The best fans in the land are Nebraska fans. If you don't believe me, just ask them, and they'll tell you the same. Famous for their devotion, Cornhusker fans travel politely and in great numbers, so if they're declining the opportunity to go to their bowl game, you know things are bad for the bowls' revenues this season. And they are bad.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has about 3,900 unsold tickets to the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, which is rare for the Huskers, who are known for packing fans into home and away stadiums.
Nebraska fans would like you to know they said "No thank you," which is an important distinction given their rep. Nebraska's doing very well relative to other schools in selling their tickets. Michigan sold only 7,000 of their 12,500 allotted tickets for the Gator Bowl. West Virginia, another traditional ticket-gobbling horde, hasn't sold half of their Champs Sports Bowl tickets. Iowa, UConn, and Oklahoma are ganging up to depress the market for all non-BCS Title game Arizona bowl games, a market already suffering from dramatic price hikes.
Tulsa and Florida International may have the worst situations of all. Tulsa has sold 800 of its 10,000 tickets for the Hawai'i Bowl, and stands poised to take a substantial financial hit as the result of making a bowl game. Meanwhile, the Sun Belt has had to bail out FIU with a $300,000 travel subsidy for the Golden Panthers' bowl appearance because FIU has only sold a few hundred tickets for the Little Caesar's Bowl. I didn't know a simple trip to Birmingham for 100 people could cost that much, but life's about learning something every day.
Bowl supporters often cite tradition when defending the system, but one thing they neglect to tell you: traditions can be quite expensive, and often vary greatly in quality and investment value.