Wednesday, October 12, 2005
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:
IT'S NOT THE SHAPE OF THE DAMN STADIUM!
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.
Posted by Yost at 4:21 PM