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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Put the Damn Keys Away!

I once met an Auburn fan at a sports bar where I had gone to watch the Michigan game not long after moving out of state. Talking college football, he mentioned that he always wanted to go to a game in Ann Arbor saying, "Must be crazy there, 100,000 fans in the stadium going nuts each weekend."

When I told him that actually, during big -- or "key" -- plays, Michigan fans whip out their key chains and "jangle" them, he thought I was joking. When I told him I wasn't, first he laughed, then he called one of his fellow SEC buddies over and said, "Tell him what you just told me."

After explaining Michigan's key play "tradition" once more, the other Auburn alum asked, "Does it ever get loud there?"

"Truth is," I said, "not really." I told him that about the only time you hear a Michigan fan in the alumni section scream is when he yells "Down in front!" at one of the few truly vocal Wolverine supporters in Michigan Stadium (I think I even said that chant should replace the more famous "Let's Go Blue!" cheer as it's probably uttered more during games).

The Tiger/War Eagle/Make Up Your Mind fans were shocked. And I almost felt embarrassed. Like I had just revealed some awkward family secret. But it's time to face reality:

Michigan fans are some of the worst fans in the country.

There, I said it. And I feel better having gotten it off my chest as this post/column/rant/soon-to-be-diatribe has been building in me since I first traveled to watch Michigan play on the road when I was 14 years old and saw for myself what a true home field advantage really is. Or more to the point, I HEARD what good fans "sound" like. And they don't sound like The Big (Quiet) House which is quite possibly the lamest home field advantage in all of college football.

Am I wrong? Was I exaggerating to the Tiger/War Eagle/Make Up Your Mind fans above? Take a look at the picture: Hands raised, keys out, mouths...shut! Wow. How intimidating. Must be so hard to audible when the car key clangs against the house key like that. Or maybe the reflection is supposed to blind the QB.

And the most pathetic part? If you're familiar with Michigan Stadium then you know that this picture was taken IN THE STUDENT SECTION!

Sweet Mother of Ufer! How sad. And that's the "rowdy" section of Michigan Stadium.

Unfortunately, those that attend Michigan games seem to confuse merely showing up at the games with being great fans. But I don't give a rat's cornhole that we've had over 100,000 at every home game since 1975. Playing at home should provide the home team with an advantage. And in football, the way to do that is to be LOUD! To keep the other team from being able to change plays at the line. To keep them from getting in a rhythm. To keep them from hearing the snap count. And not just for a handful of plays one or two games a year!

Now before someone out there even says it, before Mr. Down In Front even opens his mouth to utter The Big Excuse for The Big (Quiet) House, shut your pie hole and listen:


We've all heard that crap, right? "But the open bowl doesn't trap the sound."

Bullsh*t! I am so sick and tired of hearing that excuse.

Look at the picture again! It's not the shape of the stadium. It's the shape of the mouths of the fans in the stands: CLOSED!

I've traveled to away games at places like Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa and Oregon (half the size, twice the noise) -- as well as numerous bowl games -- and Michigan fans are by far the quietest fans around. Period.

Sure, we throw great tailgates. We buy lots of maize and blue paraphernalia. We pack the stadium each Saturday. But we don't give our team a home field advantage worth a damn!

So folks have to stop "blaming" the shape of the stadium. The problem is the fans. If you put 100,000 people on a flat, open field and they're all screaming, guess what? It's going to be loud -- that is if everyone opens their mouths and not their pockets and purses to pull out their &^%$ keys!

Bottom line, we need to turn The Big House into the most intimidating home field advantage in all of college football. A place that, due to the constant noise level, is the most difficult place to play for an opposing team -- from the first snap until the final gun. A place so thunderous that the Michigan student section keeps track of false start penalties and delay of game infractions caused by noise, like baseball fans who mark off strike outs using "K" signs hanging over the outfield wall.

So next time you see a guy take out his keys before a crucial play, tell him to put the damn keys away and GET LOUD.

Next time someone behind you yells "Down in front!" during the opponent's drive toward our endzone, tell him to turn that energy toward the field to help his team.

