Talking about weeding out the bad fans and it gets louder, the OT MSU game was as loud as the place has ever been and you could see a lot of empty seats near the rim of the stadium.
landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
There have been a couple board posts about the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium in the last few days, ranging from the boring nature of Michigan fans to unflattering comparisons to Michigan's louder, more raucous and fun football schools. FWIW, such has struck a chord with me, and I've decided to post my first diary (diatribe?) on MGoBlog about it. Why? It's a valid question; I probably could have found a more productive way to spend the last 20 or so minutes. At the heart of the matter I felt so compelled to point out, in my opinion, is that where some may see 'boring', they should instead see Michigan culture and something of which to be proud.
For starters, the Michigan Stadium experience has to be considered on its own terms. It’s dishonest to compare Michigan's traditions to those of others schools hoping to come out with a break-even rubric. If it was all about noise, 'white-outs', and 'jump-around', then the hierarchy of college football fandom (and 'intimidation') in the Big Ten securely has its leaders.
However, when you think about it, you'll notice that's not remotely the case. Noise is nice, loud is good, and I'm all about drunken high-fives and back-slapping when it's appropriate. But that's not what Michigan Stadium is about.
Michigan has "the Victors". Only a handful of schools have such a storied and inspired/inspiring fight song, and even less with a band talented enough to do it justice. Michigan has the "Let's Go Blue" bell, Temptation and the Hawaiian War Chant. There won't be any jock-jams, amplified synthetic noise, or corporate pageantry at Michigan Stadium. The focus will be on the field, on the Band, and on Tradition. (Having said this, I'm not against amplifying a "Let's Go Blue" bell, Michigan fanfare, or the sound of keys jangling over the PA if it will get the whole stadium clapping and cheering together. PA prompts to cheer are OK with me so long as they don't overwhelm focus off the field).
On the scoreboard, Michigan Stadium proudly lists the years for all 42 conference titles, 11 claimed national titles. Michigan has had 150 All-Americans, 3 Heisman winners, and over 870 overall wins (leading the NCAA). These are the stats that each of the 107,501 Michigan faithful exude en masse every game-day; some express the Michigan tradition with facepaint, maize shirts, blue shirts, no shirts... and for many, in no Michigan apparel at all. And I think we should be OK with that. Because to me, having a grandpa at the game who sits quietly and watches his 100th, 150th or 200th win at U-M with little to no fanfare of his own making doesn't take away from my game experience but has a hand in making it.
When the new additions are completed, Michigan Stadium will draw over 108,000 people (young, old, alums, students), and we can rest assured it will be a classy crowd: folks who've come to watch a game played the Michigan way, and chances are they'll see the other team lose.
Conversely, every time an opposing team comes to the Big House, chances are slim they're coming away with a win. Michigan's all-time wins: 872–294–36 (.740); the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Such is a level of intimidation that a bunch of idiots in white t-shirts, or dancing around to music that wasn't even cool in 1992, can only dream to achieve. What more do you really want?
As I’m trying to emphasize, the crowd and "intimidation" of Michigan Stadium can't be considered along the same terms as most any other school. It's my sense that many MGoBloggers would like the U-M experience to match game-day at Bobby-Dodd, the Swamp or Tiger Stadium. My response to this is that stadium (and collegiate) experiences in southern and certain western states where you can wear t-shirts and shorts year-round, attend night-games, and project sports-bar culture into football Saturdays are on a different plane than their mid-western counterparts. You could almost do a case-study on the geographical/sociological factors contributing to 'fandom' with these comparisons. Because I find that kind of thing interesting, I'll continue.
First: If the Michigan crowd could wear t-shirts to every game and didn't have to bundle up in fleeces and coats as the temperature drops, then you would see 108,000 people wearing the same shirt to every game-day. Same would likely create a mob-mentality, and people would be more apt to yell and cheer with singular voice and purpose. As it is at Michigan, when folks have to start donning heavier clothes, each fan is individualized in his/her own clothes and winter-gear. Individualization detracts from extroversion, and people become less apt to cheer with 'one voice'. (There are interesting psych studies on the issue of fans and mob-mentality I would link to, but you can just Google it and find some for yourself).
