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Friday, August 25, 2006

Make the Big House LOUD!

The season is less than two weeks away. The polls are out. And on September 2nd when Michigan opens its 2006 campaign against Vandy in A2, the Wolverines will do so in front of one of the most incredible spectacles in all of sport: the quietest 100,000+ people known to man.

This is something that has bugged me ever since I started cheering for the Maize and Blue as a youngster. And it is my quest - nay, my life mission with this blog - to do do everything in my power to try to change that.

Less than a week after starting this site last October, I put up a long post about Michigan fans' love of jangling their f'ing keys during "key plays." That shit, when the stadium should be rocking, drives me crazy.

Back then, we only had a very small readership. But we have grown. More than we ever had hoped. So today, with kick-off just around the corner, I'm reprinting that article from last October below. I ask - nay, beseech - any and all Michigan fans reading today to please pass this on to five Wolverine fans who go to the games. Just five.

If you work in an office, instead of forwarding the latest lame golf joke sweeping the Internet, do your part to help Meeechigan. If you're a student, send this to five others and put this on your MySpace page and/or Facebook page. And if you're visiting from one of the many Michigan message boards, please put up a link on those sites.

Help make the Big House LOUD!

Go Blue!



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:


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.

UPDATE: To get one of the high-quality MZone "Loud House" t-shirts inspired by the above post, click here.


Anonymous said...

I am transferring from Emory to Michigan this year, and have been a lifelong wolverines fan. My twin brother goes to Maryland, and has been to both Michigan and Maryland games. MARYLAND is louder than Michigan, with less than half the people. It is simply shameful that the 5-6 Terps get more excited than we do. I give you my promise, I will be yelling my head off this fall!

Yost said...


First off, Welcome to Michigan! May you enjoy your time in A2 as much as I did.

As for 5-6 Maryland being louder, no surprise. It's a fact of life at the Big (Quiet) House. But, hopefully, little by little, we can all change that.

Anonymous said...

Two quick things...

1) the stadium has been loud at very select times. In 2003 vs. Notre Dame and OSU, it was rockin and there was definitely an atmosphere of intimidation. Maybe it was because Gameday was there, I dunno. I lost my voice after the ND game (something I'm proud of).

And 2), I agree with everything you said (save those two exceptions above). Right on. I just don't know if we'll ever be able to get the introverted Armenian Studies major who goes to the games for God-knows-what-reason to ever be loud. So for those people, maybe a key is OK. I do think, however, the frat boys/partiers could be a lot louder. Since they're the most vocal on any given weekend bar night, they should do the heavy lifting at the games (as me and my friends tried to do back in 2003). Seriously, how many times has a guy in an orange "Beta" (or whatever) shirt tried to start the wave in the 3rd quarter of a close game? That needs to be stopped.

Good post though. If there was some way to make one solitary shirt that could be sold on campus, I think you'd be onto something. Also, the luxury boxes might actually help the noise, as nobody who would sit in one would have been loud at a game anyway (save for Bo).

-Sean (Class of '04)

Allaha said...

I have never seen a game in A2, although I would welcome the experience. . . . Yost, a central theme of your post -- indeed, perhaps the whole point -- is that you believe the comparative silence translates into a lack of home field advantage. Do the numbers support this claim? In other words, does UM's home winning percentage look poor in comparison to other top programs and/or in comparison to its road winning percentage? If the answer is yes, then you may find it easier to persuade others (such as the athletic department, school newspaper, local media, etc.) to join your campaign. If the answer is no, then while it may not be the ideal -- or even typical -- atmosphere, your complaint becomes more about stadium environment then helping the team win.

Either way, good luck in your quest! I have gone to UT/OU games as well as Yale/Harvard games in the Bowl, and I wish every college fan could experience the noise and electricity of a great crowd.

Anonymous said...

you want loud? See LSU v. Auburn - The Earthquake Game. That's what the SEC brings.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. It's one of the best on the Internet. But this crap about noise in Michigan Stadium makes me want to puke. The fans are there to watch the game, not to perform for ESPN announcers, or impress the drunks sitting in SEC stadiiums. Who gives a damn what those low-wattage people think. There are only a few times in any game when fan noise will actually make a difference. I've been going to games in Michigan Stadium for years and the fans always step-up when the time is right. I once heard a TV announcer complain about the lack of fan noise -- and then he realized there was a timeout on the field. I've also gone to a few USC games in the Coliseum in recent years. It's quieter than Michigan Stadium but that team managed to win two national championships back to back and produce three Heisman Trophy winners in four years. Noise escapes Michigan Stadium because of its structure. And good opponents aren't going to be intimidated by noise anyway. It's a false criticism, a way to attack one of the most loyal and informed fan bases in the country. I know that's not the intent of this blog but you're buying into something that isn't real. If you want to scream nonstop and throw crap at people stay home, watch the game on tv, and annoy your family. Don't pretend that you're somehow contributing to a Michigan victory when you do that in the stadium.

