When I started this journey to hit all FBS stadiums, it was a bet. It wasn’t even my idea. It was a couple of old lunch time buddies who included me, even though I had already moved to another office halfway across the country. It was a race between two teams of two guys to see who could get to them all first. It didn’t take long for the other team to basically give up. However, I was having so much fun, I figured I might as well make a run to hit them all myself.
That was about ten years ago and since then, I have learned that I am not alone. First, there was Pat Yarber, who I saw on an ESPN segment way back in 2013. He was just about to finish visiting all the stadiums which was 125 at the time. It was bittersweet as the poor guy had gone legally blind in the process. Kudos to him for finishing it up despite that challenge.
Since then, I would come across folks that were doing similar type things like hitting all the MLB stadiums, which was pretty common. There were others though. Like my colleague Jimmie James who hit all of Golf Digest’s top 100 courses in a year or another friend of mine who was hitting all the national parks. As I visit stadiums, it wouldn’t be uncommon to meet folks that were trying to get to all of a certain conference, often times following their local team. I met my buddy and Penn State alum Drew at the PSU vs Illinois game a few years back as he was working on his list. And occasionally, I would be at the second half of a double header weekend and see someone from an earlier game that weekend. As an example, I saw two guys at the USC game noon game, then on the metro over to Pasadena for UCLA game that night, then at a restaurant, and finally in the stands at the Rose Bowl.
This year, however, any thoughts of me being unique on this quest were completely eliminated. First, at another double header weekend, a guy game over to our tailgate at UTEP wearing the same shirt as me. He looked at my banner listing my teams and he said he had just come from New Mexico State. He was doing the same thing (and apparently collecting t-shirts like me) and his number was at 53. It made me feel pretty good that I was comfortably ahead of him at 94. That confidence was short lived when multiple friends sent me articles on two other guys in the mix. One was done. Clark Humble hit all the stadiums in just over five years. To be fair he was retired, but I had to admit his effort was exceptional. I also found out about Frank Lipchick, who was very close to finishing up his quest. He was at 124 stadiums. As Frank is a Yinzer and I am a CMU grad, I felt compelled to get ahold of him.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but we had a lot in common, from how we scheduled games to the experiences we have had. Frank has been retired for some time, but he is also a Pitt fan. As is such, he is committed to going to every home Pitt game and had to work his games around that constraint. Frank told me that he should be able to get all his games in this year, including JMU who is jumping to the FBS a year earlier than planned. The other teams he has left are Wyoming, Texas Tech, Florida State, Georgia, San Diego State and North Texas. I actually have both Wyoming and Texas Tech on my schedule this year as well, but it doesn’t look like we will be at the same games.
Frank told me that some times his wife joins him for the games and some times he is alone. He prefers to buy his tickets direct from the school, but has bought them from scalpers and online as well. And just like me, he’s always happy to get hooked with the occasional free ticket. Some of his favorite games include Louisiana Tech, where he got to sit in the Press Box. Oddly enough, I, too, was able to sit in the press box at La Tech when I was there. I attribute this to the considerable kindness of Louisiana fans, and not perhaps a lack of qualified writers to fill the press box on any given Saturday. Some his other favorite game memories include attending the grand opening of Baylor’s McLane Stadium and a raucous game at LSU where everything came together in mix of football and fandom. He, of course, has had the occasional dud like a cold and rainy game at Liberty. I can relate, having had my share wet and cold games, and near the Blue Ridge Mountains too. And like me, Frank doesn’t just collect memories but also souvenirs, his being shot glasses. In the end, though, we both agree it is really about the memories.
When you hit 9 stadiums in about two months, there are few things that help you along the way. We are grateful for all the things that helped us along the way from big to small.
In other news, I finished strong, going 3-1. It was only Bama’s drubbing of Georgia that I missed. Hitting on nearly 60% of the picks isn’t fantastic, but it’s not bad either. Bowl game picks next week, and I will be lucky to hit 50% of those. For now, take Army.
Last week was a good week. I went 3-1 with my picks and locked in a winning record for the year. Compared to TV prognosticators, I am a regular Nostradamus. Ole Miss got me off to a nice start on Friday. It has been a good year for the Rebels, er Black Bears, err Land Sharks. To be honest, I just call them Ole Miss. Wake Forest looked pretty good against Boston College. In the battle of the bottom, UMass continued to proved they are the worst of the FBS. After visiting New Mexico State, I have a soft spot for the Aggies. It was nice to see them get the win. Memphis on the other hand was a bit of a bad beat. They were cruising to a double digit win, so I stopped watching them on one of my smaller TV. I was dismayed later when I checked my phone to see they had gave up a late touchdown and would not cover. I didn’t take it too hard. I was just happy to be in the black again. Some other notes from last week:
Michigan earned the win against Ohio State. A solid win for sure. Alabama, on the other hand, were very lucky to win against Auburn.
I can’t imagine how gut-wrenching it is to be Cornhusker fan, their meltdown against Iowa was soul crushing.
I didn’t fact check it, but the announcer for the Cincinnati game said that their corner, Ahmad Garner had not given up a touchdown in two years. I want to the Bearcats in the playoff just to see how he does against the best of college football.
Hard not to like the cartoon wolf on the NC State helmets.
