Posted by ESPN.com’s Tim Griffin
I often have people ask me if I have a favorite stadium in the Big 12 or if I think one is better than the others.
Let me say that I like traveling to them all. I’m a stadium junkie and love the special nooks, crannies and special features that all seem to have.
But if I had to rank Big 12 stadiums from 1 to 12, this would be my current listing.
1. Kyle Field, Texas A&M: No stadium has more tradition — even when the team is struggling. There’s still something about heading into town and seeing the huge facility looming in the distance as you approach College Station. And no stadium in the conference is louder — particularly when the Aggies’ defense is at its former “Wrecking Crew” playing level.
2. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska: Walking into the stadium for a big game still gives me goose bumps. They did a nice job of renovating the press box into one of the very best in college football. And it still gets me when I’m down on the field after a game and see Nebraska fans providing a standing ovation for the visiting team as they leave the field. You don’t see that very often.
3. Folsom Field, Colorado: Maybe it’s because the mountainous scenery is so different here than any other Big 12 stadium. But coming to Boulder has always been an event for me. I love the walk around the stadium on a crisp autumn afternoon. It’s just a special place to watch a game.
4. Royal-Memorial Stadium, Texas: The best in bells and whistles are off the charts here, topped with the enormous “Godzillatron” scoreboard. I still miss the track that used to ring the football field and reminded me of the Texas Relays in the past. But a pleasant stadium that also qualifies as the closest thing I have to a home field. And it’s always reassuring for me to see Bevo propped up in the south end zone.
5. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma: I get the sense of history here as you can almost feel the ghosts of Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer strolling the sideline. But be aware that you need to leave early because traffic can back up on Interstate 35 if you cut things too tightly.
6. Faurot Field, Missouri: This place has grown on me over the years. I never was around for the infamous Omni Turf that was the curse of visiting coaches. Just seems like a solid facility to me — even with the long walk there from the parking lots.
7. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State: This place has really been transformed over the years and it no longer has the feel of an erector-set facility like in the past. I’ve never played there or watched games from anyplace but the press box, so the weird layout with the east-west orientation has never bothered me. The new façade gives this place a big-time feel and I’m excited to see how it looks this season. I know my television friends love games from here because the fans are right on top of the action.
8. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech: I feel like I’ve grown up here over the years with as many games as I’ve seen in the facility. I’ve seen a horse crash into a retaining wall here, Spike Dykes finish his career and Michael Crabtree’s dramatic catch that beat Texas. The area around the stadium has come a long way from the old Southwest Conference days. It’s also been spruced up immeasurably with the new façade. And it gets a plus from me because the acoustic guitars at “Raider Alley” always remind me of the best of Texas music.
9. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State: I usually stay in Kansas City for a game, so I never had really experienced the “Little Apple” on the night before a big game. I know this is a good, solid facility that was one of the first I visited with a “wow” press box. The others have caught up now, but I’m still always excited to watch a game from here. And I still love when Willie the Wildcat rides in the pregame motorcycle parade before really big games.
10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas: The atmosphere here has really picked up as Mark Mangino has improved the program’s on-field efforts. In the old days, coming to a game here was like visiting a morgue a lot of times when the Jayhawks were struggling. But it’s gotten better and should really be exciting this season with all of the preseason hype. And I still feel like I’m living history, considering it was a prominent feature of “The Day After” television move.
11. Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor: I always know not to drink any Dr Pepper products for a few days before heading over there, because I know what’s available at the stadium. I really like the murals outside the stadium that remind me of the strongest historical elements of the program. And if Robert Griffin can help the team challenge for a bowl berth, it might be filled occasionally in upcoming years, too.
12. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State: I still get a lump in my throat when I pass the statue of Jack Trice outside the facility and remember his story. It’s too bad the facility inside doesn’t live up to the history that named it. It’s the Big 12’s newest facility and the administration has some big plans to spruce it up. They hope to eventually enclose the south end zone and add an upper deck and connect the concourses. If they do that — along with a little on-the-field excitement — it would help this stadium take a big step forward.