Trojan Mike said...

Noise from the crowd is a factor. SC has lost in Oregon in the past with a big factor being noise. Ive been to many USC games over the years, and wish we would be louder. The last couple years we have made progress. Also at USC, Carroll wants every one to wear Cardinal red. I remember going to games and not really seeing a dominate color. But other schools, like Nebraska thats all you see. A Sea of Red.

Can't spell Lloyd without 2 "L's" said...

I think it's quite a bit louder in Yost Arena (capacity, what 6000?)for a stinking hockey game than 106,000 get for most games.

Dezzi13 said...

Anon 3:46AM

What row and section are your season tickets? I'm guessing around the 50 yard line, 20 rows up?

There is an advantage to crowd noise for the home team. Players on opposing teams have to adjust to not being able to hear each other... false starts, missed audibles... I'd rather a team start 1st and 15 (because of a false start) than 1st and 10. It doesn't stop at the football stadium though. I remember in my glory years of the late 90's when Michigan basketball hosted a 1st round NIT (because the NCAA tourney isn't fun if you make it every year) game and I bought "general admission" tickets because there was no designated student section. We were one of the first ones to get tickets to the game and were courtside! We figured that during a tourney game, we'd be able to stand and cheer our team on... on the contrary. We were told by then athletic director Tom Goss, that we needed to sit down because people in ROW 4 were complaining about not being able to see!!! Now... I'm only 6'2", but when you have Mo Taylor, Maceo, Traylor all STANDING in front of you (they were cheering louder than the crowd)... it's gonna be hard to see anything from the front row. We actually compromised with them... we sat the first half of the game, but in the second half... we stood and cheered loudly!

Michigan fans (and alumni) believe that because they paid a TON to go to the school, paid a TON for their season tickets, that they should have La-Z-Boy chairs in the stands and feel like they are watching the game from home... if you want to be comfortable, STAY HOME!! Don't come to the game... sit on a piece of plastic that could barely fit Paris Hilton's ass and then complain because someone in front of you is blocking your view.

I played club sports at Michigan (water polo), and as a freshman, I can tell you that noise from a crowd can disrupt the opposing team. We played at Michigan State on a Friday night.... the MSU team decided to tell all their frat friends and other students to come and cheer as loud as possible during the game. We were clearly the better team (having beaten them about 3 prior times in the season)... however, the crowd was completely into the game. When you tried to yell for a ball because you were open, your teammates didn't hear you. Even when we scored, they cheered on their team, thinking they were going to come back... they never gave up and even when we had a 3 goal lead, it wasn't safe! We ended up losing that game and I blame it on noise...

This is why I will stick to watching sports in Europe... people might not like soccer in the US, but watching an English Premiership league game is a sight... the crowd is singing (while standing) and swaying... cheering when their team is doing well, and jeering the opposing team all the time.

You don't have to throw things on the field... but crowd noise gets your team into the game... gets the adrenaline flowing... there is a reason that when I want to go to a UM game, I scalp my tickets from a student.... I never want to own season tickets to Michigan unless I'm able to cheer all the time!

I'm sure this was a very rambling post... but I don't care.

I'm behind you 100% Yost!!

Anonymous said...

I grew up going to the Orange Bowl watching the Canes, and in the late-80s, early-90s the place (especially the closed end) was absolutely deafening. When they played FSU I could yell at the top of my lungs and couldn't hear myself. (Plus there's the added benefit of the entire stadium bouncing up and down like it's an earthquake).

That said, the loudest I've ever heard any stadium was in the student section at the Big House for the 97 OSU game. The final drive where OSU had the ball on around the 10, right in front of the students, needing to go 90 yards for the winning TD. That was the only time in my life as a Michigan-fan where I KNEW we were going to make the key stop and win. Everybody knew. And that confidence had the whole stadium going bonkers.

The point: Michigan stadium isn't quiet because of the keys (you can jingle keys and yell at the same time), it's quiet because every true Michigan fan is waiting to be let down, for the other shoe to drop, for something BAD to happen. The stadium is quiet because we're too nervous to yell!

Canes fans don't have that pessimistic attiutude (especially in the early-90s) and thus the Orange Bowl gets crazy in key situations.

Battle Creek ND said...

I have been going to Notre Dame games all of my life, and many of them have been very loud, especially this years matchup against USC, which was probably the loudest game I have been too, but there were also many that seemend quiet. I have also been to many games at Michigan to see them play not just Notre Dame, but teams like MSU and PSU and it seemed very quiet to me. The first time I made the trip to the Big House I was in awe when I saw how immense the stadium was, but after the game began, I noticed that it did not seem to get incredibly loud. A great example was this years game vs. Notre Dame, when ND scored on the first drive the crowd seemed to go silent. I have great respect for the University of Michigan and its fans, but like Yost I feel that the Big House could get alot louder. With a stadium that holds that many fans, it could become the greatest home-field advantage in football...just try to keep it down while the Irish are there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 3.46am.

