In this forth installment of this all conferences experience series, our game traveler, Mike (@CFBcampustour) will be answering questions focusing on the “best of” categories for each conference.
He’s been fortunate to visit all 130 FBS schools and attend games at 88 of them since 2017. Since he hasn’t seen a game at all 130 schools, his opinion is only partially informed. Still, he’s here to provide the best answers he can based on his experiences to date.
In the first piece examining the Big 12, our traveler talked about his favorite stadium and the best game he’s seen. Now, we’re onto Part II to discuss friendly fans and teachable moments.
Which school had the friendliest fans you encountered?
TCU. This is a close call for me here between TCU and Texas Tech. In Lubbock, it was a party atmosphere hours before kickoff. There was a pre-game concert right outside of Jones AT&T Stadium and people were handing out drinks and food all over the place. Texas Tech is definitely a really enjoyable atmosphere.
I chose TCU fans based on my experience in Fort Worth in 2018. It was a Thursday night game and ironically, it played Texas Tech. As a neutral fan, I’m always watching to see how opposing fan bases interact both inside and outside of the stadium. Many times, things get heated and home fans can be downright disrespectful, especially when it’s an in-state rivalry like this was. To my amazement, everyone was getting along great. The “trash-talking” was more friendly back-and-forth banter. It was good-natured without hostility.
Outside of Amon G. Carter Stadium, there is a horned frog statue that TCU fans line up to take photos with. I noticed a group of fans looking for someone to take their photo and I offered to do it in exchange for them taking my photo. They agreed and as they were taking my photo, I made a sarcastic comment that I wished I had a big group to snap my photo with like them. Without hesitation they said “we’ll take a photo with you!” They found someone to take all of our photos and it produced this gem:
It’s a great pic and actually the header on my Twitter page. After the photo, we talked about my travels and they told me to stop by and see them during the game. At halftime, I visited them in their section and it was a lot of fun. The whole experience at TCU was great. That was largely because the fans in Fort Worth were pretty amazing.
What is something you learned at a stadium that you’ll use to improve your experience for the next trip?
Make sure you check weather reports before a game in Iowa. In 2018, I was lined up to see an Iowa-Iowa State doubleheader in Week 1 of the season. Iowa had a day game vs. Northern Illinois in Iowa City and Iowa State had a night game vs. South Dakota State in Ames. It’s a 2-hour drive from Kinnick Stadium to Jack Trice Stadium, so the timeline worked perfectly.
At the conclusion of the Iowa game, I jumped in my rental car and blazed down Interstate 80 towards Ames. As I drove, I could see the sky changing from a bright clear sky in Iowa City to darkness with storm clouds forming heading towards Ames.
I made it just in time to see the Cyclones score on their opening drive. Kyle Kempt found Deshaunte Jones for a 55-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. But with 10:55 still remaining in the first quarter, the teams left the field due to inclement weather.
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There was lightning in the area and NCAA policy states that play be suspended if there is lightning within eight miles of the stadium. It requires a 30-minute delay, but this may vary because the time count will restart if a lightning strike occurs within the 8-mile radius.
I’d been in rain delays before, so I wasn’t worried about resuming play. Plus, I didn’t have anywhere else I’d rather be, so I was cool waiting it out. However after a 2-hour and 24-minute delay, the game was canceled.
It was a disappointing ending to what was supposed to be glorious doubleheader of Iowa football. Had I been more proactive checking weather reports, I might have decided against going to Ames altogether.
Notre Dame was hosting Michigan at 7:30 p.m. ET and if I left the Iowa game a little early, I could have made the 4-plus hour drive to South Bend in time to see much of that game. Lesson learned. My experience that night at Iowa State reinforced to me the importance of considering all factors when traveling to games.