Here’s an interesting tale from Mizzou. Apparently, head coach Barry Odom wants to flip the field, so to speak, because he sees a coaching advantage in that.
Missouri football coach Barry Odom wants to switch the team sidelines on Faurot Field, a move that would require some seating changes and has at least one student organization unhappy about the proposal.
Odom and members of Mizzou athletics department met with student leaders from nine different campus organizations last Thursday to discuss Odom’s proposed changes, MU athletics spokesman Nick Joos said. Odom wants the Tigers’ bench to be moved from the east sideline to the west sideline at Memorial Stadium and the visiting team moved to the east sideline.
Odom believes there are competitive advantages to having his team on the west side, Joos said. For one, during game days, the team on the west side is in the shade and not staring into the sun on the hotter side of the field. Also, Odom believes the opposing coaches in the west-side press box have a clearer view of coaches’ signals and personnel moves that come from the east sideline.
“There’s an opportunity from a signal standpoint and formation standpoint and even and players entering and exiting the game that it gives you a better (chance to) disguise, for the lack of a better word, when you’re on the press box side as opposed to being more open on the east side,” Joos said.
There are two obstacles, though. The first — you can file this one under “Things I Did Not Know” — is a conference rule.
There’s a Southeastern Conference rule that states home student sections are prohibited between the 30-yard lines and up through 25 rows behind the visiting team’s bench. In the stadium’s current seating design, student seating takes up the sections directly behind the east team sideline. Under the proposal, those seats behind the visitor’s bench would be filled by fans from the visiting team.
“By SEC rule you have to give the visiting team 1,000 seats in the lower bowl,” Joos said. “They would fill in 1,000 of those (seats). Then we’d start a young alumni and recent grad ticket program for inexpensive season tickets over there (behind the visiting fans.) Player guests seating would be over there, too.”
The first obstacle leads to the second one.
That arrangement would displace some student sections to the outer margins of the front sections along the east side, outside the 30-yard lines.
Only one student group, Tiger’s Lair, was resistant to the proposal, Joos said. The Tiger’s Lair is the school’s “official student cheering section for the Missouri Tigers,” according to the organization’s web site. “The Tiger’s Lair promotes school spirit and excitement at all home football games through the performance of organized card stunts and cheers, and by providing a great environment for costumes and spirited signs,” the site states. “Members of the section are recognized as the wildest, most dedicated, and most enthusiastic at Mizzou football games.”
In a statement sent to the Post-Dispatch, the student organization declined comment, saying only, “Tiger’s Lair is examining the situation and refraining from comments at this time until we gather more information on this matter.”
The Tiger’s Lair later released a statement, saying the proposal will result in “a dramatic disinterest in Mizzou Football” and cited the section’s challenges related to lower enrollment numbers and “a reduced desire for season tickets from current students due to the performance of the team.”
Here’s the statement:
If that’s accurate, the change would move the student section from its current position near the action to the end zone. If so, then, yeah, I can see how that would be a downer.
So what we have here, it appears, is a conflict between the kids who go to the school and want to support the team, the head coach who’s paid to win football games and an obscure SEC rule that exists to make sure good seats go to the paying public. Sounds like college football, circa 2017, in a nutshell, doesn’t it?
When the people running college sports wake up in twenty or so years wondering where the paying customers went, this will just be chalked up as another minor moment of cluelessness. Too late by then, of course.
UPDATE: Bill Connelly assumes this storm will blow over “if Mizzou puts a good product on the field again”. Gee, that’s a familiar sounding tune.