Neyland Stadium changed an Oklahoma player's thoughts on home-field advantage
Home-field advantage can change games. It’s not just a myth or a believable idea. Players and teams have an advantage at home.
Vegas puts home-field advantage in its betting lines. Typically in the NFL, home-field advantage is worth three points. But, for Ty Darlington, a former Oklahoma offensive lineman, three points may not be enough.
Darlington visited Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium during his time as a player at Oklahoma. Here’s what he had to say about it.
“I was never a big believer in homefield advantage,” he wrote. “I scoffed at the notion that a fan could actually have an impact on a football game. You have a hostile crowd? Good. I feed off of hostile crowds, and I embrace it when fans ridicule me. You think you’re loud? Whatever. We use a silent count anyways, and noise is only a factor on three to four plays a game. Your homefield advantage is incredibly overrated. Bring it on. You’re wasting your breath.”
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Then, he felt Neyland Stadium get under his skin. Literally.
“And then I ran out of the tunnel in Knoxville, Tennessee, FOR WARMUP and was greeted by thousands of screaming fans and the chorus of ‘Rocky Top,’ Darlington said. “The game wasn’t set to start for over an hour, and these people seemed to think it was kickoff time. I exited the tunnel for the pregame warm-up, and those psychotic students were already there, giving us a small preview of what to expect in the hours to come. What had we gotten ourselves into?
“What followed in the 4 quarters and 2 overtimes of play was a dissertation on the impact a crowd CAN have upon a football game. The Vol faithful made it absolutely impossible to communicate. On the first drive, we had to change our snap count, because even our silent count was ineffective against that wall of noise. I came off the field after that first drive and reassured Coach Bedenbaugh that the fans would settle down in due time, and that noise was not going to be an issue going forward. Boy was I wrong. The noise was a constant, oppressive force. I could literally feel it on my skin. But these fans weren’t just loud on the first drive. Or just on 3rd down. Or just in the fourth quarter. It was every. single. play.”
Darlington’s Sooners take on Ohio State this Saturday, where he wants the crowd to truly make a difference. The rest of his blog about his experience at Neyland Stadium can be read here.