Rest and recovery

Relaxing on the couch this weekend after some heavy travel. I am still working on the update to the Alabama review. The original is a classic so I am feeling some pressure with the update. It won’t match the jailhouse experience, but at least there will be pictures. I also have reviews due on South Alabama, UAB, Oregon and Oregon State. So yeah, I am a bit behind.

I had a great trip to Oregon last week even if the games were duds. The weather and scenery was absolutely beautiful. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may be short changing the experience by trying to cram so many stadiums in each year. With a two hour flight delay in Houston, I missed the kickoff of the Ducks game, not by much, but I didn’t get to tailgate with the Oregon faithful either. Oregon State was a lot of fun, but I also had a short night with a flight that left Portland at 5AM. It may be time to start emphasizing quality over quantity.

Some great games last week, but most of mine was through scoreboard watching.

  • I did catch the end of the USC – Georgia game. I am not saying the SEC and ACC are on the same level, certainly not this year. However, I do seem to recall UNC beating USC. Any give Saturday, just about any FBS can beat another one. So let’s stop giving the number two SEC team a free pass.
  • LSU is the real deal and so, apparently, is Texas despite their loss.
  • While I am glad Penn State won, I kind of feel bad for 6-0 SMU. Their game against 5-1 Temple would have been a great option for Game Day. Instead, it is a repeat visit to Happy Valley
  • The Oregon State game was as bad as it looked. Talk about a beat down.

Another even week at 2-2. Texas State didn’t cover and the Beavers could not muster any Homecoming spirit. The Ducks, however, rolled over the Buffs and Texas kept it close against Oklahoma.

Due to time constraints this week, my picks are all Saturday games. App State is giving up 15.5 against UL-Monroe, but the Mountaineers are the real deal. I think Virginia covers against Duke. I am taking Vandy and the points because I still don’t believe in Mizzou. Lastly, I was relatively unimpressed with UAB against Rice although they eventually did cover. Maybe ODU is missing their QB? I probably should have done some research to see why they are getting 17 points, but I am picking them anyway.

Thoughts on some other games this week:

  • I would think the Ducks would beat the Huskies, but the PAC 12 is really hard to figure out. If Oregon loses, I don’t think the PAC 12 gets anyone in the FBS playoff.
  • Really wanted to hit the Temple versus SMU game today, but I just couldn’t make my schedule work. Bummer
  • Minnesota is going to stay undefeated. No way Rutgers beats them.
  • Bargain of the week Nevada at Utah State – $2 gets you in the game.

That’s all I got, enjoy the game.

Just do it?

The week started off great thanks to the South Alabama Jags. While they did lose the game against Georgia Southern, they still covered. It was also a very entertaining game to see live. South Alabama’s going to get a good review. Friday night was not nearly as satisfying as UCF lost to the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The Knights are dead to me and the New Year’s Day bowl selection committees. Saturday was a mixed bag. I really thought Troy was going to score enough against Mizzou to cover, but it was another loss. My UAB experience was dismal but at least the Blazers put it together enough in the second half to cover against Rice in the rain. It was about the only redeeming feature of my UAB experience. So once again, average reigns supreme at somanystadiums, where I went 2 -2 for the week.

Other observations on last week.

  • Big win by Florida, looking to the LSU game to provide some clarity in the top 10.
  • SMU wins in triple OT. Definitely trying to find a way to get to Ford Field this year.
  • Some good looking teams in the Big 10: Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all dominate. And don’t forget Minnesota at 5 – 0 ?!?
  • Gotta give San Jose State some love. They win again to go 3 – 2 even it was against New Mexico
  • Oklahoma State just doesn’t seem to like success. Just when they crack the top 25, they get upset by Texas Tech
  • The ACC is a mess. Pitt beats Duke and Hokies upset the ‘Canes in Miami. Just nuts.
  • Whew: Michigan, Nebraska both escaped with close wins.
  • What, still undefeated? Baylor, Boise State, Memphis all still trucking.

