Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Hostile venues: Ranking the SEC football stadiums
Arkansas fans call the hogs, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, during the third quarter of the Razorbacks’ 49-26 loss to Alabama at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
When you are going on vacation and you have one more column to write before three weeks off, there’s only one thing to do: Rank the SEC football stadiums based on toughest road game in the league.
So this is sort of a hostility-based column with a dose of redneck and die-hard enthusiasm. There was not a poll, this is just one man’s opinion based on personal observation.
From least to the beast:
14. Vanderbilt — Very similar to a road game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, where you hear classical music and beer is available but champagne is the drink of choice for nice people who might talk about rocket thrust to the moon instead of the opponent.
13. South Carolina — Also nice people and very hospitable. Could be most loyal fan base in the country as it is a sellout even when the Gamecocks are bad.
12. Missouri — Never been there when the it wasn’t cold and overcast, but this isn’t based on weather. The fans are very academically-minded and smart enough to stay home the Friday after Thanksgiving.
11. Kentucky — If you shop at Kroger, you’ll feel right at home. More of a football school the past few years and that’s why the Wildcats edged out the Tigers. Not as much basketball talk at tailgates than in the past.
10. Ole Miss — The Rebels are proud they always win the party, but the games aren’t played in the Grove. Everyone should invest in the company that makes red Solo cups before Rebel games. They are everywhere as part of the armament for winning the party.
9. Auburn — The Tiger fans are faithful, loyal and supportive, but they haven’t had much to brag about lately and they have been quiet, even when they leave the games early.
8. Tennessee — Some will argue, but my experiences in Knoxville have been pretty good, and when a percentage arrives at the game in expensive boats the redneck quotient goes down. However, expect to hear “Rocky Top” ringing in your ears for a minimum of three days after a game.
7. Mississippi State — Cow bells and loud music set the tone. Some really nice people who somehow become finical when the ball his kicked off only to become nice people again at the final buzzer.
6. Texas A&M — They stand the entire game. They sway, cheer and jeer. Other than on game day, you get embraced like family. But when it is time for football, there are no friendships.
5. Arkansas — Second place in the SEC for partying but can be the loudest crowd in the conference when needed, and they like to be needed.
4. Georgia — Obviously it has become more difficult as the program has eked into the role as King of the Hill, and will get more cocky with more national championships.
3. Florida — It is called The Swamp. That says enough, but once saw fans throwing ice at the parents of Razorbacks and the attendants did nothing. Previously it was No. 2 in this survey, but mediocrity has cooled the jets.
2. Alabama — Bryant-Denny Stadium seems to keep growing and each new ticket holder seems to have an unpleasant attitude and tries to be part of the game through their vocal chords. When the fans assemble for the player walk, you don’t want to be there unless you are born and bred Bama.
1. LSU — This has nothing to do with their astonishing consumption of alcohol. Well, OK it does. But when you see kids saluting the visiting team with their middle finger, you know this is not a place to wear anything but purple and gold, and you multiply the hostile environment by 10 when the games are played at night.
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