This "criticism" about the stadium not being loud is WAY overblown.

Someone please explain why anyone should get excited about playing Vanderbilt, CMU or Ball State. If you expect the stadium to be "loud" for those games, you're livin' a pipe dream. Hey, Florida isn't loud when WMU visits - and LSU isn't loud when the likes of CMU visits.

It's not the "stadium design" and it's not the "well-heeled alumni". It's the competition, stupid!!! (And, secondarily, it's the way the team is playing.)

I'd be happy to match '97 OSU decibel-for-decibel with any "earthquake game" at LSU. I'd be happy to match '04 MSU OT game with any FSU game at "The Swamp" (at least the 2nd half, the 1st was pretty darn quiet).

If the football program's goal is padding its record for BCS purposes, then give me the directional schools. But if the goal is noise, give me good competition.

Anonymous said...

You didn't even mention what happens after the 'key play' (which is always a defensive third down, EVERY single defensive 3rd down. I do believe the crown should be smart enough to be more discriminating.) When our D does make the stop, the band plays 'Temptation' and everyone CHOPS!

CHOPS?!?!?!!?! What on earth do we chop for????

Anonymous said...

I was at the 04 MSU and Minnesota games. I sit in the South endzone, halfway up, on the center aisle. Going into overtime for the MSU game, and the final quarter of the Minn. game, I thought I was going to have hearing damage.

Of course, I have always complained that the accoustics of the stadium are bad. At halftime, I can't hear the band. I can barely hear them when they are playing from their seats. I'm hoping the renovation and additions improve the sound retention. I'm also hoping I don't lose my two seats. We sit on the high number end of the row, so I'm concerned, and have heard nothing from the AD about that.

Tom said...

I'm with you on the idea that Michigan Stadium could be louder at times, but I think that you are going in the wrong direction by trying to eliminate the key jingling. As was said before, you can easily yell and shake your keys at the same time (I've done it many a time myself). With the general intelligence of a Michigan student, this shouldn't be a problem.

Perhaps instead you should be attempting to couple the jingling of the keys with making of noise, using the keys coming out as a cue. Every school has its traditions, just because they are totally corny doesn't mean that they are bad.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Fun post to read, thanks. I haven't been in Michigan Stadium since I was seven years old, but here's my two cents on the issue.

First, Michigan fans are accustomed to winning. There's possibly not the same adrenaline rush at squeaking past, say, Purdue as there is at MSU or Minnesota. When the expectation is a solid but not terribly exciting victory, people aren't going to be quite as pumped.

Second, as previous comments note, most of the home games aren't all that exciting. The AD is definitely not doing his part by scheduling that big intersectional contest with Ball State. Here's the slate:
Ball U

The only games there that might be close are the middle three. And it'll probably be loud for those. I'm betting it was pretty loud the last time MSU was in the Stadium... at least over the last 7 minutes or so.

Finally... there's still plenty of truth to what you've written - I'm not saying you're wrong at all. The entire Michigan program strikes this semi-outsider as a bit lacking in outward emotion. It's like the Romans versus the barbarians - on the left we have the blue-painted hordes: howling for blood and treasure, more than ready to die to retake the homeland; on the right we have the legion: they draw a regular salary to put guys like this down every year. They're professionals, and they'll get it done this time too. But you don't see them wearing outrageous masks to their gods or hopping up and down like kangaroos.

Except for the Maize Rage, I guess.

Mike said...

I can sympathize with you. At Penn State, the students are loud, but the alumni tend to sit on their hands the whole game. The student section always kicks off the "WE ARE" cheer. It takes about three "WE ARE"'s before the alumni come back with a weak "penn state". The keys are clever. But clever works in the Ivy League or at a Duke basketball game. Not in the Big Ten.

The past few years Penn State has worked on getting the fans involved. They run highlight reels before the game to get the crowd fired up. They play different music and see how the fans react. Zombie Nation was a huge hit that got the fans pumping after a big defensive play.

But I'll never forget the PSU-Michigan game in 1995 when Michigan complained about the crowd noise in Beaver Stadium. I was sitting in the student section. The officials threw a flag on the fans and moved the Michigan offense from the five yard line out to the 20. That was pathetic.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing about the "down in front" crowd is a byproduct of have such a long and successful tradition. You've been winning longer than any one else...you've got lost of old fans who can't stand up for three hours.

If you want to get a feel for what 100,000 can should like, mark down October 14. NO predictions as to the outcome. But, I guarantee faces will be painted blue, masks will be worn, and there will be plenty of fans jumping up and down. Hopefully, everyone will have a good time.

Mojo_3 said...

