Quick, name the most intimidating stadium in the Big Ten. There's no one true right answer (except that it's definitely not Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium or Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium), but there's absolutely no way that you, the fan, would consider Ohio State's stadium out of your top three entirely, right?
And yet, when it comes to an anonymous survey conducted by ESPN.com with 28 different Big Ten players, the results were tabulated, and there was Ohio Stadium, sitting right there...at fourth place.
The 'Shoe didn't even medal, people. Is it really just the work of a loaded field, though? Is Ohio Stadium the Tyson Gay of Big Ten stadiums? Or is something else afoot here?
Here's the entire breakdown:
Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin: 9 votes
Beaver Stadium: 8 votes
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa: 4 votes
Ohio Stadium, Ohio State: 3.5 votes
Michigan Stadium, Michigan: 2.5 votes
Spartan Stadium, Michigan State: 1 vote
It's worth noting, as ESPN does, that only four Big Ten teams have visited Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, so that probably feeds the lack of votes as much as anything. You should expect to see it closer to its rightful place on a similar survey in, oh, five years or so.
Now, Camp Randall is a completely worthy top choice. It's loud, raucous, "well-lubricated," and the team lining up against you is ready to just beat the living hell out of you.
And sure, we'll even note that Beaver Stadium is loud, loud, loud. It's scientifically designed to be as loud as possible, right down to the placement of the student section for maximum sound amplification toward the field.
Even Iowa enjoys the advantage of having the fans essentially as close as legally possible to the field, which means if someone's sitting on the bench at Kinnick Stadium (and remember: this is a player survey), the fans are almost close enough to start banging on his shoulder pads. They're certainly close enough that if a heckler wants to hit his mark, he can—maybe even without yelling.
But Ohio Stadium is a venue with no weakness whatsoever when it comes to intimidation. Like Wisconsin, it's raucous and the Buckeyes are extremely tough to beat there; in the last three years (i.e. a reasonable amount of time to assume a chosen survey respondent has been traveling with the team), OSU is 10-2 at home. Wisconsin is 11-1.
Like Beaver Stadium, the architecture of the stadium funnels noise toward the field; at the 'Shoe, the double-deck structure puts the upper fans far closer to the field than in a typical bowl. Also, the seating numbers are obscene: Ohio Stadium seats 102,329, and Beaver Stadium holds 107,282.
If there's any stadium that really has Ohio State licked in terms of a specific trait, it's Kinnick Stadium and fan proximity; Ohio Stadium has its famous bowl shape around the sidelines, bowing furthest away from the sidelines at 50, instead of straight across like Kinnick. So there's your flaw: You can't flick a booger onto an opposing player from your seat at the 'Shoe.
So here's where Ohio Stadium—arguably the best, most intimidating stadium in the conference as a whole—finds itself in fourth place. For any single given metric by which you measure stadium intimidation, especially for opposing players, you can probably think of one stadium that does it better: tough games, crowd size, crowd noise, crowd proximity.
It's no small wonder, then, that Ohio State got any votes at all in this "just name one" survey, while if it were a ranking of the top three most intimidating stadiums, we'd be seeing OSU substantially higher.
And yet, the Buckeyes' home still netted 3.5 votes (one voter splitting his between Ohio State and Michigan, presumably just to anger both schools' fans), so there are enough guys thinking larger picture in this survey that it's not a complete travesty of justice.
And thus ends another episode of "Adam Questions the Decision-Making of Guys 10 Years Younger than Him." Join us next week, as I travel around around Evanston and ask random Northwestern students, "You're not really going to wear that, are you?"
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