Second: Michigan Stadium has to some degree been forced to stick to the Saturday afternoon schedule in lieu of greater 'fandamonium' at night-games because of restricted game-day commuter options. You and I may likely agree, a party-atmosphere is at the heart of the game-day experience at all of the schools we sometimes fantasize Michigan could level up to. Unfortunately, Michigan, as home of GM and the Big Three, emphasized family cars over trains and busses. Without a viable option to commute after rounds of collegiate revelry, people have to be considerate of their commutes home. No/less spirits prior or during the game = less "spirit" in the Stadium.
As for the night-games, I've read scholarly opinions that people become more extroverted in the dark and under the light than during the day-time. I believe there's truth to this. However, Michigan Stadium has its hands tied a little bit here; I think we'd have to wait and see if a night-game experiment could still draw the same crowd and revenue as the afternoons. I would guess that the Stadium would be louder in any event.
Third: winning has a funny way of ‘stuffying up’ a crowd. Teams with winning traditions attract front-runner fans; and to a degree these people don’t do the term “fan” (short for “fanatic”) justice. As a by-product, the winning program may often realize the unfortunate result of having its biggest rival seemingly boast “better fans.” This bothers me more than anything: that Yankees fans are somehow less "fanatical" than Red Sox fans. I've heard the same problem with respect to our neighbors across the Pond; Manchester United fans vs. Liverpool.
All else being equal, I would suspect that if you thinned the Michigan Stadium crowd by eliminating the fair-weather and/or front-runner fans from game-day, and then transplanted the remaining fans into a Stadium that trapped noise instead of sending it into the ether (Autzen?), you’d have a very loud and enthusiastic group.
Last: weeks ago, someone posted a great article written by Mitch Albom discussing the state of the State of Michigan. It was a really well-written piece, irrespective of your affinity for the author. In the column, Albom discusses the "Michigan fan" in sociological terms: as humble, respectful, tradition-oriented folk. I think there's something to this, and it correlates to the type of crowd you see at Michigan Stadium.
For me, I tend to embrace these factors as a fan, because it speaks to unique qualities about what makes Michigan football "Michigan Football". Where you see boring, I see Michigan culture. As an out-of-state student (NYer), I considered the humble friendly nature of most mid-westerners with whom I engaged as an asset to the state and to the school (it's a stereotype, but well-placed in my opinion).
Where you might demand volume in decibals, I look in awe at the volume in numbers for a Stadium that demands its fans to actually drive to game-day. It may be a lot to ask of family-men and women to commit to an hour+ trek to the Stadium, have their family tailgates, and then up the excitement level for 3 hours only to get in their cars and sit in traffic on the way home. The people blogging on this site represent a faction of the fans who probably would up the ante upon entering the Stadium, but most fans at that point are just going to want to watch the game on their bums, cheering wildly after TDs and interceptions but in restrained merriment throughout.
When all is said and spoken for, you're left with a very "Michigan" (I hope not boring?) experience: an unrivaled sense of support for the home-team, loyalty through thick and thin (numbers dropped at the Stadium in 2008, but never below 106,734 [Miami-Ohio]; think about that), and above all, pride. Pride for tradition, and pride for the men on the field. I think and I hope that the players sense same. I get the impression that they do, because I believe this is what’s at the heart of being a “Michigan Man”: an athlete deserving of such unbridled, almost religious, support. I would imagine the opposition senses it, especially our mid-western rivals; such would certainly intimidate me as a player, as far as any level of noise could intimidate. It’s my new hope that when fans look out across the masses at Michigan Stadium, even the quiet ones, they’ll have a greater sense and appreciation for the thing that is the Michigan Experience, and Michigan Culture. In my opinion, it’s really something to be proud of.
If booing has become an issue at Michigan Stadium, I'm glad I didn't witness it during my run at U-M from 2000-2004; I don't remember ever hearing multiple fans boo. It's unacceptable. If it ever happened, the 'booers' would have been sorely derogated. I sincerely hope this is not becoming a recurring problem.
Talking about weeding out the bad fans and it gets louder, the OT MSU game was as loud as the place has ever been and you could see a lot of empty seats near the rim of the stadium.
Very well said.
In addition to your points, from a pure business perspective it seems pretty stupid to tinker too greatly with the gameday experience of a stadium where 108,000 fans show up for every game like clockwork. I'm no economic genius or anything, but "go with what works" seems like a pretty good rule of thumb.