I have never been more crushed in my 28 year life as a Michigan fan, as I was at the OSU game last year. It was the very first time that I did not sit in the student section for a game I attended. Even though I had graduated in 2000 and even with the new student ticket ID policies, I had always found a way to work myself in. This was because I was afraid of what I might experience in the non-student sections. Since it was my only way into the game, and I figured I was going to have to sit outside the student section eventually if I wanted to continue to go the rest of my life, I gave in and sat in the corner section, opposite the student section, about 15 rows up. The horror began in the 2nd quarter. The group of 7 people I was with, were rowdy, loud, completely into the game and cheering on our team. As my buddy is hitting his cowbell to the GO BLUE chant going, an usher comes down and CONFISCATES the cow bell because someone actually COMPLAINED ABOUT IT BEING TO LOUD!!!!!*&@#^&$^%$^!?!?! I wanted to cry. My worst fears were confirmed. At that point, I lost all confidence Michigan would win that game. Probably a dramatic, but I felt it none the less. The sickening display of fan support continued into the 2nd half, when we continually heard the "SIT DOWN!" and the "DOWN IN FRONT" screams, as well as more visits from the ushers telling us to tone is down. It is making me sick again thinking about it.

Since I moved to Chicago, I don't make it to many A2 games. I do make it to most ND, Illinois, NWU, or Purdue away games. At least I can say the Mich fans beat them. I think I may stick to the enjoyment of seeing the disappointment of the home fans at Michigan away games. At least when people at those games yell at me, it is always one of the other teams’ fans!

As for the guy that said the loudness of the crowd is not a factor, dude, I guarantee you have never played a competitive sport in front of a loud crowd. Your comment is ludicrous.

Also, '97 OSU was the best game ever. I was in the student section, with two OSU fans in front of me. Wow, that was great. Loudest I have ever experienced.

The structure is a factor. I build stadiums for a living. I am a structural engineer. Shape of the stadium and it's effects on the sound are always considered and incorporated into the design. Soldier Field is a great example. It encapsulates the sound.

This is my first blog after visiting this site for a year or so. If you can't tell, I feel strongly about this subject. I will do my part to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to agree with this post. Being an OSU fan and after attending the OSU vs. UoM games on the road as well as at home, the Shoe is much louder than the Big (Quiet) House. We have are fair share of down in front fans at the Shoe, which you just ignore until the damn ushers get involved. I have an ongoing argument with a UoM fan which is a good friend of mine, and I think he has come to realize that the Big (Quiet) House is indeed that QUIET. Except for the two second burst after UoM hits pay dirt.

Cock D said...

M Fan, PSU Alum here. re: noise... Quite simply, having spent much time at both stadiums, if I were a player who wanted crowd noise, I'd choose Penn State.

Michigan needs to get noise up to appeal to the recruits who want to play in front of Big LOUD crowds.

Cool Hand Mike said...

If LSU can deafen you w/ less than 70,000, there is no damn good reason The Big House should,'t be rocking. Other than lack of passion and bourbon.

Yost said...

Anon 3:46am,

Actually, fans who think they're at tea hour in their living room "make me want to puke."

This isn't about performing for ESPN or impressing drunks, it's about helping the home team. When that extra noise makes it harder to hear the snap count so the receiver is a split second slower off the line, the other team's timing is a just a bit off.

Yes, good opponents won't be intimidated in a "holy shit, we're going to be jumped in a bar fight" way, but a loud crowd makes it PHYSICALLY harder to execute one's gameplan. Why do think Bo used to have Harbaugh step back from the line in Columbus in the '80s, attempting to get the refs to flag the crowd for excessive noise when that was still the rule?

As for your comment that Michigan fans always step up when the time is right, I strongly disagree. Sure the crowd MIGHT get RELATIVELY loud on one third down play...but be on their hands for 1st and 2nd down leading up to it.

Now, is a rocking stadium going to make Michigan go undefeated at home each year? Of course not. But a false start here, an inability by a big opponent in a "key" game to hear audibles certainly is a plus in Michigan's favor.

Finally, regarding your comment, "If you want to scream nonstop and throw crap at people stay home, watch the game on tv, and annoy your family," first off, where did I EVER say anything about throwing something? I didn't and don't condone that. Second, maybe it's folks who think they're attending an opera who need to stay home and watch the game so they don't annoy the rest of the fans who came to support the team, realizing that isn't accomplished simply by walking through the turnstile on the way in.

Yost said...

Anon 6:21,

I'm not talking about the games against CMUs or Vandys of the world. I'm talking about the big games against the PSU, MSU, OSU, NDs, etc. And not just for a couple plays in the fourth quarter when panic has set in b/c we might now lose.

I've been to Columbus many, many, many times for the M/OSU game and those fans, say what I do about them for other things, are LOUD from the moment Michigan touches the ball in the 1st quarter. Is that the final indicator of who will win and lose? Obviously not. But it does make it that much harder, I believe, for Michigan (or any team) to get in a rhythym and execute its gameplan.

panthercityhorn said...

My best wishes to UM this season and that every one of the Maize and Blue faithful will "GET ROWDY" this season. I will be posting this article on the Burnt Orange Fan Zone as well, because sometimes things are rather quiet in DKR as well. Go Blue.

