Jim Caldwell remembers the toughest place he coached in

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Jim Caldwell has been in coaching for a lot of years in a lot of different venues but one has stood out among the rest.

And it is not one from the NFL.

“The toughest place, period, throughout my entire coaching career, was Syracuse,” Caldwell said. “You could not hear in that building, in that dome. As a matter of fact I was in the press box and they had an open glass window so you could hear all the noise coming in.

“The guy sitting next to me, I’m talking to him and we cannot hear one another. Literally, you’re just moving your mouth. It’s the loudest place I’ve ever been.”

That was when Caldwell was a college coach. In the NFL, he remembers a trip to one loud NFL stadium when he was with Tampa Bay and it might have accentuated the difference between college and NFL fans.

Or the lack thereof.

He was walking out of the tunnel next to Warren Sapp when Sapp warned him of what might be coming. These fans, he said, they are going to know everything about you. Everything. And they’ll let you know it.

“We walked out into the stadium and just above the walkway, there was a group of fans that was up there and they started going through their antics. They knew everything about Warren and his background,” Caldwell said. “I kind of chuckled thinking it was only players and then they started talking about me, my hometown, 'Hey, country boy.'

“It was pretty interesting. Pretty knowledgeable fans.”

He’ll get his first taste of northeastern fans as the head coach of the Detroit Lions on Sunday when they face the New York Jets.