What Advantage? College Football's Least Hostile Stadiums
One of the best parts about college football is the home-field advantage.
Crazy student sections and traditions spanning back decades often swing the outcomes of games and change history.
But what about when the home field advantage is simply non-existent? Lord knows that it makes those tough match ups just that much more difficult.
In this slideshow, I take a look at college football's 10 least hostile environments. From poor attendance to poor design, these stadiums suffer.
So come inside and take a look. If you disagree, feel free to add which stadium you think should be on the list in the comment section.
10. Rose Bowl - UCLA
2009 Average Attendance: 64,547
It wasn't too long ago that playing UCLA at the Rose Bowl was incredibly intimidating. Not so much anymore.
While the Bruins have gone 11-8 at home the past three seasons, it's not a game opponents stress over or circle on their calendars.
Part of that is the fact UCLA isn't the program it used to be, but overall support has seemed to drop lately as well.
9. Clarence D. Martin Stadium - Washington State
2009 Average Attendance: 25,909
It's hard to believe that as recent as the early 2000s, Washington State was a force in the Pac-10 Conference. They earned a Rose Bowl berth in 2003 and appeared five years earlier in 1998.
Today, Wazzu is an afterthought in college football, with only one win last season and two the year before that. All three of those wins came at home in Pullman, but only two were against FBS opponents.
Martin Stadium is not a hostile place and despite having seating 360 degrees around the field, it's not an intimate environment.
The good news is, WSU will likely go 1-0 at Martin Stadium to start to 2010, as they face FCS scrub Montana State to kick off the home season. Hey, it's better than nothing.
8. Floyd Casey Stadium - Baylor
2009 Average Attendance: 36,306
Baylor has gotten some decent crowds the past few seasons, mainly because of the hope head coach Art Briles and young stud quarterback Robert Griffin III have instilled in the football program in Waco.
Nevertheless, playing a road game at Baylor has never been something that's made Big 12 fans worry because they simply assumed victory.
There have been flashes of greatness in Waco over the past decade and the Bears pull off an upset at home every few years, but playing at Baylor is still, well, playing at Baylor.
7. Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego State
Stadium Capacity: 71,294
2009 Average Attendance: 24,464
It's generally not a good thing to be a college football program playing in an NFL stadium. San Diego State is no exception.
With a program that has struggled since the late 1990s, the Aztecs don't seem to have much support from the San Diego community, which makes you feel bad for them when you turn on The Mtn. to see a game on TV and scattered fans throughout the stadium.
Last week I ranked all nine Mountain West Conference football stadiums for GoldandGreenNews.com and I had The Murph at No. 8, not because of the quality, it has hosted a Super Bowl, but because it just doesn't cut it for a college stadium.
6. Memorial Stadium - Indiana
2009 Average Attendance: 41,833
Blame it on being a basketball school, but despite some pretty good crowds, Indiana's Memorial Stadium will rarely be more than just another destination on an opponent's road schedule.
The past two seasons, the Hoosiers have gone 6-8 at home, and 4-8 against FBS opponents.
Indiana did make it to the Insight Bowl in 2007 against Oklahoma State, going 5-3 at Memorial Stadium that year. Since then it has been all downhill.
Who knows, maybe the Hoosiers' poor performance at home is due to the fact whatever company installed the new turf at Memorial Stadium in 2008 had no idea what they were doing (see photo).
5. Carrier Dome - Syracuse
2009 Average Attendance: 39,043
With an average attendance that packs more than the Carrier Dome sits in basketball, you would think watching the Orange on the gridiron would be more exciting.
Maybe it's because the up-state New York fans are just so bored of seeing poor football the past few years.
Syracuse has gone a combined 7-13 at home in the past three seasons, including a 1-6 record in 2007.
That's not even the worst of it. The last time the Orange had a winning record inside the Carrier Dome was 2004.
Five straight years of losing football... no wonder basketball is the hot ticket in Syracuse.
4. FIU Stadium - Florida International
2009 Average Attendance: 10,204
It's a little smaller than its brother up at FAU, but it's also nicer, opening 15 years ago.
Over the past three seasons, the Panthers have gone 6-9 overall at The Cage, playing a mere five home games each of those years.
Known as one of the worst FBS programs in the country, they'll have a chance to kick things off on the right foot against Rutgers in Miami to start the 2010 season, but let's be honest, that's not likely.
Although wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is a stud, he's basically all the Panthers have.
3. Lockhart Stadium - Florida Atlantic
2009 Average Attendance: 15,326
As much as I love vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I have to rip on the least interesting thing in the area.
Although Florida Atlantic was usually able to fill 75 percent of Lockhart Stadium on a weekly basis last year, it's design doesn't allow for it to a loud environment.
I'm not from Florida, but I can imagine there are plenty of high school stadiums across the Sunshine State that are nicer than this Owls nest.
I can think of over five off the top of my head in Oklahoma and Texas that are better venues.
It's ugly, too spread out, and too small.
2. Wallace Wade Stadium - Duke
2009 Average Attendance: 26,314
One of the oldest stadiums in college football (opened in 1929), is also one of the least hostile.
Sure, the Duke program hasn't had a winning record since 1994, but that's not the only reason Wallace Wade Stadium is bland.
In 2009, Dave Cutliffe's Duke Blue Devils went 1-4 at home, 0-3 against FBS opponents. Pay attention to that last sentence.
If you look closely, you will infer that Duke actually lost a home game to an FCS foe. Ouch!
C'mon Duke fans, pack that baby like Cameron Indoor!
1. Rice Stadium - Rice
2009 Average Attendance: 13,552
With an average of 33,448 empty seats every home game in 2009, Rice Stadium is a bit of an embarrassment, and not because of its quality.
While it is over 60 years old, Rice Stadium could be one of the toughest places to play in Conference USA.
But it isn't.
On the campus of the University of Rice in the middle of beautiful Houston, this structure is rich with history, hosting Super Bowl VIII and John F. Kennedy's speech promising to put a man on the moon in the early 1960s.
The only thing missing at Rice Stadium is fans who give a darn.
Even in 2008, when the Owls won 10 games including the 2008 Texas Bowl, average attendance was just over half of capacity at 20,179—so the blame can't be placed on how well Rice does on the gridiron.
Sorry Owl fans, but you are the reason Rice Stadium is the least hostile in all of college football.