The Swamp: Why It's So Tough For Opponents

Michael OleszekAnalyst IAugust 8, 2008

The Swamp.

Instantly synonymous with Florida Gators Football. The name alone puts goosebumps on the arms of Gators everywhere  simultaneously giving the opposing team nightmares.

 This stadium is highly regarded by fans, alumni, players, football analysts, and even video games.

What makes this stadium so special compared to others?

Here are a few reasons: 

The name: The official name of the stadium is actually Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field, but since former Head Coach Steve Spurrier tagged it 'The Swamp" in the early '90s, the name has stuck. Coach Spurrier said: "...a swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous. Only Gators get out alive."

The stadium: The Swamp isn't the largest stadium in college football, but the stadium does hold over 90,000 fans. The stadium design gives a distinct advantage to the home team. A portion of the stadium is below ground level, and the stadium is completely enclosed. This design traps noise extremely well while cutting off any breeze that could flow through the stadium. The stands are also 10 feet away from the players on both sides, and combined with the 90+ rows of stands behind them give the stadium a claustrophobic feeling.

The fans: Say what you want about jorts, mullets, and Natural Light beer, every school has some fans that give the school a bad name. Florida is no different. Over the years there have been isolated instances where fans have gotten out of line: Gator fans have cussed out Phil Fulmer's wife, tried to spit in the Tennessee water coolers, and thrown cups of piss at Tennessee fans, among other things. Hostility towards Tennessee aside, Gator fans are loud, loud, and loud some more, all game long. From the time the Orange and Blue chants quiet down before kickoff to the end of the 4th quarter, Florida fans are notoriously vocal. Make a big play on the field, and the the crowd doesn't just cheer. It erupts. Sometimes the crowd is so loud the stadium will shake. Look around during a game and count the number of opposing fans covering their ears.

The team:

The Florida Gators have not had a losing team since 1979, and have been relevant on a national level since the 1990 season. There were sporadic appearances on the national radar before, but nothing major. It is no coincidence that in this time frame people have started taking The Swamp into consideration as a tough place to play. The progress of the football program combined with rabidness of the fans and the confines of the stadium, and it makes for a daunting task to play in Gainesville. 

I am not the only person who feels the Swamp is tough for opponents:  

"The loudest, most obnoxious and notorious piece of real estate in all of college football."

-- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on The Swamp

"BEN . . . HILL . . . GRIFFIN Stadium . . . at Florida Field, has the longest name in college football . . . and it has the loudest fans!  Trust us!"

--  Chris Fowler, ESPN College Gameday Host on The Swamp

"There is no better place than 'The Swamp'! That opening on the big screen with the alligator, it's the best ever. When the Gators run out of the tunnel, it is absolutely the moment of moments in college football."

-- Lee Corso, ESPN College Football Analyst on The Swamp

"The Swamp," as it was nicknamed by Steve Spurrier, can prove to be a rough place for the opposition. It is super loud, and the intensity of the fans remains the same from start to finish.

--  Mel Kiper, ESPN Football Analyst about The Swamp

"The Swamp" is incredibly loud and combines with the Gators' superior talent on the field to overwhelm almost every visiting team.

--  Mel Kiper, ESPN Football Analyst about The Swamp


"Florida Field is the nation's loudest stadium. Take any heavy metal album, crank it, then place your speakers in a tin basement. That sounds like a library compared to 'The Swamp'." -- The Sporting News