It’s like reverse “Stage One” thinking

I know that we are going to give this guy more traffic than he ever imagined, but we just wanted to call your attention this entry from The ACC & SEC Blog because for some reason it really stuck me the wrong way.

The goal of the entry was supposed to “rank the toughest stadiums in the ACC using overall home records over the last eight seasons” in an attempt to find the stadiums that are “tough to win in”. I don’t think it takes a brain surgeon to recognize that there are many of layers to judging the ‘toughness’ of a stadium than simply looking at recent records.

Just because we haven’t had the right mix of talent over the last four years – coupled with the wrong mix of coaching for the last few years of the Amato era – doesn’t make the physical stadium and the gameday atmosphere of Carter-Finley innately easier in which to play. For example, ESPN The Magazine ranked the student section in Carter-Finley the 4th most spirited in the country.

In the 2003 book, Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One, economist and professor Thomas Sowell describes “how basic economics is generally misapplied because politicians think only in Stage One. Stage One is the immediate result of an action, without determining what happens then.”

With that said, ACC/SECBlog’s exercise representes the inability to consider the original actions that create a conclusion. I mean, why not just call the entry what it is – ranking the home performance of ACC teams – as opposed to pretending to make it more than it is. You can pretty much see our thoughts about the positioning of this entry in the comments section below where we said:

LOL! You may want to change the title of your entry.

You are in no way ranking the stadiums that are “toughest to win”. You are simply ranking the recent home performance/records of the ACC teams. There is a huge difference.

Why would a significantly talented team who comprises a strong home record have a “tougher environment” than a much less talented team who may comprise a worse record but a record that is disproportionately better than their talent level?

I don’t think that there are many functioning humans who would tell you that Byrd Stadium in Maryland or Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill are “tougher” places to win than Doak Campbell, Death Valley or even Carter-Finley.

For more on this topic, you should definitely use this entry as a launching point for more of our thoughts and past discussions. Ultimately, I thought that Heather Dinich’s REVISED rankings last year – based largely on the fans’ opinions – was one of the more accurate rankings I have seen.

But, in the end, I don’t know if any rankings have been better than those of Dave from Dave Sez originally published three years ago. (Link to rankings)

1. FSU (Doak Campbell)
2. Clemson (Memorial)
3. VT (Lane)
4. NC State (Carter-Finley)
5. UVA (Scott)
6. Miami (Orange Bowl)
7. Georgia Tech (Bobby Dodd)
8. UNC (Kenan)
9. BC (Alumni)
10. Maryland (Byrd)
11. Wake Forest (Groves)
12. Duke (Wallace Wade)

Check out our new poll on to vote for your thoughts on the toughest football stadiums in the ACC.

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14 Responses to It’s like reverse “Stage One” thinking

  1. Alpha Wolf 07/20/2009 at 1:38 PM #

    I honestly believe that CFS is one of the toughest places to play, especially at night — and I have been to a fair number of SEC and Big Ten stadiums.

  2. Sam92 07/20/2009 at 2:39 PM #

    excellent criticism

    a much better criterion would have been to gauge how many home teams have beaten higher ranked opponents

  3. daughtry 07/20/2009 at 3:25 PM #

    Is recent performance a good proxy for “tough to win in”? Yes it is. Had the author claimed “toughest place to play” or “loudest” or “most raucous” or “hardest to keep a level head in” or any number of other claims, then it wouldn’t be as good a proxy.

    But, for “tough to win in” it is a good proxy. It is not “Stage One” thinking. In fact, I applaud the author for having stated the ranking in those terms as opposed to one of the many objectionable alternatives. More sophisticated metrics around home wins may improve the basic idea, but for “toughest place to win” it works.

    What is more interesting is that NC State is the best of the four NC schools. Unfortunately, all four are at the bottom of the conference.

