Thursday evening, Texas A&M sent out a news release that additional tickets were available to Aggies fans after being returned by programs of opposing teams visiting Kyle Field this semester.
Baylor, located less than 100 miles from the Texas A&M campus, sold a rather embarrassing 830 of 3,850 tickets provided according to the release. Texas was the only school to sell out its allotment.
By comparison, SMU sold 1,988 tickets for their game at Kyle Field on Sept. 4. This week's opponent, Idaho, sold the fewest, with 264.
The full numbers are included in the release.
But what's really going on here? Paul Myerberg at Pre-Snap Read dug into the issue in a blog post. It's great stuff. You really should check out the full post.
Baylor's tickets sold is "nearly the same" as what it sold in 2009, its last trip to College Station.
This suggests that Baylor can't cite fan travel issues as a reason to keep the Big 12 together, a cause Baylor has been championing in recent weeks. Baylor fans aren't traveling to games now, despite their team playing less than two hours away.
Baylor says it never committed to the full 3,850, but requested just 2,000 based on past sales. It was given 2,000.
Baylor, when asked for tickets back by Texas A&M due to fan demand, sent Texas A&M 750 tickets from its allotment of 2,000.
Tickets unsold by Baylor but retained by the university cost Baylor $80 each.
So, the motivation for returning tickets is obvious. But Baylor is unhappy that the information was made public, sent out via news release that eventually hit Associated Press wires nationwide.
"In nearly 30 years of work in intercollegiate athletics, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a home team report what the visiting team sales were,” Baylor executive associate director Nick Joos told the blog. "I think we both know what they are trying to do here."
As you may recall, Baylor and Texas A&M aren't the best of friends right now, what with all the hostage-taking and mud-flinging going on from opposite sides of Highway 6 connecting the two college towns.
So, in short, Baylor sees the news release as a bit of high-end gamesmanship to embarrass Baylor's athletic department, which, let's not lose sight of, still was only able to sell 830 tickets to a game against a school it considers to be one of its biggest rivals.
Baylor claims the reasons for the poor sales are:
The seats are poor
The cost of the tickets ($80) is too high
Fans buy tickets from a third party, presumably better seats for less or similar money
Fans complain of mistreatment on trips to College Station
I don't buy any of those reasons, honestly. From my perspective, the facts boil down to this, and it's not pretty for either side.
Baylor's fans aren't traveling to see their team.
Other teams do so. I don't think the reason for this goes any deeper than Baylor's fan base is not a large one.
Texas A&M resorted to some mildly sketchy behavior to bring to light an embarrassing fact about a rival that had recently threatened legal action.
Now, before we get out of shape, let's revisit the key word in that sentence: Fact. Baylor should be able to sell more tickets than that.
The high road for Texas A&M was not publicizing the fact Baylor couldn't sell those tickets.
What do you think?