Often regarded as one of the Big Ten’s wildest and most thrilling venues, Camp Randall Stadium never disappoints. Once a Civil War training site, this massive structure is crammed in a beautiful residential area among dorms, fraternity houses, campus buildings and bars. The Camp is the perfect college venue with views of the state capital and Madison’s surrounding lakes (Mendota and Menona).
A little Wisconsin football history for you:
The Badgers used to really suck.
Tickets to a Wisconsin game were as sought after as a communicable disease. People would leave unsold Badger tickets on car windshields. Shamed football players shielded their letter jackets from view. The late eighties officially materialized Wisconsin’s tradition of being a doormat.
The program needed a major facelift, and the leaders at UW knew it. That is when Barry Alvarez strolled in as Wisconsin’s new head coach. Confidence. Toughness. Swagger. Adjectives that Badger football lacked, but that Alvarez had packed in his suitcase.
A handful of Big Ten and Rose Bowl championships later, the Badgers have become a consistent winner. Alvarez is now the athletic director helping to maintain this success.
I share this history because today’s 61-0 Wisconsin victory over CMU should not be taken for granted. There was a time when fans would come more for the band than the team, which made the retirement of its longtime band director such a momentous shift.
This is a classic example of a place where sports dominate the entertainment category. Pre-game tailgating is fantastic, and the buzz on the streets in Iowa City is all about the team. Many fans point out visiting colors and start their battle cries and chants. Walking up to Kinnick Stadium, you see a beautiful brick façade that lines the outside. Rows of corn greet visitors to the main entrance along with a statue of Hawkeye hero and 1939 Heisman trophy winner, Nile Kinnick. The entire experience is midwestern perfection and one of the best college football stops in the country.
I always get excited when I am able to put Kinnick Stadium on my schedule. I know I’m going to have an incredible day. Midwestern hospitality saturates the scene, and that was especially evidenced by the “Hawks To Go” tailgate whose members invited me in and showed me why they were named winner of the Best Hawkeye Tailgate Contest. My experience involved learning the history of the tailgate, which started in 2005. I also was taken on a tour of all the Hawkeye autographs on their trailer from all the Iowa greats that visited over the years. We took a shot to christen our visit to the tune of the I-O-W-A chant and received a pin commemorating the moment. As they inject all this passion into Hawkeye gameday, they have also taken in thousands of dollars in donations for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. I felt blessed to start my gameday off in this way.Continue reading “Game 286: Miami (OH) @ #20 Iowa”
“Live Aloha” is a mantra that is intended to be a way of life in Hawai’i. This is equally true for the team and fans of the Hawai’I Rainbow Warriors. While “Aloha” is a welcoming greeting, its truer translation means love, peace, and compassion. The players work hard and the fans cheer hard, yet all is done with the spirit of aloha.Continue reading “HAWAI’I – ALOHA STADIUM”
The onset of every college football season is preceded by an overflow of baseless polls, cautious and extreme predictions, and flailing jibber-jabber on social media. Who really knows that Arizona is an 11-point favorite? Before the cleats hit the field for the first time, even the best of pundits have a cloudy crystal ball. As it turned out, Honolulu provided the stage for an incredible opening day to the 150th season of college football.Continue reading “Game 285: Arizona @ Hawai’i”
The surprise of the Big Ten, Northwestern, took a rocky start to the season and transformed it into a Big Ten West title. Ohio State did what they do – reload and conquer. As Big Ten East champs, they were a heavy favorite to beat the Wildcats. A Rose Bowl prize awaited the victor as a packed Lucas Oil Stadium eagerly anticipated kickoff.Continue reading “Game 284: #21 Northwestern vs. #6 Ohio State”
Tradition and Texas A&M are inexorably tied. Aside from the cavernous stadium that stretches high into the Lone Star sky, the traditions that have been in place for decades have not been altered – only improved with age.Continue reading “TEXAS A&M – KYLE FIELD”
At halftime of this game, I was feeling a bit complacent. After visiting 75 stadiums for nearly 300 games, I wondered what adventures lie ahead that could shock or surprise. After all, Texas A&M has been my number one bucket list stadium for years, and it exceeded expectations. Don’t get me wrong, college football never disappoints, but today, it’s timing was epic. Any wisps of dormancy that emerged to my senses were obliterated by the most unexpected, mouth-gaping, 7-overtime thriller of a finish that I have ever experienced.
Even though Lexington lies on the northern portion of SEC country, southern flavor still lives strongly in Kentucky. The scenery toward Lexington is what one might expect with rolling hills giving way to fenced-in horse pastures. Fans tailgate around the stadium as sections of the Kentucky band visit random tailgates for a private show. The wide mass of fans dressed in blue moves like ocean waves toward Kroger Field to watch the band perform as the team makes their entrance during the pregame Catwalk. Kentucky’s band bangs out “Kentucky Fight” while fans welcome the team.