College Football: 35 Stadiums You Wouldn't Be Caught Dead In

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2011

College Football: 35 Stadiums You Wouldn't Be Caught Dead In

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    A few months back, we released a list of 50 stadiums to see before you die.

    Now, we're going to flip that around and take a look at the other end of the spectrum.

    There are many reasons a particular fan would want to avoid a particular stadium. The first and perhaps most obvious reason is the stadium is the home turf of your arch nemesis, and their fans aren't the most agreeable lot when it comes to visitors.

    Interestingly enough, because of the beloved quirks of college football and its magnificent history, some stadiums actually appear on both lists. We just suggest you save those until last—in case you actually do die in one of these stadiums you wouldn't (or shouldn't) be caught dead in.

    But what about the rest? What makes us avoid these stadiums like the plague?

    We'll go one by one as we run down the 35 College Football Stadiums You Wouldn't Be Caught Dead In.

Central Michigan

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    Contrary to popular belief, or what even would make sense these days, Kelly/Shorts Stadium is not named in part for Brian Kelly.

    It is, in fact, named for another CMU coach named Kelly, Kenneth Kelly, who coached at Central from 1951 to 1966, when Central Michigan was a member of what is now Division II.

    The most impressive part about a game at Kelly/Shorts takes place outside of the stadium. The tailgating in Mt. Pleasant is second to none. That's probably why the crowd outside of the stadium rarely makes it into the stadium. Once the tailgating concludes, people simply take the party elsewhere—the game be damned!

    If CMU fans can't even bother themselves to make it into the stadium, why should we?


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    We should probably preface this by saying that Minnesota has a nice, new stadium. It's nice to look at, by all accounts comfortable, has all of the amenities you could want and is on campus.

    But if you've ever been to Minneapolis in November, you'll instantly notice one major flaw: It's an outdoor stadium.

    Yeah, the Metrodome was a dump, but at least it was warm and toasty inside.

    We're all for “real” football and playing in the elements, including snow (that's right, Southern folks—it's not football until it snows). But there's a difference between snow and arctic, sub-zero temperature that freeze the soul...


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    It might seem a little odd to put one of the mighty college football meccas on this list, but bear with us.

    If you've ever caught a game at the Big House, you can't help but remember one thing: the crush of people.

    It seems almost normal that 115,000 people crammed in a stadium would be uncomfortable, but at Michigan Stadium, it can be really uncomfortable. The width of the “seats” must have been determined by eight-year-old girls, because there's no way a full-grown man of normal Midwestern proportions would ever be able to sit comfortably in the House that Yost Built.

    If anyone ever finds Fritz Crisler's seat, could you ask him to scoot down?

    If you're claustrophobic or just don't like to be groped by total strangers, there are two things to cross off your list of things to do: go through a TSA checkpoint and visit Michigan Stadium.

Ohio State

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    There are very few places on Earth quite like Ohio State.

    No, seriously.

    Nowhere else on the planet—other than a cult compound—will you find a group of people so single-minded in their belief structure.

    Can you believe there are people in Columbus who actually still support Jim Tressel? Neither can we, but despite our best judgment, there they are!

    Ohio State also seems to have this inferiority complex when it comes to the University of Michigan.

    Find any other team in the country that has the local newspaper's website actually post the number of days since the last victory of the rival in football. The Columbus Dispatch proudly posts that number (someone should tell them that the number seems a little inflated, considering they only play once every 365 days).

    Maybe Ohio State is feeling a little inadequate because it can't compete with Michigan on an academic field.

    It's also worth mentioning that visitors to Ohio State don't need to bother with the whole “state” part of the name. For some reason, Ohio State fans think the name of their school is “Ohio,” minus the “State.” We wonder how Bobcats fans feel about that.

    Ohio State's marching band, which is almost worth the price of admission on its own, marches to the Skull Session before each game by “singing” a curious little tune: “We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan.” What's curious about that is the fact that it doesn't matter who the opponent is that weekend. Toledo, Akron, Miami, Illinois, USC—doesn't matter. The band is still obsessed with Michigan.

    We guess it goes without saying: If you're from the state of Michigan, don't wear blue, and it's probably best to rent a car with Ohio plates—leave your “Great Lakes”-plated car at home lest you're the unfortunate victim of vandalism.


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    Jordan-Hare Stadium is a nice little stadium in Alabama that holds 87,451 fans.

    That's not huge by FBS standards (or even SEC standards these days), but it's home to one of the most dedicated groups of fans in the FBS.

