Today's crowd: Where will it rank?
More than 45,000 tickets have been distributed for today's season opener against Tennessee-Martin, which means despite a nearly anonymous opponent, the Bulls should have one of their top five crowds ever at Raymond James Stadium.
The top four -- all 57,000 fans or more -- were all during last season, but before that, the biggest crowd was the 45,274 fans who saw USF play West Virginia at the end of the first Big East season in 2005. The only other game to draw more than 45,000 was the 2005 game against Central Florida, which had 45,139.
USF's student section of 12,501, the largest in the Big East, won't be at full capacity, with about 9,500 tickets distributed, but remember, too, that the student section wasn't expanded to its current size until the West Virginia game last season -- it was just 8,000 before that game.
One thing we're going to follow up on is how USF's new lottery system for students getting football tickets is helping attendance in other sports. Students can help their chances at getting in the student section by earning "priority points" by attending games for other teams. By no coincidence, USF's volleyball opener Friday night drew a record crowd of 1,178 to the Corral to see the Bulls beat Grambling. Volleyball's home again today, with a 1 p.m. game against Eastern Kentucky; attendance might be down for their third game, tonight at 7 against Northeastern.
-- TV tip for those of you who aren't on Bright House Networks and thus can't get tonight's local broadcast on Catch 47. I've got DirecTV at the house, so my first instinct was to pick up the ESPN GamePlan package, which runs $109. But since Sports NY is also carrying tonight's USF game, you can add that channel (it's channel 639) as part of the Sports premium package for just $12 a month, and can cancel after a month with no additional charges. UPDATE: Sports NY is only carrying the game on tape delay, showing it at 1 p.m. Sunday ...
-- Hey, the count for followers for the blog's free counterpart at Twitter.com is up to 86 ... looks like we'll fall just short of our goal of 100 by the opener, but thanks to everybody who's joined up ...