Anonymous said...

Ha you criticize international football, yet your very own Maize and Blue can only manage jingling keys for enthusiasm. Try going to a English Derby game and listening to the fans stand & sing for the entire match. Or to Argentina where a match between rivals will have the people in the stands lighting flares and waving flags as they sing the whole match through.

Anonymous said...

UM isn't the only school to do the "key" play thing. Va. Tech students do it as well... in fact, they actually teach you how to do a "key" play at VT freshman orientation. That's pretty sad.

surrounded in columbus said...

you're dead on w/ this issue. anyone who doesn't think crowd noise can directly impact the outcome of a game is just plain stupid. if people don't think noise helps, ask Red Berenson. he'll tell you that he thinks the Yost Ice Arena crowd noise is worth ONE GOAL every home game. you going to tell me he doesn't know what he's talking about?

in football, the home town crowd NOT making too much noise while on offense allows the QB to make adjustments, set audibles, and clearly call out (and everyone clearly hear) the snap count. it cuts down on penalties and allows greater flexibility on play calling.

the home town crowd making noise on defense takes all those options away from the visiting offense. not being able to hear the snap count leads to false starts. not being able to audible leads to botched plays or burned time outs.

it doesn't matter who the opponent is- if the QB can't communicate w/ the rest of the offense, it's a disadvantage for them. they may not be intimidated, but it is clearly harder to run the offense.

crowd noise has a direct effect on their play calling and execution. how anyone who's been to a football game could not see that is amazing.

two factors create crowd noise- the fans and the acoustics. in our case, we're handicapped by the acoustics. the House you built doesn't hold noise well, and it doesn't focus it down on to the field. 100,000 fans yelling in michigan stadium won't produce the same decibels on the field that the same 100,000 fans would create in camp randall, or tosu (one of the yet to be discussed benefits of the sky box expansion may be to create more of a "canyon" and reflect more sound back on to the field).

however, that's no excuse for not trying. if anyone should sit home, it's the fans who want you to "use your seat" and "sit down". why bother coming to the game at all? if you want to sit on your wide ass for 3 hours and not have anyone stand up in front of you, or make too much noise, stay in your rec room and throw your styrofoam sponge brick at the TV, for crissakes! leave the real seats to someone who wants to be there as a part of the crowd AND maybe help the team, even if just a little.

Spartan Bob said...

Admitting at the outset that my obvious schadenfreude is on the table, I will relay that you've got a tall order on your hands.

Two years ago, just weeks before the epic triple overtime game with Michigan State in Michigan Stadium, I was at a non-football event where there were a number of young U of M underclassmen.

They entered into the good natured ribbing about football when they discovered I was a State alum. I responded by noting how I appreciated how polite and quiet they were in their criticism -- much like their home football crowds.

One person in the group sulked at this and honestly said: "Ooh, that hurts"

But the others disagreed and began a ringing defense of just how threatening it is when 100,000 people all jangle their keys at once.

No joke, and I hadn't even brought up the keys. These were all second and third year students -- kids not yet old enough to drink.

I know the older fans contribute to the problem, but the newbies seem easy to infect with the virus.

Oh yeah, and I was at the 3OT battle a couple weeks later and saw everything confirmed. Except that, when the game did get into overtime, the finally woke up and yelled.

So it isn't the building damping down the noise -- it's the people.

blue2004 said...

a few thoughts:

-the keys should not be the target of rage. I think the keys accentuate noise, not take away from it. If someone waves their keys and keeps their mouth shut, they would probably keep their mouth shut if they weren't waving the keys.

-yes, it gets loud for a 3rd down vs. OSU, but the whole point is, it should be loud for a 1st down against Iowa, and it isn't. Any defensive play in a close game is reason for noise.

-really good, disciplined teams CAN overcome crowd noise, but it still makes it more difficult, and it's stupid to think it's not worth doing.

blue2004 said...

a funny side note:

at the Wisconsin game last year, they show "crowd noise stats" on the scoreboard to encourage the fans--false starts, delay of game, etc.

The funny thing is, Wisconsin had more of those mistakes than Michigan, so I guess the 2,000 of us were louder than the rest of Camp Randall.

Yost said...

Spartan Bob,

Your point is a good one -- Michigan fans CAN make noise if need be (as in the case of the 3OT MSU game). So, stadium shape or not, the place can get loud. But...

The point is, it takes one of the greatest games in the history of the program for that to happen. It doesn't usually happen on a regular basis.

And I shake my head in shame aat the students who were extolling the virtue of the "key play" as a way to "rattle" the opposing team. Ugh.

Yost said...

LOL, Blue2004!

ososdeoro said...

In response to:
The whole thing about the "down in front" crowd is a byproduct of have such a long and successful tradition.

