SI Vault
Ivan Maisel
November 04, 2002
OVERRATED Michigan Stadium
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November 04, 2002

College Football Stadium

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Michigan Stadium

A: Cold and wet; buns mashed together.

Q: Describe the Michigan Stadium hot dogs—and their fans.

The charm of any stadium with the nickname of a prison escapes me. The Big House seats 107,501 (the one is a seat for the former coach Fritz Crisler), with parking available for all but 105,000. Perhaps it's the lack of intimacy—narrow seats notwithstanding—that bothers me. You put a good-sized American town in one stadium without an upper deck, and you get a lot of seats from which you can barely make out the players, or even the numbers on their uniforms. Michigan fans are a grumpy, demanding lot, which may be a reflection of the Wolverines' grumpy, demanding coach, Lloyd Carr. It could also be the result of ingesting popcorn that dates back to World War II. Whatever the reason, the esprit at the Big Hole in the Ground is wanting. Still, Wolverine fans have my admiration: Anyone who endures home games at Michigan Stadium should be hailed as a victor valiant.

Autzen Stadium

FOR YEARS, Oregon's Autzen Stadium has been known as a beautiful place to spend a Saturday afternoon. With only 41,600 seats and no track around the field, there was no such thing as a bad sight line. If the action on the field proved uninteresting—and for many years, it did—fans could always follow their noses to the fragrant evergreens growing just outside the stadium.

As the Ducks climbed to the top of the Pacific-10 Conference over the past decade, Autzen came to be known for its distinctive aural as well as visual and olfactory characteristics. The bowl-like configuration and the unsightly overhang over the south stands trap noise and send it crashing down upon the visitors on the south sideline.

A four-year, 23-game winning streak at Autzen finally ended last fall, and during that stretch home attendance averaged 44,353, or 106% of capacity. With the occasional fog and the redolence of the firs, spectators still understand that they're in the state of Oregon. And as long as the Ducks keep their winning ways, the fans seem to like the view just fine.