I didn’t like the options for Thursday night, but I have to pick someone. I am going with the Bobcats of Texas State to cover at home against the ULL Warhawks. Friday night, it is an emotional hedge. I’d prefer a good game since I will be seeing it live in Eugene, but if it is a blowout, at least I get the win. Saturday is the same as I go with the Beavers to keep it close at home against the Utes. My other pick is Texas. I figure the Longhorns to keep it close in the Red River Shootout.

Other observations for Week 7:

  • I don’t think the Cavaliers will sneak up on the ‘Canes like the Hokies did. However, I don’t think it will matter either. Virginia wins.
  • Undefeated Memphis heads to one-loss Temple. I am pulling for the Owls because that will set up a great game against SMU the next week.
  • I would like to see Texas A&M give Alabama a good game, but that doesn’t mean I think that will happen
  • First real for Penn State as they visit Iowa. Some of the luster is gone after the Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes last week.
  • So how many times do you think ESPN will show an alligator grilling at a LSU tailgate. The answer is too many. I like the Tigers in this one.
  • Lastly, UNLV at Vanderbilt tickets going as low as $2, so if you are in Nashville this weekend…

Roll Damn Tide – for real!

This week, I am off to “Bama to witness the execution of Ole Miss at the hands of the Crimson Tide. I know what you are thinking: Why not save “Bama for a big game? I have been trying to for years, but between the strength of the Tide, their steady diet of cupcakes, and a generally weak lower half of the SEC all combine to make finding a competitive home opponent for a ‘Bama game more difficult than Antonio Brown taking the high road.

Notes Games 4

It was a good week to watch a lot of college football. Tulane broke out those sweet light blue uniforms (would have been perfect if only they had included the angry wave helmet as well) for their upset of the Coogs. The exciting finish with the fake kneel down was a sign of more exciting things to come for Week Four. My only regret is going to bed and seeing it the morning after. That put me down one on my picks, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. It was sweet hook job by LA Tech on Friday night with an onside kick-off TD return to get me my cover. Unfortunately UConn was clearly not as good on the road as at home. Apparently, even the 27 points they were getting were not going to get me the win against Indiana. (I did find the UConn home game experience to be enjoyable. See the latest review here.) However, ND saved my bacon with their late touchdown against Georgia to put my picks at 2-2 for the week. 

Other thoughts for this weekend:  

  • ESPN’s Game Day feels like it needs a bit of a shake-up. The “you had one job” is getting stale. It is everything you have already seen on Twitter, Reddit, etc.from the previous week. Perhaps, some “On the road” feeds from lesser known stadiums would be a good feature. We, at somanystadiums are ready and willing. 
  • Despite not being selected to share my experience on the “150 Years of College Football”, I did love the Chocolate Labrador storming the field at Georgia story. I am a sucker for dog stories, especially ones with Labs. 
  • I thought Notre Dame played fairly well against Georgia. I am not a big Notre Dam fan, but their tight end Cole Kmet is a stud. I wouldn’t characterize the Dawgs as holding on though. The Irish were in full desperation mode at the end.
  • I would say the same about the Texas A&M and Oklahoma State near comebacks, more “a hope and a prayer” than anything else. And, while I loved the Pitt win, it did feel like UCF was the better team even though they lost.
  • But look, they were all certainly much more competitive than Michigan at Wisconsin. There’s nothing positive for the Wolverines to take away in that absolute beat down. It is beginning to feel the Harbaugh era will be one of good to very good, but never great. 
  • So ODU almost beats VA, Maybe Va Tech is better than I think? Furman did just pound Mercer and nearly beat Georgia State. And, didn’t Georgia State beat the SEC’s Tennessee. And well, beating an SEC team is something right? Wait, San Jose State beat Arkansas this week?!? Nevermind. Va. Tech is still clearly a wait and see proposition.
  • Pitt upsets UCF, Think about that statement, Pitt upsets UCF. I am not sure the AAC is comparable to the ACC, but it is getting much closer. Open the playoffs to eight teams and you may get some surprising answers.
  • UCLA vs. Washington St. – Again, I went to bed. The Bruins were getting boat-race and then a track meet broke out. UCLA roared back for the win. The tackling was atrocious in that game. The defenses were so bad, both teams covered the Over. 
  • Whew: Virginia over ODU, Cal over Ole Miss, Fla St. over Louisville
  • Doh: TCU loss to SMU, Washington St. loss to UCLA UNC loss to App. State. 

