Stranger In A Strange Land Comment Count

Brian September 22nd, 2008 at 3:06 PM

9/20/2008 – Auburn 21, LSU 26 – Uh, Michigan is still 1-2

jordan-hare

So. I have ventured into the heart of darkness to experience their football and have returned. Evaluations are in order but they should be prefaced with some context: college football is awesome. I have seen eighty-seven thousand people scream this at the top of their lungs:

bodda-getta 

I defy you to find another activity outside of speaking-in-tongues-style Christianity that can cause large masses of people to say "bodda getta, bodda getta, bodda getta bah." All of this should be prefaced with that truth. College football is awesome. What makes the ESSSS EEEEE CEEEE garbage so odious is its claim that college football outside of the SEC is not awesome. Going to Auburn was awesome. End of big picture opinion.

But I'm sure people are curious about how it compares, so some comparisons:

The chintziness. On a chintziness scale where Michigan is zero—pending the public shaming of whoever piped in RAWK MUSIC over the highlights at the end of the third quarter in the Miami game—and Michigan State is ten, Auburn is around a six.

Merits:

  • Jordan-Hare's advertising isn't too obnoxious, and the edifice itself is extremely nice.
  • Aforementioned ridiculous college-only cheer.
  • There is a freakin' eagle that flies around the stadium in the pregame.
  • Related: "War Eagle" is way, way cooler than "Go Blue" and any other "GO BLANK" exhortation you care to name. War Eagle. Just say it. War Eagle.
  • Tiger Walk, the first "team walks to stadium surrounded by fans" event, was really impressive.

Demerits:

  • Despite having a couple of bands in the stands, evil recorded music was played over the PA on a regular basis.
  • YMCA was one of these songs. YMCA. Come on! My Auburn compatriot said he wanted to run around telling everyone the song was about anonymous gay sex so they would stop, but he was nodding his head to the music just moments before.
  • There is a band hype video. It's actually a really well done band hype video but the mere concept of it sent me into hysteric giggles. It also sort of worked, so I was simultaneously FIRED UP about Auburn's band and laughing. It was a weird 30 seconds.
  • Auburn has a male cheerleader on a stand in front of the student section that acts like a hype man. He's got a mic, he exhorts the crowd to do things, and it's pretty meh.
  • Exception to the non-obnoxious advertising: there's a video board with replays of every play, but sometimes instead of a replay there's an Under Armor commercial, which is a really good way to 1) get me to look at an ad and 2) swear a blood oath against whoever's running the ad.

It was nowhere near the Michigan State experience—if you've never been to MSU, their hype video ends with a computer-animated Sparty coming to life and blowing up a logo of the opposing team with frickin' eye lasers; also at one point they had this plastic chariot that looked like it was made of legos—but I'm a zealot about the piped-in music.

The noise level. We were in the upper deck, so determining if the vaunted SEC noise levels lived up to the hype was impossible. The organized pre-game cheers were pretty blasting all the way up there but I didn't get my face peeled off at any other time during the game.

Shockingly, on LSU's final drive—Auburn up one, this is a BFD—I stood up to yell at some point and had to sit back down sheepishly because no one else in the section was up. WTF? I sit in one of the oldest, lamest sections of Michigan Stadium and I personally guarantee you that if Michigan was up one with six minutes left and the other team had the ball, the section would be on their feet, gurgling out whatever noises their suppurating intestines could manage. This was a game-long issue. The noise levels in my immediate vicinity were no louder than I am used to. Maybe it's an upper deck thing.

The scoreboard. Auburn just has one video board but it's huge and in HD. It is killer. We need one. You have no idea.

war-damn-eagle

However, I suggest that the awesome enormous HD scoreboard at Michigan Stadium should have SEC scores on it. Though Auburn was plenty happy to inform us that Utah had beaten Air Force 30-23 and Missouri had defeated mighty Buffalo 42-21, there was not a single Big Ten score, and the only Pac 10 score was the Georgia-Arizona State game.

The people. Auburn fans were friendly. There were some undercurrents of "Michigan sucks hur" but I took that more as a commentary on society than Auburn.

One thing became terribly annoying, though: "you guys are at the wrong game!" We heard this bon mot at least a dozen times. By the end when people would say it I would have one hand make the universal sign for "yap yap yap" and then have the other eat it violently. We get it. We're not from around here. We are probably aware of this fact.

I assume anyone in a random neutral college football shirt at Michigan Stadium is there to check it off his list of places to see a game before he dies, but apparently the idea of college football tourism is completely foreign to Auburn fans. Why? You have a freakin' eagle.