    The Auburn Tigers recaptured their glory of old by winning last season's BCS National Championship Game and bringing the crystal football back to Auburn, Alabama for everyone to enjoy.

    But there are two things that even Auburn fans should watch out for: vindictive Alabama fans carrying gallons of herbicide (can you believe that nut actually pleaded not guilty?) and confused, inexperienced eagles.

    For the September 10, 2011 game at Auburn, the typical golden eagle that flew around the stadium so gracefully was replaced by a bald eagle in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on the United States.

    The problem was this inexperienced eagle had no idea what he was supposed to do.

    After slamming into the press box, the dazed and confused eagle decided that buzzing the crowd was the next best thing.

    Even faithful Auburn fans screaming “War Eagle!” were ducking out of the way.

    Seriously, have you even seen the talons on one of those things?


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    Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium makes our list because of one very important factor: the fans.

    Never in your life will you encounter a more entitled group of people, unabashedly prideful in their football team that makes dubious claims to 13 national championships and believes wholeheartedly that they are God's own gift to football.

    If you feel you must make a trip to Tuscaloosa, take this simple piece of advice: Become a quiet Alabama fan for the day. It doesn't matter if you went to Georgia, USC, Michigan State, Rutgers or even Auburn. You best bet to get through the day with your sanity intact is to suck it up, buy a Crimson Tide shirt and hat and BLEND IN!

Arizona State

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    If you ever plan on taking a trip to Tempe, be sure it's either in the dead of winter or you're going to stay somewhere air-conditioned.

    We're not quite sure why people from Arizona like to say, “It's a dry heat.” If you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, it doesn't matter what kind of heat it is. Your oven is a “dry heat” too, but you don't hang out in there.

    Seriously, though, there's a reason Arizona State typically plays its early-season games at night. When daytime temperatures are somewhere around 115, most sane people wouldn't be caught dead outside.

    In fact, if you choose to sit outside in a football stadium in 115-degree weather, you just might be caught dead.


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    Whatever happened to the good old days of Miami football?

    There was something so...normal...about “Thug U” and Pell Grant scandals and cocaine busts.

    Now, the program is mired in a seedy booster-turned-felon scandal involving payouts, prostitutes and parties on yachts.

    This once mighty program has fallen on hard times, and the fans have seemed to notice this time. Turn on a Miami game on television, and you'll see a very, very odd sight: empty seats.

    I guess it's better than the alternative. There have been anecdotal stories for years about the rudeness bordering on violence of some Miami fans.

    In all fairness, those fans seemed to be as disassociated with the actual university as possible, but when visiting fans are abused in the stands by someone wearing Miami gear, does it really matter if it's a student, alumnus or random dude off the street?


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    Here's a question for you. You have a choice: spend a few hours at Sam Boyd Stadium watching a pretty terrible football team, or spend those few hours in one of the most spectacular cities in the country, Las Vegas, doing whatever your little heart desires.

    Most people would pick the latter. So would we.


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    Just to simply look at Ryan Field wouldn't necessarily lead anyone to not attend a game there.

    Once the game starts, though, a fan in the stands is as likely to catch a nap as catch a thrilling football game.

    Northwestern is a definite outlier when it comes to the Big Ten.

    In a conference full of 80,000, 90,000 or even 100,000-plus-capacity stadiums, Ryan Field is considered full when it reaches 49,256. Of course, it never actually reaches 49,256.

    Ryan Field has earned a reputation for being one of the quietest venues in college football. If you're looking for a great atmosphere, you're probably going to avoid Evanston, Illinois and Ryan Field at Northwestern.

North Texas

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    Thank goodness Fouts Field is no longer home to the North Texas football team.

    The Eagles have moved from Fouts to their new digs at Apogee Stadium.

    Good thing, too.

    Fouts was one of the most mind-numbingly banal stadiums in the nation. It was pretty small, and the stands seemed to be about as far away from the field as was possible.

    We've never liked football stadiums that include a track, but Fouts was one of them.

    Thankfully, Fouts Field's days are numbered. The University of North Texas plans on demolishing the stadium and building residence halls and a parking garage on the vacant land.

Albany (FCS)

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    There are bad stadiums, and then there's this little jewel at the University at Albany.

    Just one look at this stadium brings flashbacks of high school.

    Actually, for most of us, it probably brings back memories of that other high school our high school played.

    You know the one. The crosstown private school that had a lot of nice things, except when it came to sports.

    A good deal many of us attended high schools with bigger stadiums.

    Seriously, there are a good number of Division III programs with nicer stadiums than SUNY Albany's University Field.


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    When Brian Kelly was the head coach of the Bearcats, he was one of the biggest supporters of stadium expansion.

