The Big 12 is not known for having premiere venues in college football. A lot of that is ignorance on the part of the masses, as there are some cool and tough places to play. I took a look at the conference venues according to my own criteria to determine within the conference how tough/prestigious are they. I considered size, coolness, difficulty to play, and fan presence in an effort to determine who’s stadium reigns supreme and who’s needs to find some extra magic.
1. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - Oklahoma
No one can argue with this pick hopefully. Not only is Norman a very neat college town, but the stadium is rocking. 80,000 plus Sooners screaming as their band plays yet another rendition of Boomer Sooner is extremely intimidating. The fans are passionate as anyone in the country, and while they are not as physically top of the opposing teams as say Oklahoma State fans are, they make sure everyone feels their wrath.
2. Jack Trice Stadium - Iowa State
I bet you thought I was just going to let size decided this list. Think again, as Iowa State’s home is a just awful place to go play for the opposition. For one, it is just freaking cold there. Ames in the winter is a frigid tundra, and it seems to usually be wet. Besides the weather, Iowa State fans are loyal and they show up especially with the team’s recent success. They can bring the noise, and that combined with the weather is a potent cocktail to ruin someone’s season in November.
The venue is smaller than a lot of premiere places to play, but Ames is all about the Cyclones and traveling there is just a rough night for the away team.
3. Darryl K. Royal Stadium - Texas
Texas fans suck, period. They are either extremely arrogant or just so apathetic it is embarrassing. Despite that, when DKR is packed like it was against LSU and the vibe is strong it is a awesome venue. It is a great stadium and Austin is a hell of a town. The only problem is the aforementioned sucky fans.
They are fickle, and prone to not make a lot of noise. It takes a lot to wake them up, but as Texas tries to be back their fans will likely jump on the bandwagon.
4. Milan Puskar Stadium – West Virginia
West Virginia fans are loud, angry, and crazy. They are not as fiercely loyal in the bad times as Iowa State fans, but when the team is winning, they are a top tier fan group. However, West Virginia is this high on the list solely because of location.
Morgantown is a god-awful place to travel too. Even when it is not freezing cold and snowing, the itinerary to get there is the worst in the conference. You can’t fly into Morgantown directly, so you have to take a long flight followed by a long bus trip to that hell-hole in the mountains. The fact anyone makes that trip as an opposing fan is a miracle. This is just a horrible place for anyone but the Mountaineers.
5. Bill Snyder Family Stadium – Kansas State
The Little Apple is a really cool college town, and Kansas State has a gorgeous campus. I had the pleasure of watching the Wildcats trounce the Aggies in the Texas Bowl, and their fans are a ton of fun. Easily one of my favorite Big 12 fan bases, they are loud and goofy. This venue is this high on coolness factor really, as while the fans are loud the venue is not particularly intimidating most years. A tough place to play? Yes, but not the same impact as some on this list.
6. Boone Pickens Stadium - Oklahoma State
Xerox U has a terribly designed stadium. The lack of sidelines is a joke, and while Stillwater is really cool, the university fails to be original constantly. The keys are annoying as hell, and the paddles are a silly gimmick. With all being said, they are annoying as hell to deal with. No team enjoys having opposing fans right on top of them screaming, and the orange they wear is blinding.
7. Jones AT&T Stadium - Texas Tech
Sad to see the Red Raiders so low on this list? Yeah, I was too. The truth is, Lubbock has been an easy place to win lately. Kingsbury and Wells have failed to defend it, and the fans have been impossible to entice to get there and stay there. I have been in the stadium at the peak of its powers and it should be a feared venue. The Mahomes/Boykin battle in Lubbock was incredible. I have never felt so proud to be a Red Raider sports fan as I did standing throughout that game.
he sheer number of students the university allows in is unique, and it makes for a powerful venue when everyone is committed. And for all the hate Lubbock gets, the city does college football right. The tradition and life Saturday brings to the Hub City is a site to see. The team’s inability to win has sucked the life out of the stadium lately, which is a damn shame. All it will take is one good season of success to rebuild the brand and the power of coming into the Jones.
8. McLane Stadium - Baylor
I hate Baylor and Waco, and I won’t say anything more than that.
I won’t even bother to name these venues. No one is at the games, and the venues are boring. You are more likely to see away fans at TCU games than a Horned Frog fan. Kansas fans showed up for Kansas State, got blasted, and disappeared again.