Lastly, it is a poke in my eye every time ESPN runs that ad for their new relationship with the ACC network, immediately followed by an ad for Xfinity, who has not yet picked up that network. My only satisfaction is that some poor bastard at ESPN is stuck serving the Comcast/Xfinity relationship.

Week 4 will be tough to match, but there are some good games on the slate this weekend. I am staying consistent with picking Thursday and Friday games. I really don’t like the Navy Memphis game because I don’t think we know enough about either team. Since I have to make a pick, I am going with Navy being able to at least keep it close. Friday night was easy. I think PSU will roll over Maryland despite the extra seats and fans. Saturday, I feel compelled to pick the Ole Miss Bama game since I will be there. The line is 38.5 which seems crazy high, but Ole Miss has looked pretty bad. For my last pick, I am going to keep riding the La. Tech Dawgs. Rice is just struggling.

Other thoughts on this week’s slate:

  • Pretty good slate for Friday night. Beyond PSU, the Duke vs Va Tech game should be a good one. I also think ASU can play with Cal. Will have to find a sports bar in Meridian, Mississippi for the night.
  • I am guessing Michigan will take out all their frustrations on poor Rutgers
  • Same for the Aggies against the Razorbacks
  • NIU could give the SEC another out of conference loss. Stay sharp Vanderbilt
  • Delaware at Pitt – A classic trap game, especially after Pitt upsets UCF
  • I can’t make heads or tails of the PAC12 – Maybe I will understand after USC vs Washington
  • Ark St. vs. Troy – A Sun Belt classic. Seriously, I could see myself watching that game
  • Bleh game of the week: 0-4 Akron at 0-4 UMass. I guess somebody has to win, but it won’t be the fans.

That’s all I got. Enjoy the games.

 

 

2019 Season Schedule: Big Time

2019 is a big bounce back year with a great schedule and some great locations: Hawaii, Wisconsin (SI #19) and Notre Dame (SI #7), who is hosting Virginia Tech (SI #22). We also have some double weekends in Alabama (SI #1) and Oregon (SI #9). If I factor in seeing Oregon State host Utah (SI #14), I am seeing six top twenty-five teams (per SI) this year, including the number one. Big time indeed.

Week 1

Game 1 – 8/24/2019, Arizona at Hawaii: While the second game of the weekend, it is the first true college game of the season. Miami plays Florida in Orlando first, but neutral sites don’t count at somanystadiums.com. Hawaii is certainly one of the better locations to see a game. This should be a good game where the Rainbow Warriors home field advantage offsets the depth of the Wildcats.

Game 2 – 9/7/2019, Illinois at University of Connecticut: So not exactly a marquee match up with UConn going 1-11 in 2018 and Illinois finishing at 4-8, but I had to hit East Hartford, Connecticut at some point. As a consolation, the Steelers host the Patriots the same weekend. So there is that.

Week 5

Game 3 – 9/28/2019, ‘Ol Miss at Alabama (SI #1): After a couple of weeks off, I’ll be heading over the Tuscaloosa to see an SEC classic when ‘Ol Miss takes on Alabama. Unfortunately, I have the feeling the only thing that will be classic about this game will be the traditions. The Tide will probably roll all over the Rebels, er Black Bears, er Landsharks – not exactly sure what the Ol Miss mascot is these days. Rebels is not exactly the most PC nickname, but if the NFL will still let Washington run with the Redskins moniker, “Rebels” seems pale in comparison.

Week 6

Game 4 – 10/3/2019, Georgia Southern at South Alabama: It is right back to the great state of Alabama for the following weekend. I hear Mobile, Alabama is actually a pretty interesting city so maybe it will be a good Thursday night. South Alabama’s program is a baby, having just started in 2009 and they went 3 – 9 last year. Georgia Southern, on the other hand, has rich a history (first game in 1924) and six FCS championships. They went 10-3 and won their bowl game. It might be a rough week for the Jaguars if the Eagles fly high.

