Carter-Finley 11th Toughest Stadium In The ACC (Updated 1:45pm)

It’s almost the official middle of summertime – about six weeks past Memorial Day and about six weeks until the start of the college football season - so it is obviously a slow time where college sports are concerned.  Fall practices are still several weeks out, and it’s really too soon for the major media outlets to start covering upcoming games.  Still, it’s a 24×7 news cycle and the media needs to drive traffic in order to get paid for their ads. Lacking news, they quite often they come up with meaningless lists like’s “Toughest Places To Play In The ACC.”

11. NC State, Carter-Finley Stadium (57,500) — The farily new facilities here are impressive, but it lacks tradition.

That’s absolutely crazy – behind Boston College’s Alumni Stadium, Wake Forest’s Grove Stadium and, ahem, UNC’s Kenan Stadium – which they sold out in season tickets for the first time in ten years?  Really, now.  Author Heather Dinich, who claims to have been to all of the stadiums in her list had this to say about our rivals over in Chapel Hill:

4. UNC, Kenan Stadium (60,000) — This place is just the right size, and the picturesque pine trees make this one of the nicest venues in the league. Butch Davis has an amazing view of all of it from his office.

I will be the first to say that what I am no expert on football strategy, but if there is one thing I know it is that I have never seen a pine tree sack a quarterback or gain the tough three yards that a team needs to keep a drive alive.  Call me crazy, but trees don’t make stadiums tough to play in, and neither do nice views of the football field from the coach’s office.  Fans make stadiums loud, and loud stadiums make it harder on visitors.  With all due repect to UNC, there’s is no more the fourth most difficult place to play in the ACC than NC State is the eleventh.

A similar conclusion can be drawn from the importance of the columns and architecture on the supposed “Gameday atmosphere and “toughest places to play” at Virginia:

The columns on the hill and the architecture make this one of my favorite fall road trips”

SFN Update 10:45am
We HAVE to turn your attention to this entry written in July of 2006 (dead time of year) about the same topic.

In addition to SFN’s rankings, the entry highlights similar lists by “Dave Sez” (a Virginia blogger and one of the best bloggers in ACC history) and Matt Hayes of The Sporting News. Some of the arguments against Hayes’ list hold even more water against this embarassing list by’s Heather Dinich.

Similarly, the comments section of ESPN’s blog also provides some interesting perspectives when you see that many non-NC State fans (like Clemson, VPI and others) are criticizing Ms. Dinich’s treatment of NC State. A couple of my favorites are below:

Sounds like Heather and Butch Davis enjoyed more than just a view from his office

Wow. It appears you ranked on prettiness alone. If you’re really talking about “toughest” stadiums, FSU and CLEM should be above VT. NC State should be about 4ish. Just ask App State’s coach who said after being asked if Michigan was the loudest place they’ve played: “No, Carter Finley was much louder”. UNC is definitely not a tough place to play. Half of their fans don’t even know what a football is, and it’s usually less than half full in the 4th quarter. Heck they even postponed their spring game until a Monday due to the minute possibility of rain. The only one espn got right was Duke!

I’m a huge unc fan, and I have to admit that this list is pretty silly after #3. love ’em or hate ’em the wuffies’ stadium is a tough place to play…much more so than uva, wf, bc or even my beloved heels. Ms. Dinich has lost all credibility with this list. It’s pretty embarrassing

To have UNC, BC, Wake Forest, and freaking Miami, who by the way hasn’t even played a game yet in their new stadium, ahead of NC State on the list is a joke. After seeing how horrible this list is I am doubting you have ever been to a game at any of these stadiums. Hell, I’m not even sure you’ve seen most of them on television. This was the worst sports article I have ever read, and you should quit your job if you are going to continue to write crap like this. It’s probably best you stick to cooking and cleaning Heather, and while you’re at it, go make me a sandwich!

I am a Clemson fan, so I am a little bias about Death Valley but I would have Death Valley, Lane Stadium, Doak Stadium and then Carter- Finley number four. There is no way Kenan Stadium is that high!

Once I read this entry I went through all of Dinich’s entries and was very disappointed in the how much she seems to know; or not know. But, when I ran across the following video some of Ms. Dinich’s qualifications became clear. Like..’you know’…’seriously’.


Update 1:45pm
The N&O’s ACCNow has logged a fantastic entry on this topic – “Defining Tough” – that can be seen by clicking here. (IF only NC State could have played Duke in Carter-Finley twice over the last four years). We obviously consider ACCNow’s list to be highly credible since it is so similar to SFN’s and Dave Sez’s lists.

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26 Responses to Carter-Finley 11th Toughest Stadium In The ACC (Updated 1:45pm)

  1. statered 07/14/2008 at 9:04 AM #

    This lady is assinine.

  2. burnbarn 07/14/2008 at 9:05 AM #

    they talked about this on 850 this morning and agreed it was off base a bit.

  3. spanky 07/14/2008 at 9:07 AM #

    I saw this earlier in the week and shared it with everyone at the apartment in a fit of laughter. My buddy actually made nearly the same comment, “I’ve never seen a pine tree sack a QB!” I informed him that he just hadn’t seen a game at Kenan and that’s why.