As an aside, I've been going to games at Cal and Stanford for the better part of the last 10 years and have seen both of those schools struggle to create and re-create a gameday identity that could sustain them during the lean years and provide a sense of tradition and continuity during the fat ones. Keep in mind, these are teams that have been around for 100+ years. Staking out that identity is hard to do, and M fans sometimes take the fact that we already have a great one worked out for granted. Cal seems to have figured something out, but even that still doesn't come close to the ritualized perfection of the Michigan gameday experience.
is the Wisconsin game this year. Virtually every fair-weather fan left at halftime disgusted with Blue down by double-digits, yet the last few minutes of that game, beginning with Thompson's pick-six, were the loudest I can recall having ever heard at the Big House, despite swaths of empty seats across the stadium.
I wonder if the luxury boxes will "reflect" sound back down onto the field next year, or if that's just a pipe dream...
I was there and that pick six was the loudest I've ever heard the stadium, ever.
Were you there for the 2005 Penn State game, or the miracle comeback against Michigan State?
Just curious. I remember absolute bedlam after Henne threw that TD to Manningham with 1 second left on the clock. Thinking about that still gives my goosebumps. Awesome memories.
No. I've only been to probably a dozen games in my life there (not an alum, family is legacy, grew up in CA, etc etc), but I've no doubt that those were similarly loud or louder.
Prior to Wisconsin 08, the loudest I'd heard it was probably the comeback against Minnesota in 03(?).
The '03 Minnesota game was the historical comeback at the Metrodome. '04 Was the game at the Big House.
I love that we never forget those moments though.
Ah. Good call. It was '04. I generally make one trip back there a year with my old man. The following year was the loss to ND that started off the Year of Infinite Pain. Then it was Wisconsin '06, PSU '07 and Wisconsin '08.
Might go back for two games this year. Our family's seats are right on the 50, underneath the press box, 60 rows up. Pristine views, but it's pretty much Blue Hair Central. All this talk of "student section" and "shouting" confuses me.
I was at that one. My buddy and I were sitting near the end zone and all I could hear for 5 minutes were my ears ringing....
I made a point to look around and up behind me to take it all in. Someone turned the amp up to 12 just then. It was nuts.
I was in the student section at Autzen in 2003 as well. From start to finish, the noise there was unreal. I think UM has a higher peak, but Autzen was loud like that the whole game.
The warm pabst blue ribbon from the students in row 15 there may have had something to do with it.
props to you for making the eugene trip. sad it couldn't work out better for you. i knew we didn't have a chance in that game, unfortunately. that place is a killer.
I agree with the article but I am primarily upset with the crowd members who will get into a fight with another fan because they refuse to sit down. Being a fan is different to each person and if you feel like you need to stand to be a fan then go do it. I always see in my section an old man yelling at another fan because he is standing up too much next to him. Being very very drunk is another story because it can get out of hand for the people in your section but for the most part they are still fans. It is very upsetting when I see childish fights like this and it should stop. Swearing in your section is going to happen and if someone tells you to stop because of a child then you should but at Michigan games is where I learned to swear mostly. I would love to see it louder but it will take more then shirts and towels to do it. GO BLUE!
I sense at the heart of your post is a general annoyance with some fans' maladjustment from the student-section to the general population. To use another stadium as an analogy, it's like bringing the bleacher-creatures at ye Olde Yankee Stadium to join the Championship Box inhabitants. That kind of thing could lead to high shenanigans or worse.
I think the transition is something that plays itself out, and although potentially obnoxious, comes par for the course; however there are ways that could level out the adjusting and increase 'fun' simultaneously.
Lots of stadiums send video-cameras into the stands to record the faithful on the scoreboards during timeouts. This practice leads many fans to up the ante and bring along home-made signs, engage in goofy behavior for a little while and enjoy themselves. I think if Michigan Stadium started doing this, the newly minted alums could find an outlet to their 'superior fandom', young kids can go nuts hoping for a shot at celebrity, and even the geezers may get in on the act. At the very least, the older folks will almost certainly be more understanding of 'excessive cheering' if/when it's prompted.
It has been a while since I have been back for a game. However, every time someone watches a game with me, I will talk up the experience. I now live in the Pac NW and find my self at a game in Corvallis or in Eugene. And I have to tell you Autzen is one of the loudest stadiums I have attended. The experience is just as manufactured as a VH1 "finding love" reality show.
BTW Michigan holds the attendance record at Autzen and they consider that the best win in program history.
3. The OT game w/MSU.
2. Harbaugh's 80-ish TD bomb to Kolesar vs. tOSU in '85.
1. Desmond's punt return vs. tOSU in '91. I thought that place was gonna crumble that day.
the 08 wisconsin game, havent been to the older games so theres no way of comparing but I literally thought the big house was gonna break down that day...
