There’s a set of questions that are commonly asked of me when meeting new people (in relation to college football travel, that is). I love answering these questions, even if it means over and over again. The whole reason I document Road to CFB is to share my experiences.
Q: What is the best stadium you’ve been to?
This is the million dollar question and usually the first one asked (that or how many I’ve been to). The honest answer is, I can’t pin down just one. I also can’t rank my “top 3” or “top 5.” I see stadiums in tiers. My top tier in terms of all around game experience would consist of:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
However, this could change if you asked me just about the stadium & structure. That tier would consist of:
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
The same applies to just atmosphere, just tailgating, etc. A lot goes into game experiences.
Q: How do you afford to do this?
Without diving into finances, there is a certain amount of financial burden and limitation that goes into college football travel. To say anyone could pick this up tomorrow is a farce. Some travelers attempt the FBS feat as quickly as possible. Some attempt to do it as thoroughly as possible. I try to do it as budget-friendly as possible. No, I don’t make money off the content I share. Yes, I have racked up some bills along the way.
Common areas to save money:
- Picking lower-tier games (against FCS or bad-record opponents)
- Dealing with the upper deck or corner seats. Honestly, you have some freedom to move around during the game anyway
- You spend a maximum of 8 hours at your hotel (99% of which is spent sleeping), so don’t book the Marriott
Q: What’s your favorite part about game days?
The beautiful thing about college football is that everything is subjective. Things I love about certain places might be the chagrin of another fan. A great example of this is at Mississippi State and their cowbells– ask any Ole Miss (or SEC) fan, and they’ll tell you it drives them up a wall. I, for one, love the cowbells.
I love when a stadium gets really noisy. If I have a headache leaving, chances are, it was a great stadium experience. Fans are also an integral part of the experience. Kindness and openness to conversation goes a long way. I’m not a big fan of hecklers and people who scream at coaches or referees– or anyone on the field, really– from the stands. I also love freedom and accessibility so stringent schedules, complicated stadiums, or strict section ushers might ding a place a couple of points.
Mostly, I love experiencing a new place and being infected with the boundless excitement that a fan shares with their team. Outside of very rare cases, I become a fan of that school for the day.
Q: What’s the worst place you’ve been to?
Almost every single game day experience I’ve had has been completely positive; it’s hard to have a bad time when you’re watching the game you love with tens of thousands of your closest friends. Certain aspects have been subpar (Eastern Michigan isn’t the crème de la crème of the college football stadium world), but almost nothing has straight up ruined a game day for me.
Outside of games, I was extremely disappointed while visiting ULM. The city was run down and dirty and, frankly, didn’t feel very safe. The home stands are a big square that covers very little of the sideline and the away stands are bleachers with gaps; there was a bent and rusty temporary fence surrounding the stadium that was very much intended to be permanent. High schools outdo ULM.
Q: Of all the great matchups in Week X, you chose Team A vs Team B?
One factor that doesn’t weigh heavily in my game selection is this week’s slate of marquee matchups. Usually, those games are incredibly expensive for not great seats and anything outside of a walk-off winner or an OT thriller is a disappointment. If I spend $250 to see Georgia play Alabama and the Crimson Tide walk away with a 41-14 victory (or, hell, even a close 13-10 game), that wouldn’t be a satisfactory experience for the price paid.
I look for value. Sure, if I can score reasonable tickets for a big game, I will. For example, I scored lower-bowl seats to #7 Oklahoma at Texas Tech for under $50 each and it was an incredible experience. But I can have just as awesome an experience at a closer matchup between two evenly-matched Sun Belt schools. It’s all about balancing price with outcome– which is the value I look for.
Note: Historical rivalries i.e. Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Notre Dame-USC, etc. are totally exempt from this and I will pay any amount to see #1 Alabama play #2 Auburn.