Rivals.com College Football Staff Writer
Spring football ultimately creates as many questions as it answers.
Here at Rivals.com, we've learned that lesson all too well over the last month.
Nobody has provided more exhaustive coverage of spring football this year. And we're not done yet. A few schools have spring games this weekend, and we'll deliver reports on Oregon and Maryland.
We have covered 11 spring games across the country while sending staffers from Boston College to Southern California and many points in between.
Here are the estimated attendances at spring football games for each of the teams that finished the 2005 season in The Associated Press Top 25. The teams are listed in order of ranking. The top five crowds are in bold.
Notable attendance totals for spring football games involving teams that finished last year outside the AP Top 25: Kansas State (31,875), Texas A&M (31,000), Mississippi (22,486), Marshall (17,346), Tennessee (15,411), Oklahoma State (15,000), South Carolina (10,210), Brigham Young (10,000). * - Texas Christian, UCLA and Boston College didn't report an estimated attendance for their spring games.
** - Oregon is holding its spring game Saturday.
Along the way, we hoped to answer some of the questions college football fans were asking as they prepare for the 2006 season.
• Now that he's won a national championship, how well is Texas coach Mack Brown handling prosperity?
• What difference will all the staff changes make at Miami?
• Was last season an aberration or a sign that Penn State has reasserted itself as one of the nation's elite programs?
We found out that Brown and the rest of the Longhorns are coping with success just fine, though they might want to settle on Vince Young's replacement before that Sept. 9 showdown with Ohio State.
We saw Miami's offense still needs plenty of work, though its defense may be as good as any in the country.
We discovered Penn State has several areas of concern – particularly on the offensive line and in the secondary – but the rapid development of first-year starting quarterback Anthony Morelli should keep the Nittany Lions in Big Ten title contention.
And we apparently weren't the only ones interested in finding the answers to these questions. Wherever we went this spring, we had plenty of company.
Last weekend, we sent staffers to spring games at Ohio State, Florida and Penn State. Those three games attracted more than 125,000 fans, even though a driving rainstorm limited the Penn State turnout to 18,000.
The hundreds of thousands of fans who joined us at spring games across the country saw plenty of reasons for optimism.
Our top-rated quarterback prospect in the 2006 recruiting class – Georgia's Matthew Stafford – threw a 64-yard touchdown pass on his first snap in a Bulldogs uniform.
Troy Smith, the offensive MVP of Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame, picked up right where he left off by leading a touchdown drive in his only series last weekend.
Highly touted quarterback recruit Tim Tebow justified the hype by going 15-of-21 for 197 yards in Florida's spring game.
But all the intriguing performances we witnessed only left us asking more questions.
• Will Miami adjust to new offensive coordinator Rich Olson's scheme soon enough to prevent the season opener with Florida State from turning into another defensive struggle?
• Is Tebow going to push senior quarterback Chris Leak for playing time at Florida?
In Columbus, OSU quarterback Troy Smith was limited to one series of offense, but the senior made the most of it. Smith completed all four pass attempts as the Scarlet team scored the only touchdown of the day on the opening drive. After that, a young OSU defense took over by intercepting three passes from the backup QBs. Story:Young Bucks shine in Ohio State spring game
In Gainesville, freshman quarterback Tim Tebow stole the show. Florida's Tebow completed 15 of 21 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown to lead the Blue team past Chris Leak's Orange team, 24-6. Despite the impressive performance from the Tebow, Urban Meyer insisted Leak is still the man. Story:Tebow steals show at UF spring game