    And why not? Cincinnati is home to one of the smallest venues of any BCS AQ program in the nation. Nippert Stadium holds just 35,097 fans.

    Worse is the fact that many of these fans are very, very close to the action. Why is that bad?

    Because unlike other stadiums, where fans are close yet separated from the action, at Nippert they sometimes become part of the action.

    In 2008, Mardy Gilyard nearly caught a touchdown pass before crashing into the stands. Unlike at most other stadiums, where Gilyard would have smashed into a barrier or a padded wall, he smashed into the crowd—a little boy in this instance.

    Much to Gilyard's credit, he immediately removed his helmet and hugged the boy with clear concern for his well-being.

    Gilyard is obviously a class act. Unlike Nippert.


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    You would think a fanbase that has been an SEC doormat for the better part of, well, forever would be a bit more humble.

    If you're talking about Kentucky, you'd be wrong.

    There are many things that one could call an annoyance at many college football stadiums around the nation, and Kentucky is no different.

    What makes Kentucky so bad is that annoyance is multiplied by the rudeness and sense of superiority and entitlement displayed by Wildcats fans.

    Really? Try winning the SEC and you can start feeling superior. Heck, just win your division and we'll talk.

    Until then, just watch the game.

    In the end, humility from any SEC fan is probably asking a bit too much.


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    There's an important reason you might not want to be caught dead in Cal's stadium: You might actually die.

    California Memorial Stadium literally sits on top of a fault line. If you don't believe that, just take a trip to the stadium. The stadium is actually splitting in two.

    There are places on the facade of the stadium that have cracked as the two sides of the fault slowly move in opposite directions.

    Cal has thus far been doing periodic patchwork to the stadium, but it's clear something major will have to be done before long to prevent a major collapse of the outer structure.

    In response, Cal decided to go the route of selling personal seat licenses to fund the renovations. The only problem with that idea is that Cal football isn't good enough to justify someone buying a seat license. After all, Cal isn't exactly Notre Dame.

    Here's the kicker. The seat licenses can run as much as $225,000 per seat! Now we know this isn't Notre Dame, because even the Irish lop a few zeroes off that number.

    Would you pay nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a seat license to a mediocre football team?

    We wouldn't either.


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    The Hoosiers have a newly upgraded stadium, and it sure looks nice. But there are still two main drawbacks to watching football games at Memorial Stadium.

    First, the atmosphere is pretty lousy. If you're sitting in one of the higher rows, you're really far from the field. We don't mean normal far, or even nosebleed far.

    We mean faaaaar.

    It really is pretty unusual to find seats that far from the field in a place that doesn't seat 100,000 fans.

    In fact, even in many stadiums that do top out over the 100k mark, you don't get quite the same feeling of remoteness that you do in the stratospheric seats at Indiana.

    Then there's the music. There's nothing wrong with filling television timeouts or breaks between quarters with some music. But to have the music played constantly throughout the afternoon, whether the game is going on or not, is a little odd.


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    Here's a stadium that's fairly nice and should provide a comfortable place to watch a college football game.

    If only the Marshall fans didn't show up.

    Marshall fans have earned the reputation of being some of the rudest people on Saturday afternoons.

    If you're brave enough to enter Joan C. Edwards Stadium wearing a sweatshirt from the opposing team, get ready to be heckled, cursed at and berated.

    What made Marshall fans so bitter anyway?

    Oh yeah. Six or seven years of mediocre football.


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    If you think Marshall fans are bad, try catching a game at Folsom Stadium at Colorado.

    Colorado's football program has really taken its lumps this past decade.

    As if the allegations of “purchasing companionship” for prospects isn't bad enough, tales abound regarding the bad behavior of Buffaloes fans in the stands.

    If you're visiting Boulder for a football game, enter Folsom at your own risk.


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    Ah, the War Memorial.

    Here's one stadium that's on the list despite being packed every Saturday with a passionate, partisan crowd.

    Arkansas fans certainly create a great atmosphere at home games, but the stadium is absolutely a hole.

    You know there's a problem when not only the visiting fans complain, but some of the Hogs faithful admit that the War Memorial is in desperate need of an upgrade.

    Yes, there's the history and tradition of an old stadium. But if Michigan can upgrade its icon of a football temple, so can Arkansas.

    Thankfully, this “home away from home” isn't the main venue for the Hogs.


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    The Temple Owls play their home games at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

    It might seem strange to see “The Linc” on this list, considering its primary tenant—the Philadelphia Eagles—has a wonderful game-day experience for everyone who attends home games.

