Ready for the noise
Gators expected typical frenetic atmosphere in first-ever trip to Texas A&M
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida will be making its first trip to Texas A&M's Kyle Field on Saturday, but coach Will Muschamp won't.
He was there once before, in 2009 as Texas' defensive coordinator.
"I'm not playing," Muschamp said. "Thank goodness."
That doesn't mean Muschamp hasn't warned his players about what to expect. He knows the atmosphere is going to be electric, but he's preparing them by saying it's no different than playing at LSU or Auburn.
"We talk to our players about it," Muschamp said. "Certainly, it's an SEC-like atmosphere. It's going to be very similar to a lot of stadiums we walk into."
It's Texas A&M's season opener and first game as a member of the Southeastern Conference. There are no tickets available -- even in past years there have been tickets available even when the game was termed a sellout -- and students have been camping out since last Saturday for a chance to get their tickets.
ESPN's College GameDay will be in College Station for only the third time and first since 2006, and the school has issued the most media credentials since the 1999 game against Texas -- which came just days after the tragic bonfire collapse that killed 12 people.
That's an atmosphere comparable to LSU playing for the national title ... in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans ... filled only with Tigers fans who just spent eight hours on Bourbon Street ... on New Year's Eve.
"We've heard it is going to be loud there," UF linebacker Jon Bostic said seriously and with a straight face. "We know. We've played in a lot of stadiums. We played in LSU. We played in Alabama. We played in Tennessee. We play here at home how many weeks of the season. We know it's going to be loud either way."
Muschamp inadvertently added even more juice to the situation in the spring when he dropped a one-liner about College Station during a visit to the Polk County (Fla.) Gator Club.
"You ever been to College Station?" he asked the crowd. "It'll be the only time you go."
That stirred up Aggies fans and even got to new coach Kevin Sumlin, who responded to Muschamp's comment with this: "He needs to worry about his own team."
It also prompted College Station mayor Nancy Berry to put together a 90-second video in which Muschamp was edited into photos of various places around the city. In the video, which was posted on the city's website, Berry good-naturedly offered to send Muschamp a care package from the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau that included a bottle of wine from the local Messina Hof Winery.
Muschamp said she followed through, and he also said he and his wife loved the gift basket and the video. He might get to see it again Saturday on the stadium's scoreboard.
While Muschamp's lone visit to Kyle Field certainly can't prepare him for the special atmosphere surrounding Saturday's game, he's not worried about how he or his veteran players will handle it. He is, however, concerned about the fact that it's the first road trip for 10 freshmen who likely will see action.
"We've got some guys that are traveling for the first time and are playing in that atmosphere for the first time," he said. "I think our older guys can help with that as much as myself."
It shouldn't be that much different from a normal road game in the SEC, said Texas coach Mack Brown, who is 5-2 at Kyle Field with the Longhorns.
"They have a loyal fan base and it's really loud," Brown said. "We ended up doing pretty well over there so it depends on who you're playing.
"The SEC plays in loud stadiums so I don't think that'll be a factor to the Florida kids."
Some of them, like junior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, are eager to get there.
"We've seen videos. We've seen film," Easley said. "We heard about that. We've got to go to experience it ourselves to really know what's going on."