09.Sep.2015 The Big House is “Loud”?

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Some interesting info on “the big house”…many say it is not loud, despite the size.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/08/27/randy-edsall-says-michigans-football-crowds-are-big-but-not-loud/

http://hokesmadmagicians.blogspot.com/2012/03/hot-topics-is-big-house-loud.html

As some who read this blog carefully might know, I’m a self-taught audio engineer. I don’t claim to be an expert, so let’s that get out of the way. A few things I know (or think I know…again, self-taught through books and experience/listening, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong):

1. Bass waves travel further than treble waves.
2. Low frequencies move through barriers (e.g. why you hear bass emanating from a car, but not treble).
3. Treble waves reflect off surfaces. Engineers go through great measures to prevent this, and it’s why most studios have diffusion or padding on walls. Bass waves more through surfaces (think how you can hear bass but not treble through your neighbor’s walls).
4. I’d consider sub bass anything below 40hz. These frequencies are only audible on systems with sub woofers and tend to be powerful, boomy, etc. Bass frequency I’d say is 50 to 200hz, and treble 1khz and above (up to 2okhz, where we can no longer hear frequencies, but some claim we can “feel” them as “air”. These are somewhat subjective ranges but generally agreeable. Low midrange would make up the difference, 200hz to -1khz. We are fairly sensitive to low midrange, and it has properties of both bass and treble waves.
5. The ear is most sensitive in the high mid range, so 2khz to 6khz. Above and below that fades off quickly. This happens to be the frequency most voices fall into (evolution is genius, right?).

Given all this, I think the theory that “the big house” is quiet for its size makes a lot of sense.

1. It doesn’t have a lot of reflective surfaces for the treble waves to bounce off of.
2. The fans who are far away would be better off chanting in a low, deep voice, else their treble waves will get lost while moving through air. Simply, they are too far away to be heard, so tens of thousands of them (the ones far away) won’t have any effect unless they can chant in a very low, booming frequency. This likely rules out the women.
3. The Beavs will be hearing a lot of 1khz to 6khz frequencies — the speaking/screaming voices. These frequencies are weak and tail off quickly, as they simply do not travel well through medium like air (again, think of a car stereo where you hear bass and no treble if you’re outside it).

A better stadium design, if loudness is the goal, would probably be a small stadium with highly reflective surfaces and noise/frequencies in the 2kz to 6khz range (so, screaming fans, audio speakers with little low end, etc). Think about this: playing an electric guitar outside versus playing an electric guitar in a basement with concrete walls. Which is going to be more raucous? Obviously the basement — you have reflections from every direction bombarding your ear, whereas outdoors those will fade into the medium (air).

Now if we look at a photo of “the big house”, we see it is open, the fans on the outer ring are far away and their treble ridden screams will not be heard, and there are few reflective surfaces. I don’t see noise being a huge problem. Honestly, I have probably watched only a few Michigan games in my life, and I never had this in mind, so maybe I’m wrong and it’s excessively loud? But that would defy basic audio principles. I’m expecting moderate loudness and only the fans closer to the field to have an impact dB levels.

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  • Bill says:
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    It’s not loud because of the stadium design. The sound from the upper stands doesn’t carry down to the field. Just disappears like a fart in the wind. And like you say, there is nothing for the sound to reverberate against. It just goes one way. If the stands were more vertical, it would be louder.

    A stadium like Reser, if completed would probably be louder because the sound would bounce off the stands on the opposite side.

    The Seahawks stadium was built with noise in mind. It’s why domed stadiums are louder than outdoor stadiums. Autzen is loud because the noise funnels down to the field.

    • angry angry says:
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      So it’s true that it’s not loud?

      And for those interest, put on a set of good headphones and listen to the audio spectrum:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNf9nzvnd1k

      You can hear the “rumble” in the low bass. I think fans far away would be best served to try to make these sounds. Pounding feat, low voices, etc.

      As you get higher up, you can imagine how those sounds would dissipate into the air. The video gives a good visual so people can follow the post.

    • Numbers says:
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      From a noise standpoint, I really don’t see how playing at Michigan could be to different than playing at USC or at UCLA. There are definitely more hostile noise environments elsewhere, several of which are in the Pac10.

  • angry angry says:
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    Also, feel free to go OT.

