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Former Oklahoma Center Says Neyland Stadium Convinced Him Home Field Advantage Exists

Ty Darlington played center for the Oklahoma Sooners from 2012-15. It wasn't until his senior year, when OU traveled to Tennessee, that he was convinced home field advantage exists.

Ty Darlington penned a lengthy blog post addressed to Oklahoma fans ahead of the Sooners' monumental Week 3 game against Ohio State on Saturday. In trying to convince Sooner fans to create the craziest atmosphere possible, he described the game that convinced him that home field advantage is a real thing in football: OU's September 12, 2015 trip to Neyland Stadium.

I was never a big believer in homefield advantage. 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.

The Tennessee fans at Neyland Stadium were so loud, from an hour before kickoff to the final snap, that it altered the Sooners' offense snap count and made communications incredibly difficult.

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. On the offensive line, we couldn’t hear Baker’s play calls, we couldn’t make our own combo calls, and we couldn’t communicate checks and alerts verbally. We resorted to a makeshift hand signaling system that was at times more confusing than informative. At times, we were much more worried about simply KNOWING the play than we were about actually EXECUTING it.

That night in Neyland Stadium, playing football seemed all but impossible, and that can be attributed as much to the men and women in the stands as to the uniformed men on the field itself. That night, as I boarded the flight back to Norman with Rocky Top ringing in my ears, I realized that I had been converted. From a man skeptical of fan impact, to a man in awe of it.

Darlington goes on to address many segments of the Oklahoma fan base, including the student section, and outlines his hopes and expectations for the game.

When the Buckeyes come into town on Saturday, they will be the highest ranked team to visit Norman since the 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders. That week, Coach Stoops challenged the crowd to “Create a Ruckus”, and they delivered! From all accounts of the game, that was the loudest and craziest Sooner fans may have ever been. The Sooners walked away that day with a 65-21 blowout victory, and they rode that momentum to a national championship appearance. I think you get the picture. Bring it. From the first play to the last, and make those Ohio St. players go home talking about “those psychos in Norman, Oklahoma.”

The whole thing is worth a read for a very interesting perspective from a former Oklahoma player. We're sure Tennessee will appreciate the Neyland anecdote, even if their Vols lost that game 31-24 in double overtime.

[Front and Center]