Um, well, no. That happens at California, too, sad to say. Being an alum of both schools, I haven't been all that impressed with the crowds at either, but the noise does get up, very loud, at important moments in both places.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to say there are a few factors that lead to the lack of noise during [relevant] games:

1. No alcohol allowed in stadium
2. Early start times = less than exuberant drinking at tailgates
3. In big games Michigan fans aren't as much excited as they are nervous as all hell that something bad is going to happen (as mentioned in a post above). And why shouldn't they be, history hasn't been kind; outside the glory that was the '97 defense.
4. Have I mentioned lack of alcohol

Side note: I've been to a plethora of sporting events all around the world and no fans come even CLOSE to Boca Juniors'; especially when the team is playing River Plate (Argentina soccer)

Anonymous said...

Sadly our crowd is NOT revved up for every game -- and why is that?? (rhetorical question, please don't jump on me...I did read the earlier messages)

I know many posters on here keep talking about the 'bigger teams' or 'more important games'. Sure, we're ALL guilty of thinking that way.

But think about it -- the way we've been playing the last couple of years...shouldn't we be looking out for ANY teams that come to the Big House??

Why not take 'em one game at a time and be at least a TAD concerned at the possible outcome?? JC!!! We could very well blow like a $2 whore against any one of those teams.

I say don't underestimate ANY team that comes in, yell and support as much as you can, and tell the 'down in front folks' to get 'up in back'.

Hell, I'm trekking from AZ to A2 for the home opener -- I'll do MY best to lose my voice! (And I'm not jangling keys -- that's just gayer than Mr. Peanut.)

Go Blue!!!

robert paulson said...

I was unaware that jingling keys precluded somebody from screaming at the top of their lungs. I do both at the same time. It's louder than only 1 or the other. If you really want noise, work on the 40,000 folks complaining about people standing in front of them.

The King said...

I used to have a big problem with people yelling "down in front" at me during Michigan games. Then I got a full back tattoo and started wearing basketball jerseys to the games.

Strangely, no one really mouths off to me anymore.

Anonymous said...

WOW, what's gotten into you today with posting UM content? I thought you went to posting Buckeye content exclusively.

Allaha said...

Anon at 9:32, you're right: no crowd that I have ever seen is as loud and passionate as Boca Juniors. The downside, however, is that occasionally rival fans (particularly from River) are killed or seriously injured, and it is hardly the environment for a family outing. When I went to the Boca-River game last year, my entire section was confined in the stadium for SEVERAL HOURS after the game until security would allow us to leave (because they empty the stadium in tiers to minimize fan violence.) . . .

Going back to A2, does anyone have stats that show the lack of crowd noise affects the winning percentage in the Big House?

Yost said...


Are you talking about the Bocca Juniors are a trip to Columbus? Just want to be clear.

Behind Enemy Lines said...

I live in Iowa and am a huge Michigan fan. I have been to the Big House only once when me and 9 other guys (die-hard Hawk fans) traveled to see the contest in 2002. I was so excited because I told all my buddies that even though the atmosphere at Kinnick is unbelievable, that 111,000 fans would blow them away. Was shocked when we got to the stadium parking lot early and it was just a bunch of RV's and older people who had slepped over the night before. We saw no other people tailgating our age (late 20's) or younger. Everything was laid back and it sucked. Then we went into the game and I thought that it had to be better. Well unfortunately Iowa was pretty good that year (Orange Bowl/Brad Banks) and they came in and knocked us in the teeth. I have never seen 111,000 people so quiet. I unfortunately was sitting in the visitors section decked out in blue and took a beating from my friends. I heard them the whole game and even in the moments where we closed the gap, I still really only heard them. I think people need to come to a game @ Kinnick to see what crazy fans are like. I am not a Hawkeye fan but do recognize that they are most devoted/crazy/loud fans I have endured in any sport. Tailgates start before 6am with cocktails in place. Iowa fight songs can be heard constantly before and after the game. People rush to get into the stadium in anticipation of screaming for their team. It is ideal and I wish my favorite team had an environment similar.

Yost said...


I've been to Kinnick. VERY loud...and great fans.

harry hasselhoff said...

I agree with Anon 6:32 - STOP THE CHOP! Temptation is great- my second favorite Michigan song - but this isn't FSU or an Atlanta Braves game! STOP THE CHOP! STOP THE CHOP!

Kahuna said...

The whole "key play" thing cracks me up. I took my Wolverine fan girlfriend to her first Longhorn game at DKR in Austin a couple years ago and she was shocked that the Longhorn fans all pulled their keys out and jingled them at the end of the game. We were telling the opposing team (Oklahoma State at the end of the greatest Vince Young comeback of them all if I recall correctly) to start up the team bus and get the heck out of Dodge. At Texas, the keys are a nice, relaxing way for the fans to finish off a victory. For the life of me, I can't imagine the sound of jingling keys (even if it is 100,000 of them) invigorating any football team to play well (or better).

Anyway, Yost, I agree with you. I'm going to be sadly disappointed if I go to my first Michigan game and I can hear myself whistle during big plays.