  • scotty says:
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    It came up in the other thread how MR is so “respected”, something we hear all the freaking time. I think it’s bullshit. Look at actions instead of words.

    Remember when the Badgers lost to us in our first game? They fired their O-line coach that week. And when Mike Stoops’ Wildcats lost to Riley in 2011? Canned before the next game.

    If Riley is such a respected football coach, why does losing to one of his teams cost you your job?

  • goBeavers goBeavers says:
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    I believe it. I’d always heard most of the loudness is attributable to stadium design.

    This lists Michigan Stadium as 110 decibels at its highest recorded level. Not sure how reliable it is though.

    http://www.stack.com/2014/09/12/loudest-college-football-stadiums/

    • angry angry says:
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      Interesting the Huskies have those two enormous reverberate structures. I bet the audio just ping pongs back and forth (out of phase comb filtering!, for JP and the nerds).

      Beavs need to factor in acoustics when they renovate.

      • Numbers says:
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        When they talk about renovating, I really do want to be hearing about how the engineering will increase noise. It creates such a home advantage and is worth engineering and cost.

        • angry angry says:
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          I don’t think it should cost too much more. All they need are reflecting surfaces and make sure they don’t create phase cancellation (e.g. standing waves). Phase cancellation is fascinating:

          It’s an issue with microphones, but really our ears are nothing more than two microphones taking in sounds, so it can be an issue depending how things reflect where you want the sound (i.e. on the field). A way around this, to a degree, is making noise in unison.

          What is also interesting, is that the more people you have in a stadium, the more clothing and absorptive material. These will all dull sounds. Ideally fans would be naked!
          But more seriously, I think this could be an issue at “the big house”, too. It’s not a steep stadium, so there isn’t a lot of natural reverb, and on top of that, you have all those people with clothing…

          It’s not a wonder opponents say it’s quiet. We’ll see on Saturday. I’m very curious.

          • marcodg marcodg says:
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            I don’t think you need to worry about phase-cancellation in a stadium. Certain frequencies may get partially attenuated at certain points but these will vary because of temperature, humidity and pressure because the speed of sound changes, dependent on these values. If you want to make Reser louder, add a ‘rain shield’ over the stands, angled so that it reflects onto field (or even better, make it slightly curved so it acts more like a parabolic reflector).

          • angry angry says:
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            I don’t think you need to worry about phase-cancellation in a stadium.

            Probably not complete phase cancellation, agreed (b/c with increased distance from source the odds of two waves arriving at the same time decrease). At least with microphones this is how it is — as you increase the distance from the source, the odds of complete phase cancellation decrease dramatically. I think you’d have some phase cancellation and thus noise reduction, though not complete cancellation, as waves arrive on the field at slightly different times via reflections. Since the “big house” is not tall, it has little reverb, and therefore fewer waves bouncing around/more escaping.

            This article mentions it was a big problem in this indoor arena:

            http://www.l-acoustics.com/582-worldas-first-l-acoustics-k2-arena-system-installed-at-toyota-center,-home-of-the-houston-rockets.html

            I’m not sure how much this plays into outdoor arenas where much sound escapes the stadium upward, and in the case of the Big House gets dulled by clothing, etc. Again, I think you’d have signal reduction where the peaks and troughs are slightly out of phase with one another but don’t negate. This could be why stadiums tend to have very little low end, and sound very trebley (a sure sign of a phase issue). Phase doesn’t always mean complete cancellation — that’s just when the peak and trough arrive exactly at the same time. Sometimes it can be heard as amplitude reduction, and especially bass reduction.

            At least this is my understanding from recording my own music. Correct me if you’re an audio major or professional and know a ton. I find audio fascinating and have been reading about it for several years, but it’s highly complex and when self-teachings things get lost in the cracks, much like sound waves(!), so I don’t know it all.

            I’ll write a company that does audio for stadiums, if one exists, and ask them about all this and make a follow up post in the future. At this point I’m curious for my own learning.

          • marcodg marcodg says:
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            I think what I was getting at is that if you find a spot where there is phase cancellation, if you move a little bit, you’ll get constructive interference (and not very far, because the wavelength is relatively small) at the same frequency. When you think about microphones, they are fixed in space and so where they are can matter. When you’re thinking about a space and people moving around, different frequency content, different reflections, etc, every spot will be different.