The coaches. After watching Auburn run what seemed like their eighth consecutive ineffective first down zone stretch with their pounding power back Ben Tate, I concluded that Tommy Tuberville is Lloyd Carr and he's trying to turn Tony Franklin into Mike DeBord.

Later this crystallized into a more general theory of offensive philosophy. Franklin kept running that zone stretch on first down, giving up expectation because of predictability, and hoped to make it back by catching LSU cheating for a big play. Debord was very similar with the zone left-zone left-zone left stuff. The idea is to execute well enough to eke out decent yardage and hit it big every once in a while when you break tendencies. To break tendencies you have to establish tendencies.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, seems diametrically opposed to this. His philosophy is based more on keeping the opponent guessing, whether it's on a play-to-play basis or within the play itself with the zone read. Auburn sort of ran a zone read but when you've got a lead-footed white guy and he's got no options other than a run you're not really threatening much. Rodriguez saw his quarterback's footspeed hampering that part of his offense and implemented that zone read keeper + late bubble screen combo we saw a couple times. I think Rodriguez hates the idea of establishing a tendency; he would prefer the defense to be uncertain at all times, even after Steven Threet's kept the ball.

And then there's Les Miles. At an early juncture when things were going well and LSU looked discombobulated, the Auburn blogger who kindly provided us with tickets sarcastically yelled out "run another trick play, Miles!" and I thought this was a very, very bad thing to tempt fate with. LSU, of course, would later run something I'd never seen before, a halfback pass off the fake-dive-pitch-outside play that would give them a go-ahead touchdown. The two plays before that were identical—someone must have held triangle—deep balls that exploited the same hole in the Auburn zone drops. There was also a successfully recovered onside kick. The Lesticles were in full force, and all of us from the Auburn guy to the three Michigan guys experienced a pang of regret that Miles hadn't ended up in Ann Arbor. The guy is legit.

The sign in the trash. If Georgia goes down and Matt Stafford has a bad game I assume some SEC blogger somewhere will have a use for this picture:

stafford-for-heisman

Go for it.

The exploding vein. An enormous black mark on Tuberville: not calling timeout once LSU had driven to around the Auburn 20. At that point they're either going to punch it in or get a makeable field goal attempt; with LSU down to a single timeout they would have little chance to get the ball back if they missed that field goal. You must preserve as much time as possible for a potential response. Instead, Tuberville let the clock run and was fortunate that LSU scored as quickly as it did; Auburn got the ball back with 1:03 and three timeouts instead of 1:43 and two or 2:15 and one.

Also, it was completely nonsensical to use Tate on all those first-half zone stretch plays when they've got a slashing McGuffie type in Brad Lester. Lester briefly enlivened the Auburn run game in the second half before an injury knocked him out.

The fandom. Auburn fans at the game itself were a weird combination of the nouveau Michigan fan who was completely frustrated with Lloyd Carr's coaching style and the old-school Michigan fan who can't stand this newfangled shotgun bullcrap, which was appropriate because their offense was that same weird fusion.

The best example of the latter: Auburn now does the thing where the team doesn't huddle, lines up, looks ready to snap the ball, relaxes, and then looks to the sideline for the call. Whenever Auburn would do this, an elderly Auburn fan was visibly, I-can't-set-the-time-on-this-damned-VCR agitated, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. This obvious discontent seemed to spread to the other oldsters around him as the game continued.

Overall, I got the sense that Auburn fans were a bit more fickle than Michigan fans, ready to turn on Tuberville when something went wrong and willing to turn back when something went right.

The pork and crawfish sausage we got at Winn-Dixie. Like college football, it was awesome.

Comments

mjv

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:23 PM ^

Given the down-in-front type mentality of your section, did the Auburn hosts have a sense for where Jordan-Hare ranks among the SEC stadiums in terms of fan involvement and overall noise? 

oriental andrew

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:26 PM ^

I figured anyone from them thar parts would've referred to those as "crawdads," as I did growing up in Georgia. 

I've never been to a game at any SEC venue, but have been in Sanford Stadium it was empty.  Very impressive.  I hear it's FANTASTIC on game days. 

Chrisgocomment

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:28 PM ^

Interesting take on the noise level.  I was at the Michigan - Wisconsin game last year in Madison and I kept thinking "umm, where's all the noise?"  Of course, like you I was perhaps in a difficult seat to hear said noise, sitting in the endzone right in front of that old building, which is all the way across the field from the student section.  I couldn't have been further away from the students, so perhaps that was the reason.  But, color me unimpressed non-the-less with Camp Randall's noise level.  I didn't think it got any noisier than in Michigan Stadium. 

