Admittedly, our "Meeting of the Minds" pieces usually focus on some kind of on the field aspect of the sport of college football: Be it match-ups, coaching mishaps, and even the occasional suspension handed down by Mike Slive.
But today, we're going to do something a bit different.
For those who don't know, writer Jerrod Morris of MidwestSportsFans.com is in the midst of an epic road trip, sponsored by La Quinta. It will take him to four stops in total, with visits to Oklahoma and Nebraska already in the books, and trips to Texas and Ohio State coming in the next two weekends. Be sure to check out his latest post about his upcoming trip to Austin here.
So with that, here's our question for you: Say that the powers at be at Crystal Ball Run told you that you had a month to travel the country and visit any college football stadium (or stadiums) you wanted. Money was no object and all expenses (including tickets) would be paid for. Well, which schools would you visit and why? It could only be one school that you've been dying to get to, it could four straight weekends at your favorite team's venue, or four completely different stadiums all together.
But if given the chance, what would your "Ultimate Road Trip" be, and why?
Allen Kenney: Hmmm.... Excellent question. I'm going with four games in four weeks and will be rolling in my old Toyota 4Runner in classic road trip style. (We've got money in the budget to have it restored, right?) I'm going to take the opportunity to hit four venues that I've never visited before.
Let's roll west to east, starting out on the Left Coast in Eugene for a visit to Autzen Stadium. I don't know if you've heard, but Oregon is supposedly full of hippies, and where's there are hippies, there's typically a bunch of fantastic eating - something about the "munchies." Anyway, I'm actually just as interested in seeing UO's palatial facilities as I am hitting up a game and sampling herbal-inspired delicacies.
Next stop, Lincoln, Neb. Sadly, I never got to go to a Cornhuskers game back when they were part of the Big 12/Big 8. Time to rectify that. You won't find a classier group of fans than the Big Red diehards. I honestly don't believe that they really do greet opposing teams with applause and salute them after the game. That is something I have to see to believe.
We've done the Pac-12 and Big Ten, so how about a trip to SEC country? Neyland Stadium is one of college football's truly iconic venues. I'd love to check it out when it's filled with more than a hundred thousand Vols singing Rocky Top and whatnot.
Last stop, Clemson, S.C., and a visit to Death Valley. Clemson doesn't come up all that often on the list of college football "musts," but I've always heard it is one of the more underrated experiences. Plus, there's always the chance for either a "Clemson-ing" or its diametric opposite, a "Dabo-ing."
Andy Coppens: Wow, this would be completely awesome!! First on my list would be to visit South Bend, IN and take in a Notre Dame game. As a fan of history how could you not want to take that as part of your Roadtrip?
Another big place I'd want to travel to is Baton Rouge, LA for a night game at LSU. I've always wanted to see what they are talking about with the atmosphere of a night game there, so that's on my list.
Lastly, I would want to travel out east and check out Harvard vs Yale at the Yale Bowl. Again, this would be the history buff in me. When you think of the history of college football's formation you can't ignore these two schools and the Yale Bowl is one of the most iconic venues this country has.
Kevin McGuire: I'm going to make four stops and try to get a taste of four different conferences and life styles along the way. Being someone living on the east coast I would prefer to start out west and work my way home, so let's make the long trip up out to Eugene, Oregon to get this dream road trip started.
Seeing a game in Autzen Stadium has long been on my bucket list when it comes to college football. Not only would I have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of the nation's most interesting offensive systems at work, the stories I have heard about the intensity inside the stadium during a game leave me wondering if the volume lives up to my expectations. For me, Autzen Stadium may not pack the history and tradition of some other venues, but the atmosphere to me is what sells an event, and the people that make up the game day environment at Oregon are people I want to have an experience with.
Having checked out the Pac-12, I then head in to Big 12 territory and have a choice to make. Texas or Oklahoma? I'm going to throw a curveball here and say both. That's right, I'm taking in the Red River Shootout at the State Fair in the Cotton Bowl. One of the country's forgotten treasures, the Cotton Bowl may not be what it used to be, but a chance to witness one of the truly great rivalries in college football played in such a traditional venue is something I think every fan should experience if given an opportunity.
Next up is a trip in to SEC territory, another conference filled with some tough decisions. Send me to Tuscaloosa to check out Bryant Denny Stadium and the Crimson Tide. A chance to stroll Toomer's Corner, tailgate at LSU with a keg-standing grandma, doing a Gator chomp in The Swamp or seeing the latest reason why fans will want Derek Dooley will have to wait for another time. At Alabama, there is nothing else but football, and I can roll (Tide) with that.
I'm going to go a little off the beaten path here and skip a trip to South Bend, Ann Arbor, Lincoln and Columbus for my next stop. I want to dive in to the world of the Ivy League and witness The Game in the Yale Bowl. I have no rooting interest between Harvard and Yale, but a chance to see one of the game's longest-standing rivalries in a classic venue also is on my bucket list.
So to recap, bringing ear plugs to Autzen Stadium, Red River Shootout, Roll Tide and ending with The Game.
