I’ve had a front row seat as the Athletic Ticket Manager at Appalachian State University for seven years. When I started, we sent out 5,000 season tickets. That’s doubled to 10,000 season tickets which are distributed to more than 2,500 fans. That’s a lot of tickets needing the right shipping logistics to get to our fans.
Eddie Hughes’ history as a game changer goes way back for this 23-year UPS driver.
He remembers it like it was yesterday: “It’s 1983, Doug Flutie (and Boston College) vs. West Virginia, and I was on defense. Doug Flutie has tried to score three times. We stopped him on the goal line. This is the game-changing play. Our backs are against the wall…”
Before he became a star player for UPS, Eddie Hughes was an outside linebacker for the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers. He recalls the scene—and the logistics—of his most treasured football moment, WVU’s 27-17 victory over Boston College on September 24, 1983. Eddie made seven tackles to help his team win that game. He continues:
I love October. Leaves are turning, temps are dropping, and college football starts getting really serious. As a UGA alum (’82) who watched Herschel Walker romp ‘tween the hedges many an autumn Saturday, nothing warms my heart more than a cool fall day in October. Showdown Saturdays. Huge conference rivalry games. Vegging on the sofa watching endless hours of football.
It just doesn’t get any better than that. And for all of us college football fans, UPS is making the 2012 college football season even better by adding some great game-changer ambassadors: ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN Analyst Desmond Howard, Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly and Air Force Academy Head Coach Troy Calhoun.
To me, nothing compares to a crisp fall Saturday. It’s all there: sweatshirt and jeans, crystal blue sky, blazing foliage, and the smell of freshly cut grass. All is right with the world . . . just don’t burn the brats.
Then, when game-time nears and the anticipation builds, things come into sharper focus. The strategy’s been set. The game-plan is in place. Now, it all comes down to performance and execution.
I remember the day that gave us the play that will forever be known as “Hail Flutie.” It was Friday, November 23, 1984 – the day after Thanksgiving. Our family was doing what we usually did every year – stuffing our faces with leftovers and spending quality family time around the TV that evening. I was only eight years old.
What transpired that evening has often been called one of the greatest moments in the history of sports – not just college football. The setup was perfect: Two nationally ranked teams in Boston College and the University of Miami, and two star quarterbacks (Doug Flutie and Miami’s Bernie Kosar) poised for an offensive shootout on national television. And the biggest difference from today: BC-Miami was the only game on TV that day.
I woke up a few weekends ago and knew that fall was coming. I was patiently waiting for my Alabama season football tickets on my front steps. I could feel and smell football in the air. It’s Saturday and Sunday pigskin time. The greatest time of year!
Imagine the millions of dollars of football equipment that, like game winning touchdown passes, will be delivered every day to teams across the U.S. — spiraled across the country to athletic programs anxiously awaiting kick-off. Unfortunately, just like so many promising passes, there will be interceptions, incompletions, fumbles and dropped balls.
As a lifelong college football fan who also spent 12 years covering the sport as a freelance journalist, I like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert when it comes to NCAA football. I love conference debates, banter about the validity of national championships and pretty much any discussion that can be done while tailgating prior to kickoff on a Saturday afternoon.
Having grown up in the south where it’s often said that “football is a form of religion,” I’ll be the first to admit that we Southern football fans are collectively the leaders when it comes to taking football fanaticism – both good and (at times) bad – to the extreme. Whether it’s 80,000+ showing up to a spring football game (good), entire states turning national signing day each February into an unofficial holiday (good) or an irrational fan poisoning 100-year-old oak trees on his rival team’s campus, few can legitimately argue that college football isn’t an undeniably relevant part of the South’s cultural fabric.
But while Southern football fans may arguably be the standard bearers when it comes to “college football fan passion,” my years of working in college sports have shown me that we definitely don’t have that market cornered in this category. From Midnight Yell practice, to Dotting the “i” in Script Ohio, to “Touchdown Jesus,” it’s become plainly evident to me that college football fan passion stretches well beyond regional and geographical boundaries. And it’s this nationwide college football fan passion (and the unique school traditions that come along with it) that, to me, makes the sport so special.
The kickoff to the college football season is one of my favorite times of the year, but for different reasons than most college football fans.
You see, I went to a smaller school in rural Virginia (James Madison – Go Dukes!) and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There, college football is usually relegated to the back page of the paper in favor of the area’s professional franchises. Recruiting is a one-page overview of the area schools, where it’s talked about year-round down here in the home of UPS’s headquarters of Atlanta. Saturday is the day everyone does their yard work, not tailgate and watch football.