The Best Atmosphere In College Football Belongs To...

One thing's for sure, it belongs to the SEC

March 30, 2007

By Trev Alberts

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Trev Alberts is a football analyst for CSTV and
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You've got college football questions and CSTV football analyst Trev Alberts has answers and opinions. Each week Alberts will be answering questions and queries on the world of college football. So if you've got a question for Trev? Just ask him.


Settle a dispute I've been having with my buddies. I say the best home-field advantage in the country, and most definitely in the SEC, is at Tiger Stadium and Death Valley. My buddies say its Florida and The Swamp. - Jayson Crauss, Florida


There are a lot of variables that could directly influence the outcome of this debate. First of all, who are they playing? Let's assume it's a top notch opponent.


If you give the LSU fans all day to "prepare" - shall we say - it can be a bit of an interesting atmosphere and a rowdy environment, to say the least. There's something about night games at that stadium. How many times have you watched games at night there, even when they weren't great and they knocked off top teams? Something weird happens to the players there at night.


On the other hand, playing in The Swamp on a Saturday afternoon, there's a reason why Keith Jackson does Gatorade commercials and there's a reason it was called Gatorade. There's no air moving, it's hotter than you know what; it's just a difficult environment to play in. But I think both of those stadiums are almost not winnable given the right circumstances.


But the underlying point about the email is there's a difference between the SEC and all the other conferences. I've been exposed to all of them. I was a Big Ten guy growing up. I played in the Big Eight, which is now the Big 12. Now I live in Georgia and the South and I pay particular attention to the SEC because I'm in the region. What you failed to mention was the atmosphere at Georgia, Alabama and Auburn. Each university has a unique atmosphere that helps their teams be successful. We always talk about more speed and better athletes with the SEC. You couple that with the home field advantage they enjoy. That's why it's so difficult to go on the road in that conference and win.  


The most difficult place I played in was Oklahoma in one those Oklahoma-Nebraska games on Thanksgiving - when it was played when it should have been played and it meant something. I played against Washington in the Don James heyday. You could literally see the stands moving. And it was invariably raining there, as always, and it was cold. Back then Washington was a mean, physical football team. That was a tough environment.


Colorado tried to be tough. They talked a big game, but they weren't tough. They only had 50,000 people in their seats. More people showed up to our spring game than a Colorado-Nebraska game in Boulder.


Trev, Congratulations on being nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame. Every Cornhusker fan knows you deserve to be there. Who else deserves to be there with you? - Jill, Kearney, Neb.


First and foremost, it's absolutely humbling to me when you look at the list candidates and what they've accomplished to be considered a candidate. It really goes to show that a guy who grows up in a little bitty town in Iowa, goes to a university like Nebraska, buys in and does what they tell him to do...They molded me and transformed me, coach Osborne and coach Solich and coach Samuel and all those guys were instrumental in my development. And I played with a bunch of talented guys.


When you look at that list of candidates, some guys had awesome careers in college and some guys were much better in the NFL than they were in college. But just looking at the list briefly, guys stick out like Lawrence Taylor, who transformed football.


Thurman Thomas was ridiculous. I remember him at Oklahoma State. Of course there's Troy Aikman. Deion Sanders was your first real special teams, lock-down corner, nightmare-type of player who took over a game. Chris Spielman was a true middle linebacker. They don't make them a whole lot better than Chris Spielman. They haven't since he left, either.


Ryan Yarbrough from Wyoming broke the NCAA mark for most career receiving yards. I remember him from when I was playing. His numbers were ridiculous.


The one thing to keep in mind is the natural tendency with the Hall of Fame is to see a name like Emmitt Smith's from last year and say automatically that he's a Hall of Famer. Well, a lot of people think of what he did as a Dallas Cowboy. I'm not saying he wasn't a terrific player in college, but you take a player like Yarbrough and you say, "Who's this guy?" You need to understand how dominating a player Ryan Yarbrough was in college.


That's what I like about the College Football Hall of Fame. It's not about what you did in the NFL, or your post-football life. It's about what you accomplished in college and Ryan Yarbrough accomplished a ton.  


You claim to be a football analyst, but let's see if you can get something right for a change. Breakdown the Final Four - James B., South Carolina


"Get something right for a change?" I suppose you're insinuating I rarely get anything right.


Since we're talking college basketball, I would like to point out that I had North Carolina beating Georgetown, and if that had happened I would have led the "bag" with "Alberts should be a college basketball analyst."


I have three of the teams in the Final Four in my bracket. Granted, many people do. I had North Carolina beating Georgetown and at one point the Trevmeister was No. 3 in the CSTV Experts Bracket Challenge, in front of our own Brian Curtis, as well as Greg Amsinger, Pete Gillen and Steve Lappas. I don't know if that's my basketball acumen or if it doesn't say much for our analysts on our air? I'm teasing.


But I watched that North Carolina-Georgetown game in earnest and you get the feeling from some of these teams that they can get on a bit of a roll. That's what I love about the NCAA Tournament. Some of these teams get hot and ride it all the way to the Final Four.


Look at Georgetown. They had a really good year, but watching those last six or seven minutes of that game was stunning to me. North Carolina had a solid lead and I was thinking how I was going to have every team in my Final Four make it and how I'm going to win this challenge. I don't know what John Thompson III did in the huddle, but suddenly his team played with such a looseness and confidence about themselves. And I saw the opposite with North Carolina who clammed up a bit and almost tried too hard. Georgetown played with such an intensity and energy. Almost with a reckless abandon. They had nothing to lose. And I think that's a reflection of their coach. So I'm a pretty big Georgetown fan at this point.


But I think this is shaping up to be one of the better Final Fours we've had in some time. You've got Ohio State, who I thought was going to lose to Tennessee. But they found a way to come back and win that game. When you have players like Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr., it's a pretty tough combination. Then you've got Florida who's been there and done that. They know the process and expectations, but with them it's about motivation. They're the team I have winning it (I picked Florida to beat Ohio State).


On a different note, I know I'm a football guy, and I'll tell you I'm a traditionalist and I like bowl games and there's certain elements about what we do in football that are really terrific. But there's something about the NCAA Tournament that the powers of college football have got to start paying attention to. It's so obvious to me that it's the best sporting event of the year and I'll tell you why it's so spectacular.


I love college basketball, but I see friends who don't love college basketball and the Tournament has a way of appealing to them, the casual fan. The thing we're missing in college football is we'll always appeal to the hardcore fan, the traditional fan. But I don't think we're getting enough of the casual fan. I know you get some. But I didn't know the half about Georgetown and Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert and John Thompson III and Patrick Ewing, Jr. until the Tournament started. Then you have stories like VCU. I don't even know where they're located, but suddenly I became a fan of them.


As we approach the Final Four, one thing has become evidently clear to me: I think some people in college football are dumb.