Bulls moving up in license-plate hierarchy
We've blogged a few times here about the state's specialty license plate program, which to me gives a true quantification of fan interest levels and how they show their support for their favorite schools.
We first blogged about the plates in November 2006, when USF's alumni association had a promotion to pay the initial $25 for alums who would switch theirs to a USF tag. We came back in October 2007, when USF rose to No. 2 in the national rankings and more and more fans were buying USF plates.
Now, we can look at the most recent figures -- through Dec. 1, 2008 -- and see that USF has moved ahead of Central Florida to No. 5 among the state's college license plates. Here's a chart showing the total registrations in November 2006 and December 2008. USF has easily the largest percentage growth -- up 50 percent in two years, when the closest rival is Florida, up 20.2 percent from what was the state's biggest total two years earlier. Of the nine top state programs with football teams, you'll see that four of them -- including Florida State and Miami -- actually have fewer license plates than they did in 2006.
School 2006 2008 % change
1. Florida 85,214 102,435 +20.2
2. Florida State 71,258 69,580 -3.4
3. Miami 27,721 26,772 -2.3
4. Florida A&M 19,672 19,268 -2.1
5. USF 9,029 13,551 +50.0
6. Central Florida 11,935 13,493 +13.1
7. Bethune-Cookman 6,319 6,113 -3.2
8. Florida Int'l 2,347 2,726 +16.1
9. Florida Atlantic 2,207 2,349 +6.4
You can find a full list of the current registration totals here.
The state also has an interactive page that allows you to check out plates in each county. You can visit it here, but I've already done some relevant math. If you look at the four-county area in which the Times circulates (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando) you'll see there are still slightly more FSU plates than USF plates, but that margin is one-tenth what it was just two years ago, suggesting USF will pass the Seminoles in the Times' four-county area in 2009. Here are the local numbers:
School 2006 2008 % change
1. Florida 13,089 16,227 +24.0
2. Florida State 9,786 10,114 +3.4
3. USF 6,439 9,761 +51.6
4. Florida A&M 2,185 2,328 +6.5
5. Miami 1,697 1,692 -0.3
6. Central Florida 944 1,134 +20.1
Check out the numbers in Hillsborough County alone -- in 2006, FSU had 4,726 tags there, more than USF, which had 3,947. Two years later, FSU has 4,734 (just eight more) while USF has 6,111, for a jump of 2,164 plates. Florida, in the same span, goes from 6,550 to 7,957, a growth of 1,407 plates.