On Monday, across the conference blogs, we’re examining attendance in college football. In that light, we’ve come up with the five best student sections for each conference.
A couple of notes: These are the best student sections in the Big 12 right now, and only in the context of football (sorry, Kansas basketball fans). Factors included attendance, interest, noise and, well, who seems to have the most fun.
1. Texas Tech: Bucking a national trend of declining student attendance to college football games, Texas Tech actually set a student season-attendance record in 2013. The first home game had 14,915 students in attendance, breaking the game record of 12,910 set in the 2010 home opener. The student clamor for tickets kept growing, and eventually the school had to open another section of seats to meet the demand. Texas Tech students know how to have a good time, too. So does their football coach. Kliff Kingsbury gave out cash prizes to the best costumes during Tech’s home game against Oklahoma State, which fell two days after Halloween. The students responded and arrived dressed up as everything from Bender from the TV show “Futurama” to William Wallace from “Braveheart.” There was also a “future Mrs. Kingsbury” donning a bride’s dress. Jones AT&T Stadium is one of the most difficult places to play in the Big 12, thanks in large part to Tech’s rowdy student crowds.
2. Baylor: In the final game played at Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor students picked up 9,943 tickets. Baylor’s undergraduate enrollment is only 13,292, meaning close to 75 percent of the entire student body watched the Bears defeat Texas to clinch the school’s first Big 12 title. Even when the Bears weren’t yet winning big under coach Art Briles, the students still showed up. The “Baylor Line,” in which the school’s freshmen wear yellow shirts (and various other crazy outfits) and dash across the field to form a human tunnel for the players to run through, is one of the more underrated traditions in the Big 12. Lately, Baylor students have had plenty to cheer about. In each of the past four seasons, they’ve stormed the field to celebrate program-building victories.
3. Oklahoma State: The “Paddle People,” a group of Oklahoma State students who bang their boards against the padded side walls of Boone Pickens Stadium, had become so menacing that other Big 12 athletic directors passed a rule in 2012 that they could no longer bang their boards while the ball was in play or the offense was at the line of scrimmage. Even with the rule change, the Oklahoma State students, who sit almost on top of the opposing team’s sideline, have fueled one of the best home-field advantages in the Big 12, which includes a 34-7 record in Stillwater over the past six seasons.
4. Kansas State: K-State’s rendition of the "The Wabash Cannonball" is one of the best pregame traditions in the Big 12. The school’s 9,000-plus student section goes wild (at a rhythm) through it every time, ensuring Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be raucous throughout. Stretching from one end zone to the 50-yard line, the K-State students are right behind the opposing sideline, which is often perilous for the opponent considering one of the best coaches to ever live is on the other sideline.
5. Iowa State: This past season, Iowa State sold out its student season tickets in July -- the earliest the school had ever sold out of its student allotment. The students have been a big reason why Jack Trice Stadium has set single-season attendance records in each of the past three seasons (averaging 55,361 in 2013, 55,274 in 2012 and 53,647 in 2011). On homecoming weekend in November, Iowa State played TCU with nothing on the line but pride. Sill, the fans showed up, including the students, as 55,000 total fans watched the Horned Frogs win an ugly 21-17 game. The next home game, more than 54,000 showed up to watch Iowa State play last-place Kansas. Under coach Paul Rhoads, Iowa State has always been a tough out in Ames. Student fan support is one reason why.