You know you are having a bad year when you kicker whiffs on an onside kick attempt. Florida State is second tier for sure.
Did a double take watching Texas Tech – When did they hire Will Ferrell as the interim head coach? Apparently La Tech was impressed enough to make him, Sonny Cumbie, their new head coach.
Ah Championship week. Win and advance. Lose and you are out. Well, not exactly. Cincinnati has to win to get in. Not so for Georgia, they will make the playoff win or lose. I like UTSA to rebound and beat the Western Kentucky. It makes me a bit nervous, but I have to believe Georgia will have their way with Bama’s weak O-line and cover against the Tide. I was originally going to take Iowa and the points against Michigan. However, I was reminded of how porous the Hawkeye line has been this year and visions of a Michigan rout appeared. Pitt makes me a bit nervous. Their QB Pickett throws a great ball, but he’s been careless of late and that may be all it takes for Wake to win. Here’s to hoping this Pittsburgh football doesn’t disappoint like their stadium roommate has of late.
We are all done for the season when it comes to ticking the stadium box. We finished strong with eight stadiums. If I average that same number for next five years, I will have hit them all. With only 38 stadiums to go, assuming three additions to the list, I will need to do some heavy planning to get the flow right. For now though, it is time to enjoy the crunch time as the season winds down. But before we take a look at this week’s big games, a review of my picks from last week, as bad as they were.
It started off well enough with Michigan State taking care of business against Maryland. I did say that picking Duke against Virginia Tech was an emotional hedge. Of course, it would be the one game the Hokies crushed their opponent. It did not, however, manage to save their coach, Justin Fuente, his job. UTEP continued their slide back to average. That’s two weeks in a row that the Miners have left me disappointed. Lastly, it was no Funroe in Monroe last week with Warhawks getting upset by Arkansas State. Add it all up and I am, indeed, regressing to the mean. Some other brief notes from last week.
That was quite the meltdown by Auburn. I turned that game off early and missed the Mississippi State come back. Relax Tiger fans, it could be worst. You could be Texas.
Penn State just doesn’t seem to know how win tight games.
SMU has some very entertaining running backs. Dudes were rolling against UCF
Florida has completely fallen off the rails. A competitive game against Samford?!?
As for this week, I don’t know what to think after a couple of bad weeks. I like Houston to cover against Friday night against Memphis as long as they aren’t caught looking ahead. I do like SMU against Cincinnati. The Bearcats might win, but I think the Mustangs can keep it close. It should be one the better games this weekend and ESPN Gameday should have been at this game instead of the earlier Tulsa – Cincy game. I like the Maryland mediocrity to continue against Michigan. Likewise I will stick with UTSA against UAB, who is only getting 4.5 points. Maybe UAB got a big shipment from ACME, otherwise I can’t see the Roadrunners struggling against the Blazers. Other notes on this week:
Air Force against Nevada should be a good game. Kind of regret not putting the Wolfpack on the schedule this year.
I’d like to think Wake Forest will beat Clemson. It would be sweet, but Dabo has Clemson playing pretty well.
Bama will have no problem with Arkansas. The Razorbacks are still a tier below despite their ranking at 21.
2-8 South Florida at 1-9 Tulane. I recommend any fans going to that game stop by French Quarter and have few Hurricanes before kickoff – anything to take the edge off for that game.
Five games in four straight weekends is a long run. I have to admit that not going to a game this weekend is a nice break. Every once in a while I like to settle in front of multiple televisions and spend the weekend bouncing around games. I just hope that this week can come close to last weekend. I was amazed to see A&M upset Alabama. I did not see that coming. On the other hand, Iowa beating PSU was not surprising. Virginia Tech almost beating Notre Dame, again, was just as painful getting updates as it was watching it live two years ago. As for my picks, Houston got me off to a good start, steamrolling Tulane. ASU did the same to Stanford, but I was unfortunately on the other side of that. It was a bit of a bad beat when Stanford turned the ball over as they were driving for a very late touchdown. I don’t know what happened with BYU but it couldn’t have been good. Thankfully, UCLA brought me to even as they chalked up a couple of late touchdowns to cover. It was nice surprise considering they were only up by one at halftime.
This week’s slate of games is worrisome. It is one of those mid-season weeks where the rubber meets the road. Some strange odds and I don’t really like too many games. I picked UTEP partially out of hope. I am heading there in a few weeks, I would really like to see them keeping winning so their game against UTSA has some gravitas. I should probably do an emotional hedge. Instead, I am riding with the Miners. I think the Razorbacks are looking to stomp all over Auburn. The Aggies have no where to go but down, but I can’t imagine them getting lower than Missouri. Lastly, I am picking Monroe just out of pedigree. The state of Louisiana has better athletes than Virginia. Ipso facto, they at least ought to be keep it closer than 33 points against Liberty. Some thoughts on other games this weekend.
Michigan State is undefeated and they are only favored by 4.5 over a 2-3 Indiana. Same thing with a below .500 Nebraska being a 4.5 favorite over Minnesota. And, Washington is favored over UCLA. Can’t figure out any of these lines.
Florida vs LSU, Meh.
Yale vs UConn – This may be the only chance for a Huskie win this year.
I’d like to think a 6-0 Kentucky has a chance against Georgia, but I doubt it.
The Pitt – Virginia Tech may be the best game on Saturday.