And if you're wondering, "What do those camper-living fans do all day Friday?" then you've never really tailgated and you've never really been to a college football game. See folks, the world of big-time college football is just not New England's world. I come as a Penn State graduate and as an emissary from that world.
Check out Jim Kinney's story in the Springfield Republican.
Welcome to big-time college football, UMass
Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 5:59 PM Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 6:39 PM
The RV parking lots at Michigan Stadium will open Friday night in advance of Saturday afternoon's game between the Wolverines and the UMass Minutemen.
If you think that's too early, consider this: at Penn State's Beaver Stadium and most other Big Ten stadiums, the RV lots open - and fill up - on Thursday night before Saturday games.
And if you're wondering, "What do those camper-living fans do all day Friday?" then you've never really tailgated and you've never really been to a college football game.
See folks, the world of big-time college football is just not New England's world. I come as a Penn State graduate and as an emissary from that world.
It's a world where I've met a couple who named their twin daughters Nittany and Lyons - it was the mother's idea - and Ohio State fans with tattoos of Buckeye-leaf helmet stickers.
It's a world where everyone knows that Bill Belichick holds a job Joe Paterno famously turned down.
It's also a world where it doesn't matter that Paterno turned down the Patriots head coaching gig in 1972. We have long memories in college football country. For example, Pitt fans still think they matter.
And as good as UMass is and as good a season as the Minutemen are having, New England is just not part of that world.
UMass drew a night-game record of 16,352 fans last week for Holy Cross. Good.
But UMass would have to keep up that pace for an entire six-game home slate to even come close to the 113,090 fans that Michigan drew for its home opener against Connecticut.
Recent renovations barely pushed Michigan Stadium past Penn State's Beaver Stadium, which hosted 110,000 for Nebraska back in 2002, on the biggest-stadium list.
But it's a bogus record really. Michigan allocates less bench space per person than Penn State does.
Beaver Stadium is physically bigger and has been for years. Also Beaver Stadium is louder because the sound travels up and out of Michigan Stadium whereas Beaver Stadium directs the sound down and onto the field, meaning the student section decides when and if players can hear the snap count.
The fact that you, a New England sports fan, can't imagine that last paragraph sparking an hours-long argument of Yankees-Red Sox proportion is just more evidence that this is not college football country.
Maybe this will put it in perspective: I once had duty as a resident assistant, or RA, during a night home game against a bad Minnesota team. Problem was, there were no residents to assist. Four 12-story dorms and not a soul was home.
I spent hours following the game by the sound of cheers a quarter-mile away and being creeped out by the echo of my own footsteps.
My guess is that doesn't happen at UMass very often.
New England has a college football history, of course. JoePa himself played at Brown. Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard and, more recently, Boston College have been good. Connecticut's program has made great strides.
And Saturday is another chance to put UMass on the college football map. In the best tradition of the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend, at least make the Wolverines sweat: Go get