            Designing a space so that everyone in the audience gets a great experience (e.g. Carnegie Hall, never been there) is pretty hard. Probably a lot easier to design a space that is just plain loud.

          • Jack says:
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            So low frequency cancellation is the key. The idea of a skene wall or a shell is what would amplify it in the chosen direction.
            http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070319/full/news070319-16.html

            http://www.gade-mortensen.dk/files/downloads/ACG/Opera%20halls%20and%20theatres/PAPER%203aAAb1.pdf

          • angry angry says:
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            That first article is fascinating. Makes you wonder if the Greeks knew. When recording voice in a studio, generally the engineer will use a high pass/low cut filter (EQ) to remove anything below ~120hz for those exact reasons — low rumble that just muddies the mix. 500hz seems extreme and would make the voice very thin.

            The problem I have with that article is that we know bass waves travel further than treble, so that part doesn’t make sense. If they’re cutting below 500hz, you’re in the mid range, and that means there is little bass to travel. Maybe the steps act as a reverb for the mid and high range. We know steepness does that (mountains, churches, etc). So it could be reverberation. The wind would definitely help on those days, too.

          • Jack says:
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            I misread. Low ranges don’t reverb and can bend around impediments. So they can travel farther as well. But they aren’t accumulated as a diminished mid/high range plus several other diminished mid/high range reverbs would be. So you only hear one unified low sound from any given source. But you can hear an accumulation of sounds from that source all at once in the mid/high range which could overpower the low.

            The second gives you measured readings which tell you how effective they all are. A stadium set up with a building structure behind the audience would reverb. So Reser has the capacity to be louder than Autzen because it has a roof on either side, is steeper and one sidewall is a reverb surface. I’ve been amazed at how loud it has actually been here and there. It certainly doesn’t sustain that din like Autzen does. But it gets really loud in bursts.

            And we’re not even talking how loud it gets compared to Gill. I have never heard anything as loud as that place stuffed to the rafters and bouncing.

            Ahhh… one day soon.

          • angry angry says:
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            Yes, low range can bend and go through things (car stereo/neighbor wall examples given several times). It’s also prone to standing waves, especially in corners. I wouldn’t consider this a problem in an outdoor stadium more a studio problem.

            Reser has good potential because the stands are fairly steep and there are the reverberative structures/overhangs on each side. The problem is the end zones — a lot of sound is escaping through them, I’d bet.

            Here’s a great example: when I do home recordings, if my window is slightly cracked, my mic picks up a TON of noise from outside, and whatever I am recording sounds weak because the audio is going right out the window. I even have to put towels around the cracks in my door to keep my sound inside and prevent outside sound from getting in. A stadium is no different. Sound will go right out of the endzones unless something is there to deflect it back in before it decays.

    • Jack says:
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      It’s as reliable as a hand time on a coach’s wrist/stopwatch after a practice.
      http://www.nbcnews.com/health/why-being-worlds-loudest-stadium-bad-idea-8C11152514

  • Beav in TX says:
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    I grew up in Columbus and it may have just been the drunken hatred talking, but all my Buckeye fan friends swore the Big House wasn’t that loud, despite being…ya know, big.

    Another example of sound being amplified in small spaces is BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. It only seats something like 22k, but it’s incredibly loud during soccer games because the sides are wrapped with tall steel walls that extend well above the top row of seats, as well as roofs that hang over the sideline stands. It’s way louder than other stadiums of comparable size that I’ve been in.

  • OrangeFlush OrangeFlush says:
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    I don’t know if its been posted, my apologies if so, but I really liked this blog post from Steven Jackson. There are a few very subtle digs on the old regime in there, but to me the most important thing I got from it is the bit about changing the attitude of the program by no longer accepting the role as an underdog, but going in with the mentality that the Beavs are going to come to play, and expect to win.

    Sort of, no more Mr Neat Deal, we’re a pac12 team and were going to act like it.

  • OrangeFlush OrangeFlush says:
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    shit, forgot to post the damn link.

    http://www.sj39.com/news/beaver-pride/2015/09/09

    • beaverkman beaverkman says:
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      was just posting that thanks, really good read. I like how GA does things, reaching out to the past and emphasis a winning personality and let go of the “underdog” theme. Also, mentions the disconnect from the past staff.

