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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mike Hart Would Like You to Put the Damn Keys Away, Too!

If you're a longtime reader of the site, you know there's one thing about football Saturday's in A2 that drive me crazy: the lack of noise in the Big House. On September 1st when Michigan opens its 2007 campaign against Appalachian State at home, 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.

During the first two years of existence for the MZone, I've made it my own personal crusade to try to amp up the volume in the Big (Quiet) House. Some have misconstrued this to mean I'm asking fans to be rude or obnoxious. Not so. I just would like to see the place be a tad more intimidating than a Wolverine tennis match.

Now, even some Michigan players are asking Michigan fans to step it up.

In the 2007 Football Preview Issue of THE WOLVERINE, U-M running back Mike Hart says he would like to see things get a little more intimidating for the opposition as well. Quoting from the article titled Hart Wary of Michigan's Schedule, Urges Noise:

Hence the hope that Michigan's fans will make life as tough on the visitors, noise-wise, as the Wolverines find it when they hit the road. Rarely do Michigan coaches or players directly appeal for assistance in such a way, but Hart wasn't shy about it.

"That's when you need the stadium," he said. "That's the one thing we really need to do this year as fans, as everyone - make it extra hard for teams coming in here. Show them it's not the same Big House. It needs to be a lot crazier."

The articles ends by saying:

Hart's appeal appears to follow the general theme directed toward Michigan fans in the coming year. On the Wolverines' schedule cards for football, the message above the listed games urges: BE EARLY - BE LOUD.

Couldn't agree more. As such, I'm reprinting my "Put the Damn Keys Away" article which was one of the first ever here on the MZone way back in our infancy in 2005. 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.

UPDATE, PART II: First off, thanks to the MZone reader who linked this story on MLive. But, what did the very first person who commented there say? Take a wild guess. Under the title of his reply "That's a myth," the guy starts his comment by stating, "Michigan stadium is quiet because of acoustics - not because of blue-haired alumni." Dude, clue up. Notre Dame Stadium was patterned "on a smaller scale" after Michigan Stadium and it's twice as loud.


whetstonebuck said...

I think it has more to do with the advice of your local cardiologists and EMT providers.

Maize said...

you forgot one thing...most of the students are already piss drunk and end up passing out during half time.

j said...

I think the only solution is to wire the seats and let the electricity flow.

VictoryCabal said...

At Virginia Tech, we do the key thing too. The only difference is that we yell while we're doing it.

That's why a smaller stadium (approx 67000) is one of the loudest in college football, and it gives us the kind of home field advantage that's ranked #1 by rivals.com and The Sporting News.

It's not the keys. It's what you're not doing that's the problem.

Rob said...

maize said "you forgot one thing...most of the students are already piss drunk and end up passing out during half time."

...Really? It is a college, right? I'd have to go ahead and say you've just described all 119 Div.1-A student sections, so it's kinda a wash.

Here is my shameless Oregon plug: Lloyd Carr is quoted multiple times as saying that Autzen is the loudest stadium he's ever coached at. The fans at Oregon never let up. They literally have to tell people to be quiet when Oregon is on offense because people keep cheering.

Yost said...


I agree. I was at the game in 2003. VERY impressive. Fans are great there.

Bo said...

we can bitch all we want to our small community here at Mzone, but if we really want to make a difference, we need to get ahold of the cheerleaders and make THEM understand. they're the ones in charge of getting the fans going- if they ditched the "key play" sign and held up a "SCREAM YOUR FUCKING HEADS OFF" sign, things wood be hunky dory...

Bo said...

oh, and kudos to Hart for making his voice heard... between his comments towards Harbaugh and his efforts here, i'm a bigger fan of number 20 than ever...

JB said...

I always thought the thing with the keys was weird. I find it akin to Miami fans holding up 4 fingers at the start of the 4th quarter. It isn't intimidating. It isn't loud. It is just stupid looking.

zen wizard said...

Since it's Michigan, are you allowed to jingle the keys to a Japanese car?

zen wizard said...

Would USC let you borrow their cheerleaders? I mean--as long as you are not playing USC; these cheerleaders are confused enough already.

(I am just thinking out loud, at this point...)

TitleIX said...

Well, it seems that the athletic dept is buying into the ditch the keys mantra....all for a great cause, raising money for the new Children and Womens' Hospital.


the only problem with this new Rally Wear?

(which reminds me of the 'quiet' wave we did back in the 80s when Bo was pissed that the students were so loud and getting delay penalties for the team. Who else in the blog-land out there did the SHHHHHH wave???)

Bo said...

add ".htm" to the above link to see it... not a bad souvenir for $10!

beast in 'bama said...

From the outside looking in, this whole key thing every year is so funny.

I have a nouveau riche theory about crowds at college football games. Many of the "old guard" of college football have notoriously quiet stadiums - Michigan, Alabama, Texas, USC.

