With Attendance, Illini Losing The Numbers Game

Ohio State v IllinoisToday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) On Wednesday night, University of Illinois football offensive coordinator Bill Cubit made a play online when he tweeted out to his followers: “Saturday will be here before we know it. Look forward to seeing Memorial Stadium packed full of the ILLINI faithful.”

To see that, however, Cubit may have to wait until another Saturday – one that won’t be here before we know it. Or might not come at all.

Because as coach Tim Beckman’s third-year Fighting Illini squad heads into Week 2 of the season against Western Kentucky with a 1-0 record, it’s becoming apparent that wins and losses won’t be the only numbers that he and his staff will be judged on this year.
Attendance figures into the equation, too. And it should.

Last Saturday, with an announced crowd of only 36,234 at 60,670-seat Memorial Stadium for the Illini’s shaky 28-17 victory over Youngstown State, Illinois had the fourth-smallest turnout for a home opener among the nation’s power-five conferences.

Only academic elites Duke (31,213), Vanderbilt (31,731) and Northwestern (34,228) had crowds that were smaller, while Purdue drew a bit better than Illinois with 37,031 at Ross-Ade Stadium to round out the bottom five. However, if those numbers were based on percentage of capacity, Illinois would find itself second-worst in the nation behind only Purdue, according to the Champaign News-Gazette.

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