Nobody on the internet really knows whether or not Jim Harbaugh is truly interested in leaving Stanford, and nobody close to Harbaugh is talking. However, there is one potentially huge inducement (aside from a new $50,000 crapper in Schembechler Hall) for JH to leave Palo Alto and come back east: the absolutely miserable attendance at Stanford games.
"A nationally-ranked football team with a star quarterback, well-known coach and gorgeous stadium would translate to sellout crowds on most college campuses.
But not at Stanford, where thousands of seats sit empty on any given Saturday. The small crowds are an object of derision for opponents and a source of frustration for school officials, including football coach Jim Harbaugh. The situation has left others baffled.
"Their head coach is a force of nature. Their quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Their team is one of the best in the country, and they have 6.5 million people living here," said Andy Dolich, who has worked as an executive for the A's, Warriors and 49ers. "They've got everything going for them."
But the empty seats -- in 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, more than 10,000 regularly go unfilled -- are no longer just a head-scratcher. They could cost the football team a berth in a major bowl game."
I haven't seen these posted yet, but I have two awesome photos of Michigan Stadium at night under the recently installed lights. [EDIT: thanks for the sarcastic technical support]
So I was starting to think about the attendance for this game and how it might compare to the record setting game against UConn. I feel like we should be able to break it again as there could be more away fans than the first game. Is it possible to approach 115,000?!?!
This is a going to be a great game against a big rival (3rd biggest?), what does the MGoCommunity predict for numbers?
I say north of 114,000.
EDIT: Pictures should be fixed... sorry for that.
So on September 4th while Michigan was breaking in its brand new digs in Ann Arbor and breaking the record for largest audience to ever watch a football game in America at 113,090, I was halfway across the world making my visit to one of the two (non-racing) stadiums that can claim a bigger capacity than The Big House in Ann Arbor - Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. With a seating capacity of 150,000 it is the largest stadium in the world. You may have heard Sean McDonough mention it during the beginning of the game as he noted the two stadiums larger than Michigan Stadium.
The stadium, located in the heart of the North Korean capital, dwarfs any stadium I have ever seen (and I consider myself pretty well sports-traveled). The thing was massive.
Myself outside of May Day Stadium w/ my Michigan Season T-Shirt
May Day Stadium from the top of Juche Tower
The stadium is primarily used for the Arirang Mass Games, which take place three times per week from the Months of August to October (usually...). The mass games are one of the largest gymnastics displays in the world, which also feature a human-mosaic backdrop made up of 30,000 students, which essentially becomes the world's largest LED screen - sure to make Jerry Jones envious. If you managed to catch the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, imagine that but about 100 times grander and more awe-inspiring.
The 'gymnastics' display is much less about the actual sport and more of a narrative opus which tells the story of the Founding of the DPRK (North Korea) and highlights certain Korean cultural aspects as well. It was, easily, the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed in person (and I was at the Big House for UM-MSU in 2004, and at the Capital One Bowl in 2008 to put things in perspective...). Over 100,000 people participated in the display, and just the sheer numbers alone were breathtaking. Not to mention the synchronization and transitions were absolutely flawless. I normally could care less for gymnastics, but this was stunning and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire performance and did not want it to end. Here are a few more highlight pictures from the event -
Opening act of the Mass Games... the mosaic with the Korean text is made up of 30,000 students holding books with pages of different colors that they change on order from a flag captain. I don't know how they managed to synchronize everything so perfectly. It makes the block M in the student section during a Maize-out look like child's play....
The students were also able to animate the mosaic, as the Korean script was "written" across the mosaic. It was crazy.
Mosaic of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's 'Fatherly Leader'. Even though he died in 1994, he is still the President of North Korea
Although the mosaic was the coolest part of the performance in my opnion, some of the gymnastics displays were superb. My favorite was this Tae Kwon Do, which culminated in two fighters taking on over 80 'bad guys'. It was epic.
The performance lasted around 1.5 hours but I did not want it to end. While stepping into the Big House on football saturdays is still one of the most humbling experiences for me. May Day Stadium took the cake. It's size was unlike anything I have ever seen. Another American who was on the tour with me (and also a die-hard Purdue fan) joked that we should talk to our respective schools about staging a football game over here in the future.
Outside of the mass games, North Korea was one of the most fascinating countries i have ever been too. It really was like traveling to another planet. If you are interested in Korea or enjoy traveling to unique locations, I would highly recommend a trip to the DPRK. It is not cheap by any means, but it is the experience of a life time and is completely safe.
So, I would like to start off by saying that the stadium renovations look magnificent. Having seen them for the first time for the UConn game, they truly bring a majestic and powerful addition to an already impressive structure. However, with the likely addition of HD scoreboards and the soon-to-be addition of permanent lighting, I asked myself, "Crisler arena has banners, Yost has banners, where would the listings of our National Championship years go? What about Big Ten title years? Heisman winners? Etc."
This made me think that it could be a nice addition to the plain, solid navy boxes to have maize text across the top or bottom of the structure listing our title years, or even an iconic saying such as "Welcome to the Big House" or something similar to having "Michigan" above the old press box. I think it could spruce up the boxes and be the final touch for the best stadium in the country. I'm sure our football team would enjoy, and be proud of, having the program's accomplishments on display just as our basketball and hockey players do. Thoughts?
EDIT: Ok, to make myself more clear, I'm not talking about bringing back the halo, I don't want banners, or any large, gaudy signs. I'm saying that perhaps we can honor our past players and teams that brought greatness to Michigan Football in a way that many stadiums do around the country. I understand that the words "change" and "Michigan Stadium" do not sit well with a lot of people, but I figured that if Dave Brandon is pushing Michigan Stadium into the 21st century, that something like this could be accommodated, and probably more now than if we waited for 10 years. After all, once we got rid of the old press box, does it even say "Michigan" anywhere inside the stadium, aside from the OLD scoreboards?
DOUBLE EDIT: So after hearing about the other "memorials" to past teams in other concourses, I had to use the Google machine for pictures. I like what they did there, and I didn't get a chance to see it as the tunnel to my seats were directly in front of the gate I entered. I think that is classy and done well. Therefore, I now rescind my opinion on the matter, though I still thought it was A LOT of blue on those things.
If a thread like this exists, I apologize in advance.
First, let me say that I really love the new stadium. When inside the stadium however, I really think they need to add something to the blue facade. It can be as simple as Michigan Stadium written out, or even just yellow Block M's in corners of each structure. The plain blue seems too corporate to me.