    So why does Temple appear on this list?

    There's just something painful about seeing a football game being held in an NFL stadium that's a quarter full—or less.


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    The Swamp is definitely one of the great college football stadiums in the nation.

    Yes, the Gators have been next to unbeatable on their home turf, but the stadium here isn't the problem.

    It doesn't take a detective to uncover a plethora of stories from the stands at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Vulgar language is only the beginning.

    Objects being thrown at opposing fans. Fighting. Even a few tales of urine-filled cups and cans being hurled.

    Seriously? Bodily fluids? Apparently the great football team isn't the only reason people hate Florida.


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    Watching Duke football isn't the easiest of things to do in the world.

    In fact, if it wasn't for one little trick used by the athletic department, it's quite possible the stands would be even more empty than they already are.

    If you want to qualify for tickets to see your awesome basketball team, you are forced to sit in a pretty bad stadium and watch pretty bad football.

    Yes, Duke's Wallace-Wade Stadium is the only stadium in the nation other than the Rose Bowl to actually host a Rose Bowl game, but that only underlines the fact that Wallace-Wade Stadium is really, really old.

Texas Tech

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    If you do a simple search for “worst football stadiums,” you might (somewhat surprisingly) see Texas Tech pop up again and again.

    That piqued our interest, so we began digging a little more.

    Apparently, there are a whole host of reasons non-Tech people avoid Lubbock, Texas on football Saturdays.

    There's the terrible seating at Jones Stadium. There's the rude fans. There's the up-and-down fortunes of the football team that can be great one day and downright terrible the next.

    And there's the little fact that this stadium actually still had AstroTurf right up through the 2005 season.

    Couldn't they afford FieldTurf? There's nothing quite like playing football on a surface that's pretty similar to concrete, huh?

San Diego State

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    Here's another NFL stadium on our list.

    It's important to remember we're not saying we wouldn't be caught dead at a San Diego Chargers game, but rather in the atmosphere on Saturdays at Qualcomm Stadium.

    There's nothing quite like an expansive NFL venue with sparse Saturday college attendance to bore you to death.

Northern Illinois

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    If you ever want a surreal experience as a visiting fan, attend a game at Northern Illinois.

    If you've ever been there, you know exactly what we're talking about.

    For some odd reason, Huskies fans seem to think their team is the one team in the nation that gets screwed more than everyone else put together. Obviously, Northern Illinois should be ranked in the Top 10 every single week.

    Where game-winning touchdowns evoke great roars from college football fans across the nation, at Husky Stadium, a NIU first down evokes the same reaction.

    If you're just visiting and not particularly a fan of either team playing, NIU fans simply can't wait to tell you all about the greatness that is NIU football.

    Maybe if Northern Illinois didn't spend its time in such a mediocre conference, it wouldn't be so bad. But there's just something odd about listening to how great a team from the MAC is...


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    We know that this selection and its position on the list is sure to draw a lot of fire.

    Don't worry, USC fans. We're prepared for the avalanche of vile comments you're ready to throw in our direction.

    But Trojans fans should face facts: In the realm of top FBS programs, USC has one of the worst stadium environments around.

    First and foremost, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has a seating capacity of 93,607—not bad for a program with the prestige of USC.

    Yet in 2010, USC averaged fewer than 80,000 fans per home game.

    So what is it? Why are there over 10,000 empty seats per game? You'd think one of the nation's top programs in the nation's second-largest city would be able to find 93,000 able and willing fans to fill the stadium each Saturday night.

    Yes, we know all about the “great” atmosphere and the fact that USC lights the old and underwhelming Olympic torch at the stadium during the fourth quarter. Yes, we know all about the mascot, and the band, and the history.

    But what we don't see are the fans.

    Sure, USC had a bad year in 2010. So did Michigan, yet the Wolverines averaged upwards of 111,000 fans per game.

    So what is it, Trojan Nation?

    Of course, it could be that Trojans fans have earned the reputation of being ungracious hosts. They're pretty insufferable when USC wins and equally prickly when USC loses.


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    The MAC is finding its way onto this list pretty frequently.

    We'd like to say that it was just our opinion alone that MAC stadiums aren't worth going to.

    Given the fact that these schools can't even get their own students to show up in any great number makes us feel pretty confident about putting them on this list.

    We've not quite sure what it is about Buffalo.

    The stadium appears nice enough, but for some reason Bulls fans just don't bother to show up. There's obviously something keeping people away.

    If could be the lack of quality and competitive football, but even when UB is in the hunt for a MAC title, the attendance is still depressed.

