An interesting discussion was brought up in the comments of KUGrad's post earlier this week concerning the environment and fans of Kansas football. There is a segment of the members here that believe KU's fans are not keeping up their end of the bargain in supporting the football team. Complaints of fans leaving early, not showing up, and not caring were aired out. The other segment seems to believe the Field of Dreams model will work in Lawrence, "If you build it, they will come" (me). Personally, I believe that if Turner Gill can build a program that wins 6 games a year with the occasional 9 or 10 win season, the fans will fill Memorial Stadium.
The information had to be out there, I decided to do some research to back my point. To start, I looked up the attendance numbers for all of the Big 12 schools from 1998-2009 at the official NCAA site. For some reason, I couldn't find data for 2002 or 2004 from every school so I skipped those years. After I had the attendance numbers, I gathered the records for each team through the same time period (Stassen Database). The final piece I was interested in was how full each stadium was, so I figured the average attendance as a percent of capacity for each stadium (from wikipedia) for one of my charts.
Immediately we see that Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M are in their own category as far as attendance is concerned. Four programs with very rich football tradition. Then, we can see that Kansas does have a very poor record of attendance for football. Surprising and sad to see both Iowa State and Oklahoma State ahead of us. It's not the nail in the coffin though.
The first few years that I'm looking at were truly terrible. Pretty sure all Kansas fans would like to forget those years entirely. However, this also shows a nice increase in attendance and wins during the Mangino era and that is something he definitely deserves credit for doing. Once the wins started increasing and bowl games were on the horizon, attendance went up.
The last thing that was worth looking into was a comparison across the conference looking at wins and attendance. This is where the percentage of capacity for each stadium was used. This was done to see if the other schools were better "football schools" that had fans show up when they weren't winning and had little hope.
Oklahoma and Nebraska were left out of this graph because their attendance figures and the stadium capacity numbers didn't agree with each other. Both schools were well over 100% full the last few seasons.
Nope, the data looks pretty clear. Win and the fans will show up. This does not answer the question about the fans leaving at halftime or searching out basketball players, maybe that's the real problem. Though I do think this puts the responsibility on Turner Gill and the Kansas Jayhawks.