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Allen pondering effect of empty stadiums on games this fall

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IU coach says lack of atmosphere will be a variable in Big Ten

Rutgers v Indiana Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

If we’ve learned anything as a nation over these past few months, it is that Americans can be grouped into one of three categories:

A) You enjoy the din of fake crowd noise

B) You do not enjoy the din of fake crowd noise

C) You are Indiana University football coach Tom Allen

No, Allen doesn’t care one way or the other whether artificial cheers and jeers are pumped into stadiums across the country. He’s thinking about other things, like the effect that (mostly) empty stadiums will have on Big Ten games this fall.

Consider it one more wrinkle in an abbreviated Big Ten season that is sure to be full of them.

“There’s no question that’s going to be a variable,” Allen said.

In announcing its comeback plans on Wednesday, the conference declared that the general public will not be welcome at games this fall. Although there will not be public ticket sales, a select number of player/staff family members could be allowed admission. Even so, it surely won’t be close to the same for a league that features the three largest stadiums in the nation.

“That’s a huge advantage those teams have when they have 100-plus thousand fans in attendance,” Allen said. “Just the energy you get from that as a home team, there’s no question it makes it really hard to play there. To be able to execute – the call, the communication and all those kinds of things you run into. It makes it harder. It makes everything more difficult. I think it will be a variable that will help the teams that are playing in those environments.”

We don’t yet know what the third version of IU’s schedule will look like in the new eight-game campaign. The most recent slate — the one the Big Ten published in early August — had IU making trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State inside of the first half of the season.

Could it help the Hoosiers to play at Ohio Stadium in front of, say, 44 Buckeye fans instead of 104,944? Could it help the Hoosiers to play in Camp Randall Stadium when there’s no one there to Jump Around?

It’s one of the many things on Allen’s mind.

“I know just in talking to other teams who have played in those situations, its kind of taken away that strong homefield advantage you usually get for those teams that have such large stadiums and they usually are full when you play against them. I think at every level though it’s all relative to that so everybody’s kind of experiencing it right now. But you just have to be mentally tough. You have to bring your own juice to those situations and be able to play and be physically and mentally tough. That’s what everyone’s going to have to do. It’s an equal playing field for everybody.”