CrimeNotes said...

At the Michigan-USC Rose Bowl in '04, an irate, late-middle-age Michigan fan sat a few rows in front of me and a friend. Why was he so irate? Not because of dropped passes or the Lofa Tatupu interception, but because the fans in the Michigan section all sat quietly, clapping politely as we sipped our tea.

He was furious with everyone -- red-faced and sweating. Genuinely irate. He would stand, turn to the dozens of rows behind him, and try to get the crowd visibly involved in the game.

"Get up!" he screamed. "This isn't Ann Arbor!" he shrieked, drawing out syllables, the contempt and frustration getting hysterical, the body language indicating that he was about to throw a punch from frustration. "We can't just sit here and pretend that we're in Michigan Stadium!"

He had the posture and attitude of a retired drill sargeant. At a certain point, the crowd started to go along with him, but it was more to placate him than because of genuine excitement.

Anonymous said...

As a Domer, I certainly don't want to encourage the Big House to turn up the volume. That being said, you only have to look to last year's ND game for evidence of that a quiet stadium lessens home field advantage. Notre Dame's opening drive utilized no-huddle and resulted in a touchdown 12 plays later. I dare say, even with scripted plays, a no-huddle offense is difficult to execute when encountering deafening crowd noise. Yost is right, loud = intimidating. Why else would Weis devote some of his limited practice time to execution of the silent snap count.

Anonymous said...

I believe anyone who has ever attended a game at Bryant-Denny in T-town can relate. We have always had the worst fans when it comes to cheering. I've had items thrown at me for standing up cheering. It infuriated me that one of the most storied programs in college football could not generate any noise for their team. What kind of message does that send to the players? Of course, there were no issues booing after a blown play, but where's that enthusiasm when we're doing well?

But sometimes fate can step in....
I don't believe most Alabama fans believed that cheering at a game was necessary. Most of the old timers (who are the ones that live in the past) speak of Frats in ties and the days of a "gentleman's game," whatever that means. But something happened last year when Florida came to town. Electricty struck the stadium during the opening kick off, and one big play by the defense put the crowd into a frenzy. UF's O-line jumped several times and was flagged and it was at this moment everyone in Bryant-Denny turned to each other and said "By God, I think we've done something...." BAMA was fired up for that game, but I really believe the crowd helped play a part in the score being so one-sided. I noticed that every big game after that, the stadium was noticably louder. With our new stadium expansion completed, I'm hoping this new energy gets carried over.

Anonymous said...

The keys are a lame idea...

Look what it did for ND


Anonymous said...

Thank you anon 12:30p, that ND-USC clip is immediately one of top ten things I have seen on the internet. I just couldn't stop smiling/laughing.

Blueblood said...

Just found this on YouTube. LSU v. Auburn Earthquake game. Despite hating the SEC, I gotta admit it was damn loud that night.

Blueblood said...


Ben said...

1997 UM/OSU was the loudest football game I've ever attended (and I've attended many, at many stadiums).

Jeremy said...

What do you suggest doing during Temptation? The Claw is the gayest monster since gay came to gaytown.

You may notice that the first down/change of possession signal that the ref makes is amazingly also "the chop." That is why we do it; to mock the other team.

I see both sides of this. On one hand, we can't really expect to influence Balls Tate or Vandy games that much by being loud. And it seems when we need to be, it doesn't matter. The '04 MSU game was goddamned loud and I can't imagine any stadium being louder than that, period.

Yost said...


I respectfully disagree -- the '04 MSU game was loud...but ONLY at the end of the game during the comeback and during the 3OTs. When it's easy. When it's obvious.

Go to Ohio State and their fans are loud from the first quarter on. It's hard for Michigan to call plays ALL game, not just at a few "key" moments late in the game.

Jeremy said...


Oh by the way, I don't know if you've seen this picture:


I made it after the '03 OSU game. It still gets about 1000 hits a month from my webspace. Obviously it's not as timely anymore, but still amazing. Figured the mzone staff would enjoy it.

Scarlet & Gray Matters said...

one Anon post up the list said that drinking can lead to more yelling. I've seen more drunks spend all their energy between plays yelling at everyone for not yelling, then to only stand there in silence when the qb steps under center! Most recently witnessed it at last year - OSU v Texas and OSU v UM.

Yost, you'll love this... At the 2005 OSU v UM game (Sec 37, Row 89), as a matter of fact, two UM fans sitting beside and in front of me almost got in a fist fight over the drunken one yelling too loud. Well that and the canned-air horn...AND both guys were in their early 30's. I was amazed. The loud drunk guy beside me left at halftime to join friends elsewhere in the Big Mausoleum.

Great site and enjoy reading it everyday!


littleboblue said...

I live in Oklahoma and have for over 30 years. I've seen my beloved Wolverines play once...in 1988 for the Big 10 title. It snowed, it rained, it sleeted....I stood up the whole time, yelling and screaming...but I was alone.

