Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Most Intimidating College Football Stadiums

A couple of years ago, one of the ESPN guys did a list of the "scariest" college footballs stadiums. Then went on to list the usual suspects, with no clear rationale.

I think "scary" is the wrong word to use, though, when considering home field advantage. So, with that in mind, I'm going to attempt to put together the most intimidating places to step onto the field. This is, of course, from the perspective of the player, not opposing fans.

There are plenty of factors to consider when considering which stadium is the most intimidating. Size, volume, history, relative closeness to the fans, and the sheer awe-inspiring quality of the venue.

Now, to be fair, I'm considering each of these stadiums at their best - not the week-in, week-out drudgery of the season. I mean, with the exception of very few places, no fan base is going to be crazy every week. And the higher caliber of opponent, the more crazy the stadium is likely to be.

Here's my Top Ten. Let the debate begin.

1. Notre Dame Stadium - "The House that Rock Built"

There are certain places where history weighs down like a mantel. In sports, there is usually one or maybe two stadiums - that tower above all the rest as being truly legendary. Wrigley. Fenway. Lambeau. Madison Square Garden. Notre Dame Stadium.
When you are standing in the tunnel under those 11 Championship banners, looking out an the eleventy-bajillionth straight sell-out crowd, listening to the chants from the most dedicated student section in the country, you can feel the echoes waking up. And while Notre Dame has gotten some flack for not being loud on a week-in, week-out basis, believe me when I say that they really can shake down the thunder like none else.

2. Tiger Stadium - "Death Valley"

First of all, with a name like Death Valley, you expect a certain amount of intimidation. And when you load up Death Valley with a bunch of intoxicated Cajuns, this place gets all kinds of loud. The design, a full bowl with the giant upper decks on either side, keeps it all inside where it belongs. Mostly, though, this stadium is as high as it is by reputation as one of the toughest places to visit - there is no single defining factor here.

3. Beaver Stadium - Whiteout

You want intimidating? How about walking out into a sea of 107,000 people all dressed in white, screaming their damn heads off? Penn State has not only the largest capacity of any college football stadium, but also is designed for intimidation. The double tier towering over the north end zone is just plain scary.

4. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium - The Swamp

Yes, Florida fans are loud and obnoxious. And yes, this stadium has a large capacity. But what really makes this stadium intimidating is the design. The steep design makes you feel like the entire stadium is about to collapse in on top of you.

5. Neyland Stadium - "Rocky Top"

This stadium has the best of all worlds, and I'm amazed that it doesn't come off as intimidating. I think it's a function of the Tennessee fans - some of the nicest people I've ever come across when they come to visit us at Notre Dame. The double tiered bowl all the way around, along with the seating capacity of over 104,000, make this a natural fit for the loudest stadium. But volume isn't everything, and so Neyland sits at #5.

6. Bryant-Denny Stadium

Nearly as rich in history and tradition as Notre Dame, Alabama's Bryant-Denny stadium certainly fills with some of the most passionate fans anywhere. But Bryant-Denny really suffers in intimidation factor due to the design. The open end on one side doesn't allow for the clutch goal-line intensity you get in some of the other stadiums (particularly Beaver Stadium, with the 3 tiers, and Notre Dame, with the student section screaming in your face).

7. Lane Stadium

Two words: "Enter Sandman" Sometimes, not having the storied tradition can help.

8. Ohio Stadium - "The Horseshoe"

The double-decked horseshoe of Ohio Stadium makes for one end-zone that is insanely loud, and one that is, well, not. But, the Horseshoe is also one of those legendary stadiums, and so they get a boost for that as well.

9. L.A. Coliseum

Design-wise, the Coliseum is one of the worst in terms of creating noise level or making the fans seem like they are on top of you. But, the impressive visuals of the stadium, and the fact that they have one hell of a football team, help with the intimidation factor. Lighting the Olympic Cauldron in the 4th quarter is pretty impressive.

10. Michigan Stadium - "The Big House"

Although Notre Dame Stadium is loosely based on Michigan's design, Michigan Stadium is flatter and larger than ND, creating a stadium where you may have 107,000 screaming fans, but the noise gets lost at field level because of the design.


Mike @ ZN said...

Nice list. Just one thing: PSU's double-deck is in the south end zone. The north EZ has just a single deck.

Anonymous said...

Autzen stadium (Oregon) regularly gets mentioned by players and fans as an ear-shattering and imposing place to play.

jamTsav said...

There are two stadiums that you left off the list that I would argue NEED to be there. As much as it pains me to say it. Georgia's Sanford Stadium "Between the Hedges" , and FSU's Doak Cambell have to be on your list. I would have both of the above Lane and Coliseum.

Trip said...

#1 should be off the list, maybe in the 80's it would of made the top ten, now it is more of the #1 for CFB history buffs than intimidation.

#2-6 good choices...

Clemson came to mind as another choice, because they have the noise record at one point, then I remember it's Clemson. LOL!

Michigan should be off the list too, while the football team was decent at best, the library doesn't get the nickname library for obivious reasons.

Anonymous said...

Bama...open end? What are you talking about? The stadium is enclosed, but doesnt have an upper deck on one side. Im an LSU fan and have been to Tuscaloosa several times. There is no "open end."

