Having covered numerous neutral site games over the years, I have always felt they would be better off being played in home stadiums. I know a lot of fans who say there is no better feeling than going into an opposing stadium and getting a win, while celebrating with the group of fans who made the trip. Take Pittsburgh for instance. They played Tennessee last weekend and brought over 5,000 fans to Knoxville. The downtown bars were packed with Pitt fans singing their fight song and occasionally breaking out in a “Penn State Sucks” chant. How about Oregon fans making the trip to Columbus last weekend and getting to celebrate the win? They must be thankful all that money they spent paid off.
allo stesso modo, Auburn fans will travel to Happy Valley this weekend to witness for themselves what a night game looks like in the Big Ten, un “Whiteout” night game, non di meno. Heck, I am jealous I won’t be attending that game, just from a pure college football fan perspective. Can you imagine what it will feel like for those Tiger fans who make the trip, knowing they’ll definitely stand out with their orange shirts in a 100,000 plus stadium, while everyone else is dressed in white?
James Franklin had this to say about ticket demand for this game:
“We’re fortunate here, having a 107,000-seat stadium, our student section is bigger than most. Our allotment of recruiting tickets is bigger than most, so that helps for games like this because you hate to turn people away. But this is a game where we typically have to turn recruits away. This is a game where we typically have to turn high school coaches away just because the demand far outweighs the supply.”
Franklin added, “I’ve got a ton of respect for Auburn. I’ve got a ton of respect for the SEC. I want these fans and the staff and these coaches to go back to the SEC and say, 'Sai, we love our football in the SEC, ma tu sai, what they do up there at Penn State is special and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it.'”
Did you see how many LSU fans made the trip out to the West Coast for the season opener against UCLA? Bene, they sold their allotment out, and then some.
It’s easy to look at these games and hope that the players take as much out of it as the fans. Ma, sometimes that isn’t the case. Look at what happened at the Ole Miss opener against Louisville in Atlanta in front of perhaps 20,000 fan. It was embarrassing to see ESPN try to avoid crowd shots. But they got their money, so everything is good, destra?
There are some games that deserve to be played on a neutral site, like Oklahoma vs Texas, or even the Arkansas vs Texas A&M game. These rivalries don’t need added promotion, as they sell themselves. But in a day and time where it feels like we open every season with 15 different games playing outside of college campuses, maybe we should reconsider the home field atmosphere and how that would look on television.
We are starting to see a trend in which teams reward their fans who attend by not taking away a home game from the schedule. The SEC has done an ok job of setting up these home-and-home deals, but it’s still not good enough. There needs to be more focus on attracting these types of mega-fight games on campuses and not regional cities.
Even though the conference landscape is changing and new alliances are forming, there are still plenty of premier games for fans, especially ones that aren’t played in neutral territory.
Just give the fans what they want.