Next time a cheerleader holds up a "Key Play" sign on the field, throw her a Sharpie and tell her to write "MAKE NOISE!"

And most of all, you -- you reading this column/post/rant -- MAKE SOME NOISE next time you're in A2 for a game.

You know, I may not bring about world peace. Or cure a deadly disease. But if I can somehow spur Michigan fans to make The Big House into the biggest home field advantage in America, if I can help turn Michigan Stadium into the most intimidating place to play in college football, I will have accomplished a feat some say is tougher to achieve than the first two.

If you disagree with this column, post away. But for the love of Schembechler, if you agree with this in any way, shape or form, please pass this on to five or six Michigan fans. I figure if chain emails about Bill Gates giving away money can circle the globe every three months, we can reach 100,000 season ticket holders no sweat. Help turn The Big House into The Loud(est) House.


M82 said...

You seem pretty keyed up about this.


P.S. You knew somebody was gonna say it; might as well get it out of the way up front.

Yost said...

Very keyed up, M. There is no excuse for the BIGGEST stadium being one of the QUIETEST stadiums.

Heck, I actually left out the part of my post where I said Michigan fans have to assume some (a very small amount, mind you) of the blame for the two close home losses this year.

Everybody is harping on the team for not living up to expectations this season (and rightfully so). But what if during ND's opening drive of the game, crowd noise had resulted in a false start or two on the third downs they converted? Same thing during the late stages of the Minnesota game (that and a little better tackling, lol). That's where the "home field advantage" can make a big difference -- in close games that come down to a play or two. Where every first down and penalty are crucial.

Look, I'm not saying we would have won w/ more crowd involvement, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt.

Anonymous said...

U of M, unlike certain opponents, isn't a football stadium with a school attached. I'm not saying our fans are effete, and they're certainly not just nerdy intellectuals. What I'm saying is for a lot of them the game is a great entertainment. The fans demand the best, but they came to watch, not to participate.

Anonymous said...

don't worry, the keys will go away just like Michigan's fan base after this season

Yost said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The King said...

Everyone should know that Yost is a bit of a zealot when it comes to his UM football.

I should add that he barely cares when our softball team wins its first National Title EVER in a sport dominated by the West Coast, but I won't.

Yost said...

Anon #1, your post is exactly the problem I'm referring to. We're talking about a Big 10 football game, not a wine tasting! Theatre ("re" spelling just for you) is "great entertainment," Michigan football should be about passion. And being loud and passionate fans for one's team has nothing to do w/ being a "football factory" or playing for a school w/out high academic standards. Notre Dame is twice as loud yet that's not a "stadium with a school attached." I really don't see what the academic credentials of the school have to do w/ fans in the stands being vocal. What, someone who got good grades can't cheer loudly? Is that really your point?
Is cheering loudly somehow "uncouth" to you?

If you don't want to participate, maybe a live football game isn't the best choice for your "entertainment" dollar. Maybe you should stay home and watch the game on TV.

PS I assume you posted as "Anonymous" b/c "Down in front!" was already taken.

Yost said...

Anon #2, M fans may be quiet, but do you really think they'll desert the team after one bad season in the last 20+ years? I doubt it.

And Loef, first of all, great picture. But I not only care about the softball title, I watched! Don't you remember the phonecalls saying, "Dude, are you watching this?!" after you got me hooked. :)

Anonymous said...

you hit the nail on the head. the big house is not loud.i have been to many michigan games either on the road and at ann arbor.in the big house it is not loud the majority of michigan fans are not loud.i get off my rear end and yell and make noise and other fans look at you like your nuts. its pathetic

Yost said...

Yeah, I agree w/ you, Anon. You stand and cheer loudly for our team in the Big (Quiet) House, and folks look at you like you're wearing a Buckeye shirt w/ no pants. Sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

Michigan should use Wisconsin's policy of making people buy vouchers, and camp out before gameday to redeem those vouchers for tickets. That would remove all the useless people in student section. And a Michigan fan that claims that Michigan is an academic institution thats why we aren't loud, needs to get his head out of his rear. Penn State is ranked higher than UofM as a school, as is Notre Dame, as is UCLA, you'll never see those places have this "I'm above cheering attitude". Before we chant fire Lloyd Carr, I say fire the fans.