Anonymous said...

going to LSU for 6, and now ND for 5 years, I feel like I am qualified to give a accurate evaluation of LSU's vs ND stadium.

breaking this down into catagories.

It is pretty intimidation for a team to walk through ND tunnel where they see all 14 (or however many they have) NC banners hanging.

[u]Stadium Architecture:[/u]
Notre Dame's architecture is based of of Michigan's stadium which is quiet (see #10).
LSU looks like the roman Coliseum. Plus the design enhances the crowd volume.

ND's band has many good school tunes, and has some songs that lead the student section and pump them up. It does make them move in sync, etc. However, it does not make them louder. The ND band actually [i]quiets[/i] the student section most of the time they play. Pay attention to this tomorrow.

LSU band, esp with Pre-game makes the entire stadium erupt. This happens before the game (great intimidation factor), at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and during other critical moments of the game. Other LSU Band cheers also lead the student section in chants.

ND band does not have this power at all. At ND stadium, the student section actually hushes (no lie) between the 3-4 quarters to hear the cheesy joke in the public service announcement about no drinking and driving! Meanwhile there is a football game going on, where the visting players are not intimidated by the fans.

[b]LSU wins big

[u]"stepping onto the field"[/u]:
Has any notre dame student ever seen an opposing playing walk onto the field for the first time? They are not in uniform and are in there travel suits. This happens about 2hrs before the game. I dont think so, ND students are tailgaiting at this time.

ND stadium has assigned seating in the student section therefore, there is no reason for students to show up early to the game, and therefore they don't. The stadium in empty and all the students come in and barely make kickoff.

At LSU on the otherhand, there is no assigned seating in the student section. Therefore, the hardcore student fans arrive 2hrs before kickoff the get good seats. The LSU student section is halfway full by the time the opposing players arrive into the stadium in their travel suits (2 hrs before game). At this point, before they even put on their uniform, they are getting taunted by the rowdy intoxicated LSU fans who are chanting "Tiger Bait!" and profanities at them as they walk the field. The band is also there early playing songs and getting the students pumped hours before kickoff.

Also, another important factor here is that all the rowdy, passionate fans sit in the front closest to the field, and infront of the student section. They lead the student section in cheers and since they are all together their energy builds off each other.

ND on the otherhand has random assigned seating which distrubutes the most passionate fans around other apathetic fans who are annoyed at them by their jumping around, which dilutes their energy.

[b]LSU wins big

Anonymous said...

ND: 80,795
LSU: 92,400
Also, LSU stadium looks a lot bigger, you can see Tiger stadium from anywhere on campus. on ND campus, many people ask me where the stadium is. Like Michigan, ND's field is dug down into the ground, therefore the height of the stadium is not that tall. I would say that Tiger stadium is about twice as high as ND stadium. (I don't have the numbers of this), measuring from ground-level, (not field level, which is below ground for ND).

Ok, comparing biggest game to biggest game, not all the games to all the game. If this was the case, ND would definitely lose. That being said, the loudest ND game I have ever been to was the Bush-Push USC-ND game. Admittingly, that was decently loud, but again, [i]nothing[/i] compared to any LSU game I have been to. Also, the ND fans only get loud during really big 3rd down plays, and like USC's last drive, nothing more. LSU fans are loud all the time on defense.

This ND game was nothing compared to any of these big LSU home games:
To name a few: Tenn 2000, Bama (2000) - stormed the field both games. Georgia 2003.
Listen to this, you cannot hear the ESPN commentator over the crowd!
Georgia 2003, entire stadium starts chanting LSU-LSU-LSU after [i]georgia scored![/i] to take the lead in the 4th quarter. How intimidating is that! It is like, whatever, we don't give a shit you scored, we will still kick your ass... LSU would come back to win.

also, earthquake game! Plus many more recent ones that have happened when I was not there. Auburn, Florida, etc.

LSU wins.

ok, now to compliment ND stadium a little. One thing I do appreciate about ND stadium is that the student section is always there. Win, lose, blowout, close game (even during the 3-9 season). The students are always there, got to respect ND for this.

LSU on the other hand, students leave for blowouts, (winning or losing), this is kinda embarrassing and not intimidating. (Troy last year)

+1 ND

Also, ND fans are definitely classier than LSU fans (in general). They don't yell "@$$hole" and "you suck cxck" in unison unlike the LSU student section does sometimes, but then again, this would make LSU more intimidating even though less classy. I do respect ND for their class, you can be intimidated with class, and I wish LSU fans would be more classy in general.

So, considering all these factors, LSU stadium is definitely more intimidating than ND stadium.

Anonymous said...

The fact you put Michigan stadium in the top ten reveals you are completely clueless.
Michigan's stadium is the single most quiet stadium I've ever been to and I've been there about 10 times.
Even Colin Cowherd stated it was like a monastery. He's right. You have no idea what you're talking about. I'd rate their stadium around 80 in division one teams.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

LSU's Tiger Stadium is legendary as a stadium. They also call it Deaf Valley for a reason.

Notre Dame has a legendary program, but the stadium ain't that special. Alabama has a legendary coach but the stadium experience ain't that special.

Ohio State, Michigan, and Tennessee boast huge capacities, but the crowds aren't loud or raucous.

LSU is alone at #1.

The Texas A&M & Florida stadiums are the only challengers in the east.

Washington and Oregon are intimidating by West Coast standards but fall way behind the top 3.

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