Interest in Stanford football is at an all-time high.
The No. 5-ranked Cardinal won its second-straight Pac-12 title, is headed to a fourth-straight BCS bowl and sold out Stanford Stadium every game during the regular season for the first time in history.
As a result, the demand for tickets to the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO against No. 4 Michigan State exceeds the estimated 32,000 tickets the bowl provides to Stanford. It's the same for Michigan State, which boasts a significantly larger alumni base and hasn't played in the game since beating USC 20-17 in 1988.
Danny Daoud, a 2006 graduate of Michigan State, booked his flights from Chicago a week before the Big Ten championship against Ohio State, anticipating the Spartans would be there. It was a relatively safe bet considering that even with a loss, Michigan State would likely have make the trip to Southern California.
Getting to Pasadena for the New Year's Day game was the easy part. It was the getting-into-the-stadium part that worried Daoud, who is not a Michigan State donor nor a season-ticket holder and didn't figure to have access to any of Michigan State's allotment of tickets. He was resigned to the fact that he'd be shelling out several hundred dollars on the secondary market.
Then came some unexpected news.
"I heard through a friend that they were selling tickets on the Stanford site. All you had to do was put down a $100 deposit for 2014 season tickets and you got access to four tickets," Daoud said. "So I went to the site, created an account, called them and sat on hold for an hour and 55 minutes and bought my tickets."
Due to high demand, the deposit was quickly upped to $200 Monday afternoon, but that hardly served a deterrent for those willing to eat the deposit to to score tickets. Daoud's four end-zone seats, plus a parking pass, cost him about $800 including taxes and fees. The cheapest single Rose Bowl ticket on StubHub Wednesday morning was more than $600.
"This is the coolest experience you can ever have," Daoud said. "You never know when you'll ever get back there."
The perception among both fan bases that a large chunk of Stanford's tickets were purchased by Michigan State fans is not accurate.
Current Stanford season-ticket holders had first priority and they bought the "overwhelming share" of the tickets according to Stanford senior assistant athletic director of communications Kurt Svoboda. Second on the priority list came students, who were allowed to purchase a subsidized ticket. Those two groups account for about 95 percent of what Stanford sold.
Those willing to put down a deposit, like Daoud, and tickets that were set aside for public sale --- which sold out in four minutes Tuesday afternoon -- made up the rest, which is about 1,600 tickets.
Svoboda also confirmed that Stanford has begun issuing refunds for those it feels abused the system. This is not targeted specifically at those it believes are Michigan State fans, but more so at those who created multiple accounts and put down multiple deposits using the same credit card and billing address.
He said less than 100 people who placed deposits would have their deposits returned, but could not say how quickly the process to inform those people would be.
Those who are concerned about the status of the their tickets are encouraged to call the Stanford ticket office.