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Rattler Fans Showed Up To Support in 2012
Rattler Fans Showed Up To Support in 2012
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Courtesy: Florida A&M Sports Information
FAMU Ranks No.16 In NCAA Attendance Against The Odds
By: Florida A&M Sports Information  
TALLAHASSEE,FL (Dec.27) - Despite the absence of one of its largest drawing cards, the world-famous Marching "100", the Florida A&M football team still ranked No.16 in average home attendance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 2012. The Rattlers drew an average of 14,077 per home game, just 2,000 less than this year's Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) leader South Carolina State. The Bulldogs pulled in 16,006 per game to pace the conference, ranking No.12 in the NCAA rankings.  The NCAA FCS data ranked a total of 134 schools.

Southern University placed No.9 this season, averaging 16,602 per home game, making them the top draw in South West Athletic Conference (SWAC) and black college football. Tennessee State placed No.10 overall with 16,586 in average attendance and second among HBCUs. SCSU was third overall, followed by No.14 overall Alabama State (15,514/game) and No.15 overall Jackson State (14,462/game).

The maintaining of above average attendance this season can be attributed to a concerted effort by FAMU Athletics and Florida A&M University. Various halftime entertainment options were offered to entertain fans at each home game. Liquid Soul Media and Insights Marketing Group were contracted to provide services vital to the success. Liquid Soul Media developed and executed an aggressive social media and advertising campaign, while Insights marketing contracted the entertainment artists and professional DJs. National DJs, artists and even high school bands were provided to make the entire game day experience better for Rattler fans.

At the center of that campaign was assistant athletic director for Marketing/Development Angela Suggs. Suggs was the major coordinator from FAMU Athletics with the university, artist production companies and all parties involved in the enhanced game experience. "We could not accept the notion that FAMU football was not going to draw because we didn't have our band. There is nothing we could have placed on the field at Bragg Stadium to replace 450 well-choreographed, well-rehearsed high stepping showmen. But, what we did was offer a cross section of entertainment, aimed at filling the 20 minutes between halves, during timeouts and pre game," Suggs said. "Keeping Joe Bullard as the host of the game was critical in maintaining some continuity for the Rattler faithful," she added.

FAMU director of athletics Derek Horne felt that under the circumstances, the collaborative effort to entertain patrons should be applauded. "We never contended to have the perfect solution, but I am pleased with the way it turned out. This turned out to be one of the biggest collaborations possibly ever in the 125 year history of Florida A&M University. FAMU Athletics could not possibly have achieved this milestone alone. We leaned on support of the FAMU leadership team, the expertise of the FAMU music and dance departments, the Rattler Boosters, the student government association, FAMU Student Activities, professional alumni and the FAMU plant operations and facilities management departments. Each entity played a role in us being successful," Horne said.

FAMU's special assistant to the president for communications Sharon Saunders was elated with the outcome. She was charged with being the chair of the committee that planned and implemented the entertainment for game day festivities. "This was a monumental collaborative effort. It involved the university, the community and alumni pulling together to make sure we supported our team. Our student-athletes deserved our support and the numbers underscore the fact that our fans are passionate. It was just a great overall effort," Saunders said. 

In 2011 the Rattlers ranked eighth in the FCS, averaging 18,746 per game. In effect, the Rattlers would have moved up to fifth place overall in the FCS by just maintaining that attendance.

Early indicators showed that the 2012 season would surpass expectations. At the annual FAMU Football Fan Day event, over 1,000 fans came out to the Al Lawson Center to meet the team and coaches. That was nearly double the number who came in 2011. In addition, the 2012 Orange and Green Fall Scrimmage drew roughly 6,000 curious onlookers. That number was significantly larger than the previous year. Horne felt those indicators underscored the fact that Rattler traditions run deep, and probably none more than for FAMU football. "It goes to show the support our fans have for our football team and university. We faced the challenges together. We know that we are one body and one FAMU," he said.

"This ranking proves that when we are facing challenges, we as Rattlers have a knack for coming together to support the university and our students. This was achieved by a plan conceived by a cross-section of our university and executed by dedicated staff members," Saunders concluded.

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