I've seen half the people make twice the noise at Okie state. I've seen 75k at OU make it impossible to hold a conversation with the fan next to you.

Michigan needs to become this kind of place to play.....come on Michigan fans..it's okay to scream..it's okay to yell. You are the 12th man when the Wolverines are at home.

Anonymous said...

Are you guys serious about this crap? A bunch on non-athletic guys screaming in the stands all day long makes a difference on the field? That's funny. What matters is how the coaches and players prepare during the week, and how they execute on game day. Cranking up the volume beyond the usual level might help now and then if the defense needs an emotional boost or the opposing quarterback is shouting audibles. But spending the whole game screaming is for sheeple interested in dating each other, not real fans who actually want to watch the game.

Anonymous said...

I have to echo the sentiments of the other Alabama fan. We have traditionally had old school fans that sit on their hands during a game and cheer only when huge plays occur (student section does not have this problem). However, we have seen a shift in the atmosphere at Bryant Denny in the past year. For multiple games, it was deafening throughout the course of the game. It truly made a difference and also has been an excellent recruiting tool.

I typically watch Michigan play when I can before going to our game and I have noticed the lack of enthusiasm by the fans. Hopefully, in the future, you can experience a change like we had and you will see that it DOES make a difference. We both have great tradition and our fans should always let the opposing teams and fans know that when they come in our house, it is not going to be easy.

Anonymous said...

As a season ticket holder in AUTZEN STADIUM, I'm not surprised that AUTZEN is twice as loud as the twice as big Big House.
Watch for Top Ten OKLAHOMA to fall on Sept 16th in AUTZEN just as Top Ten ( #3) MICHIGAN did in Sept. 2003.

Mike said...

I wonder if accoustics has anything to do with it. Before PSU put up the south upper deck, the loudest noise came from the north endzone where the existing upper deck was. When they put in that other upper deck it seemed like the noise level definitely went up. Since the Big House has no upper decks I wonder if that has an effect. It would make sense a wall of people enclosing the stadium would increase the echo effect and trap the noise in the stadium. I'm not an accoustic expert, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

zinzarin said...


First things first, because I don't think I've posted here before. I love the blog - you are the blog that got me into reading what's now over a dozen blogs daily. I too have been extremely disappointed with the enthusiasm in the Big House. I've had some great experiences regarding this too, though. Everyone recalls ND 2003, but even more impressive, in my mind was the goal line stand by our defense the same year as Purdue attempted to escape from around their own 3 in the south endzone. I know that the fans in the endzone helped create the fumble that Michigan recovered for a touchdown.

In general, however, the situation is not good. I've been told "down in front" when I was behind the band and had to stand just to see the field! I'm going to do everything possible to help improve the sound of Michigan Stadium in my lifetime. The first thing I did was, in my "Go Blue Pack" ticket application for this season, I requested tickets near the student section for the stated purpose of wanting to stand up and be loud. This lets the University know, through the Ticket Office and my dollar, that I want a loud crowd. I think more people making this request might help influence official opinion, and reduce the sending of ushers to quell enthusiasm.

Also, I've got a t-shirt idea for you, if you'd like it. I like the designs you have up now, but they all have a somewhat antagonistic tone to them. I'd prefer one that's a little more positive (using honey to catch bees and all that). What about the title of this thread, or something similar?

Make the Big House LOUD!

Let's turn
"The Big House"
"The LOUD House"

Either in combinations with the "Make Noise" message would be nice.)

Those are my thoughts, I hope they're well-received. This blog is a great read, always, and I look forward to your posts every day. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that this article ran in the Nashville Tennessean this morning. Key Plays? The Wave? I dont know what to think.


Good luck against those dandies from Vandy. I dont think you will have any problem with them

Anonymous said...

This is a sad. I never knew that this was the case at Michigan. I also wanted to add clarity as I think some opponents of this commentary believe, "getting loud" equates to drumken, vulgar and distasteful cheering. I don't think it does OR has to...nor do I think the fella posting this commentary promotes such a thing.

There are plenty of crowds outside the SEC that do "get loud" but remain respectful...Nebraska is one. That place rocks on key plays...but its also one that rocks with applause as the opponent leaves the field...win or lose...get loud Michigan...it's good for the squad and the soul.

Anonymous said...

The more time a team uses to prepare for crowd noise, the less time they have to prepare for something else. Crowd noise plays a huge factor in College Football. Michigan Stadium is to quiet. There is no reason why it shouldnt be the louded stadium in the country. In my opinion, as noise levels go up UM winning percentage at home goes up.

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Kevin said...

As a member of the proudest and #1 student section in the nation by ESPN. I am so happy to see that you are admitting a problem. See, here at Penn State, we know what noise does, and we know how to make it very well. We also started the white out that has teams around the nation copying with red or blue or black. Ann Arbor is a big ass stadium with enough quiet time to allow a nursery to get some good sleep. WE ARE! PENN STATE!