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College football is one of the most exciting sporting events you can experience. It has emotion, drama, spirit, and pageantry all rolled into one. It is what got us started with sports travel. Since the fall of 2003, we have been working on the ultimate college football experience: seeing a home game at every Football Bowl Series school in America.
This is an experience every fan of college football should consider doing. Here are all the details of our mission so you can join us on this awesome journey.
The Origins of the Mission
My husband Chris and I are both big college football fans. We not only enjoy rooting on our alma maters, but we also love everything that comes with the sport, including the passion.
Additionally, we are entertained by the controversies and arguments that are inevitable when discussing college football with other people.
Back in 2003, while driving home from a camping trip, we were discussing college football. We started talking about how cool it would be to go to every school to experience the different atmospheres for ourselves.
What began as a far-fetched “wouldn’t it be cool” idea turned into a “we should really do this” plan. We decided that day that this is something that we not only could do but something that we should do.
We saw it as the best way for us to become more knowledgeable about the game we love so much. Once we decided to tackle this, we hammered out the broad parameters of the mission, and we went to our first game a month later.
When we started this mission, there were 119 Division IA (Football Bowl Series) schools. When we started, our goal was to try to average 4 “mission games” per season, which would mean it will take us about 30 years to complete.
Now, there are 130 schools, and we haven’t always hit our goal of 4 games per year, so it will take us a little longer to get to the end.
Our ultimate college football experience involves us going to a HOME game at all the FBS schools. No neutral site games for us!
At each school, we try to spend time on and around campus in order to get a feel for the game day atmosphere. We walk through the tailgate areas and campus. We eat at local places. And we try to see the pregame festivities.
At each school, we take the same three pictures: one in front of a campus landmark, one in front of a sign or something with the name of the school on it, and one in the stadium.
The campus landmark is always something that should be easily recognizable to any student or alumnus of that school.
We try to get creative with the sign pictures, just for variety sake. Some of the more creative ones so far have been a campus police car, a track hurdle, and a library book return box.
The key with this picture is that it has to be something that bears the name of the university and that you would only find on or near campus.
Once we return home, I put the pictures into a scrapbook. I also include the ticket stubs, the local newspaper write up of the game, and my own trip report.
The scrapbook is a way for us to document that we actually went to all 100+ schools. Plus, it helps us remember each trip.
We love collecting things. So, we decided early on to incorporate this tendency into the mission. At each school, we go to the bookstore and buy a golf ball, a mini helmet, and a stuffed mascot.
If we are at a game in which we have no connection to either team playing, we will also buy shirts at the bookstore to wear to the game. This allows us to blend in a little better.
Not only has this resulted in us having a rather large collection of college t-shirts, but it also means our son has a ton of stuffed mascots in his room!
How We Decide What School to Visit Next
If you looked at the order in which we have visited schools, you would probably think there is no rhyme or reason to it. While it may seem random, there is a method to our madness.
The guiding principle in deciding which games we will go to each season is convenience.
We look at what weekends we have available to travel. Then, we see if our favorite schools are playing away games during those weekends. Beyond that, we look for locations that would be convenient to visit.
Whenever possible, we try to plan trips where we can go to two games in the same trip.
We use the schedules on ESPN’s website to help plan our trips.
Our Current Progress
Currently, we have completed 48 out of the 130 schools. We are more than a little behind our desired pace, but hopefully, we will be able to catch up in the next few years.
We now have this down to a science. Going to a bookstore is now a no brainer. We can walk in, head in different directions, and meet up at the register with all of our required purchases without any discussion.
While this may seem like an extreme way to enjoy our favorite sport, it is a fun hobby for our entire family to enjoy together. It’s also something any true college football fan would love to do.
It allows us to combine football and travel. Plus, it gives us a reason to go visit friends that live far away.
I encourage you to find creative ways to turn your favorite sporting event into a family tradition. And bonus points if you can combine your favorite sport with family travel.
Stay tuned for more updates on this ultimate college football experience.
Want to read about some of our football trips? Here they are:
- University of Alabama Birmingham
- University of Louisiana Lafayette
- Notre Dame and University of Toledo
- University of Missouri
- University of Iowa & Northern Illinois University
- Mississippi State University