Game 5 – 10/5/2019, Rice at UAB: It is a short(?) drive up the road to Birmingham for another potential blow out as UAB hosts Rice. The UAB program was resurrected from the dead after a two year hiatus in 2017. A short year later, UAB went 11-3, won their first Conference USA title and their subsequent bowl game. Rice, on the other is a program in serious decline, having gone 2-11 last year. It is not exactly the most appealing weekend on the schedule. It’s not all Game Day and rich traditions out there – sometimes it is just a plain old slog.

Week 7

Game 6 – 10/11/2018, Colorado at Oregon (SI #9): Things take a remarkably better turn in Week 7 as I head out to Oregon for another double header weekend. The Ducks need to turn it around or it is probably curtains for their coach Mario Cristobal. I look forward to checking out Eugene on Friday night and seeing the team Phil Knight built.

Game 7 – 10/12/201, Utah (SI #14) at Oregon State: Saturday, it is a short drive up north to Corvallis to see the Beavers host the Utes. The Beavers had a disastrous 2 -10 season last year. The Utes were decent at 9 – 5 and are ranked in the SI top twenty-five. This might be a blow out if the Beavers 2nd year coach, Jonathan Smith can’t right the ship. Still, it is the Pacific Northwest in early autumn so it is probably going to be a good weekend regardless.

Week 10

Game 8 – 11/2/2019, Virginia Tech (SI #22) at Notre Dame (SI #7): I had always planned on saving South Bend and Touchdown Jesus as the final stadium in the list. However, when I saw the home and away with Virginia Tech, it was too good to resist. Add to it a strong connection with a number of Midwest guys and the Golden Domers got put on the schedule for this year. Tech has been hot or cold, but they seem to always play to the level of their competition. Hopefully they remember they are playing the Fighting Irish and not the Old Dominion Monarchs. Twelve to sixteen guys in an AirBnB – what could go wrong?

Week 13

Game 9 / 10 – 11/23/2019, Purdue at Wisconsin (SI #19) and/or Minnesota at Northwestern. It is nearly a month off before I catch another game, although there is always a chance I could zip over to SMU in between games. The Mustangs are always dependent on weather and the matchup (and if I can get someone to go with me). The kickoff for both the Wisconsin and Northwestern games are TBD so there’s the outside chance I could pick up the rare Saturday double dip. Ideally, the Northwestern game goes off at noon and is a blowout by half time. Then, if the Wisconsin game is prime time, we could head off for what looks to be a  three and half hour drive. It would be really tight, but you could kick it around Madison afterwards. Otherwise, I will just have to pick one.

Week 14

Game 11 – 11/26/2019, Western Michigan at Northern Illinois: This last game is really dicey. It is a MACtion Tuesday night game the week before Thanksgiving. I am typically off that week for vacation, so I can see an opportunity to catch this game in combination with a holiday trip. Maybe? Games this late in the season often get cut, especially the ones up North. I could see where the weather would be sub-optimal for a Tuesday night game in DeKalb, Illinois.

So there you have it. The one thing I have learned in the 78 games I have already hit, nothing is set in stone. This schedule is, as it is every year, a target. On paper though, it appears to be a good one. See you in the tailgate lots and in the stands.

 

“We’d love to take you to a game”

Not surprisingly, blogging about college football stadiums isn’t my day job. I work at a large, global firm providing in-house consulting to various businesses. Most of my experience is financial and managerial, but I did put in a couple of years in the field on the sales side. I have also had plenty of opportunities to sit on the other side of the table as the customer. Given that and the seventy plus games under my belt, I have a pretty good handle on what makes for effective customer entertaining on autumn Saturdays. As the college football season approaches, it may appear to be a great opportunity to  host a client or potential customer at a game. However, before you do, consider the following:

  • Know your audience. Hard to believe, but not everyone enjoys football. If your guests are international, I’d make sure they are genuinely interested. Foreigners often find the game confusing and live games, especially with TV timeouts, can seem interminable to the uninterested. I also wouldn’t classify by gender either. I know plenty of men who could care less about football and a bunch of women, well a bunch of women from SEC schools that is, that love college football.