I agree that, historically, Michigan wins most of the games at the Big House. But I ask: how many more games would be won with a consistently louder atmosphere? Oregon is considerably more difficult to beat at home, where it's rumored to be unbelievably loud. By contrast, I think Toledo or App. State players were quoted as saying that they expected the crowd to be more intimidating. I find that telling.
And I love that the Big House does not have corporate advertising. But I doubt that the banners/numbers are intimidating when the other team is focusing on executing a play. But 100,000 spirited fans yelling loudly could be.
Lastly, other schools do not have difficulty being loud even when it gets cold outside. Take Wisconsin, for example. Or even OSU, as much as I hate them. Michigan Stadium should not have a reputation for being the quietest 100,000 fans in the country. Most other big-time programs do not "enjoy" the same reputation for a reason.
I don't think that being louder would detract from the Michigan gameday experience. I think it would just add to the awesome traditions already in place.
I'm mostly here to concur.
I've had season tix in section 11, the south endzone, for a few decades now. Our tix are next to the grouchiest old coot you've ever met, and I pray for the day he's too old to make it to the stadium. We all know the guy. Typically, he's actually from Ohio. I often lament the weak nature of our fans, particularly in a section often humbled by rowdy visiting fans (let me tell you, that Utah game sucked for section 11).
I firmly believe that night games alone would solve the problem. Booze=rowdy and there aren't enough people excited to booze at 10am, present company excluded.
I loathe piped in sound if you've ever been to State College, it's 200% louder and I feel terrible for the chumps that all sing 'sweet caroline'. It's pathetic.
I think Albom is right, it's in large part a fact of good midwestern values. There just aren't enough of us who enjoy saying, in some form, "I am better than you." That's a good thing.
I went to grad school in Eugene, and a previous poster is right: Eugene is madness, 30% of the size, far louder on the field. I like the idea of weeding out 70% of the old coots and turning the Big House into the Joe, tiny and insanely loud.
None of it's happening. No night game, no ridding of the old coots. No southern obnoxiousness (and the south ain't gonna rise again, idiot).
All I request from everyone is this:
PRAY TO GOD IN HEAVEN ABOVE THAT THEY DON'T PIPE IN THAT SHIT MUSIC. I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, SING 'LIVIN ON A PRAY'. EVER!!!! I would prefer silence, and the coot.
#3--UM vs Washington, (03?)
#2--Dez punt return vs. OSU
#1--Dez 4&1 layout touchdown catch vs ND.
God that was the greatest.
Well stated throughout the piece, The Big House isn't as consistently loud as certain stadiums filled mostly with drunken half-wits ('Shoe, Happy Valley, Camp Randall, SEC, etc.). But one of the things which makes a game there amazing is the pure tradition of it all. No one compares to Michigan in the history of the program outside of the Ivy League, and Michigan epitomizes that tradition of excellence well. A game at the Big House is fantastic, pre-game and post-game festivities are... decent, but the game inside is something to behold.
By the way, the part about the bands and the artificial noise is so true. Listen to the band, not chants that are played over the P.A. at hundreds of other stadiums.
Th booing is intolerable, and it's getting more frequent and louder. They even booed Michigan, at halftime of the Wisconsin Miracle (which it was, but a great one at that). It's embarrassing, cheer for your team, don't boo them.
That said, my favorites (that I attended):
#5 Michigan-Wisconsin 2008
#4 Michigan-Ohio State 2005
#3 Michigan-Washington 2002 (I think)
#2 Michigan-Penn State 2007
#1 Michigan-Michigan State 2004
I was a student at Michigan and had never watched a game football (live or tv) before the infamous App State game. Obviously since I have become much more informed with Michigan football and college football in general. I remember asking the guy next to me 'If we score this field goal do we win'. Yes I know. Later we went to the brown jug to kind of forget the events of the day but every tv screen had the blocked field goal and every time we saw it one of us cried. I even said, it was a pretty good game but I was obviously unaware of the real consequences of this game. As a first time watcher of football I loved my first and only season at A2 even tho it wasn't one that was filled with joy. I loved the atmosphere of all the students partying the Saturday mornings away, going to bed then going out again at night. I remember going to the Union for a bite to eat after the Penn State game and they were saying 'thats what a real football games like'. They obviously knew about my lack of football knowledge... The real issue I think with the stadium atmosphere is that all the students are not seated together. I reckon if all students were seated together instead of some at random sections it would make a much better atmosphere as well as experience for the students. Also, if it would be possible for newly graduated students to be seated around the student section it would add to the whole experience. A lot more innovative chants need to be started by the crowd, theres a lack of originality. The crowd also needs to be more aggressive towards away fans, we are too polite to them and should embarass them more. I remember a girl in an OSU hoodie walking up OUR stairs, in the middle of OUR student section during the Purdue game, and not getting heckled or booed. The number of students who sell tickets is alarmingly high. This would stop opposing fans from buying tickets and seats in the middle of the student section.
