The off-the-charts anticipation of this year's college football season -- with the four-team playoff -- has masked a growing concern at some schools: the drop-off in student attendance at games.

Newspapers have written about this before, but the Wall Street Journal has published an in-depth look at this problem that answers many readers' questions. The Journal also prominently mentions Alabama, which last year saw a small increase in student attendance thanks to an appeal from Coach Nick Saban.

According to The Journal, "Among college football's heavyweights, student attendance was lower in 2013 than 2009 at Ohio State University, Michigan State University, University of Florida and Florida State University. It also declined at the University of Michigan and LSU, though the schools didn't provide five years of data to the Journal."

Football fans will find the Journal's report fascinating, especially considering the popularity college football holds today in the United States. In some ways, it's hard to understand.

-- Phillip Tutor