 

  • Know the objective. Tailgating and college football games are best for low key, informal interactions. Most tailgating environments don’t involve sitting around a table even if they are provided. There’s unlikely to be a deal brokered in a crowded tent or standing around in the parking lot. Even during the game, the venue’s probably going to be too crowded for any substantive discussion. Unless, of course, you are at a dog of a game, which will probably leave your customer wondering why you dragged him/her to Florida International in the first place. (ok, that’s a cheap shot – the Panthers appear to be much improved from when I last visited them). But you get the point; this is relationship building not negotiations.

  • Know your budget. At one point in my varied career, I was in sales in Washington, D.C. and had access to the company box for the Nationals, Capitals and Wizards. We had gotten rid of the Redskins box by the time I got there. This was a blessing because Fedex Field is easily one of the worst venues I have ever been to. The traffic alone will crush any and all enthusiasm you might have had to watch a middling NFL franchise with woeful ownership. However, Nats and Caps experiences tend to be very good to great. Wizards’ games were and still appear to be a crap shoot. The point of this digression is that I often used the facilities to entertain customers and have some experience in such matters. Having a loge/box/suite is not cheap but assuming corporate takes care of that issue, there’s still the question of refreshments. Even with a generous budget, it is easy to hit $100/person for food and drink in the box. It’s not that it isn’t plentiful or tasty, but it is still basically dogs, nachos and the like. There’s usually no craft beers or top shelf liquor either. One of the issues in my mind is that you will likely have a tailgate prior to the game with a full spread. The food in the box then often gets wasted. Catering for the tailgate can often be done at similar prices to a stadium suite and nearly every BCS football program either offers it themselves or through a third party. If you are or know a dedicated alum, you/they may likely already tailgate during the season and have a better set up than what you can get from a third party. This assumes the parking spot is already secured. Alternatively, you can go on aftermarket sites like StubHub and Vividseats and buy your own parking pass. For the Power Five conferences, those are going to run $150 – $300 per space. Smaller conferences can be more problematic as there’s often not a market for the spaces and they may be only available for alums. On the plus side, if you are doing the catering yourself, it becomes much more affordable. I would consider getting some help if you plan on doing it on your own. One should not underestimate the difficulty of manning the grill, keeping the cooler stocked and schmoozing with the guests simultaneously.
  • Know the venue: Not all college football programs are created alike. Some have great tailgating, but a weak team – hello Ole’ Miss. Others play an exciting brand of football, but the location is in the middle of nowhere – go Red Wolves of Arkansas State. In other instances, the venue is pure football. This is great if your companions love sitting crammed on the bleachers and enjoy non-stop noise, but not so much if they don’t.

  • Know your associates / staff: Any time you mix colleagues and alcohol, there’s a risk something can go wrong. Add in passions of dedicated alums and ardent fans and boorish or downright bad behavior can rear its ugly head. The last thing you need is your Miami Hurricane Sales manager screaming at a potential new client who happens to be a Golden Domer. At least you can presumably limit  the likelihood of that occurring. What you can’t control is the eighteen year old freshman who has just finished his first Jaeger bomb and is suddenly learning that what goes down often comes up. Some folks don’t react to well to getting vomit on their shoes and/or clothes. Or, it could be that your rather genteel work colleague is easily offended by those of a more “free-wheeling” personality/wardrobe.

 

  • Know what can go wrong: I have already covered some of the issues but there are other things to consider. These are outdoor events. I am a hard core fan but even when I am wearing the right all-weather gear, I don’t really enjoy a game in a driving rainstorm. Additionally, you can’t control the traffic or other spectators. Perhaps, you encounter the leather-lunged fan who decides to pick a fight with someone in your party because he is wearing ‘Bama crimson instead of LSU purple. Finally, there’s no guarantee the game is going to be a good one. If you need proof of a sure thing gone bad, see my review of Clemson.

The intent here is not to discourage you from entertaining business clients at college football games. On the contrary, it can be a great experience, often times at a reasonable cost. However, as with all things, the key is to assess the risks and plan accordingly. Who knows, there’s always the chance the weather’s perfect, the venue is sublime and Navy upsets Notre Dame at South Bend. Cheer on my friends.