BUT - there is defiantly a good percentage of Michigan fans who suck (i.e. they don't cheer, they don't stand, they don't do shit).  Also, many folks around me during the Miami (NTM) game were ALREADY bitching about RR and the offense.  Embarrassing.

jamiemac

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:46 PM ^

.....both home games there has been a lot of grumbling in my section......and during the lulls of the Miami (NTM) game there was quite a bit of talk relative to "would we be this bad had we hired Miles."

I agree....very sad......but, after LSU's win, I expect the people promoting that idea to talk even louder now.

jvocke

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 PM ^

Bummed to hear that Camp Randall wasn't all that loud (in your experience).  That's one of the top stadiums on my "to experience" list.

I am of the opinion that the noise thing vis a vis Michigan being quiet is NOT overblown though.  I've been to the Cow-shoe for every UM vs. OSU game since 1990 and I can say unequivocally that it is louder.  Some years moreso than others.  Before the game in 1994 it was so loud that I literally almost lost my balance.  Like my vision screwed up for a second or two.  '98 was also very loud.  '02 - not so much.  I think the Bucknut fans were too "clenched & puckered" to make much noise until it was finally over.

My experience in Happy Valley was also that Penn State was a louder place than UM stadium.

RE: fans bitching about RR and the offense... I think Brian's tale from Auburn has me convinced that there will be bitching no matter where you are and who the coach is.  About the only place where I can imagine "no bitching" is USC, and I bet that's not even right.

As for pondering whether or not we'd be this bad if Miles was still here - it's a valid thing to ponder.  I don't think Mallet or Boren leaves if it's Miles and not RR.  Mallet, for all of the faults that have been pointed out on this and other forums, still has more ability than what we have today.  So, it's not unreasonable to think that had the spread not come to A2, we'd be in much better shape offensively than we are.  It's probably not real useful to ponder how much better we'd be, but it's not totally out in left field to wonder.

jamiemac

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:25 PM ^

....its a valid thing to ponder, but it was the way in which its been pondered has rubbed me the wrong way.....its not as much of a bar stool argument as it is the folks in my section seemingly wishing we had hired Miles (or anyone else) instead.

But, from a "barstool" argument standpoint, yeah, its a valid argument.....although you could also say had we hired Brady Hoke, we would have been much better of short term than we are with RR.....so, I dont know exactly how valid of an argument it it.

And, I dont think Mallet would be in Ann Arbor....he seemed destined to transfer as the season unfolded.

wile_e8

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:42 PM ^

Has it changed?  It's been a few years since I've been there, but I thought it was Sparty slashing the opposing team logo with his sword, blowing it up.  Still cheesy though, my MSU then-girlfriend-now-wife got pissed at me when I started laughing at it.

Semper Blue

September 22nd, 2008 at 5:42 PM ^

I don't know.  If some mediocre movie came out about wolverines, or maize, or... uh, WVU coach-stealing, and we suddenly co-opted that into our football identity and tradition, I might have to re-consider breathing.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, we need to get a hold of Hugh Jackman immediately... 

M-Dog

September 22nd, 2008 at 6:11 PM ^

from the early 80's to the mid 90's, until I moved east.

I don't ever remember anyone saying that Michigan Stadium was quiet or not intimidating during that time.  Not fans, TV broadcasters, talk radio, the internet, not anybody anywhere. 

Some games were better than others, and some sections were better than others, but on the whole, I don't recall the stadium as being quiet and complacent.

What changed?  Is it the fans, acoustics, something else?  Or is it just popular perception that snowballed on itself?

ts

September 23rd, 2008 at 7:10 AM ^

I went to most of the games in the 80s too and the only noise I remember was the propeller hum of banner planes circling the stadium, the wave and some moderate cheering for big plays. I don't remember people making noise while the other team had the ball at all. The only time I remember standing was in the low rows behind the players (this was before they lowered the field). It's strange to think that the oldsters people complain now are probably baby boomers. Try watching a game where you're like the only one who hasn't killed any Germans.

sca1zi

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:47 PM ^

no fewer than 10 games at Jordan Hare, to include the first Iron Bowl played there.

It's loud.

I saw a 50 year old man fighting a 16 year old kid before the game. The eagle is pretty cool, and they used to have a live tiger on campus.

Also, there is a little jail in the bottom of the stadium, made completely out of chicken wire. I still have the scar on my calf from said wire.

Do.Not.Run.On.Field.

jamiemac

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:49 PM ^

That rules.....one of my favorite "cheers" in all of football.

