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The Lineup: SEC Network analysts McElroy and Spears’ thoughts on each SEC stadium

Today ESPN and the SEC announced a robust slate of college football games airing on the SEC Network, which launches Aug. 14. The first 16 games on the network will feature every SEC football team, from every SEC football stadium, within the first four weeks of the 2014 season.

Front Row caught up with recently hired SEC Network college football analysts Greg McElroy, a former Alabama quarterback, and Marcus Spears, a former LSU defensive end, to get their thoughts and memories of playing at each stadium in the SEC.

University of Alabama – Bryant–Denny Stadium

MS: When you pull up on the bus and you see the statue of “The Bear” [legendary former Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant], you know this is football at its best.
GM: It’s impossible to pick out one particular moment or memory that comes to mind, but I think my favorite aspect has to be when the sound of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s voice begins to play over the speakers. The crowd noise immediately grows so loud that you can’t even understand what he’s saying. I also love when the entire crowd sings “Sweet Home Alabama” in pregame ceremonies (Roll Tide Roll) and “Dixieland Delight” during the game.

(Photo credit: Michael Lawrence / McKinney)
University of Alabama – Bryant–Denny Stadium (Photo courtesy of Michael Lawrence (McKinney))

University of Arkansas – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium

MS: Always the last game of the year for The Boot Trophy with LSU. There were some epic battles.
GM: I’ve gone on record saying that our game there in 2010 was the best atmosphere I’ve played in. We were [ranked] No. 1 and they were No. 5. After I got off to a rough start, their entire student section started chanting “MC-EL-ROY.” My buddies still won’t let me live those two interceptions down.

ARKANSAS
University of Arkansas – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Photo courtesy of University of Arkansas)

Auburn University – Jordan-Hare Stadium

MS: I hated playing in this place. It was loud and pure pandemonium.
GM: Although they’re not fond of people wearing Crimson and White, I thoroughly enjoyed playing there. The Auburn faithful always made it exciting.

Auburn, AL - November 30, 2013 - Jordan–Hare Stadium scenic (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
Auburn University – Jordan-Hare Stadium (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

University of Florida – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

MS: The Swamp is hot and muggy and fans are right on your back while sitting on sideline. It’s mayhem.
GM: One of two stadiums in the SEC that I’ve never been to. Definitely a place that I’m dying to visit.

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 27, 2008: View of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during a game between the Mississippi Rebels and the Florida Gators (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN).- RAW FILE AVAILABLE -
University of Florida – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

University of Georgia – Sanford Stadium

MS: I think of “between the hedges” and always wondering if David Pollack [a former Georgia defensive end and current ESPN college football analyst] or myself would have the better game.
GM: When we traveled there in 2008, they were wearing their black jerseys during one of their patented “blackouts.” It was so loud at during pregame warmups, we had to hand signal routes to the wide receivers to be able to go through the route tree.

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University of Georgia – Sanford Stadium (Photo courtesy of University of Georgia)

University of Kentucky – Commonwealth Stadium

MS: We almost lost to Kentucky at Commonwealth if it hadn’t been for “The Bluegrass Miracle.” Yep, I was there and witnessed it.
GM: One of the most underrated venues in the conference. In my fifth career start, we had three straight drives that started at our own 1-yard line. In those three drives, we had several false start penalties. Never forget when one of their fans said to our sideline towards the end of the game, “y’all are good, but y’all don’t stand a chance against Florida.” We beat Florida by 19 points eight weeks later.

The UK football team fell to Louisville 27-13 on Saturday, September 14, 2013, in Lexington's Commonwealth Stadium. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics
University of Kentucky – Commonwealth Stadium (Photo courtesy of University of Kentucky)

Louisiana State University – Tiger Stadium

MS: The best place to play on Saturday night in all of college football. It’s home.
GM: Don’t even get me started with that place. Words do not do it justice. If you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list now. Prepare for chills. “The sun has set in the west; it is now night time in Death Valley!” Unbelievable. (Honorable mention: “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks is one of the best pregame songs in the SEC).

Baton Rouge, LA - October 13, 2012 - Tiger Stadium: Tiger Stadium prior to a regular season game. (Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Louisiana State University – Tiger Stadium (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

University of Mississippi – Vaught–Hemingway Stadium

MS: The real rivals of the LSU Tigers. This stadium was always rocking when LSU took the field. The fans hated the sight of purple and gold.
GM: I will never forget our game there in 2007. We won on an extremely controversial (lucky) call and as we exited the stadium, it began raining. This particular rain was distilled in Lynchburg, Tenn.

Oxford, MS - November 9, 2013 - Vaught–Hemingway Stadium: The University of Mississippi Rebels stadium during a regular season game (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)
University of Mississippi – Vaught–Hemingway Stadium (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

Mississippi State – Davis Wade Stadium

MS: I never really had much trouble at Davis Wade Stadium. Great place to play. Games were always physical.
GM: Your ears literally ring – no pun intended – for hours after the game. I hope the SEC continues to allow “cowbells,” because it’s another one of those quirky traditions that make an SEC game atmosphere better than anywhere else. A very underrated aspect is the sheer size of their high- definition JumboTron. Absolutely massive.

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Mississippi State – Davis Wade Stadium (Photo courtesy of Mississippi State University)

University of Missouri – Faurot Field

MS: New kids on the block. I never had the chance to play here.
GM: I’ve never been to Faurot Field, but according to several friends, it’s as tough as any to go in and get a win.

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University of Missouri – Faurot Field (Photo courtesy of Michael Lawrence (McKinney))

University of South Carolina – Williams-Brice Stadium

MS: As crazy as it may seem, to me this is one of the toughest places to play.
GM: One of the more crazy student sections I’ve seen. Watch the SEC promotional video, multiply by 10, now you get the picture. Always telling when one of your teammates says on the bus after the game, “I bet that’s a fun place to go to school.”

University of South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium (Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
University of South Carolina – Williams-Brice Stadium (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

University of Tennessee – Neyland Stadium

MS: Neyland Stadium was the site of my first college game ever. I remember 103,000 fans going crazy and big John Henderson standing on the other side and as a freshman I’m thinking, “I’m not ready for this.”
GM: When I think of Neyland, the only thing that truly comes to mind is “Rocky Top, you’ll always be, home sweet home to me. Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top, Tennessee.”

Knoxville, TN - September 15, 2012 - Neyland Stadium of the University of Tennessee Volunteers during a regular season game (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
University of Tennessee – Neyland Stadium (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Texas A&M University – Kyle Field

MS: I never played there, but I heard “The 12th Man” is real.
GM: Could possibly be my favorite stadium in the SEC. From Reveille [the Aggie mascot] to their band (one of the best in the country) to [fans] kissing their dates to their dozens of rehearsed chants, Kyle Field oozes with passion and tradition.

College Station, TX - September 14, 2013 - Kyle Field: Texas A&M Aggies Midnight Yell Practice. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
Texas A&M University – Kyle Field (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

Vanderbilt University – Vanderbilt Stadium

MS: [Former Vanderbilt quarterback] Jay Cutler was always ready to go and I knew I was going after him every down.
GM: My only trip there was on the heels of a 2-9 [Vanderbilt] season. Therefore, my experience was vastly different from that of an away team now. I have been assured that any team traveling to Nashville now must play their A-game to get out unscathed.

Nashville, TN - November 30, 2013 - Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field: Vanderbilt Commodores Tradition before a regular season NCAA College Football game (Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)
Vanderbilt University – Vanderbilt Stadium (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)
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