College football is a different animal.
No matter where you go, every university in the country has its own thing. Whether it is at Notre Dame, where they touch the “Play like a champion today” sign, or Howard’s rock at Clemson. Or it could be the pink visiting locker rooms at Iowa. Every school has that thing that makes them who they are.
Although every school has traditions, not all schools are as fun to go to on game day.
I have been to Illinois, Notre Dame, LSU, Purdue, SMU, TCU and Michigan State. Biased or not, my favorite game-day experience is at Notre Dame. There is something about being on there with 100,000 other fans on a campus that is filled with traditions and history. The Basilica, Grotto and touchdown Jesus just bring something that is unmatched at any other campus.
Now don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love going to Illinois games. And they are doing a lot to try and make gamedays better with Grange Grove and the Illini walk, but it just isn’t the same as some other campuses I have been on. Maybe it’s the fact I have been to more than 50 Illini games. Or it might even be the fact that half the stadium is empty because the team is no good, but the fact is the tradition just isn’t the same at the U of I as it is on other campuses.
And maybe that is part of the recruiting problem, and we can only hope that one day the team can turn things around and create a better environment on gamedays.
Now for the other schools that I have visited only once or twice. My favorite non-Illini or Notre Dame experience was at LSU. I am very much a tailgate guy, and I don’t think you can find a better tailgate scene than in Baton Rouge, La. I was there four years ago. and they were playing Eastern Michigan (Yes, the same Eastern Michigan that just beat Illinois.)
And if they can party like that when they play a MAC school, I can only imagine what is like when they play SEC schools .
Michigan State and Purdue are also fun to visit on game days. I have only visited those campuses as an opposing fan, and I had a good time, so I would assume Spartan and Boilermaker fans very much enjoy their home stadiums.
East Lansing was definitely more hostile than West Layfeyette, but that probably had more to do with the fact Michigan State was playing Notre Dame (and everyone hates Notre Dame), and Purdue was playing Illinois.
TCU was an awesome place to visit. Definately one of the more wild scenes in College Football. However, I would be prepared to have a heat stroke if you go before November.
SMU was my least favorite atmosphere, but I went when I was in Dallas for a Cowboys game and they were playing UConn, so the fans weren’t real fired up to be there.
Although I think across the board college football has more traditions going, NFL games can be just as exciting. I have been to many NFL stadiums. I have attended games in Dallas, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland and Green Bay. All of those places I have attended as a fan of the Cowboys, which brings the level of excitement up a lot because of the hatred everyone has for the Cowboys.
What took away from some of teams’ chances at me giving them a good grade on their atmosphere was that the Cowboys had more fans in their stadium than the home team did.
In Indianapolis, Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland there were definitely at least 50 percent Cowboys fans. In St. Louis and Cleveland I would say it was closer to 70/30 Cowboys fans.
The Cowboys home stadium, which I was just in this past weekend, is easily my favorite stadium to go to. Not only is it because I’m a Cowboys fan but because the place is absolutely gigantic and has a 60-yard jumbotron. You can’t beat that.
I really like Cincinnati’s stadium, and I think it is probably one of the most underrated stadiums in the league. It is well structured, right on the water, and the Bengals fans support their team well.
Lambeau Field was awesome. It is probably the most historic stadium in the NFL. Packers fans are similar to Cowboys fans in how passionate they are.
Soldier Field is a good stadium, but it is not one of my favorites. The fans are great, but I am not a fan of how the stadium is built.
My favorite non Cowboy’s stadium that I have been to is the Super Dome. All my life I have heard how loud it gets inside, but you could never prepare for it.
It probably didn’t help that the Saints won on an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
At some point in my life I would love to visit all 32 NFL stadiums, and if I do I will be sure to get back to you on my reviews.
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@RantoulPress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP