Jamal's weekly blog...

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THE Ohio Stadium



As we continue our trip around Big Ten country, we stopped in OH-IO last weekend to experience Ohio State-Michigan State. Now I was told that the three best stadiums to experience a Big Ten game are Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State, in no particular order. Now I heard this from players, coaches, fans AND media. So obviously I put some stock into it. It was also said that Ohio Stadium might be the best place to experience a football game anywhere in the nation, college or pro. Now I found that hard to believe based on what I’ve heard about the Swamp down in Gainsville, 12th Man at College Station at Texas A&M and FedEx Field where the Redskins play in D.C. So I was prepared for anything. 


We drive into Columbus about two hours before the game and were gridlocked instantly. And to try to take my mind off the traffic I looked out the window and saw nothing but red and a few splashes of white. So I was starting to like this atmosphere already. Then we walked down Woody Hayes Blvd. and were bombarded with that horribly creative O-H-I-O chant (I don’t know how they EVER thought up with that genius chant) 


Finally we enter the stadium and while it may seat less than the Big House in Ann Arbor, it looks FAR bigger and there was not an empty seat in sight. The rabid fans of Ohio showed up hours before the game to practice their one successful chant. I was advised to bring earphones to combat the noise so like any 21-year old I brought an iPod to listen to like that would work. Foolish me. I turned up the volume full blast and couldn’t even tell it was on. I thought my headphones were broken because I heard NO music. Unbelievable crowd noise, but the part I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that Ohio State’s student section was the smallest I’d seen. It looked like MAYBE 1,000 people. Which when you think about it is amazing: alumni and older fans made 90% of the thunderous noise produced in this stadium. Unlike Notre Dame and Wisconsin, the student section didn’t have to shoulder the load of making noise. And when MSU scored two quick defensive touchdowns, I was sure it would silence the crowd. But they got louder and when I thought to myself “WOW, this is the loudest thing I’ve ever heard” they got even louder. It was truly amazing. 


Any fan should appreciate a great atmosphere regardless of your affiliation to a team. Most college hoops fans should want to watch a game at the Breslin Center or Cameron Indoor Stadium or at UCLA or Kansas. Most college football fans would want to catch a game in Tennessee, UM, Texas, LSU. The sense of history and prestige adds to these types of atmospheres and makes for a very enjoyable experience. And hours after the game had ended, I stood on the field, in the center of the block “O” and just looked around. This is what being a fan is all about: Enjoying a great game, with a great crowd, in a great atmosphere. 


Next stop...Iowa and Kinnick Stadium.