  4. howlie 07/20/2009 at 5:49 PM #

    I’m biased and limited in my knowledge of VT, as the ONLY game I’ve been to is the FIRST time we played them there after they joined the ACC, and Manny was in their backfield every other play to sack their QB.
    Their offensive totals were posted on the scoreboard, and we watched it go from plus yardage to MINUS total yards by halftime.
    Of course, it could have been because we were dominating them with out D, but I thought (SITTING ON THE 40 yard line, opposite the press box] the noise level in their stadium was on HALF that in Carter-Finley during a ‘regular’ game at our place.

    Even when they were coming back at the end of the game, and we won in a squeaker, the noise level there was NOTHING like at Carter-F on a ‘good’ night against a significant opponent.

    Or to put it in a more ‘comparative’ manner, there have been times at C-F when the noise was so great that I could not even communicated with the person beside me–so deafening…
    but I NEVER had any trouble with the person beside me at VT hearing what I was trying to say to them, or vice versa, at any point in the game. None whatsoever.

  5. Sw0rdf1sh 07/20/2009 at 8:06 PM #

    You guys are obviously just great at hiding your fear of the majestic pines.

  6. StateFans 07/21/2009 at 9:02 AM #

    ^ LOL! I’ve been to all three…and, for my money…there are few things that compare to Death Valley. I’ve sat in the middle of the downstairs for just a ‘normal’ game and that place is LOUD!! (and fun)

    It is interesting to see how close the vote is in our poll. Speaks to how close these three schools are.

    NC State needs to up tier our band and the execution on some of our game day stuff and we could easily step into the ‘top tier’.

  7. SMD 07/21/2009 at 11:25 AM #

    ^That comment is dead on, Statefans!

    I admittedly care about the pageantry of college football a little more than I should, but our gameday production leaves much to be desired.

    The first problem, is that we don’t have any long-standing traditions liek rubbing the rock, or throwing a flaming spear – anything we do is loooooong after most schools have already done it – like the white out for SC this year.

    I would love to see some combo of students, alumni and athletic staff come up with a couple of pre-game traditions – that we start and the stick to. Of course, they aren’t going to be “traditions” for some time, but you have to start somewhere.

    My suggestions would be –

    Bring back the old drum on wheels with the marching band

    Bring back the El Lobo helmet golf cart

    Do something with a large state of NC flag and claim our place as the largest school in the state

    Bring back some manner of live animals – when i was a kid they had these dogs that were pretty wolf-looking at the games. My specific idea has always been to build a little wolf habitat like you’d see at the zoo, and then borrow wolves from the NC Zoo a whopping 7 saturdays a year. You can use it as a pr stunt to draw attention to the plight of the wolf – AND – it would make a great camera shot coming back out of commercial.

    I also think the gameday production is a tad too commercial. I know we need the revenue – but there’s a cost to the gameday environment. Whatever we do on the jumbotron – should be consistent across the years and coaches.

    That’s the main thing, is consistency in whatever we do.

  8. johnwolfpack2003 07/21/2009 at 12:54 PM #

    There’s a white-out planned for the uSC game??? I’ve been grumbling that we should do something like this when Maryland comes to town, but wasn’t sure how practical it was. I think that they would have to pass out t-shirts at the gate to get everyone on board.

  9. gopack4eva 07/21/2009 at 1:03 PM #

    woah woah woah. so there is a white out for the USC game?

  10. PackerInRussia 07/21/2009 at 4:49 PM #

    I went to the VT game in CFS about four (?) years ago when it was the season-opening game. One of the guys I went with was a VT fan who had gone to games in Blacksburg when he went there. On the way there he talked about how great their stadium is and how loud it is. When he saw Carter-Finley from a distance, he laughed and said, “That’s your stadium?” Towards the end of the night, he told the other guy with us(he never told me) who was more of a neutral fan, but had inclinations toward liking State (from Georgia and a Bulldog fan at heart) that he didn’t expect any of what he saw–from the close game to the game atmosphere. And that was before it was closed in.

  11. tjfoose1 07/21/2009 at 8:22 PM #

    Regarding the ACC and SEC blog – they are standing by their flawed logic.

    I followed up with the below stats, but apparantly, yes, we should all just laugh at them.