  • OSU D says:
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    AT&T wants equity in Pac-12 Networks in return for DirecTV carriage. Pac-12 may have to overhaul business model some. Sure hope they don’t give away more than 15% otherwise we would have been much smarter partnering with ESPN or Fox for a percentage from the beginning. They will get the distribution and get $2 million a year per school from DTV but then have to return some profits so net they don’t increase the take home for the conference by as much as hoped probably. Deal still expected in next 1-3 weeks. If it happens this year it will likely be by the start of the conference season.

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports/2015/09/09/pac-12-networks-update-on-negotiations-with-directv-and-att/

  • scotty says:
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    Anyone see the Mike Riley Signature Tee from Adidas?

    http://www.nebraskaredzone.com/products/mens-riledup-nebraska-football-tee-red-ss

    “#RILEDUP NEBRASKA FOOTBALL 2015”

    Yep, I think they will continue to be “Riled Up” for the foreseeable future… Who says Adidas doesn’t make good sports gear? It’s perfect! Bonus: Mike Riley replica signature on upper back, so you can have him breathing jiminy christmases down your neck anytime you like!

    (wtf it says that was a duplicate post for me but it’s not showing up above, someone fix this gosh darn tech by golly)

    • Beavblazer Beavblazer says:
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      Thanks Scotty, I know what I’m getting my dad for xmas now. He’s a Husker fan but not a Riley fan. He’ll love it

  • Beavblazer Beavblazer says:
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    FWIW, I really like the new local offer the Beavs made tonight to Kaelin Himphill. He was hitting Beavrecruiting up back in June ,hoping to get attention of the coaches. Hard hitting linebacker who is just starting to get noticed. Think he has an EWU, PSU and Army offer so far.

    http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3735404/highlights/205199378/v2

    • 2 says:
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      I was going to say the same thing about this offer to the local kid. I can’t believe he isn’t a pretty big time recruit(in terms of offers). Looks like a beast to me, one of the more impressive linebackers I’ve seen on film in a while.

    • Beavblazer Beavblazer says:
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      I should have linked his game 1 film from last week. It’s better than most guys full year highlights. This kid is a beast.

      http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3735404/highlights/285949481/v2

    • beavers4life says:
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      I like the fact that he dips his hips, flings the arms back and then wraps up if his hard initial hit doesn’t knock the ball carrier down. Strong athlete already.

  • Jack says:
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    Conforto with the bad D in left tonight… /sarc.

  • beavergopher beavergopher says:
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    The Big House is not that loud. Been there the last two years. It is louder than it used to be since they did the renovation a few years back and added the matching luxury boxes on both side lines.
    They actually tilt inwards slightly towards the top. It is one of the least intimidating places to play in the B1G from a sound aspect. Great sight lines, seats are small ass friendly, and when you walk in it does not appear that big until you start counting the rows and it starts filling up. No artificial notice with blaring music…….heaven! No outside advertising. It is all about selling the U of Michigan. The intimidation comes from the history and shear size/ # of people you are looking up at.

  • Calibeav03 says:
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    anyone else making the trip out? Flying out this morning apparently the blitz tailgate is up to over 400 people so seems like we are traveling well.

    • 2008Beav says:
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      Flying out tomorrow morning. Excited to see what the energy is going to feel like in the stadium, even if it isn’t ‘that loud’.

    • Noghri says:
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      I’m flying out Friday. We have no tailgating plans. Anyone got one a couple of strangers can come to?

  • BeavBuff47 says:
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    I’ll be at the game! Been living in Ann Arbor for a few years and make its to a couple game every year. Got a group of other Beavs fans coming in for the game. Been looking forward to it for a couple years now!

    I can attest that it is not that loud, for all the reasons mentioned above. A couple other observations: there is a reason the place sites ~110k people…they PACK everyone in there. Seats are narrow, little leg room and you’re basically sitting on top of those in front and beside you. Not the most comfortable seating environment and since I’m not a huge UM fan, I only catch 1-2 games a year. Tailgating is excellent, with the best spots being on the golf courses adjacent to the stadium.

    Ann Arbor is a fun spot and the stadium is iconic, despite being packed like sardines. Hope to see at least a little bit of Orange/Black at the game and tailgating!

    • 2008Beav says:
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      Any good microbreweries downtown? I got three nights there and would like to sample the local brew and catch that other football game that’s happening in the state.