    I’ve seen video’s of this Heather Dinich giving reports and she speaks and even giggles like a stereotypical high school valley girl.

    By no means am I trying to be a chauvinist, but this is one of the MAIN reasons I don’t like women sportscasters. (Excluding Erin Andrews… ahem)

  4. Dr. BadgerPack 07/14/2008 at 9:07 AM #

    If Carter-Finley is #11, why in the hell does ESPN continue to show prime-time games there, season after season… Dinich’s bosses should send her to Raleigh dressed in baby blue…

  5. SMD 07/14/2008 at 9:25 AM #

    ^GREAT point Doc.

    I’ve got no problem with fluff articles during the downtime but geez, do some research people. Is this writer an intern?? Seriously. I would never put C-F in the league as Lane, the Doak, or even Death Valley – but damn, we sure as hell rank above WF and BC.

    The other problem is – reading through each description, the criteria seemed to change. Let’s see how our crackerjack PR department responds here…. 🙁

  6. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/14/2008 at 9:45 AM #

    Heather should stick with covering softball since she clearly has absolutely no grasp of football. The 40 year old Carter Stadium has no history but ranks behind Miami’s Dolphin Stadium which is steeped in rich Hurricane history.

  7. Sw0rdf1sh 07/14/2008 at 10:02 AM #

    I have enjoyed her blog thus far, but this was really a poor opinionated piece. She is getting railed for it on her blog.

    You could look back to the past 5 years alone and get quotes from some of the coaches who have been in the biggest of stadiums and in Raleigh. B. Bowden, Jerry Moore, TOB himself are just a few who have commented on the atmosphere at CF on a big game day.

    Doesn’t she know NC State has been giving them the business since 1892?

  8. IMFletcherWolf 07/14/2008 at 10:05 AM #

    This reminds me of the ranking a while back that listed Kenan as one of the best college football stadiums for tailgating. Even UNC-CH fans were perplexed at their high ranking.

    The title of the article is “Toughest” stadiums, but it seems like it should be re-titled “Stadiums I Like in the ACC.”

    Kenan is “picturesque” and Scott is “gorgeous.” How does this make the Stadium tough?

  9. RTPMedic 07/14/2008 at 10:33 AM #

    It’s obvious why she picked them the way she did.

    Heather appears to be the ‘wine spritzer’ type and would therefore lean towards the crayon-users to our west. If she had been a girl you could drink a beer with and she looked good driving a truck (you know, a good up-bringing) she certainly would have been able to clearly see CF as the tough stadium that it is.

  10. Dr. BadgerPack 07/14/2008 at 10:34 AM #

    Having looked at that video there’s really no point in bashing her rankings. It’s admonishing a 3 year old for staring at my crutches; they both just don’t know any better.

    I will berate ESPN for hiring her however. The pretty face crap really annoys me as it keeps otherwise qualified people from the job. I’ve had two ESPN commentators tell me I know more about sports than most everyone they work with. Problem is, I don’t have “the look” (which they said), so don’t bother trying…

    Even more disturbing is the fact that this is an election year and, like, her vote totally counts the same as mine! 🙂

  11. BJD95 07/14/2008 at 10:39 AM #

    Even if you were rating based on stadiums being “pretty” and such, how could you ignore that Kenan has AWFUL sightlines? You know, for actually watching, like, the GAME?

    I agree with the general consensus that State should be 4th, after Clemson, VT, and FSU. It’s a pretty significant dropoff to #5, too. I guess I’d have to give that to MD for the riot potential.

    UVA is easily the strangest place to watch a football game. Those people are out of their f-ing minds.

  12. beowolf 07/14/2008 at 10:54 AM #

    Well, I watched some of that video, and I have to say that based on her criteria, Heather looks like a much tougher football player than fellow ESPN’ers like Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit.

  13. choppack1 07/14/2008 at 11:01 AM #

    I would actually put Lane Stadium in front of both Death Valley and Doak. For a noon kick off, that place was very loud. Clemson’s fans and enthusiam has been taken down a notch since Danny Ford left – don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best college overall college football experience in the ACC, but the last few years when we’ve played them, you see the “dreaded” 4 corners…(Pockets where no one is in the stadium.)

    *This probably won’t be the case this year when we play them since A) it will be early in the year and B) Clemson is supposed to be pretty good. However, if they lose their early showdown vs. UGa, it will be interesting to see how enthusiastic they are for a noon kick off game.

    As for us, we’ve come a long way. If all this bimbo notices is the expansion, she must have come to a noon game against a snoozer. I thought that last year the atmosphere was good against UCF initially and was great against the Heels and UVa. The nooners against the Ville and Clemson left something to be desired – as did the nooner vs UMd. (Have we confirmed when she actually went to these stadiums?)

  14. Trip 07/14/2008 at 11:08 AM #

    “I guess I’d have to give that to MD for the riot potential.”

    I think I just scared my neighbors because of how hard that made me laugh.. hahahaha.

