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Monday, November 21, 2005

Fan Report Card

After each Michigan game, the Detroit Free Press and many M football sites hand out grades for the team (Offense, Defense, coaching, etc.). But, in my opinion, at least for home games, they leave out one critical element: The Fans.

As I've stated in numerous posts in the past, I think Michigan's fans are some of the worst in the country. Yes, they show up but big deal. Because most of the time they just SIT there and don't make noise. Even worse, they often yell "Down in front!" to those those that are fired up. And please note, I'm not talking about drunken belligerence. I'm talking about fans knowing how important it is for the other team to hear offensive signals which, if disrupted by crowd noise, can hinder a team's play calling and, most importantly, sometimes cause penalties.

Thus my point is, I'd rather have 80,000 rabid Michigan fans than a "full" 110,000 that don't provide a true home field advantage to the Wolverines.

Again, I DO NOT buy into "it's the shape of the stadium" argument AT ALL as the reason our stadium's noise level doesn't match up to that at other venues. As I always say, the only shape that matters is that of each Michigan fan's mouth which, if closed, is the ONLY problem with "acoustics" that the Big (Often Quiet) House has.

My other big beef is that our fans only get loud in the 4th quarter during close games or during a potential game-losing drive by the other team. EVERYBODY at EVERY stadium does that. The difference at the intimidating places is that the noise is there all game, not just the obvious times. A false start that kills a drive in the second quarter may mean we don't need a big 4th quarter stop to win the game. So the sound level needs to be there all game.

Put it this way, you always hear about Michigan practicing with pumped in sound for games at the 'Shoe or some other hostile stadium. But have you EVER heard of an opposing team doing that before they come to A2? Never! Why? Because they don't need to. And that is a shame.

Thus, from time to time I'm going to give "grades" to the fans. Here is their first "Report Card":

Student Section: This is one of the best displays from the student section I've seen. They started off fantastic on tOSU's first drive. Looking over at them, the pom-poms were out and waving and the noise was there. However, in the second half during first and second downs, you noticed less pom poms and less noise. They need to be much more consistent. And like it or not, it is the students' responsibility to fire up the rest of the stadium. Others take their cue from you. In the fourth quarter, the student section was great. Again, as they should be. That's when it's easy. Still, they were about as loud as I've heard during this critical time.

GRADE: B+

Cheerleaders: I have a question for whoever is in charge of the cheerleaders -- Why in the hell do you station them all in front of the student section? These are the last people you have to cajole and beg to make some noise! That's what the student section is for! How 'bout scooting your asses down to the 50 or the other endzone where the "Down in front!" crowd lives and get them off their butts and fired up?! To me, this is common sense. The only reason I'm not flunking them is b/c I saw the "NOISE" signs as opposed to "DEFENSE" or, God forbid, the "KEY PLAY" placards. It is NOISE that makes it hard for the opposing team to call plays and noise along.

GRADE: D

Scoreboard Operator: Instead of showing the play again, why don't we put a giant graphic up saying "MAKE NOISE" before big plays like so many other stadiums do on their jumbotrons? Or how 'bout a little appropriate music to incite the crowd? Something. Anything. This person (and I assume the administration or AD must approve the SO doing this) can control the tempo of the crowd like a good wedding DJ. Right now, the Big (Usually Quiet) House has the equiv of somebody spinning old Lawrence Welk tunes running the show. Obviously Lloyd and the team want more noise as he states it all the time and the team begs for it on the field. So turn this person loose and let him get creative. Let the SO help amp up the crowd as much as the cheerleaders are supposed to. It's not just about showing plays over. If folks want to see a "replay," they should stay home and watch the game on TV.

GRADE: Auditing course. Grade next semester.

Non-Student Section Fans: This was a mixed bag but still unacceptable in the biggest game of our season. On the positive side, many sections stood for the entire game, rarely sitting even in the first half. Unfortunately, this was not out of a desire to make more noise but simply to see as, at least on my side of the stadium opposite the press box, it was a simple chain reaction necessitated by those in front standing. At least there weren't a lot of "Down in front!" calls. In addition, especially in the first half, those around me weren't making ANY noise during first and second downs and only rarely on third downs. I even got a few of those "looks" like, "Why is he screaming so much?" (which was not obnoxious, just clapping and trying to create sound). However, the sound was noticeably better in the obvious parts of the 4th quarter from these alum/non-student sections. Best of all, at least in my section, I didn't see any damn keys during "key" plays. Still, they need to do much better. The student section can't do it all.

Grade: C-

Overall: Longtime ticket holders to M games might find my grading scale harsh saying, "But it was better than I've heard in the Big (Usually Quiet) House." But I'm not comparing the fans/noise in A2 last Saturday against tOSU to the noise during past M games at what most agree is the lamest home field advantage in college football. I'm comparing us to the bar set at other loud stadiums such as Oregon, Iowa, Notre Dame and, yes, the Horseshoe. Against that standard, while we were good "for a Michigan crowd," we still have a long way to go. But I was very impressed with the student section and think they are on the verge of creating something special. Now if only they can help spread that enthusiasm.

Final Fan/Stadium Grade for tOSU Game: C+

PS If you're a student and agree, please pass this on to fellow students. And no matter what you feel, please post your comments. We always love hearing your thoughts.

2 comments:

BaggyPantsDevil said...

One of the things that’s always disappointed me about Michigan—regardless of how well the team is doing—is that their stadium is way too quiet. What’s the point of packing 111,000 people into a place if they’re not going to make some noise. I read your early post about the keys. That is so lame I’m not even going to comment on just how lame it is. I don’t even want to know what the thought process was that lead to that practice being adopted.

I also noticed that—while watching Saturday’s game on television—they showed the cheerleaders holding up a sign that read “NOISE” and there was absolutely zero response from the crowd. Of course, it wasn’t a very big sign and I imagine that noticing it in that sea of humanity is a feat similar to picking out your house from an airliner cruising at 35,000 feet.

I do have to disagree with you about the shape of the stadium not being responsible for the low noise levels. There’s no way Michigan Stadium’s horizontally oriented, shallow dish of a stadium reflects sound back to the playing field as well as the Swamp or Autzen or any two tiered stadium for that matter.

Maybe that’s part of why the crowds are so quiet, it just doesn’t seem to do much in such a wide open space.

I saw somewhere they’re looking at renovating Michigan Stadium and that crowd noise was one factor they were considering. I’m not sure how they can do it with out fundamentally changing the appearance of the stadium.

Yost said...

Baggy,

Only thing about the renovation is, if they're still quiet, then our fans will no longer have any excuses.