Record Crowds Having Large Impact On ISU Football
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State head football coach Paul Rhoads has Cyclone fans on notice: don't miss a game. With record crowds the past two seasons and a large contingent set to attend the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, the Iowa State fan base has proven it is fully behind the Cyclones.
This season alone, every conceivable Iowa State home attendance record was shattered. The Cyclones set new marks for the highest attended game (56,800), average attendance per game (55,274) and total attendance (386,918) in program history. The 2012 campaign marked the second-consecutive season Iowa State has broken its average-attendance-per-game mark, eclipsing last season's record of 53,647.
There is no one answer as to why Cyclone fans are flocking to Iowa State games in record numbers. In an effort to receive feedback from the fans themselves, Iowa State reached out to its supporters on the team's Facebook account. Numerous responses were given, but a vast majority focused on the work of Rhoads and the steadily improving play of the team.
No matter what fans' reasons are for attending games, the impact on the football program has been immense. People across the country are taking notice, and receiving an invitation to the historic and prestigious Auto Zone Liberty Bowl is a prime example.
When Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard began communication with Liberty Bowl representatives, he was able to use the record attendance figures as evidence Cyclone football is on the rise and well supported. As a result, Iowa State fans have the opportunity to experience Memphis on New Year's Eve, watch the Cyclones in the seventh-oldest bowl game, and travel to one of the bowls closest to Ames. The game will also serve as a 40-year anniversary celebration of the Cyclones' first Liberty Bowl appearance and feature an appearance by then-ISU coach Johnny Majors.
"There is clearly a lot of excitement about our football program," Rhoads said. "When you talk about Iowa State fans, you begin your conversation with the world loyalty. The turnout for our Liberty Bowl speaks louder than words about our fans' commitment to the football team. I'm looking forward to seeing everybody in Memphis."
Clearly, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl has only heightened the excitement of the rabid Iowa State fan base, as Cyclone Nation gobbled up the team's initial ticket allotment of 10,000 and current sales exceed 13,000.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart is elated with the response of Cyclone Nation.
"We are expecting an excellent turnout for the game," Ehrhart said. "We are excited to have Iowa State and thrilled for the Cyclones to be back for their 40-year anniversary."
The excitement and support Iowa State has received will only continue to extend into other aspects of the football program after the Cyclones' face Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl. In the meantime, fans should get used to being surrounded by thousands of others wearing Cardinal and Gold.