Dave Singleton: This is such a difficult question because there are so many places that I would want to go. But right now, if forced to develop a five week itinerary (hey, some months have five Saturdays), here's where I would want to travel.
The trip couldn't happen this season, because the first place I want to visit is under renovation. Husky Stadium in Seattle has one of the most picturesque vistas you will find, as its open end overlooks Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. The roofs over the two seating areas along the sidelines help to trap the noise in when the venue is full, making it one of the louder venues in the country. And the unique tailgating scene would have to involve an arrival by boat to the game.
My otolaryngologist would be very upset, because the next stop on this adventure sends me about five hour south of Seattle to Eugene, Ore. for a visit to the "Autzen Zoo" for a game featuring the Ducks. The side trip through Portland would be a bonus. But it would be all about seeing the Eugene game day experience and the atmosphere, and the chance to see that offense live and in person.
Stop number three on this journey takes me into SEC country and between the hedges for a game at Sanford Stadium to watch the Georgia Bulldogs. Even before my beloved alma mater moved to the SEC and made history in playing Georgia for the first SEC opponent, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Dawgs. I've also heard lots of good things about Athens and want to have a chance to check it out.
Stop number four has special meaning for me, as it would be a vist to my alma mater, the University of Missouri, for Homecoming. Mizzou has experienced a football renaissance under Gary Pinkel, achieveing a level of success not seen around the program since the late 70s/early 80s. The move to the SEC is causing a bit of a program transition, but Homecoming weekend at Missouri is significant, as Missouri claims to be one of the schools that originated the idea of a homecoming weekend (complete with spirit events and a bonfire), and having been part of that tradition, if I can get a free trip to visit, I will always take advantage of that opportunity.
My fifth stop will take me off of the beaten path, to Alliance, Ohio, to watch the Mount Union Purple Raiders, winner of the most Division III National Championships with 10. All ten have been won since 1993. Usually, most of the country sees Mount play in December at the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (the Division III title game), most recently against Wisconsin-Whitewater. I've only been to part of one D-III game ever, and while it's not the Ivy League, there is something special to be gained from going to see a lower level play ball.
Aaron Torres: So although Autzen Stadium was actually the absolute first stadium I thought of, it appears as though there won't be any tickets left by the time the rest of the CBR crew gets done there. Luckily, there are a ton of great stadiums in the Pac-12, so I'll pass on the trip to Eugene (for now), and instead head to a very, VERY unlikely destination... Folsom Field, in Boulder, CO. I've never been, but from those who have, they tell me the Rockies provide a backdrop unlike any in college football. And since this is a fantasy and not (yet) a reality, I'm also going to assume that Colorado is again relevant, or at least good enough to put up a fight.
From there, my road trip travels will take Southeast, to hit up Kyle Field at Texas A&M. I don't know what it is about the stadium, the crowd, the 12th man, but it's a place I've always wanted to get to, even when the team was terrible. Now with Kevin Sumlin putting up 50+ points every week (or at least against Arkansas), the football seems to finally match the feel around the team.
Staying in the South, I've got to stay in the SEC, and it only seems appropriate that I hit Death Valley, for a night game at Tiger Stadium. I've been told it's the loudest stadium in college football, and I have also been told some truly insane stories about the fans you'll encounter there. Just take my word when I say that I won't be wearing the other team's colors.
Initially my final thought was to hit the other "Death Valley" up in Clemson, but I'll again skip that trip (just for the short time being), and head due North to South Bend, IN. As Andy said, there's just something about touchdown Jesus, the history of Notre Dame and the campus which makes me feel the need to get out there sooner, rather than later. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the team is pretty good this year either.
Brandon Cavanaugh: Hmm...any four stadiums I want, money's no object...yeah, I think I can work with this.
The Cavanaugh Ultimate Roadtrip features stops in:
Eugene, Oregon: I love the Pacific Northwest and a chance to see some of the best athletes on the west coast in Autzen Stadium is too good to pass up. A Friday chilling in the lounge that Phil built while snacking on some grub from Papa's Soul Food Kitchen followed by a day in The Zoo easily makes this list. Also, assuming I can toss a few bills to grease the wheels, the Ducks must wear their Liquid Carbon helmets for the occasion.
Colombus, Ohio: I've never had a chance to meet The Big Nut, but I definitely want to. The best chance to do that involves a trip to The Shoe. While I'm there, I'd want to take in what I believe to be a budding rivalry of respect between Nebraska and Ohio State or experience the blood feud that is The Game.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Awesome food, awesome fans and Death Valley at night adds up to one of the best traditions in college football. Filling up on gumbo, etouffee and maybe some of the local flora upon The Hat's recommendation is a must before a fan-induced earthquake.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The site of where national championships have been brought home since rejoining the Union, Alabama's base of operations seems an appropriate way to end this trip. I hold Tide fans to a high standard when it comes to tailgating. Since entertainment's required for the long drive back, let's say the unthinkable happens and Bama loses and we turn on the ol' satellite radi-PAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWLL!
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