Yost said...

Well said, Anon. Well said!

Benny Friedman said...

Is it a coincidence that students at the two best academic institutions in the conference use keys to fire up their team? Yes, Michigan is not alone in this ridculous tactic. I attended the game this past Saturday and almost fell over the railing of the upper deck when I saw the Northwestern students whip out their keys before the opening kickoff. If we weren't sitting right above the student section, I'm sure we wouldn't have even heard the jangle of the keys.
Also, apparently at the end of the game, they used the "That's all right, that's OK, you'll work for us someday" cheer. Does that really work on Michigan? Shouldn't it be more like "That's all right, that's OK, we're going to be going for the same CEO position someday?"
And I thought the students at Northwestern were smart.

Anonymous said...

hey, i jingle my keys AND yell my head off.

Anonymous said...

i hate sec fans period

Diggety said...

I feel your pain..At Virginia Tech they do the same thing. They have mre than one key play in a SERIES. I can handle it every once in a while..But not EVERY 3rd down or two plays in the same series..ugh


Studevets18 said...

I actually got harassed by the students around for not pulling my keys out and jingling them. I decided to yell and when I suggested they do the same, they looked at me like I was insane. Get the nerds out of the student section and get the fans in, its pathetic. I went to the Clemson-FSU game on Labor Day and my ears were ringing for a few hours afterwards.


Scott said...

I'm pretty sure you're not completely accurate with your assumptions about the stadium being part (note PART) of the problem.

I will give it to you, all the dinosaurs in the stadium don't make nearly as much noise as they possibly could. I'm in the student section screaming my ass off along with about 8 others in sec 29, (come visit!), and I'd say we do a pretty good job of making our share of the noise.

I'm just for making the big house as grand as it can be, but are you seriously getting on the alum for not making noise? These people have made the conscious decision to purchase a football ticket for a game when (hopefully) no one was holding a gun to their head. No one is making them sit there and pay attention to the game/"entertainment". Some fans aren't as passionate as other ones are... cry about it, if that helps you to, but get over it! While you're at it, try to get over yourself.

As for the shape of the stadium, you're wrong. Stadiums like those in South Bend or Columbus etc. do have an advantage in the noise department. Given they may also have more screaming fans than Michigan, The Big House's design traps significantly less noise than other stadiums with far less of a seating capacity:

Tiger Stadium at LSU - only 91,209 capacity.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida - only 88,548.
Autzen Stadium at Oregon - only 54,000!!! nearly half of Michigan!

Think about it now... how is Oregon so loud if they have almost half of what we have? Why do Michigan fans suck so bad? Maybe we don't...

It's called reverberation. If you look at the structural integrity of ANY loud stadium in college football today, you'll see high raised walls, overhangs, big honkin' press boxes, or any combination of these structural features to help in amplifying the crowd noise. Michigan doesn't exactly have these things to a significant degree so... yeah.

Also, try yelling into a shoebox (as loud as you can!!!), and then do the same into an empty room. See which one seems louder to you. Smaller sized stadiums help to increase the recorded noise due largely in part to closer proximity to a higher number of fans.

Don't fret though, you can take comfort in the fact that when the luxury boxes go in, you won't be able to hear yourself whining.

I'm just as for making Michigan as loud as it can be, like yourself, but please think about what you're saying before you crap it out onto a blog like this one in the future though... okay? Thanks.

george said...

the only reason why the Gator fans do the same thing with the keys is when they are leading the visiting team by 50. It means, "pack your bags and go home to play with teams at your level".

In your case, a Division II team like App. State. Oh wait, you were at home during that game.

Go Gators!

Ikemay said...

Yost, man... I see how this pains you much, and I think you're right. But I can't say I hope you get anyone to listen. Personally I want The Big House to be dead silent when my Buckeyes come north. Of course, no matter how loud you try to make it it will always be loud at the end.