      • BeavBuff47 says:
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        Solid beer in Michigan…I was actually pleasantly surpised when I moved here. Compared to where I previously lived (Oregon & Colorado), Michigan breweries hold their own. As far as local breweries – Arbor Brewing Co, Grizzly Peak, and Jolly Pumpkin are local breweries right downtown. Beers are decent, not amazing, but there should be good atmosphere at all. Beer Grotto has good selection of 40 drafts (no food, can bring in outside stuff). Bill’s Beer garden is a local favorite outdoor bar, gets crowded, but is pretty fun (can also bring in outside food, and there are food trucks you can go to once inside). Also if you want a place to avoid large crowds, Old German is a nice and often overlooked bar underneath Grizzly Peak (separate entrance on the side of the building).

        Best brewery in town, in my opinion, is Wolverine State Brewing company. It is not downtown, but is a short 3 mile drive from downtown. Interestingly they serve only Lagers…but there are some tasty options (i.e. their Gulo Gulo, which is an IPL…great hops). It is off Stadium Blvd, a little bit off-set from the road, behind a building or two. Cheap beers on Sundays.

        Other good bar near campus is Ashleys, with a great beer selection and solid bar food. Hopcat is new, with >100 drafts. Often very crowded.

        • bendbeaver bendbeaver says:
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          What’s the deal with the grocery stores there? There’s only beer from about 3 different breweries available. (at least in Norther MI)

          • Jack says:
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            You’re talking to the wrong hand.

          • beavbuff47 says:
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            Should be a good selection from any regular grocery store in Ann Arbor. Selection goes up if you go to places like Whole Foods. They have great selection from the region, and then the more popular microbrews from around the nation.

        • 2008Beav says:
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          Thanks for the inside info BeavBuff! A guy I met through work has a son that lives in the area and he listed Hopcat, Arbor Brewing, and Wolverine as well! I’m pretty psyched to make the trip!

    • Noghri says:
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      Are you tailgating? I’m coming out from Salem and I’m looking for someone to join.

      • beavbuff47 says:
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        definitely tailgating…probably on one of the golf courses…not sure which one (there are 2 golf courses with tailgating, where they have you park on the fairways. They’re right next to each other, across from the stadium).

  • Jim says:
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    Neat info. Though I was really hoping you were going to stir the pot with a conclusion that the Big House is not loud because Michigan fans are a bunch of girly men high-talkers.

  • angry angry says:
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    What do the Beavs plan to do on Friday? They fly in today, then what? Anyone heard?

    • beavers4life says:
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      Tomorrow is walk through and get used to the stadium via walk through and set up of their equipment as well. other than that, not really sure what they’re doing.

      • angry angry says:
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        I wonder how this affects practice time compared to Michigan’s.

        MI already has the 1 day advantage having played last Thursday.

    • Jack says:
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      Hopefully wake up early, do a walk through and go to bed early.

      That 9am start sucks. All things being equal, I’d give us a fighting chance. A 9am start historically means bad things for West Coast teams.

      • angry angry says:
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        Yeah I think that 9am start is worse than the older opponent, noise, travel, etc.

        • locationoregon says:
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          Fwiw, Andersen stated unequivocally the other day that the 9am start time won’t be a problem since the team routinely begins practice at 10am.

          • angry angry says:
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            Coach speak.

          • Jack says:
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            You gotta know this game is why he was doing it. Hopefully it helps. Maybe the 5pm start last week hindered us, and that’s why we looked flat for the first half… sort of like East Coast teams who play late games out in Hawai’i.

  • Hellobeavers says:
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    Visited the OSU campus yesterday morning. Hadn’t been for years – they’ve made some great upgrades. Saw the end of the Beavs practice, which was about 10am. They were practicing a few trick plays out of the same formation. First time I’ve ever seen practice – hopefully its successful in the game.

    • orangejulius orangejulius says:
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      If they lose, you will be the official scapegoat of Angry Beavs.

      • Hellobeavers says:
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        Well that’s why I didn’t post the details of the play. Not sure Harbaugh knows how to use the internets, but just in case I didn’t want to risk it.

        • orangejulius orangejulius says:
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          No I just meant from the superstitious sense… conversely, I suppose, if they win you will be required to visit campus, view practice through the fence and retrace your steps exactly to ensure future victories.

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