 Very glad to hear you enjoyed your experience.....one of my "dreams" in life is to take a year off and go each Saturday to the biggest game in the SEC......I am Big 10 through and through, but as far as live games go, it is all I know, so I've always wanted to go to Athens, the Swamp, the Bayou, Grove and the Plains. You name it.

Originally, I wanted to write a book about it, but its been done already enough times, so that is a tired idea.....of course, I still want to take a year and follow SEC football.

ndhillon

September 22nd, 2008 at 3:52 PM ^

Why would you bring up regrets about not landing Les?  Rich is every bit the coach Les could have been up to this point and has a 2010 NFL D-line in the works.  I'm sure others just glossed over that comment...but it took me a while to get over the Miles saga and to have somebody re-hash all that is just...man.

 Damn You Cook *shakes fist in the air*

 Agreed on the VCR line...that was on some RBUAS type shit.

Dave B

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:05 PM ^

I've had the good fortune to attend several games at Jordan Hare, due to a friend having season tickets.  Love the fans, love the atmosphere.  The tailgating was awesome.  And yeah, every time I wore my Michigan stuff in, I'd get the "you're at the wrong game" thing, too.

 I gotta get back down there some time.

 

Blue Durham

September 22nd, 2008 at 8:09 PM ^

And yeah, every time I wore my Michigan stuff in, I'd get the "you're at the wrong game" thing, too.

When you get the above, you got to come up with a good, snappy response.  Something like:

Yah, I know, any game at Auburn is the wrong game, but I figure if you guys can take it, so can I.

Blake

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:14 PM ^

To add to what chrisgocomment said, I've sat under the overhang at Camp
Randall in Madison (diagonally across from the UW student section) and
I couldn't even hear myself think with the noise reflecting off the
concrete upper deck above. 

I think with any stadium, it's all about
where you sit -and to get a sampling of numerous areas in the stadium-
to get a true idea of the noise levels.

Chrisgocomment

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:17 PM ^

That makes sense.  That side line has an upperdeck over it doesn't it?  I'm sure that makes it much louder, not to mention the proximity to the students.

Oh well, I felt good about the noise level at Michigan Stadium for a little while, at least.

bsb2002

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:21 PM ^

i was at last year's game too. it was not especially loud by any stretch. michigan stadium would have been louder. wisco is a great place for a trip nevertheless

 

as for the general loudness issue. obviously michigan isnt the loudest, but people have inflated ideas of other places, usually based on tv. ohio stadium may be rocking for michigan, but its nothing special for akron. yet people come back from michigan - miami and complain about the crowd. or michigan-osu when we're getting killed in the rain.

good team + good game = good crowd.

unidled

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:22 PM ^

How does one get Jerdan out of Jordan, I know Favre. If you had a tough time with that Auburn cheer try Alabama's "rammer jammer yeller hammer". Neyland is so loud it's scary, noise doesn't leave the stadium because of the way it is built.  

matty blue

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:39 PM ^

can we PLEASE stop masturbating over whether les miles would or wouldn't be this or that?  jesus christ, he's not here, and he ain't coming.

 

(by the way...saying that he has "lesticles," while being funny as hell, really has absolutely nothing to do with whether he's legit or not.  calling trick plays half a dozen times a game is either a) daring, b) aggressive, or c) stupid as hell.  i vote c.  the guy has balls where his brains should be.) 

jamiemac

September 22nd, 2008 at 4:30 PM ^

......am not convinced that he's all that great of a coach......but, one thing is for sure, he is on a big of a lucky streak as I have seen a coach go on, as far as dialing up trick plays and 'from-the-gut' calls.

Reminds me of when Bowden had it rolling with Danny McManus and Casey Weldon in the late 1980s and early 1990s at FSU. Everything the dude called back then turned out Gold. Same with Lester right now.

 

West Texas Blue

September 22nd, 2008 at 5:07 PM ^

Haha I've dealt with same thing Brian dealt with; all the Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and UT Austin games I go to, I'm decked out in Michigan gear and everyone is like "WTF, you are at the wrong game." Always the Michigan fan, no matter when and where.

caup

September 22nd, 2008 at 5:30 PM ^

Pang of regret?  Hopefully that was momentary, Brian. RR is 10 years younger and with ample talent for his scheme, will be more consistently lethal. 

 Also, Miles would've kept his buddy Gittleson around. Game. Set. Match.

Tim Waymen

September 22nd, 2008 at 5:43 PM ^

Has anyone here ever been to Happy Valley?  The State Penn fans are supposed to be nuts.  It seems like it gets absolutely deafening there.  What is it like?  Are the fans classy?  What's up with the lion's roar?  I think that Lloyd Carr said that he found that roar amusing.  Hey, at least they don't have a graphic of a lion blowing up shit with its eyes.

