Michigan football showed out in Week 2 with perhaps the most electric environment to ever grace The Big House — save for maybe the 2011 Notre Dame game — when it successfully hosted a ‘maize out’ against Washington. But sometimes those home environments are few and far between.
And a former Michigan coach is saying that his new spot has a lot more going for it in terms of crowd noise.
Brian Jean-Mary departed the Wolverines program unceremoniously before spring ball when he was offered by new Tennessee coach Josh Heupel. Asked about the difference in crowd noise, while Jean-Mary does praise the Michigan Stadium crowd, but notes that Neyland Stadium has a much more daunting environment.
The Tennessee football linebackers coach was not prepared to be asked how he would compare Neyland Stadium to Michigan Stadium.
Jean-Mary, who coached at Michigan in 2020, said the biggest difference is the fans at Tennessee.
“I think the University of Michigan crowd — which is a good crowd, I am not going to say it is a bad crowd — it is more of a tennis crowd,” Jean-Mary said. “We have more of a gladiator stadium crowd at the University of Tennessee.”
Jean-Mary, 45, was hired at Tennessee in February. He linebackers at Michigan for one season. His previous coaching stops include Georgia Tech, Louisville, Texas and South Florida. He gained defensive coordinator experience at USF.
Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in college football. It has a capacity of 107,601. Neyland Stadium is the fifth-largest stadium, holding 102,455 fans.
“The University of Michigan, it is more of a bowl that sits a little lower,” Jean-Mary said. “Our stadium, it rises and it almost feels like it is on top of you, which obviously makes it a lot louder. It makes you feel like you are in a coliseum like in the movie ‘Gladiator.’”
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Really interesting caveat here: Jean-Mary has never coached a game with fans in The Big House. Hired in the offseason in 2020, he oversaw the linebacking corps in a year when fans were not allowed to attend games.
While we do agree that, at times, Michigan Stadium is a bit tepid compared to other stadiums, Jean-Mary speaking as an authority on the matter seems incomplete, at best.