    You would think one of the newest FBS stadiums would be able to draw fans, but Buffalo struggles to attract 13,000 fans to home games.

    If you wouldn't be caught dead at a UB football game, it's clear you're not the only one.

Florida Atlantic

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    Florida Atlantic University is home to one of the smallest venues in the FBS—Lockhart Stadium.

    But that's going to happen when you take over a stadium built to host high school football games.

    Believe it or not, this stadium is smaller than some Division II football stadiums. That's just embarrassing, FAU.

    Apparently, FAU got the memo. In 2010, the university broke ground on a new football stadium, and it's scheduled to open sometime this fall. The move-in date probably can't come fast enough for Owls fans.

Western Michigan

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    Waldo Stadium is home to the Western Michigan Broncos—but not many fans.

    Waldo Stadium's open atmosphere and lack of noisy fanbase means that travelling to Kalamazoo, Michigan to watch a WMU football game probably isn't near the top of many people's list.

    Waldo also has a rather unusual orientation.

    The field runs southwest to northeast, rather than the traditional north-south. That leads to some very unfortunate fans being forced to stare into the sun during certain times of the day.


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    All you have to do is take one look at a stadium-wide picture of a Rice home game, and you know that you're probably not the only one avoiding Rice Stadium.

    You'd think in a state like Texas, where football is king, people would jump at the chance to attend an FBS football game.

    Apparently, Rice thought the same thing when it built itself a 70,000-seat stadium.

    As it turns out, someone was probably watching a little too much Field of Dreams. Rice built it, but they didn't come.

    There's something almost eerie about watching a football game in a nearly empty 70,000-seat stadium...


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    You kind of have to feel for UAB, don't you?

    After all, it can't be easy being the offshoot of the University of Alabama—a program that has as much football tradition as one can find in the South—while trying to maintain a football program at the same FBS level as the Crimson Tide.

    Heck, if you're ranking football programs in the state of Alabama, UAB probably ranks behind some FCS and Division II programs too.

    It probably doesn't help that UAB calls Legion Field home.

    The stadium is old, it's rundown and it's just an all-around uncomfortable place to watch football. Even the annual Iron Bowl matchups decided to go to alternating home games for Alabama and Auburn.


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    Akron makes our list for a couple of reasons.

    Not surprisingly, this MAC school has trouble convincing people to come and watch the games.

    But other than the obvious “the MAC is no good” reasons people cite, there's another pretty plain reason for not watching an Akron game from the stands.

    The stadium light posts are actually between the stands and the field!


    Not only does this move the stands a bit further back from the action, it also obscures sight lines for people who actually pay money to watch the Zips.

    Who wants that?

    It's no wonder Akron averaged just 10,000 fans per game in its 30,000-seat stadium in 2010.

Jacksonville (FCS)

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    Not to be confused with Jacksonville State, D.B. Milne Field at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida is easily one of the worst stadiums in the nation—regardless of level, even if you add in high schools.

    Clearly the fans don't bother to come out in droves to Dolphins games. Because, after all, where would they all sit, er, stand?

    The stadium was “built” in 1997 at a cost of one million dollars with a capacity of 5,000. Looking at a picture of this stadium raises questions about both of those figures.


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    The Miners play their home games at the Sun Bowl, which is a pretty nice stadium, all things considered.

    But there is the nagging problem of the drug-fueled civil war between cartels in Mexico—visible from the stadium.

    There have even been reports of bullet holes being found in the exterior walls of buildings on campus.

    We're just not sure how great of an idea it is to go to a football game that close to a war zone, unofficial or not.

Ball State

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    Probably not surprising to people “in the know,” but our top spot goes to a MAC venue.

    The MAC, as we've seen, historically underachieves when it comes to attendance figures.

    The NCAA has, on more than on occasion, warned one MAC school or another about its attendance figures and politely reminded it that NCAA bylaws require FBS programs to average 15,000 paid or actual butts in the seats for one season at least once every two seasons.

    There have even been MAC teams that have given away thousands upon thousands of tickets to get people to the games, simply to meet their attendance quota.

    When it comes to snooze-fests, Ball State gives low attendance a new meaning.

    In 2010, Ball State averaged just 8,947. No, that's not a typo. Fewer than 9,000 per game showed up to watch a pretty bad Ball State Cardinals football team during their 2010 exercise in futility.

    Needless to say, Ball State is a program on the NCAA's “watch list” for attendance in 2011. If the Cardinals don't hit 15,000 in 2011, they could be looking the FCS squarely in the face as the newest member of Division I's lower grouping.