    For those same 8 years (2000-2008), Alabama is 38-20 (.665) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That is counting their vacated wins as wins.

    Utah, at 40-13 (.750) is therefore a tougher place to play than Tuscaloosa? And that is including a 1-5 home record in 2001.

    Bobby Dodd Stadium is tougher? Virginia’s Scott Stadium is tougher? Maryland’s Byrd Stadium is tougher? Boston College’s Alumni Stadium is tougher? Seriously? Dude, c’mon.. seriously?

    Stand by your argument and anyone who knows anything about college football will be laughing at you… Admit it, you logic is flawed.

  12. packalum44 07/21/2009 at 10:00 PM #

    Statefans…you’ve been reading Thomas Sowell?! He’s a great economists and an even better pragmatist! I feel like I’ve mentioned this before but another great book by him is “Economic Facts and Fallacies”. Great and easy read, even for those who don’t have an economic background.

    Back to topic, the guy who ranked the ACC is both an idiot and has obviously never been to all the stadiums. Neither have I but I have been to BC and Maryland and both are laughable in terms of toughest places to play. BC has a great campus though. On the other hand, College Park is the armpit of the DC metropolitan area.

  13. waxhaw 07/22/2009 at 9:21 AM #

    If they really want a white out, they need a sponsor to hand out 20,000 white t shirts prior to the game. Most of our alumni will never hear about this and half the ones who do will forget.

    I’ve been to over half of the ACC stadiums (including VT, Clemson, FSU and VA). I think Clemson and VT’s gameday atmospheres are way better than FSU. I’d put those two at the top and FSU/NC State just below. I’m not sure why VA would be ranked 5th but they aren’t close to the top 4.

    I agree on the thoughts about Carter Finley. We need to do a couple of things to take the next step.

    1) Win more games and get back in the top 25.
    2) Figure out something to get people into the stadium earlier. Giveaways? pre game tradition? more entrances?
    3) Continue to increase the size of our band and let them play instead of the jumbotron commercials at least half the time.

    I also think another 10,000 people filled in the upper corners around the jumbotron would be great at some point in the future.

  14. 61Packer 07/22/2009 at 11:37 PM #

    I don’t think Carter-Finley is as low as the article states. However, the venues at Va Tech, Miami, FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech have been much tougher on visitors than C-F. These five are the ACC teams who have done a lot more than we have lately in one category- WINNING at home.

    I think our fans are the best in the league, and I’m sky-high on TOB and the future of our football program, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so to speak. Since Dick Sheridan left for O’Cain and Amato, we have NOT been an ACC top-tier team on our home turf.

    And a comment on your #3 suggestion above concerning our stadium. As a long-time season ticket holder, my fondest wish for all Wolfpack home games would be to have in my hand a mute button that would silence the GD Jumbothron sound system, permanently (except for the stadium announcer’s lineup and down calls).

    I love tailgating and I love the football games at C-F, but I’ve all but had it with the GD Jumbothron’s pre-game and halftime NOISE that’s blasted at us from this “fuh-cility” upgrade, especially those of us on the west side north end, near the GD Jumbothron. This is the main reason that I remain in the parking lot as long as possible before home games. This is a football game, not a rock concert.

    Another thing I’d like to see gone from C-F is the singing of Hey Baby during the games. How about singing the school fight song instead, like they do in Ann Arbor?

    In Michigan Stadium, where they NEVER play this crap (or anything else for that matter over a loudspeaker system save the stadium announcer’s lineups and game calls) but instead have their band on the field before the game, it is SO much better, and I can’t wait to get into their stadium, even hours before kickoff. Having a band on the field well before kickoff, playing fight songs, sets a real football atmosphere, not an endless barrage of high-decibel crap like I have to endure here. Hell, I have a hard time even talking to the fans around me once I get into the stands because of the GD Jumbothron.

    And one more thing on the GD Jumbothron- tell whoever it is that controls what’s shown there, to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE not show Fouler’s mug on it again.

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