FWIW, Michigan Stadium can get very loud for key plays.  I think that there are stadiums out there that are quieter.  I also think that Michigan has the best lion of all.

turbo cool

September 22nd, 2008 at 6:12 PM ^

when i wen't i said to myself that it was the loudest stadium i had ever been to. arguably still is. the student section there is by far the loudest, craziest i have ever seen. and the tailgating is awesome. other than that happy valley kinda blows. but they do everything right on gameday and the stadium is absolutely a must to goto if you're a big college football fan.

M-Dog

September 22nd, 2008 at 7:01 PM ^

I've been to a bunch of games in Happy Valley, against Michigan, against big-time non-Michigan opponents, and against meh opponents.

The stadium is off to the side of campus, surrounded by miles of rolling hills.  It has an awesome tailgating scene that stretches for miles.

The stadium on the outside looks like something your kid built with his Erector set.  They just kept adding on to it over the years without ever going back and giving it a unified look.  Lots of exposed metal beams.  If your seat is in the upper decks, you feel like you are climbing up the first hill of a roller coaster, exposed to the elements and defying gravity to get there.  It all looks like a massive high school stadium on steriods.  (Their stadium did get louder over the years as they added decks and skyboxes, so there is some hope for the Big House.)

Inside the stadium, the grass is beautiful.  Unlike us, Penn State figured out how to grow grass in crappy weather.  The press box is about seven miles in the air, and the home team's sideline is on the "wrong" side of the field.  The crowd is broken up by all of the levels and sections, so it does not seem like there are as many people in there as there are at the Big House.

The crowd intesity and loudness is a dichotomy, depending on the opponent and the time of day.  A mid-day game against a meh opponent has the same tepid complacent crowd as we get in Michigan stadium.  Loud cheers for big plays, the rest of the time just a mass of people milling around.  The big draw is the tailgating.

Their specialty, however, is night games against big time opponents.  The Warewolf comes out.  The atmosphere is make-your-arm-hair-stand-up electric.  There is usually a White-Out in effect.  When it comes to XXX-Out's, either do them compeletly, or don't bother.  They do it right.  The crowd is loud and intimidating, but not hostile inside the (non-student section) stadium.  Stay out of the student section, or wear neutral white and try to pretend to cheer for them or lose a contact lens or something defensible. 

Wear earplugs. not because the stadium is so loud, but because the recorded Nitanny (mountain) Lion roar will make you want to slit your wrists by the 42nd time you hear it, and you still will have 3 more quarters to go.

On the whole, I highly recommend attending a game there.  Go in the heart of fall when the leaves are changing.  Spend the time (it takes forever to get in and out of there) and money to see a big time game.  It is one of those scenes that is the essence of college football. 

GCS

September 22nd, 2008 at 7:08 PM ^

Something you brought up reminded me of what I think is one of the most overlooked aspects of the stadium-noise discussion: game time.

Whenever somebody mentions how much louder stadium X is than Michigan Stadium, they always seem to specifically mention night games. I wonder if they'd have the same reputation if no game started later than 3:30.

jeag

September 22nd, 2008 at 8:52 PM ^

I went to the 2006 M-PSU (Alan Branch) game and you missed some of the most important details.

1.  They LOVE Zombie Nation. They sometimes play it over the fight song.

2.  Paternoville. Everyone brings RVs and camps out in this field that smells like cow poop. It's kind of an odd, Nascar-party vibe for a respected East Coast school.

3.  The fans take their Michigan losing streak seriously--many of them seem resigned to losing to us, even when their team is pretty good. Also, they hate Ohio State way more than I expected.

1M1Ucla

September 22nd, 2008 at 5:56 PM ^

Attended Cal at UCLA last year.  Fantastic game, but weird atmosphere: UCLA has lots of scripted cheers (7-clap, whatever), stations yell coordinators in rugby shirts in the stands around the stadium to keep everyone on the same page; some true and knowledgeable football fans, all very polite, sort of an annoying sympathetic shared experience vibe in response to the M shirt, not very drunk, tons of cheerleaders down on the field not doing very much (lots of standing around chatting), band has that odd fight song that has a calliope quality -- the whole thing was fun (it's college football, it was a great game, and the underdog won at home on Parent's Weekend), but kind of Stepford Wives-ish.  Tailgate activity in the Arroyo Seca is nice, very tame, very well-attended. Just odd -- or just different.