As an assistant coach at Miami, which also plays in the Big East Conference, Tommy Tuberville has taken teams into the 49,550-seat sports stadium.
The Carrier Dome
"When you open the door the wind about blows you down," says Tuberville. "It is one of those air domes. It is a unique place. It was built basically for football, but they do play basketball there. It is like the Georgia Dome or the Super Dome basketball-wise. It is double-decked and the fans are right on you."
Auburn's only New Yorker on the 2001 football team, junior defensive back Ronaldo Attimy, says that he visited Syracuse on a recruiting trip in high school and he remembers the Carrier Dome as being hot, muggy and loud with the fans close to the action.
Ronaldo Attimy (35) practices Sunday to get ready for Syracuse.
The building was formally opened on Sept. 20th, 1980 and has been Syracuse's home for its football, basketball and lacrosse teams and it is used for a variety of events from concerts to crusades to high school competitions in track and field, soccer, football, basketball and field hockey.
"It is a little bit faster game," Tuberville says of playing indoors on the artificial turf. "We will practice on the turf at least three times this week. The thing you want to do is make sure you have good shoes on." Auburn's indoor facility has 30 yards of field with a 10-yard deep end zone.
Auburn's last indoor football game came last year when the Tigers lost to Florida in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Tuberville says he expects there will be some carryover benefit for his 2001 Tigers. "Yes, I think it gives you an idea of what you are going into," he says. "The turf will make them look faster and us look faster. The thing you want to do is go up and play well and kind of get on with the season. I think all of this last week is still hanging in everybody's mind and we just need to get on with it."
The Auburn head coach says that other than the travel challenges for AU fans, he likes the idea of playing this intersectional home-and-home series vs. Syracuse because it can be good for the program, especially if the Tigers play well. Auburn played just two non-conference road games in the decade of the 1990s. AU won 14-10 at Texas in 1991 and 28-17 at Virginia in 1997. The Tigers had a 6-3 record on the road in the 1980s vs. non-SEC opponents with victories over Georgia Tech (31-7 in 1981, 31-13 in 1983, 17-14 in 1985 and 20-10 in 1987), FSU (42-41 in 1984) and North Carolina (20-10 in 1987). Losses came against Nebraska (17-3 in 1981), Texas (35-27 in 1984) and FSU (22-14 in 1989).
When asked if playing for SEC pride will enter the equation in this year's non-conference road trip, Tuberville says, "With this group, we won't even talk about that. They will have enough problems as it is. It is unusual for an SEC team to play (a nonconference opponent) on the road. I think there is a little more of that happening because there is more money involved with this being a nationally-televised game. If we had played a non-conference opponent here at home, it probably wouldn't have been a game that would be on TV. This is home and home and I think it is good. I think it gives us a barometer of where we are against one of the upper-echelon teams in the Big East."
Tiger Ticket Extra: The last SEC team to play in the Carrier Dome, Tennessee, barely escaped with a 34-33 victory on a last second field goal on Sept. 5th, 1998. The Vols, who were national champs that year, complained about the heat and humidity, which caused major problems with cramps. After Syracuse's last outing, a 21-10 decision over Central Florida, the UCF coaches reported to AU's coaches that Central Florida suffered in the heat, too. Tuberville says, "Considering that UCF practices in the heat and humidity of Orlando, the fact that they had problems with the heat opens your eyes...Auburn equipment manager Frank Cox says that he has been told that there is a very accurate indicator of what the game time temperature will be in the Carrier Dome. He says the equipment manager at Syracuse has told him to check the previous day's outdoor high temperature and that will be the likely indoor temperature at kickoff. Interestingly, even though the Carrier Corporation, which makes air conditioners, paid $2.75 million to have its name on the dome the facility is not air-conditioned.
Aeria view of the Carrier Dome and Syracuse campus.
Auburn is catching a break by playing Syracuse this year. Because of general unhappiness by the fans with the coaching regime of Paul Pasqualoni (82-38-1 at Syracuse), the arena probably will not be packed with SU fans as would be expected for a game vs. Auburn. The Tigers are the team that cost Syracuse a chance at the national title in the 1988 Sugar Bowl when Pat Dye elected to kick for a 16-16 tie at the end of the game rather than going for a victory on a fourth and 13 call. Syracuse fans sent hundreds of ugly ties to the Dye in the weeks following that game...The Carrier Dome's roof, which was replaced in 1999, is supported by 16 five-foot diameter fans that provide air pressure. When snow hits the area, heated air is circulated under the roof to cause the snow to melt...The dome's floor is covered with Astro Turf for football games and the floor is made out of Tartan, the same material used for the arena floor at Auburn's Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum...Seating capacity for basketball is 33,000 and 40,000 for concerts...Prior to moving into the Carrier Dome, Syracuse football played in historic Archbold Stadium, that was nicknamed the "Greatest Athletic Arena in America" when it was completed as a 20,000-seat facility in 1907 based on the design of the Colosseum in Rome.