Sports

Best College Football Stadiums: Penn State, Tulane, UMass, Oregon, Syracuse and More

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I was reading an article on Bleacher Report the other day where they ranked all 124 FBS stadiums. I didn’t get very far before I started getting pissed off. Many of the rankings didn’t make any sense. The criteria they offered for the process was as follows:

When it comes to college football stadiums, for some teams, it is simply not fair. Home-field advantage is a big thing in college football, and some teams have it way more than others. There are 124 FBS college football teams, and when it comes to the stadiums they play in, they are obviously not all created equal. There is a monumental difference from the top teams on the list to the bottom teams on the list. Either way, here it is: a complete ranking of the college football stadiums 1-124.”

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The problems I started having with the rankings were based largely on the author’s explanation for why he put a school where he did. The reason for why a school was ranked in the 100s would be the same reason another was ranked in the 30s. There were just a lot of holes in the overall theory of the list and a lot of contradictions as well. Here’s five parts of the list that really bothered me:

#5

Penn State 20 – Having actually been to Happy Valley twice, and once at night, I can confidently tell you that there are not 19 better places in the United States to watch a college football game. Beaver Stadium is fricken huge. The town of State College would not even exist without its presence. In my opinion, any place that seats over 100K people deserves to be in the top 10 at least. Like I said, the criteria for the original rankings appeared to be largely focused on how much home field advantage the stadium generates. Penn State is nothing short of electric. The fans are overwhelming, and the students could fill a lot of the stadiums on the list by themselves.

#4

Tulane 104, UMass 33 – A real problem I had was with the explanations. As we know many schools across the country play their games in NFL stadiums, which in many cases they never even come close to filling. While the facility itself is certainly impressive in the cases of the Superdome, Gillette, Qualcomm, Lincoln Financial, etc., who really wants to go and watch a football game with 5,000 people? No disrespect to Tulane, but I mean come on. So in this case, Tulane was ranked 104th (and not dead last) because the Superdome is sick and it resides in maybe the most fun city in the country. Foxboro is awesome too, just not on Saturdays when the Minutemen take the field. But what is the difference that warrants them being ranked 71 spots apart? There is none.

#3

Oregon 22, Central Florida21 – I mean to anyone educated about college football, that should say enough right there. Autzen Stadium has become an iconic venue over the last 10 to 15 years. Oregon football has always been a power in the Pac-10/12. But recently it has become a national power as well, and their stadium has gotten plenty of pub in the process. We commonly hear a commentator or analyst say, “this may be the loudest place in the country” in reference to whatever given stadium is going off that day. But if you really pay attention, like I do, over and over again I hear people call Autzen Stadium the loudest place in the whole country. Look at the way it’s constructed and you can just tell it’s loud based on physics alone. If there is any sport where crowd noise actually makes a serious impact, it is so obviously football. It directly impedes the fundamental functioning of the visitor’s offense. If this article was really based on “home-field advantage” there’s no reason why Autzen Stadium shouldn’t be number 1.

#2

Syracuse 77, University of Buffalo 76 – This by itself is what made me write this article. I should point out here that I’m from Syracuse and have easily seen over a hundred football and basketball games at the Dome. When I first found the original rankings, I was really only looking to see where Syracuse was ranked and wasn’t surprised to see it in the 70s. If you did these ranks 15 years ago, you would have a hard time keeping the Dome out of the top-25, just because of how loud it actually got inside. The program has slipped tremendously and was really hurt when three of our biggest rivals, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, left for the ACC. I’m biased of course, but I’m also not lying when I tell you that when that place was full and Syracuse was good, you literally couldn’t hear anything in there. Unfortunately it hasn’t really been like that since Donovan McNabb, and I didn’t have much to argue with the Dome at 77. But then I clicked next to go to #76, and it was the University of Buffalo. You just have to understand what a slap in the face that is to Syracuse fans. UB has been D-1 since 1999. When they made the jump they were compared to Syracuse every year because people wanted to measure the progress of the program. But then they would come to the Dome and get crushed by 50. On a nice afternoon in October, going on facilities alone, I wouldn’t argue if you said you would rather sit outside at UB’s stadium instead of being inside a 30-year-old grey dome. That’s really where it ends though. I can’t sit here and say that its been exciting to watch football in Syracuse the last 10 years because it hasn’t, which is really a shame for all the people that live there and support the program. But if you compare the atmosphere inside both stadiums when they’re full, it’s not even close. The Dome vibrates.

#1

56-51: Colorado, South Carolina, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, 50Pittsburgh – I had a serious problem with this. It’s no disrespect to Pitt either, but I’m not a fan of watching a college football game off campus. I understand that in the case of many schools it makes logistic and economical sense to do it, but in most if not every case, you completely lose what’s special and unique about going to a college football game. Heinz Field is definitely the “nicest” facility of the six afore-mentioned schools, without question. But what does that have to do with home-field advantage or atmosphere? Nothing. This is what distinguishes college football from the NFL. It’s the one thing the NCAA can say it has, that the NFL doesn’t. Being on campus is such a unique experience and that is where college football belongs. So to put Pitt ahead of five way more exciting venues like those doesn’t make any sense. Lane Stadium is absolutely insane.

A recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, earning his Masters in public relations, Michael Tremiti is a communications intern for RotoExperts and contributing writer for TheXLog.com. Growing up in Syracuse, Mike is a lifelong die-hard fan of the Syracuse Orange and Buffalo Bills. You can contact Mike directly @ [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @@Miketremiti15.