can amplify “Hail to the Victors” to another level.
Virginia Tech – Michigan
Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first season with two BCS bids will not prove as happy an occasion as they had hoped. With Frank Beamer’s Hokies limping into the bowl season after a second beat down of the season at the hands of ACC champion Clemson (playing in the Orange Bowl), fan enthusiasm seems to be waning, as well. Perhaps “Beamerball” can overcome the apparent mismatch in fan support by executing on defense and special teams as it traditionally has, giving young quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson the chance to make big plays and put the pressure back on Michigan’s shoulders.
The question remains to be seen, though: will people be watching from home the same way they are in New Orleans? If seeing the game in person is more important to you than all of this BCS talk, then be sure to use SeatGeek’s compiled listings from all of the best ticket resellers out there and look for the best value according to our Deal Scores. If you have questions about buying your 2012 Sugar Bowl tickets, contact us on Twitter @SeatGeek or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the big bowl week in the Crescent City!