Hope this makes sense I am slightly intoxicated right now....
First and foremost: the traditions are great; The Victors is still the finest fight song in college football. The band is among the finest in the country, and definitely the best in the Big Ten since Wisky got rid of about 75 percent of their percussion section.
BUT.......... NOBODY IS AFRAID TO PLAY IN THE BIG HOUSE ANYMORE. NOT EVEN APPY FUCKING STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT EVEN FUCKING TOLEDO!!!!!!!
I'm 56, went to my first game in 1960 (UM 8, Illinois 7), and can remember when teams were scared to play UM. I guess a major part of it was that Bo's teams might have been nice guys off the field, but were mean sons of bitches on the field. Maybe a lot of that has been missing with Lloyd Carr, but it appears to be coming back with RR and Barwis.
But whatever it is, UM definitely needs to turn the Big House into a tough place to play again.
Fucking Madison is a tougher place to play than the Big House. And that is criminal.
Second: I agree wholeheartedly that fans who not only won't stand or make noise, but are genuinely offended when someone else does and tries to make them stop, need to watch the games on TV and let real fans have their tickets.
I am 56 years old, overweight (though I have lost 15 pounds since new years), and would STILL much rather be in a crowd that stands up and makes noise the entire game than one that doesn't. If I need to rest, I'll just go to the concession area, buy a big beer (they actually sell beer at college games here, that would be a great idea for UM), sit on my ass, and guzzle the beer. And then go back and yell even louder.
The open-air stadium is a great scapegoat, but I have been in the stadium when it was just as loud as anyplace. IT IS THE FANS, NOT THE STADIUM, WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LACK OF NOISE.
It is sheer folly to say that 110,000 motivated fans could not make the Big House a loud stadium because of all the open air.
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I am old. Life makes you a little tired when you get older. Your metabolism slows down, shit eats at you and saps your energy, and your hormones decrease.
BUT THAT IS NO EXCUSE FOR ACTING LIKE A DEAD FUCKING BODY AT A FOOTBALL GAME!!!!
And it never will be.
So, to summarize, the Big House needs players who are mean sons of bitches and fans who want to support their team in as loud and animated a fashion as possible.
And anyone who can't summon up THREE FUCKING HOURS OF ENERGY should sell their tickets to those who can.
Way to go, Tater!
Dig it, Tater.
Commandment number one is indeed Thou Shalt Yell And Cheer For Thy Team, else why are you there? Michigan football is second to none, but if you are trying to talk up a customer for more business for your tool and die shop, I can think of far better environments. Anyways, this got kinda off topic already...
I think you are closer to the truth here:
"I guess a major part of it was that Bo's teams might have been nice guys off the field, but were mean sons of bitches on the field."
People are frightened to play Michigan because three out of four that do will lose. Most good teams will use a tough environment as motivation, so unless the noise is drowning out audibles... well, I do not see it affecting gameplay in such drastic ways. Maybe if the AD would move the band back behind the opposing bench again - we used to damn near pick fights from the Trumpet section. Of course they are empty promises, but then I know their players are not thinking about football.
... but I believe acoustics plays a bigger part than you may think (see my other post, if u like).
And stop calling yourself old at 56! (I'm 45, fyi.)
The diary I posted earlier was in response to Brian's bit on how he was afraid a few changes to the Spring Game would slippery slope Michigan into being "like everyone else". I was shocked at his response initially and even more shocked that it was taken down. Too offense to the readership apparently.
Michigan's tradition cannot be replaced. Period. But over the years, the football stadium has devolved into an embarrassingly quiet affront to fandom that is commented on by national media and opposing teams. I'm still stunned that we have some Michigan fans claiming it's the Wimbledon of college football. That's lunacy.
No one is asking us to turn into drunken, disrespectful, brawling Michigan fans. But why is it that if you criticize the willingness for the home team's fans to stand and cheer, the majority on this board, and apparently Brian, rush out with the tired comparisons to drunken pro-fans or cheesy "MAKE SUM NOIZE!" videos? No one wants that.