During big games when the old school is playing well or rallying against a hated rival, they can be as loud as any other venue. But the majority of the crowd are older, well-heeled alumni who paid by-god good money for their season tickets and want to treat the stadium like it's their living room.

There are exceptions, of course - Ohio State and Nebraska come to mind right away - but a lot of the old powers of college football have a silent majority in attendance each home fall Saturday.

I think you'll find that some of the nouveau riche of college football - Florida, Va Tech, West Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin(?) - have some of the loudest, most intense atmospheres in all of college football. These programs didn't start winning big until recently. As a result, they probably have a younger, more proactive, more student-centric fanbase. This makes for a more lively gameday atmosphere in the stadium.

WingRG said...

It has been reported that Insight cable reached an (unconfirmed) deal with BTN, so those of you that have INSIGHT can rejoice.

MGoBlue93 said...

To piggy back on other comments... I'd like to suggest the land of the 12th man (not Seattle) is the loudest in college ball. And at Texas A & M, the noise actually starts the night before the game.

Out of Conference said...

Threadjack back to BTN thread comment:
My DirecTV lineup guide looks like they have spillover channels lined up in the 200s range for the tOSU, NW, and PSU games. The channels don't ID themselves as BTN, but neither do they look like GamePlan or spillover ESPN games either which usually reside in that area.

Granted, my DirecTV receiver box is about4 years old, so maybe it's the only one that doesn't show those channels as Big Ten Network.

El Pendejo Grande said...

T-IX I did the shh wave. Purdue,1983. We also had crashing waves, key waves and every other kind. Also, we had to shut up for being too loud and getting warnings form the ref.

Thus, it is not the keys to blame, nor is it the shape. It is cultural inertia and also the fact that they stopped letting you come back in the stadium in the 2nd half with a 12er from the (long gone) corner party story across Main St. Booze = noise. See SEC.

MGoBlue93 said...

Sweet... someone said "party store". I always get weird looks from people when I'm outside of Michigan and use the term.

IamCris said...

the updated direct tv listings for all Big Ten games being broadcast this saturday are posted on the www.bigtennetwork.com frontpage. I know it's not in the right post but here ya go. Overflow games will be carried on channels 218-221. two 8pm games will be broadcast on saturday as well.

Huntsville Reb Fan said...

If you need an example of what it means to get loud, you need to make a night game here:


SteveMuzZ said...

imagine how loud Kyle Field (aTm) would be if they sold out more than one game every two years.. dead dogs would be jumping out of their graves...

however beast in bama nailed it.. Here at Texas, we don't have much of a problem getting our students to yell their asses off.. but the alumni side is notoriously quiet and lame - and they make up about 2/3 of the stadium.

oh and this example holds true (about 5x as true) at our basketball games too.

Monica said...

I just want to say that as a fourth year student ticket holder, I am one of the hard core who not only yell their heads off while we are on defense, but yells at others to make noise. I've tried inventing cheers, even commanding a cowbell, and it can get so frustrating when the student section is silent. I understand that it is hard to organize and choreograph 20,000+ students - the students who make up the Maize Rage at basketball games have politely refused to organize a similar group for the football games because it is such a challenge. But, I want to emphasize a point already made in these comments - the students only make up %25 of the Big House crowd. The other %75 KILL the wave and SIT during the game. This is NOT your living room, this is YOUR team, YOU need to be making more noise than the baby crying three rows away.
If you are a student or alum and want to be updated on efforts to make Michigan Stadium louder, please email me at idareyou@umich.edu. I agree - it is NOT the BOWL, it is US, the FANS. So this season, BE EARLY, BE LOUD!

gwentom said...

You're all wrong. You should sit down in front. The problem with Michigan isn't that it's not loud, it's that it's not loud when it NEEDS to be loud. Being loud and standing all the time is for idiots who have no knowledge of football. I was at Autzen too. Big deal. ND and PSU fans are probably the best at getting loud when you should and behaving appropriately when nothing really is happening. Don't encourage foolishness.

Bargus said...

Although it got better in the second half...it was pathetic on Saturday. Even Corey Lynch from App State was quoted as saying, "There were 109,000 people in that stadium, and they were pretty quiet." It wasn't even three plays into the game before I was asked by some old crusty alum to "be a decent fan and sit down." Let me assure you, I let him know (albeit, in a polite way) that there was no way I was sitting down and that he should consider standing to provide some kind of *gasp* home-field advantage for his Wolverines. Just ticks me off...I've got tickets to the Minnesota game this year. But after this year I'm boycotting the Big House...I'll go support my Maize and Blue on the road. If I'm going to drive 4 hours to see a game, I'm going somewhere worthwhile. Thank you to the alumni (and the occasional student as well) for making the Big House experience a great one...for opposing teams.