    #11? Wow. She couldn’t be more wrong. FSU/VT/Clemson have to be top 3, then NC State I’d say.

  15. Trip 07/14/2008 at 11:20 AM #

    “picturesque pine trees make this one of the nicest venues in the league”

    Because when I think badass, I think picturesque pine trees.

  16. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/14/2008 at 11:24 AM #

    Back in the day people used to stomp on the bleachers at Carter. When you got 55,000 people and the Wolf’s Den people stomping on those aluminum bleachers it was deafening. I don’t know when that ritual ended but that was the most intimidating sound echoing through the old pond.

  17. Dr. BadgerPack 07/14/2008 at 11:44 AM #

    …after the unexpected 31-10 UNC victory, Heisman candidate Tim Tebow commented “I’ve never seen anything like it. I mean, how are you supposed to play football in dead silence? And that god-awful slurping noise… what is this, wine tasting? And don’t get me started on those pine trees. What-the-f#^@? Every time I took a snap, that freaking Russ the painter guy and his happy little trees popped into my head. Now how the hell are you supposed to throw a pass when you’re laughing your butt off?”

    Yeah, I’m bored…

  18. old13 07/14/2008 at 12:48 PM #

    Gee, Foulup! I guess the “fuhsilly-Ts” didn’t do it afterall!

  19. Noah 07/14/2008 at 1:32 PM #

    Pine trees.

    PINE trees.

    That’s why Carolina is the fourth toughest stadium in the league. Because they have pine trees.

    I’m sorry, I grew up in eastern North Carolina. Pine trees are, uh, part of the landscape for pretty much…everywhere. Those of us who live here are used to them.

    Honestly, I think this is headline mistake. This isn’t a list of the toughest places to play football, it’s a list of “Toughest places to park in the ACC.”

    Now, let me be perfectly clear about something. I hate UNC. I don’t have to explain how much I hate them because you hate them too. There’s no reason. I’m a red sox fan. Do I need to explain that I hate the yankees? I’m a panthers fan. Obviously, I hate the falcons. There is no reason. I just do. And you understand.

    That said, Carolina is a fine school. Let’s not get into the urination contest of HOW good it is and WHO is better and all of that. It’s a fine school. Each of the Big Four are fine schools. And UNC seems like a well-balanced campus. You can do pretty much whatever you want there — provided what you want to do isn’t, “Park your car.”

  20. wufpup76 07/14/2008 at 1:43 PM #

    pure lunacy …

    ohh, wait – it’s ESPN

    please just stick to showing games – I can at least mute your announcing crews … and I can no longer tolerate the cheese-fest “listen to me make witty banter” sportscenter

    please go die ESPN and come back as, well, a network that shows sporting events and then has a streamlined highlights show … some of your stuff is ok, but then you immediately kill it by shoving it down everyone’s throats and having everyone w/ an open mouth talk about it … guhhhhhhhhhhhhahhh … the lack of respect for your viewing audience is really something to behold … be glad you don’t have too much competition

    Journalist: “It’s ok, I don’t have to do research. I work at ESPN! That’s the World Wide Leader!”

  21. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/14/2008 at 2:06 PM #

    Maybe the reason State hasn’t been playing well at home is that the powers that be decided to remove all the pine trees, actually inside the fence, behind the old field house.

    Think we could get away with planting some pines along the goal line?

  22. choppack1 07/14/2008 at 2:43 PM #

    Someone made a good point in the comments section. I don’t know about how accurate it is, but it actually provides circumstantial evidence that C-F may be THE toughest place to play:

    over the past two seasons lets look at home wins agaisnt ranked opponents:
    3 wins: NC State, Boston College
    2 wins: Wake Forest, Miami
    1 win: Clemson, VT, GT, Maryland
    0 wins: UVA, FSU, Duke, and UNC

    I’m guessing we beat the ranked teams of BC, FSU and UVA??

    I will admit that C-F isn’t a consistently tough place to play. For early games, our fans can be somewhat passive and quiet, especially if the opponent is mediocre and/or the team is a little flat. (Unlike VaTech, I don’t think we necessarily show up for most of those early games amped up for average opponent.) However, at night and later in the afternoon – the C-F comes alive. Maybe it has to do w/ all that evil tailgating, but there’s definitely a difference.

    I’ll know that our program has arrived from a fan’s standpoint when our stadium is intimidating at noon at kickoff.

  23. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 07/14/2008 at 3:21 PM #

    “I’ll know that our program has arrived from a fan’s standpoint when our stadium is intimidating at noon at kickoff.”

    Were you at the first FSU win back in I think ’98? That was a noon game and pretty damn intimidating atmosphere. I think your point that it is more opponent driven than the time of day.

  24. highstick 07/14/2008 at 6:41 PM #

    “Dances with Sheep in the Pine Trees”! Jeez, Butch, how much did you pay for that?

    Guess we need to replace some bricks with pine trees!

  25. PackerInRussia 07/14/2008 at 9:50 PM #

    The list sounds like it was done by Molly Shannon and that other chick on Saturday Night Live when they did that NPR skit years ago. Good times. Neat.

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