Enough of you have experienced a loud atmosphere at Michigan to know that it's possible for that place to be rocking, despite the accoustical handicap. Why do they have to be the exception to the quiet norm??
The team needs us to be the 12th man until we get things rolling again. If you think because we've upgraded our QB position that we're completely out of the woods, you're wrong. Despie the results on the scoreboard, these kids are going to leave everything on the field for you, for each other, and for the program. Do the same for them in the stands.
Or you could go on making the Bighouse college football's equivalent to Wimbledon.
I think it's also important to note how a football program reflects its school. Some of the values you mention (diversity for one) are shared by the UM administration. I'm not sure how many other football programs seem to "fit" their school - USC fits in terms of style and culture.
It was absolute bedlam after Henne to Manningham walk off touchdown. One of the loudest times I can recall.
I really wish there was a way to amplify noise in the stadium. I wouldn't be opposed at all to some PA noise piped in but only if it's in the context of Go Blue chants or just general 'get the eff up off your ass it's third and long and yell as loud as humanly possible.'
Unfortunately I think one of the consequences of having such a long historic tradition and a huge base of successful alumni is that you're going to have tens of thousands of fans that fall into the category of being older and family oriented and simply won't contribute to the noise factor in the stadium. Can anyone with experience going to stadiums like in Eugene comment on this? Is it just that some other notoriously loud stadiums have a different fan base more composed of younger (and drunker) fans as opposed to Michigan which is skewed older and more family oriented?
I'm no acoustics expert, but I am a trained musician with plenty of experience dealing with a variety of acoustics in a variety of venues.
I loved Tater's impassioned post, but there IS something to the lack of volume at the Big House being in large part due to the design of the place. I'm not saying it's the ONLY factor... not at all. Yes, the crowd itself is often lacking in its output of noise. However, the acoustics of Michigan Stadium have a HUGE impact on its loudness levels.
I have sat as low as row 5, and as high as row 95. Anyone who has done such a thing will tell you that the crowd sounds MUCH louder down low. Are they actually yelling any louder? Probably not. But in sitting down low, one puts oneself in an entirely different acoustical situation. It makes sense... in Row 5, you've got 90 rows of people behind you yelling in your direction. In row 95, not so much.... although you sure get a nice view of Ann Arbor from up there. :)
An even better argument perhaps... let's take Ohio Stadium as an example. If you've been there, you've no doubt noticed that compared to the Big House, it is taller and steeper, which makes its footprint smaller. (Really, I'd never been there until last May when I was there on business and we took a tour. I was surprised at how small I thought the place looked. Guilty of being a spoiled Michigan fan!!) This means that the fans are in closer quarters. Result = acoustically louder, directly related to the part distance plays with regard to sound. Quite simply, you take 100K fans yelling "GO BLUE" at the Big House, cram them into Ohio Stadium, yell "GO BLUE" again at the same volume, it will in fact sound louder to one's ears. A purely acoustical situation.
My examples are pretty no-nonsense and elementary. An acoustical physicist could probably show us some formulaic proof, or at least a good graph or two.
I CANNOT WAIT until the 2009 season to hear the difference. The massive sideline structures were only steel framework in 2008. Over the past few months, those structures have become significantly more solid. This will surely have an effect on the noise level as the screams from the crowd will echo off those structures. It will not be the be-all, end-all acoustical improvement, but it will be noticeable. The structures were designed such that the part looming above the top row is angled down toward the field. I'd be willing to bet that wasn't done just for looks! My season tix are in the north end zone, Row 91.... likely a place where I'd notice the least amount of difference. But it will be there. And I'll be happy knowing it's even louder for the folks that have better seats.
Again, acoustical improvements that are being made won't be everything. The fans DO need to kick it up a notch! I am usually one to sing THE VICTORS proudly and loudly nearly every time it is played, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I just wish the rest of the crowd would join in. It is and will always be the greatest college fight song, and after 23 years of being an alum and fan, I still consider it a great privilege to be part of it all.
GO BLUE!!!! (C'mon. You can say that louder.)
If what you say is true, then why is the stadium louder with less people? Many of the examples people have used regarding their loudest experience at Michigan stadium have come late in games when a lot of the "fans" had left.
Bottomline is, yes it's a large open facility, but it CAN and should be a loud, intimidating place to play.