from Charlotte Wilder
FOX Sports Columnist
Well folks, I’m excited to announce that it’s that time of year. Time when the kids go back to school and so do I.
The time I collect all the old college tees I can find and stock up on Advil in case I need to lift a pipe: It’s Season 2 of the Dos Equis Ultimate College Football Road Trip!
It starts this week (!!!) in Atlanta, where I’ll be heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a non-conference matchup between No. 3 Georgia and No. 11 Oregon.
And I need the best help, suggestions and stories.
But first, let me set the scene.
Last year it was the best job I’ve ever had as a sports reporter. I was immersed in college football for 10 weeks and it was my job to learn the specifics of the fans at each of the schools we visited. I’ve spent an entire season celebrating the majesty and circumstance that surrounds Saturdays.
It was as glorious as you’d expect. We were even nominated for an Emmy! In fairness, we didn’t win, but only because we were following Alabama’s lead.
Last year’s college football adventures have stayed with me for the past 12 months. Flashes of memory strike when I least expect it. I’ll see an RV on a highway and remember Hal, the man who gave me a tour of his LSU party bus.
When he opened the door to show me his bathroom, a friend of his was there and shouted that he had no clothes. Hal opened the door anyway. I saw a bare calf of a grown man before the door closed again. Michelle, a middle-aged woman whose brother owned the most intense RV I’ve ever seen, made me do jello shots with her. LSU was wild.
Sometimes memories come flooding back when I pass by a particularly beautiful dog and remember Miss Reveille, the highest ranking member of A&M’s corps of cadets, who happens to be a Rough Collie. She was not only the cleanest dog I have ever met, but she was also the strongest. And one of the sweetest.
Charlotte Wilder meets Reveille
Charlotte Wilder meets Reveille, the official mascot of Texas A&M, on the Ultimate College Football Road Trip.
When I watch a movie with Matthew McConaughey in it, I think Bevo the long horn of UT. I was lucky enough to hang out with that magnificent beast and some Texas cowboys at their home ranch near Austin.
Me too spent time with ponies who tow the Sooner Schooner (Boomer and Sooner) to their home in Norman, Oklahoma.
Charlotte Wilder describes the Schooner Ride
Charlotte Wilder talks about how it felt to meet Boomer and Sooner, the Sooner Schooner ponies.
I saw a little girl going to ballet class the other day and thought of the Tiger Girls at LSU, who were kind enough to teach me how to do a TikTok dance during one of their marathon practices. It wasn’t easy to make a then-32-year-old look cool, but they had the magic to approach (I still follow them all on Instagram).
Practice with the LSU Tiger Girls
Charlotte Wilder trains with the popular, nationally ranked LSU Tiger Girls in Baton Rouge.
But more often I think about last fall when I just see people in the world rocking the rig with their teams on it. I said this at our last stop the day before Florida-Georgia, but the hospitality of the fans really touched me. We live in an age of division and ridicule, and while I don’t believe sports can heal any of that, they can provide a brief moment of commonality. And people I didn’t have much in common with were always so eager to show me their teams, their schools, their marching bands—and their homes.
Because that’s what college football is all about. House. It’s a love letter to where you became who you are, where your parents did, or where your sister met her husband. It could be where you first learned what a hangover is, or had your heart broken, or realized what you’re passionate about.
College football was and still is the beat of your Saturdays. And for people to want to share that with me, a stranger, felt very intimate. I have learned so much.
That’s why I couldn’t be more excited to embark on another fall full of these adventures. I get to visit some old friends (looking at you, Miss Rev) and explore some new places.
Here is the schedule:
September 3: Oregon vs. Georgia in Atlanta
September 10: Alabama at Texas
September 24: Florida to Tennessee
October 8: Auburn in Georgia
October 15: Penn State at Michigan
November 5: Florida at Texas A&M
November 19: USC at UCLA
November 26: Michigan at Ohio State
I’m excited to welcome Bama to Texas in Week 2 (a hint of UT’s SEC future), hop on the Vol Navy ship in Knoxville, and visit the Big House in Ann Arbor. I’m a little scared for Michigan-Ohio State in Columbus, but it’s the good kind of scared, the kind that comes with a really great roller coaster. I want to find out which celebrities in LA care the most about USC-UCLA.
But this is only scratching the surface.
This is where you all come in.
I need your suggestions – I want you to tell me where to go in your college town. Which restaurant I can’t miss. Which super fan is known for the wildest game day matches. Which fan has an endurance story that needs to be told. Which traditions are essential and which brass section of the marching band is more difficult. Which cheerleaders do the best flips.
I want to find the most tricked out RV and tour it MTV Cribs style. I want you to invite me to your mom’s back door and I want her to teach me, on camera, how to make the best brisket in America. I want to march with your marching band, cheer with your cheerleaders, and dance with your dance teams.
I want to honor your country, your football teams and your people. So please tweet at meDM me, find me on Instagramor send me a letter (just kidding I’m not putting my address online lol).
But however you do, please give me your tips, suggestions and stories you think deserve to be told. I’m all ears and can’t wait to touch down in your state.
Charlotte Wilder is a general columnist and host of “The People’s Sports Podcast” for FOX Sports. She’s honored to represent Boston’s perennially overlooked area of sports media, loves talking to sports fans about their feelings, and is happiest eating a hotdog at a park or nachos at a stadium. Follow him on Twitter @TheWilderThings.
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