Reader downthefield recently took a road trip to Iowa City to catch the big game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Iowa Hawkeyes. When he got back, he posted a an excellent
diary notebook comparing various aspects of the game-day atmosphere at Iowa with what goes on in Knoxville on football Saturdays. You really should read the whole thing, but here are a couple of excerpts:
I have been going to UT games my whole life. I have tailgated next to the stadium during that time. I was next to the stadium before G-10 was there, and now that it is, that's where we be. I enjoy the Tennessee tailgating scene, and we have a good, no...GREAT time.
That being said, in a tailgating contest, we're not even in the same ballpark as Iowa. I've never seen anything like it.
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Inside the stadium: Part I: Pregame
This is where our Big Orange wins, hands down. There's nothing like being in Neyland Stadium with Bobby Denton on that PA, talking about our Vol student "ath-a-letes." Then the Pride marches out, and then the T, and off we go. All Iowa brought to the table was their average band and then some piped-in rock music with some jumbotron graphics as their team took the field. Kudos to the Hawkeyes though, as they take the field in a very unique fashion: the entire team runs in one big group, holding hands. Very unified, and they actually leave the field this way, too.
Inside the stadium: Part II: In-game
Looking at the situation as objectively as I can, I've got to give the edge, in fans, to Iowa. I didn't get to see the full force of the crowd there, though, because of the way the game unfolded. All I know is that while it was a game and even when it wasn't really that competitive, I never was on my rear end while Ohio St.'s offense was on the field. 1st down was just as loud as 2nd and 3rd, and while the yelling was occurring, my ears couldn't tell whether I was in Kinnick or Neyland. Iowa fans really bring it, and their seats are really right on top of the field. They had a thing where everyone was wearing gold that night. Looked very cool. Bonus points for their tradition after touchdowns: they put flags in each of the four corners of the stadium, and each corner yells either I, O, W, or A in order. An amazing sound to hear live, and EVERYONE does it. We could totally pull this off in Neyland with V, O, L, and S, if the blue-hairs actually realized they were at a football game.
Negative points to Iowa for the lack of involvement by their band. For college football atmosphere with bands and all, I take the SEC, because SEC games usually have both bands there. OSU's was absent, and the game was worse for it. There's nothing I hate more than hearing the other team's fight song in Neyland, but it's gotta be there to make the experience complete.
After Iowa was thoroughly handled, most of the fans stayed and cheered their team until the end. Points to the Hawkeyes.
The stadium seated 70,000, but it really didn't feel as big as that. There's really nothing like the size of Neyland when you're inside.
Go check out the whole thing.